I’ve told people that if they can, they should wait on buying a camcorder, the move to HD is happening in fits and starts with the usual teething problems. Right now, it looks like the third generation camcorders may finally get it right. There are two leading contenders:
* “Canon HF10”:http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content/Canon-Vixia-HF10-Camcorder-Review-34711/ is the first camcorder with the new AVCHD format (this is MPEG-4, so higher compression than MPEG-2 used in DVDs and related to the formats used in iPhone called H.264) that has quality that beats HDV. HDV is tape based and if you had to buy a camcorder, the Canon HV-20 was the one to get. It used tape, but quality was great. This new one has 16GB of flash in the camera itself and has an SDHC slot so you can add another 16-32GB of flash. The main tradeoff here is that you don’t get that much space compared to a hard disk camcorder which have 60-120GB, on the other hand, its not like the hard disk is going to crash. Other tradeoff is the image stabilization is only OK and the included battery only gives you 1.5 hours of record time. Other nice thing is packages like “Final Cut Express 4”:http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1437591&tstart=45 actually work with this camcorders version of AVCHD. You need a very fast processor and a fast hard disk to work with AVCHD as it is very computationally intensive. It has a peak rate at 17Mbps, so it somewhat faster than the previous generations at 15Mbps. It can output in progressive 1080/30p which is remarkable film quality.
* “JVC GZ-HD6”:http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content/JVC-GZ-HD6-arrives-today-complete-with-engineers-34672.htm. While there are no deep reviews right now. This new camcorder uses a different format called MPEG-2 TS but it records at 24Mbps and it can output in a format that is identical to HDV, so theoretically, it could be a great compromise. It has 120GB hard drive (there is a 60GB version as well). So this could be a could intermediate as AVCHD matures. Finally, it can output in 1080p which is pretty amazing.