Originally Posted by treiss
In the market for a new camcorder. Mostly need to film kids theater productions and other live performances. Big issues will be low light capablity, dynamic range, and sound. As we are between model years sort of speak, I can pick up a Pan tm700 for $750. I also have reviewed the Canon M41 that is coming out and that is approx $750. I have fairly new computer gear (I7-920, 12GB ram, plenty of HD) but in the end I will be down converting a lot of this to DVD. My original video I will keep as I can play it on my BluRay but since a lot of my work goes to parents, I will be at DVD levels.
I know nobody really knows how the Canon will behave but the larger sensor does intrigue me. Promise low noise at low light. Anyone got an opinion. Is a bird in hand (tm700) worth 2 in the bush? I have no worries about buying last years technology as I think it will last me for quite a while. Or, wait. I have some time.
I really did not want to spend more than 700-800 bucks on the camera as I will have to by an external mic and some other misc accessories and looking to stay under $1k for the whole package.
I was in the same boat yesterday, but in the end I decided for the TM700. The TM700 is a proven camcorder and you're basically getting a $1000 camcorder for $750. The viewfinder on the TM700 is nothing to brag about, but LCDs are simply useless in the sun, so just having it there (even if it's a low-res one) is a useful feature for those times you absolutely can't see the display. I'm sure the Canon is more solid and that it has better low-light performance but you have to really think about how you are going to use this camcorder. I personally will be filming mostly in the daytime and in outdoor settings, and maybe a few times at night (the TM700 is still no slouch in low-light). The TM700 will be the sharper cam in daylight and I think I will be do quite a bit of slowmo, so having a 60p source will mean I can run the material at half-speed, plus still have a smoothe video.
It's a tough one, I'm sure the M41 will be great, but if you plan to take a pic here and there, along with a lot of outdoor footage, I'd lean towards the TM700.
I also believe the M41 has no manual controls...big bummer.
EDIT: Sorry, I'll be honest I only skimmed through your post. Seems like you will be doing a lot of indoor stuff and pics will probably not be a feature of much use to you. Have you looked into getting a DSLR like the T2i or T3i? For theater productions, the shallow depth of field a dslr can provide would really be beneficial to the quality of your video (give it a more "artsy" and professional look). I bought a t2i and returned it, cause my main issue with it was that it was hard to focus outdoor while I was moving around. But if you have it on a tripod, you have full manual control of the focus, and also spectacular low-light performance due to the immense sensor. Plus, over time you can always add a lower aperture lens like the $100 Canon 50mm f/1.8 for an even better shallow depth of field.
If I were you i'd look into getting something like a Canon T2i/T3i.
Here are some videos made with the T2i:http://vimeo.com/groups/38034/videos
The T3i I believe has the same internals, but you will be paying $100 more for a swivel LCD and 3x-10x digital zoom (presumably with no quality loss).