Here’s what I’ve seen with

#179511
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Here’s what I’ve seen with camcorders. In consumer grade (the $300-$500 range) the brands seem very equally matched. Back when I managed a public access studio, we used mainly JVC and Panasonic camcorders. They both got beaten up by our users but usually continued to work. Our engineer preferred JVC over Panasonic because the JVC’s were easier to do repairs on. But it seemed that Panasonic’s had more features for the price. And I think that might be how you should decide. It may be that Sony’s are a bit more rugged (but I’m vested in Sony’s so I am biased) at a cost of fewer features.

So I’d recommend using C-net to get accurate ratings. Their reviewers are very good at identifying the pros & cons of equipment. And they usually have a number of brief user generated reviews to get an idea of how they are in real life conditions. You can set up a search & comparison with brand and price parameters. (C-net is also a great place to locate freeware, shareware & trial versions of any software you may need or desire. It is also called download.com) I think once you see the difference in features, you will be able to make a good decision. But I do secretly hope it’s a Sony. 🙂

Good luck in your search. And one thing a lot of folks forget about is actually handling the camcorders you’re interested in. Just how it feels in your hands and where the controls are located will be a major factor in how you actually use the camcorder. Confusing menus and buttons you can’t push without looking are common shooting complaints that handling can help identify. Even if you decide to buy over the internet, Best Buy (et. al.) provide camcorders you can handle before you buy. Use them.

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