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A MacBook Pro would be a better solution -- although many of the newer iMacs have the power to work with hi-def AVCHD. But it's worth giving it a test drive.
Meantime, you are correct that Premiere Elements doesnot edit 50p and 60p AVCHD well. However, many of the new Panasonics that shoot in this format also shoot in 50i and 60i, which the program works very well with. (The program can work with AVCHD Lite, 1280x720 at 50p/60p.)
So check the camcorder specs. Shoot your video with interlaced frames and you should be fine.
On the other hand, if you're sold on 50p/60p video, you may need to look into professional software, like Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro to edit it.
Thanks a lot for the very quick response Steve.
I suspect shooting 1080/50i is likely to be the way to go, I'll obviously have a play once I get the camera. I just wanted to check whether it's feasible to shoot in 1080/50p, but convert to 720/50p prior to importing into Premiere Elements. That way I can keep a copy of the 1080/50p clip to use in a few years time when the consumer editing software has caught up.
If I were to do that, what's the recommended file format to convert to prior to import? Is there something similar to AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec) which is fast to convert to and edit from - ideally I'd rather not convert to 720/50p H.264. Is there a list of Premiere Elements' supproted input formats somewhere?
I would not recommend you do that. You're so much better off shooting video in an editable format than in trying to convert to an editable format later (which can be very hit and miss).