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The primary feature to look for in a camcorder for the purpose of film making is progressive scanning. It is always identified with a p (as in 24p, or 30p) in the specifications or advertisements from manufacturers who are pushing the film maker market. It's what allows a camcorder to capture images that appear more filmic than the hard look of video. Other features are manual controls. Many consumer cameras are offering full manual controls now, but how the controls are accessed is what separates the cheap camcorders from the more expensive prosumer models. Depending on what you want to achieve, even with manual control, a consumer model won't always give you the fine adjustment that a more expensive camcorder will. Low light and good color reproduction is also another condition that separates the consumer from prosumer arenas. Unless your getting a professional camcorder, ALL camcorders perform poorly in low light. Prosumer models perform better thanks to larger imagers (CCD, or CMOS chips), and the combination of three which are dedicated to RED, GREEN, BLUE separately instead of having only one imager (usually smaller too) in most consumer cams. Another thing that you need to look out for is the different type of media that camcorders record to. Buying a DVD camcorder will be totally counter productive for an indie film maker. The DVDs are formatted in the same VOB container as commercial DVDs to make them compatable with set top DVD players. So, if you want to edit the footage, you have to buy a ripper just to get the video off the disc, and even then you may have to re-establish the pixel ratio. The newest format is the HDD (hard disc drive) camcorders. This can seem attractive since transferring the video from the camcorder to PC would be much quicker than any other format, however, the codec used for recording the video to the hard drive is AVCHD which is more highly compressed than DV or HDV and has received criticism for it's lack of ability to handle smooth motion (like with panning), especially with progressive scanning. $2,000 is generally the line you'll see drawn between the consumer world and prosumer (unless you find low priced used prosumer), and around $8-10,000 and up being the professional market. There's only one consumer camera that I'm aware of (and own) that offers 24p. (JVC just came out with a consumer 24p HDcam but it's 24p performance got terrible reviews because its HDD and therefore uses the AVCHD codec.) It's the HV20. Out of all the consumer cams it's low light performance is at the top of the list. It also offers manual control over everything. Although since it is a consumer model, some of the control can be frustrating. The focus dial is pretty tiny making rack focusing a real challenge and the lowest zoom speed is still not slow enough to crawl. The next models worth looking at start in the $3,500 range and up. If you have the money, the Panasonic HVX200 is getting a lot of support from accessory manufacturers who specialize in making manual "film camera" controls for prosumer video cameras. The bad part is that it records to P2 media cards which are still very pricy. Other HDV models include the Sony HVR V1U, and the JVC HD110/200/250. The JVC offers the ability to change out lenses, while all the other HDV camcorders on the market with 24p/30p have fixed lenses. Prosumer cams like these will give you a finer level of control than consumer models, allowing for more creative zooms, accurate focus pulling, and tweakability on color and picture detail. Other equipment to consider: Tripod is a must, and I don't recommend you buy one of those deals at walmart. Get a good tripod. Good place to look is at bhphotovideo.com. I purchased the Bogen/Manfrotto 055X with the 501 head. It's about $300. If that sounds like too much, there are probably cheaper ones you could find and be happy with. I called them, told them about what I was willing to spend and what I was filming, and that's what led me to that particular model. Microphone-I'm currently using the Rhode VideoMic, and am pleased with it. I bought a extending paint stick that I attached an accessory shoe for mounting the mic, and have a MiniDisc recorder I use to capture the audio. It's a cheap work-a-round for close micing with a boom operator, however it's cord is so short that I usually just mount it on the camera. I'm planning on getting the Rhode NTG-1, or 2 to attach an XLR cable and XLR to 1/8" transformer to run it straight to the cam. Syncing up audio and video in post is a pain. Lights-I bought a bunch of lights and a closet rack to mount them on for 1/5 the price it would've cost me to buy pro video lighting. I paid close attention to getting the 6500K bulbs so that white balancing indoor lighting with outdoor lighting wouldn't be a problem. Tungsten and even many of the so called daylight bulbs are actually 3200K or lower. Unless you're going for the look, white balancing orange light and blue light in the same scene can give you very inconsistant color matching between different angles, making it fairly uncorrectable in post. You've probably already thought of half this stuff but I'm being thorough just in case. If you get an HD cam, unless you can afford a very powerful PC or Mac after buying all this other crap, you may have to settle for editing in pennsylvania until you can have a machine with a fast bus, powerful processor, powerful graphics card, and plenty of ram and hard drive space. If you're going to go with a consumer camcorder, here's some more about the HV20 to help with your decision. One of the weird things about the cam (well, most consumer cams) is the "exposure" control. It's really meant to be a transparent solution over aperture and shutter speed control for those who don't know what those things are. The HV20 gives you manual control over them anyways, BUT, not at the same time. It has a shutter priority mode (control over shutter speed but not aperture), or aperture priority mode (aperture control but not shutter.) I found that to be very frustrating until a user posted a video on HV20.com showing how to use the exposure control in shutter priority mode to gain control over the aperture. But being able to adjust and lock the exposure as well as control audio levels is great for film making. The zoom also can be locked to one of three speeds so that there's no risk to having a stuttering zoom during a shot, you just can't get a good slow crawl out of it. The slowest speed is still too fast.