Buyer's Guide 2008: Hi-Def Camcorders
Record your life in pro resolution at a comsumer price
Canon HG10 AVCHD Hard Disk Drive Camcorder
This new hard disk drive camcorder from Canon is a beauty. Compact in size and equipped with a 40 GB hard drive, the HG10 is capable of recording up to 15 hours of high-definition video. The lens on the camera is a crisp Canon 10x zoom that captures imagery at a crystal-clear 1920 x 1080 resolution on a full HD CMOS sensor. The HG10 also has a miniSD card slot, allowing you to take still photos at 3.1-megapixel resolution. A Photo Grab function will also grab a 2-megapixel still from your video footage.
Autofocus speed is fast and accurate, and the unit comes equipped with a 24p (progressive) Cinema Mode to give the same look and feel as film. Menu controls are easy to understand, and the HG10 effortlessly slides into the palm of your hand.
All footage can be easily viewed on its bright 2.7-inch color widescreen LCD. It also has an HDMI terminal that will let you plug the camcorder directly into your HDTV and screen your footage for everyone to enjoy. Plus, this hard-drive camcorder offers the ease and convenience of nothing to load, nothing to eject and nothing to finalize. Estimated Street Price: $1,299.
Panasonic HDC-DX1 DVD
Released earlier this year, the HDC-DX1 is pretty much everything you'll find in a DVD camcorder. This model records the AVCHD codec directly to a miniDVD, allowing up to 40 minutes on a dual-layered DVD-R disc in either 720p or 1080i.
A Leica Dicomar lens with 12x optical zoom offers excellent optics, while the camcorder's three CCDs will deliver bright, crisp colors. The built-in Optical Image Stabilization will garner sharp imagery, especially when zooming, while 5.1-channel audio recording is tough to beat.
You'll need a minute or so to format a new disc before use, and finalizing a disc (making it playable outside of the camera) will take six to eight minutes once your recording is done. However, the camcorder's menu interface is straightforward and easy to navigate.
Manual controls include manual focus, exposure, shutter speed, white balance and gain. Estimated Street Price: $899.