Hi Abe and welcome to the forum. Yes, with all of the options out there, it is a challenge to decide what kind of video-capable camera will best meet your needs. Here is some info on the two cameras you may find useful.
First - the HF M500
is last year's model, and at its best, can only record at 24mbps at 1080/24p. This year's Canon camcorders, such as the HF R40
series, have a 53x optical zoom, record up to 35mbps (1080/60p MP4) or 28mbps (1080/60p AVCHD) - and they are less expensive, so I will substitute the HF R40
for the HF M500
in this analysis.
's highest quality recordings are at 20mbps (1080/30p MP4) or 28mbps (1080/60p AVCHD).
If you're a Mac/iOS guy, the Canon's high quality MP4 recording will be the better option.
The HF R40
also has a headphone jack, which the FZ200
lacks - a standard 3.5mm microphone jack (the FZ200
's mic jack is a non-standard 2.5mm and requires a $5 adapter
) and a longer maximum continuous recording time (8 hours at maximum bit rate with a 128GB card - versus about 2 hours for the FZ200
no matter how big the card is).
That said, the FZ200
has a standard hot shoe for accessories such as mics and external flashes, while the HF R40
has no accessory shoe at all (not even Canon's silly proprietary "mini advanced" shoe).
also has a viewfinder for sunny days when LCD screens have a tendency to wash out - something you have to spend a lot more money to get in a camcorder.
Plus, the FZ200
shoots at 720/120p - for high quality, smooth slow motion. Something no Canon camera can do.
And it is a much
better still camera - with a built-in flash.
As far as video image quality goes, here is what the two cameras can do:FZ200 Slow motion and special effects (please watch at 720p):FZ200 Documentary:Sit down interview shot with the pro Canon XA10 and the HF R40 (the focus seems a little off on the HF R40 shots, but you get the idea):
If budget allows, and you don't absolutely need Mac compatibility or a headphone jack, I would get the $499 FZ200
(if you can find one - they are backordered at $499 for one to two months - if you need one right now, they're marked up to almost $600
If budget is an issue, and you need a camera right now, the $349 Canon HF R40
may be the better option.
Hope this is helpful,
BillHybrid Camera Revolution