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On the topic of image stabilization, optical image stabilization is generally considered superior over electronic stabilization in terms of image quality. Which, might be (as a shooter) something of more importance then the steadiness of your shot, especially considering that you can practice or use a steadicam (or other similiar devices) to decrease the shake and jitter while you’re shooting.
If you’re doing a lot (and I mean a lot) of handheld work it maybe worth more to you to find a stabilizer that will meet your needs and fit your style of work than to max out our budget on a camcorder. You’ll definitely want to find a good match between the quality of your camcorder and the quality of your support for it. Here’s some stabilizers worth considering (this is in no way a complete list):
+Monopods (inexpensive and highly mobile, also can double for poorman’s steadicam. I’d highly recommend one.)
+Bogen’s Fig Rig is an interesting solution. I’ve never used one. Anybody?
+Steadicam makes some inexpensive "sleds"
Anyone else using a stabilization device that’s inexpensive and for that handheld look? There’s also a lot of DIY stuff out there that probably won’t cost you more than $40. But there’s something about shooting with a modified broom stick that doesn’t attract the bikini babes or hot rod studs you might find at a car show.