Here’s a few ideas: At $1

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Here’s a few ideas:

At $1500 there are a few options, moreso if going used is ok with you.

USED:
Sony PD100 (around $1500). Pros: Small/lightweight, XLR input adapter included for professional mic connection, DVCAM professional media. Cons: this cam is relatively old, DVCAM media is more expensive

Sony VX1000 (around $1300): Pros: prosumer size cam, 3 CCDs, accessible manual controls. Cons: 1/8" mini audio connection (no XLR), another relatively out-dated cam

NEW:
Canon GL2 (with Canon rebate of $250, around $1700): Pros: prosumer size cam, 3 CCDs, accessible manual controls, Manufacturer’s warranty. Cons: above your price range, 1/8" mini audio connection (no XLR), becoming out-dated.

All of these cams are small enough for a journalist, yet offer professional level controls and performance. The good news is all of these models have been around the block, so you can get a good sense from user reviews which will work best for your needs. There’s probably some more options out there, but these are the ones on my radar. Hopefully, this will give you a starting point for doing some research.

Mark

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