From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Jul 24 2006 - 01:01:30 PDT

Unfortunately, the market for low cost camcorders for any serious use is
very bleak. They are all gimmicked up and dumbed down. The biggest problem
is that you now have to get the more expensive models to get a mic jack:
pretty much anything under $600 lacks one (all gone from the current Canon
Z series, for example).

Sony: no mic jacks under $1000, all controls now delegated to stupid touch
screen system.

Canon: they break easily. they're cheaper than Sonys to repair, but that's
small consolation. Fine if you can pamper it. It sounds like you need
something more rugged.

JVC: the small size of these things means you need an image stabilization
system to get decent footage off-tripod. JVCs use Electronic Image
Stabilization: which doesn't work well and screws up the picture. So do
less expensive Panasonic.

I'm not crazy about the Sony HDV 1-chip, though others seem to agree with
Jeff's praise. But if you want to spend less, so you can add a mic and
some stuff an still be under $1K, I would recommend:

The Panasonic PV-GS300.

around $600 from trustworthy merchants. three chip SD-DV. mic jack. manual

even better is last year's model the PV-GS250, it has a focus ring and a
headphone jack... these are hard to find and fetch a premium.

For a mount-on-camera mic that will get better sound than the built-in mic
(all of which absolutely suck), you should look at the Rode video-mic, or
a sennheiser MKE 300. Avoid Azden.

Realize, though, that getting good sound is less a matter of variations in
mic technology and more about skill in the field - avoiding ambient noises
and getting the mic close to the subject...

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.