I have considered the following HD camcorders:
Canon HF200, HF S100
Sony XR200V, XR500V, XR520V
Here is my rationale in narrowing my choices:
1) Sony may be better but I don't want to deal with a HDD based camcorder (risk of data loss due to shock) and I do not like the (non-standard) memory stick
2) Panasonic TM300 is best rated on Camcorderinfo.com & is among the top 5 on CNET but that is pretty much it. The overall reviews on Panasonic TM300 are low, including Amazon
I am now down to the Canon HF200 & HF S100 - both have great reviews on Amazon (69 as of date for HF200 - 4.5 stars, 45 as of date for HF S100, 4.5 stars) Not to mention HF100 has 233 reviews of date with 4.5 stars.
Overall, the reviews tell me Canon camcorders are well accepted by the consumers/ prosumers than the Panasonic.
I then compared the HF200 and the HF S100 on slashcam.com; see link athttp://camcorder-test.slashcam.com/compare.html
and I observed the following:
1) Both are rated good (5 out of 7 stars)
2) Both have pictures at 1200 lux that looked quiet the same - hard to tell the difference for my eyes atleast
3) At 12 lux, the HF200 has a brighter picture but shows noticeable noise, the HF S100 is darker but the noise is not-so-noticeable. What I am perceiving is (and I may be wrong) is that the HF200 has more light coming to the sensor and hence displays more noise
4) HF200 has 15X optical zoom while the HF S100 has 10X - advantage HF200; a big one for me - all else being closely similar
5) Pixel count - 2.8 million for HF200, 6 Million for HF S100 - not sure if more pixels mean better video quality on a camcorder; I do not care about still pics, I have a DSLR for it
6) White Balance - HF200 only has auto & manual, HF S100 has those two + presets - something I do not care about
7) HF200 has no zebra lines (for understanding exposure, I think) or histogram but HF S100 - advantage HF S100 (although this does not matter to me)
Everything else is similar or same on the two camcorders.
Now - my needs: I will mostly be shooting videos of my kids or when on travel. I would say 80% indoors (incandescent lights - typical living room; and maybe
some situations with a single bulb or dusk/ evening setting. I understand how technology works, basically speaking, but am no expert on video cameras.
What is important to me:
1) Decent picture quality, good optical
zoom (15X works best, 12X is a compromize, 10X iffy)
2) Flash memory - prefer SDHC cards, NO hard disk, embedded flash is too expensive
3) Ability to shoot indoors with typical home lighting (ceiling lights; all rooms have either two or 23 watt 4 CFLs, depending on the room size). I can crank-up the lights in the living room to have 6-8 CFLs.
I got a HF200 with a 8 GB card, a mini HDMI cable and a Canon carry case at a local Costco for $ 569; the HF S100 (no add-ons) is available on costco.com for $ 899. Clearly the HF200 is better value for money right now, given my needs
I do not want to spend too much money now. My take is to go for the HF200, wait till 2010 holiday season or 2011 - we will get better technology at a better price. That would be an apt time to decide on which camera to spend $ 1k+.
1) Am I missing out anything drastically? Is there anything I missed out or did not consider?
2) Does the analysis make sense for my needs?
3) Any particular reason that you would recommend the HF S100 over the HF200?
Please feel free to add anything else that you consider relevant. Thank you for your time and making this a great forum for all of us.