First and foremost, I recommend you stick with Sony and Canon, who make the most consisitently good, consistently compatible camcorders.
Your best bets for camcorders that interface with Premiere Elements are tape-based. Those would be miniDV standard definition and hi-def HDV. These camcorders always work with the program.
With version 9, you'll also find more success with AVCHD hard drive hi-def camcorders, which version 9 can edit natively. They will demand more power though. You should consider these only if you're running at least a quad core or i7 processor on your computer.
Version 9 also supports DSLR cameras -- high end cameras, like the Canon 7D, that shoot excellent video. Don't confuse these, though, with just any still camera that shoots video. These camcorders (with interchangeable lenses) are top of the line and used by professionals.
At the lower end, version 9 includes support for Flip camcorders -- $200 pocket camcorders that shoot excellent video (though probably aren't a substitute for a "real" camcorder).
So, as you can see, a lot depends on what type of video you plan to shoot and how much you're willing to spend.
Meantime, you'll increase the odds on your favor if you've got a powerful, clean, well-maintained computer. Windows 7 is a great operating system -- though you'll increase the odds of success if it's the 32-bit version rather than the 64-bit version of the operating system.
Thankyou so much for your informative reply. I hope u don't mind if I make use of your expertise a bit more?
You recommend Sony and Canon - any particular models? Or just any ones?
Do you NOT recommend Panasonic, or are Sony and Canon just your favourites?
We are not running a quad core or i7 processor (unfortunately).We have Intel Pentium D CPU 3.4 GHZ, with 3 gig of RAM. Does this mean that our machine will just struggle more than later machines... but could still do what we require? (at a slower rate).Interestingly, we do have a DSLR - A Nikon D90 (it is very nice!)
Thanking you again,
Sony and Canon are both excellent brands. It's hard to go wrong with them.
Unfortunately, the Pentium D isn't likely powerful enough for you to do any serious video editing on. I'd recommend you wait until you can afford to upgrade your hardware before you invest in Premiere Elements 9 -- and that you buy enough hardware to support whatever camcorder format you expect to buy.