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Camcorder Buying Guide

HD Camcorders

High definition is quickly becoming a larger share of the overall market, but prices are still relatively high for consumer models -- anywhere from $300 to $1,000. So-called prosumer models, camcorders on the high-end of the consumer scale, range from $1,000 to $3,000, and they can go even higher. HD offers slicker video shooting, better editing capability and higher production values. The trade-offs are cost, the frequent need to upgrade a home computer to handle editing, the need to buy good editing software and the occasionally limited cross-platform capabilities of the video format. However, for someone who's serious about video and looking into what's coming down the line, HD camcorders are the future.

If HD turns out to be a little too flashy (and pricey) for you, there's always the standard definition (SD) camcorder. This makes up the majority of the hand-held market. Prices range from about $150 to $350. These are great entry-level camcorders with acceptable video and a price tag allowing the user room to buy extra batteries, good editing software and external accessories. There's also little need to upgrade a home computer system to handle a new standard definition camcorder, and the video format is common across many platforms.

What if you want to shoot on the go, but don't want to carry around a bulky bag stuffed with a camcorder and its accessories? We'll take things to a smaller scale on the next page.