Hi! I just got a budget of $2500 from the boss to get a new camera (a big step up from our Canon Vixia HF-S10). We do a lot of work in our small insert studio, interviews and other intimate work (talking heads, maybe a panel from time to time). Occasionally, there is a big (multi-hour) event in a hotel ball room. There is also some interest in streaming. Can I get a decent camera in that price range? Could you make a suggestion? Expandability is a plus. I'm not opposed to a DSLR, but I thought there were some restrictions on continuous filming. If I have a 3 or 4 hour event, that could be a pain. Thoughts?
I have just bought a Canon XA20 (for home) and think it's the duck's nuts. I also have an HFS10 (home), as well as a Sony VR1P (HDV) and a PD150 (both for work).
The XA20 records AVCHD (28 Mbps max) or MP4 (35Mbps) files to SD card and can relay record for long events. It has two XLR inputs and it's handle allows it to be used nicely hand held. There's start/stop controls, and a zoom rocker (single speed, able to be set in preferences)
In the shop, I compared it to the Panasonic AG-AC90 (summary: poor low light images) and the Sony NX30 (summary: nice but really really small and that makes it hard to use its features once your going, and awkward hand-held). (spent about 2 hours testing)
Canon XA20 Pros: great images, flip-out screen is great, touchscreen focussing is awesome, viewfinder is brilliant, progressive rocker zoom, controls on top handle, good audio, great zoom and excellent wide angle ranges, good low light video, full sized cold shoe, 35 Mbps MP4.
Cons: purple fringing under some circumstances (backlit scene with people in white), the single focus or zoom ring (selectable) is awkward to use compared to, say, a mid-sized camera (like Sony NX5 or HVR-V1P). The LCD screen gets in its way and it's a little stiff.
The Canon XF100 looks like a great camera and is well regarded and I could probably use the zoom ring properly, but what put me off it was the high bitrate video (crazy, huh…) and the CF cards. SD cards are around $1/GB… Also, it cost just a bit more than The Boss would spend.