I am currently looking to buy a new MiniDV camera. I have a Sony TVR900 and want to upgrade. My budget is around $2000 to $2500. I was wondering what would be a good choice and what are some of the features that you think might be a must have in a camera. I do Weddings, anniversaries and interviews.
IMHO- the Sony DCR-VX2100, hands down. I have used the Panny 100, the Canon's (GL1-2 & XLS's) & the Sony's 2000, 2100, 150/170 & DSR 250 and NOTHING beats the Sony in a low light situation such as a wedding reception. The Sony will record a more accurate image while the Canon's generally record a warmer image that some prefer. The GL 2 also has a 20X zoom which is nice, but I will take the low-light over the zoom any day for a wedding. The difference between the PD-170 and the 2100 is that the 170 has XLR inputs. However, you can always add a Beachtek adapter to the 2100 for XLR inputs as needed. I also use a small Bescor lamp on my 170. I generally point it slightly up so that in doesn't bother anyone on the dance floor but it makes a big difference.
I agree with the recommendation on the VX-2100/PD-170. But in your budget range, there is another choice as well: a used JVC DV-500U. This is a professional shoulder-mounted camcorder with a true servo zoom lens.
The Sonys have the advantages of superior low light performance, small size, color LCD, and compatibility with any NFP batteries you may have for your TRV-900. The JVC has the advantages of smoother zoom and iris control, a better lens (and you can upgrade the lens even further), more camera real estate to hang your light, wireless mic receiver, and shotgun mic on, the stability of a shoulder mount, and more control over the final image. The JVC will be about one to one and a half stops more light sensitive than your current TRV-900.
On the downside, the camera takes more practice and skill to use well, it weighs about twelve pounds, and it requires more expensive accessories (batteries, charger, case, tripod, etc.)
The two cameras are very different. Both have their strong points; it's just a matter of what you want to do, and what tools you like to use.