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This light kit can help. It’s cheap and not heavy-duty construction, but it does an outstanding job, and should work excellently for the cooking show. That would leave plenty of room on the budget for also acquiring an on-camera 10-to-20-watt unit for fill or key, and that light (battery powered) would also come in handy in the Dark Continent.
I use and LOVE the Sony UWP-V6 wireless system that includes a lavaliere and a plug-in to convert most XLR hand-held mics to work on the transmitter/receiver as well. It runs close to $1K (I paid a little over $700 for each of mine) but is a really rugged system that should work in both arenas. If one lav and one hand-held will suffice, then one system would be enough IMHO.
I’ve not noticed an appreciable difference and yes, I’ve tried it. There’s certainly NOT enough quality boost or strength to warrant the price difference between Sony’s Premier MiniDV and the company’s HD stock. I’ve used a pair of Canon XL1 and a GL2 for a long, LONG time and ONLY use the Sony premier MiniDV (60 min, NOT the 80 – too thin) on 60-min only, not extended record. They’re totally sufficient.