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Camcorder Suggestions?


A few days ago Sandy and I decided to purchase a camcorder, primarily for recording church sermons (hers) to help her in her church search process (her current position, as an interim pastor, ends sometime before fall, we think), but also for recording important family events (“Look, our cats took the decorations off the bottom of the Christmas tree!”). Ok, it may be more accurate to say we decided to OWN a camcorder, but it was clear that I would be the one SELECTING it. “Go for it!” she said, and left for a conference.

Well, I’m going for it, but if you have suggestions, I’m listening, with bated breath. I’m having a bad “deer in the headlights” siege, brought on by the fog that comes from repeatedly searching Consumer Reports, CNET, and other sources. We want a camcorder that’s small, not too expensive (this may be pushing it, but we’d really like to keep the whole package under $600, including firewire card, tripod, and case), has decent sound quality, and above all, performs well indoors (you know, like in a church)–the very question that CR and CNET disagreed on the most. (The Canon Model Whatsis works well in indoor lighting. No, the Canon Model Whatsis works poorly in indoor lighting. I suddenly have much more sympathy for people making computer purchases.) Above and beyond this purchase, I’m also buying an external DVD burner, so we can Do Something with the output, which we’re reasonably sure should be in MiniDV format (all right, I’m reasonably sure–Sandy is blissfully above such questions).

Of course, I’m supposed to have this all purchased and figured out by April 2. (I have set several nice tripods and a cute case in my Amazon queue. That, and browsing DVD burners at Fry’s–and of course lording it up to Sandy about the distinction between a player and a burner, not to mention rummaging through Fry’s selection of Firewire cards–was almost therapeutic.) This isn’t like our HDTV purchase, where we go to Fry’s, look at progressively more expensive television sets, then shrug and go home to our 15-year-old 19″ TV; we need to have sermons to market to congregations. I mean, er, not market–heck, I don’t know what I mean. Help!

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