Enough already! Just tell me what to buy!

I haven’t looked at all of these camcorders (some weren’t available at the time of this writing) but if I had to compile a short list of camcorders most likely to succeed in 2009 and beyond, it would be these.

The Sony HVR-Z5U – List price $4,995 – This successor to the Z1U also records HDV to tape, but uses three 1920x1080 CMOS sensors to get there, and records in true progressive. A 20X optical zoom and histogram (but no waveform) complement the CMOS, and there are multiple alternative storage mechanisms, including hard disk and compact flash. Sony has a well deserved reputation for low light sensitivity, ease of use and very high quality video that I’m guessing this unit will continue to reinforce.

The Canon XH A1S – List price $3,999 - My Canon XH A1 (HDV) has produced the sharpest images that I’ve ever recorded, and a new 20X lens should only improve things. The update also offers more manual adjustments for those who like to craft their image.

Panasonic HPX-170 - $5,695 – This DVCPRO HD camcorder succeeds the HVX-200, which was exceptionally popular with the indie and documentary filmmaker crowd. It’s completely tape-less, and comes with a five-year warranty. Manual controls are legendary, and DVCPRO HD offers exceptional quality, albeit at a data rate more than four times that of any camcorder recommended here. With the focus assists and waveform monitor, you’ll be able to travel light, and you can flip the display to work with 35 mm adapters that don’t offer flip mechanisms. P2 costs and a 13X zoom are the big negatives.

Panasonic HMC-150 – $3,995. With full resolution AVCHD at up to 21 mbps, three CCDs and a strong feature set, this is the first truly professional AVCHD camcorder and highlights most of the format’s advantages, like 3 hours of full resolution HD video on an SD card scarcely larger than your thumbnail. While not quite as robust as the focus assist on the HPX-170, the focus aids are still much better than what’s offered by most competing camcorders, and the waveform is very similar to the higher priced HPX-170.

Comments (2)

Said this on 03/18/2012 At 03:33 pm

Awesome article, even after a few years!:) Thanks!   ~Will

Said this on 03/18/2012 At 07:55 pm
thanks! Jan

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