PP and AE will work with just about any type of footage and can even mix it on the same timeline (it's one of the big Adobe selling points), so don't worry about that aspect at all. The majority of consumer devices will record to H.264 (MP4) or Quicktime (MOV), both of which can be edited natively by PP and AE.
Professional kit stores more data per second and has more color data (values to define the color of each pixel aren't shared as much as they are for consumer devices), but whether you need that depends on the work you're doing. Things like chroma-key (green screening) work a lot better on pro footage because of that extra color data - it's not impossible with consumer footage but you'll find it hard to get perfect results. If you're uploading to places like YouTube or Vimeo you probably won't notice the difference anyway as the compression is so high.
In terms of kit, the question is "what are you shooting?". For $500 you could buy a conventional camcorder, or go for a DSLR with video (e.g. the Canon 550D):
- camcorders can record for a long time, but have deep depth of field, highly-compressed data and permanently-attached lenses so the footage looks like it's shot on a camcorder.
- DSLRs can only record for a short time (unless you use external hardware or hacked firmware you're generally limited to around 10-15 mins per clip) but have a shallow depth of field and the option to choose any lens, so they can create the 'cinematic' look everyone seems to want these days.
Some camcorders have features like high-speed shooting, and tend to have better internal microphones. DSLRs can be persuaded to shoot very professional level footage, but it usually means covering it with external mics, follow-focus gears, HDMI capture devices, etc. so the camera itself is often the cheapest bit of the rig! The obvious gain from using a DSLR is that you have a stills camera in your hands too, but if the thing you're filming lasts 45 minutes, a conventional camcorder is the only option.
Thanks for your reply.
DSLR is not an option, since my price range is $400-$500. The Canon 550D is called EOS Revel T2i over here and costs way more than the $500 you're talking about (based on the cheapest price I could find) for the standard kit with 18-55mm lens.
Like I said, I don't want to spend too much, until I'm more familiar with camcorders and Premiere/After Effects. I just want to know what my best options are under $400-$500. In just want to get my feet wet, but don't want do it with a crap camcorder either. It don't expect a pro camera, just a camcorder that stands out from the rest in that same price range.
Not much choice in that price range and still a decent model.
Looking at cameras in the price range of € 450 - 500, the only decent cameras are the:
Panasonic HDC-SD 66EG and SDX 1EG or the Canon Legria HF R28. All other models in that price range have worse test results.