I've had good luck with CamStudio -- freeware, very handy. I like the "record from speaker" option.
How do you save the video from Cam Studio?
No matter how I save from Cam Studio I always get a really bad, blurry video in Premiere Elements.
Try setting your record region to 640x480. You may also need to process the video through a freeware program like Virtualdub to get it to 29.97fps.
So I wonder what frame rate could be fine for a screen recorder, 30fps? Or higher? Some screen recorder like DemoCreator have a certain frame rate setting which can not be change, and the recording quality is all right for me(most I would save the published file as SWF). Is it a little bit different for the recording frame rate to record the screen activities as SWF and AVI. http://www.sameshow.com/demo-creator.html
I use both CamStudio and Microsoft's Community Clips. Both are freeware, and I've had no problem with the quality of the video.
File size is more of an issue -- both applications default to autoadjusting settings during recording to try to maintain the best quality, and I've seen a lot of variance with the file size in the end. Community Clips isn't very configurable (what you can configure has to be done by editing a profile for Windows Media Encoder) and I haven't been tremendously successful with changing options in CamStudio to limit file size while still maintaining quality.
I've been more successful by paying attention to factors outside of the actual capture software:
1. Use a lower resolution on my monitor while capturing. (When I'm working, I like it up at 1920x1200, but turn it much lower for capturing.)
2. Turn the color scheme down to 16-bit. (Not a big deal when I'm recording podcasts of programming examples, etc.)
3. Capture in region mode or application mode, rather than full desktop.
4. I tend to capture short segments, then put them together in PE. That way, I can easily re-record a segment and try adjusting it with some small tweaks.
I've only been doing this for a month or so, but these applications have worked pretty well for me for producing content at work.