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I own two HDR-CX7s, one was purchased new for $1099 3years ago, the 2nd was purchased used from Amazon six months ago for about $350.00 These use MS-Pro memory sticks which are pricier than SD cards, though you can buy adapters that take microSD cards. There are new models that replace this one, they now accept SD cards.
My only dislikes of these cameras are: 1) no mic/audio input, not even 1/8″ jack, 2) no eyepiece viewfinder, helpful in bright sunlight, 3) flash doesn’t work with lens filters attached.
I did buy a hot shoe mountable (Sony brand) shotgun mic and a bluetooth lapel-type mic that is a great audio addition to the built-in 5.1 mic. I recently purchase an inexpensive Zoom recorder to capture audio live and from a mixing console then sync with video in production.
Buy extra batteries, large capacity, unless you can be tied to AC. The battery life is really good until I use the Bluetooth mic and receiver.
The optical zoom is good, could always use a few more Xs though. Digital zoom shold be banned from cameras – awful.
Lowlight recording is pretty good, but sometimes the autofocus has a difficult time when the light is too low. Here is an example of low-light, around 1:00 you can see some of the focusing issue, though it doesn’t really detract from this style of video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3Pg5Fzd3hI&feature=related
You can check out some of the other videos for quality. The “sermons” are shot inside with no special lighting, the camera is about 75 feet from the stage, and 35 feet from the lectern in the pews (Revelatin videos). The better ones have the 720HD available. The auto white balance was used with the exception of the one video (FirstAG Service 2011-10-02) where the thumbnail indicates a much cooler tone.