I'm off on holiday next month and looking to pick up a camcorder to partner my SLRs. I was browsing a supermarket yesterday and was very impressed with some of the small Sony HDD camcorders so I've decided to pick one up for my holiday this year...the problem is which one though. My head is spinning reading through specs and reviews so I'd appreciate some advice.
My main priority is something small with reasonable image quality, I'm not really too fussy on manual controls or anything like that as I'm very much a stills person. At the moment I've been using my cameras to record video which is acceptable but I think it's worth considering a camcorder.
The first argument seems to be HD vs non-HD - while I love the idea of High-Def recording it seems a bit immature to me at the moment. It needs vast amounts of space, editing tools are sparce and slow for AVCHD plus there's a fairly hefty price premium. The argument against non-HD is that you're spending money on outdated technology which isn't going to last is a strong one but the reality is I need this next month and I don't think much will have changed in that time.
Going with non-HD that then gives the choice of storage format, miniDV, DVD or HDD. MiniDV still seems a strong choice offering the best image quality and cheap blank tapes but slow to get the data off. I like the idea of DVD as it's a format I'm familiar with but the DVD camcorders seem to be a bit bulkier to accomodate the drive. At the moment I like the idea of an HDD camcorder as it seems very neat with the issue being of course a hard limit on what you can record. I can't see myself recording that much but I'm not taking a PC with me, only an Archos 504 160GB with usb host capability.
I really liked the look of the Panasonic S150 which is very small and offers good quality through it's three CCDs - I thought I could get around the SD card issue by taking a couple of 4GB SDHCs (which my L1 and LX2 can use as well) and backing them up to the Archos. However, despite some reviews being good for this device (aside from SD storage) Cnet in particular panned it saying the video quality looked like someone had taken a rake across it.
So, any thoughts on a small, cheapish HDD camcorder would be welcomed or if any other suggestions which you think I should be considering. Budget at the moment is around 300-400 pounds although willing to stretch it for something worthwhile.