MiniDV is far and away the most efficient standard definition for editing. In fact, virtually every consumer-based editing system is built for it!
Unfortunately, you may have trouble finding a new one. I'm not sure if manufacturers are even still making them! (I picked my last one up used on eBay for $100.) If you do find one, I personally recommend you go with Sony brand.
The next step up is HDV, a hi-def tape-based format, which also works very well with programs like Premiere Elements. But it too is being phased out by manufacturers. Canon and Sony both make excellent HDV units.
The current consumer standard is AVCHD, for better or worse. It's an excellent hi-def format that records to a hard drive or storage card on the camcorder. Unfortunately, the video is highly compressed and you usually need at least a quad core or i7 processor to edit it.
But those are the options I recommend you work with. There are others -- like low-end hi-def and standard def camcorders that sell for $300 and less. But they usually aren't the best options if you're going to be doing any kind of "serious" videoing.
Hi Steve- thanks for the informative reply.
Next question - if I get a HDV or AVCHD camcorder (and make sure I have a computer that can handle the latter) are they recordable to DVDs or only to Blu-Ray?
I sense technology is moving fast and no matter what I do or buy, it is going to be superseded pretty quickly.
I'm just a record-vacation-or-family-events type of videographer - nothing too ambitious. Just want it to be painless!
If you start with HD (High Definition) material, and edit in HD, you have two choices:
- Author to BD (Blu-ray Disc) in HD for playback on a computer w/ a BD multi-drive, or a BD player, hooked to your TV
- Down-rez from HD to SD (Standard Definition), and then author to DVD-Video
Of course you have Export/Share options for other forms of output, but those are the two common disc formats.
As Bill says, you can output hi-def BluRays, standard def DVDs or any other format from your hi-def video projects.
Thanks Steve and Bill. If I went to HD my computer wouldn't cope with it, so I'm stuck with the old technology for now.
I'm looking at second-hand vidcams in good condition, similar to my old one (which has died). Will go with the whole HD thing and new vidcam when I upgrade my computer. Really appreciate your input, guys.