All three methods should give you the same results, Laci. You're just moving the video files from the camcorder to your computer. The advantage of using Premiere Elements to do this is that the video is also simultaneously added to your video project.
BTW, I noticed that you said the video was stored on an SD memory card rather than the camcorder's hard drive. If that's the case, it might be a good idea to check the camcorder specs to make sure you're getting AVCHD (and not AVCHD Lite) and which variety of AVCHD it is (as well as ensuring you're using the right audio preset).
I think you've got enough experience with this program to know that, particularly when working with AVCHD, the two most important things are setting up your project with the right project preset and having enough computer power to handle these very challenging files. (A quad core computer with 4 gigs of RAM is usually considered the minimum to work with.)
Steve, Thanks for your reply. I will install Panasonic's AVCCAM Viewer software and use it also to get the material from the SDHC flash memory card. BTW, this camcorder, the Panasonic AG-HCM150P, does not have a hard drive. The recording format is AVCHD (and I read your comment about the importance of the 5.1 audio setting). According to the manual, the Recording Format : AVCHD specifications, Compression method: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264. Since I opened the camcorder box only yesterday, I still have a lot to learn about it. (The 'movie' I transferred to my PC was only 5 sec long!) As soon as I gather some courage (and some money) I will start building my editing computer (a la Videoguys DIY 7) which has 12 GB memory, and an Intel quad core i-7 processor. Thanks again, Laci.
Sounds like you're on the right track, Laci!