DIY Network has a three part TV show about making home movies.
Ok, I’m waffling between 2 cameras: the Panasonic PV-GS400, a 3CCD camera with lots of manual features, but poor low-lighting performance (1200$), and the Sony Sony VX2100 ($2400). Both are excellent cameras, and a lot can be said for the idea of a cheaper alternative with limited lifespan (so you can bump up to HD production as soon as possible). I can use the extra money to buy other equipment which will outlast the camera. On the other hand, VX2100 will look prettier and will handle indoor light and event lighting better, so it may end up being more useful and practical. The question is: does $1000 buy me that much more? And will that extra $1000 make me more productive (and possibly earn more money?).
The other issue is that both cameras lack balanced XLR microphone inputs, which means you basically need to use a converter (costing $100-300) to use a high quality microphone.
One thing I found helpful was viewing video samples, so I could see the quality level for various kinds of shots. Another thing. Resellerratings is a very nice shopping bot, giving not only reviews and side by side comparisons, but also a recommended vendor at the low price range.
Here’s another comparison of camcorders by price. Here is my dilemma.