The ideal camcorders for interfacing with Premiere Elements are tape-based, bh. That would be either miniDV, for standard definition video, or HDV, for hi-definition video. And terrific camcorders at that price are available for well under that price.
Is there are reason you are sold on a camcorder that saves to a media card? There are a number of liabilities to that format, and working with that type of video can mean you'll need a much more powerful computer -- depending on whether you're looking for a standard definition or hi-definition camera.
Part of the reason for posting was to see if it was possible to find a happy medium between the convenience of capturing footage to hard drive with the added cpu requirements (the comps in the classroom are a bit old) Your reply steers me towards the direction on Mini DV. Is there a suggestion fro a Mini Dv camera sub $1000?
Actually, you'll be hard pressed to find a miniDV that costs more than $400!
Although they've fallen out of favor with the general public (who like the convenience of hard drive and flash cams), video editors know the truth: It's far and away the easiest format for interfacing with a computer. And that goes for Macs as well as PCs.
Actually, I was being just a bit facetious when I said you'd be hard pressed to find a miniDV under $400. There are prosumer units (like the Canon XL series) that start at $1,000.
But you'll get great results with a mid-level Sony, Panasonic or Canon! And those can be had for between $200 and $400. Don't be afraid to buy a discontinued or even refurbished model on Amazon. They can be great deals!
In my experience, Sonys give the best low-light performance and value.
If you want to go for a miniDv camera, you can buy a Sony DCR-HC96 or a Canon ZR-series. These are available for less than $1000 and should work well with Premiere Elements.