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What to Buy for about $2000-$3000

mattsnowboard's picture
Last seen: 2 years 4 weeks ago
Joined: 06/25/2012 - 8:58pm

I posted this over at avsforum.com but was told I might want to check here, so here goes.

I've been into amateur movie production toward the end of high school and through college with a buddy of mine. He had a GL2 for a while, then upgraded to HD with a smaller Canon Vixia HV40 and a JAG35 adapter and simple shotgun mic mount. Those were the cameras we both worked with to make some movies for fun and shoot snowboarding a little. Having worked with that camera for a couple of years now, I've noticed some downsides to the lack of manual control.

Anyway, I graduated from college and now I'd like to invest in my own camera, and switch over to flash memory instead of tapes. I want something that I can use to shoot home movies (like my kids eventually), vacations, and also have a chance to still play around with making some movies. I may also want to use it to shoot some weddings (since I'm at an age where my friends will start getting married I figured I might be able to earn some cash to offset some of the costs of this).

Here are the features I'm looking for:
1080/24p,30p, and maybe even 60p.
Full manual control (aperture, shutter, gain, white balance). Don't care about other things that can easily be done in post.
Either interchangeable lenses, or a nice built in lens that will work well for close shots in tight areas, as well as a bit of zoom.
I have been a fan of the shallow DOF, but I don't need it all the time. However, a larger sensor would be nice.
I can live with CMOS, but a CCD cam would be nice to avoid the "jello effect" for handheld footage.
I expect beautiful footage in natural light, but I'd like to be able to shoot inside without setting up lights and still minimize the grain. Good low light performance is kind of important
It would be nice if the auto settings still work well for those times when you just want to get some quick shots without much thought, but this doesn't matter

I'm thinking of getting this in the next couple of months. Here are some of the models I've seen that looked good to me (and have been recommended to me). Please let me know if I should pick one of these or just suggest some others.

Panasonic AG-AF100 $2800 or so with the rebate this week, plus lens
Canon VIXIA HF G10 $1500
Canon XA10 $2000
Sony NEX-VG20H $2200 (with lens)
Panasonic AG-HMC40 $1500-1800

I'm leaning toward the AG-AF100 which was recommended to me because I like the pro settings it offers and the removable lens. But I'd have to order it soon to get the rebate. Let me know what you think, thanks!