The Best Camcorder Under $500 – Panasonic HDC-TM90K
I've started working in video, for client projects in my consulting business and to promote my own business ventures, and decided it was time to upgrade from the Flip-quality Vado HD I've been using. "Home" video technology has advanced so quickly that today's consumer cameras rival the professional equipment selling for thousands of dollars just a few years ago. Still, there's a wide range of choices in the $200-1,500 range, from many major brands, and I spent a few days researching the options. The Panasonic HDC-TM90K that I settled on is easy to use, and offers a lot of compelling features for the work that I'm doing. Most of them are common to all of the camcorders in the $500 price range: an array of automatic modes, relatively easy-to-use manual settings, an external mike jack, a pivoting touch screen (so you can see yourself on camera if you're filming your own talking head), advanced Optical Image Stabilization, 16GB of built-in memory, plus SDXC/SDHC/SD memory card recording, a cold accessory hot-shoe and optional 3D accessory lens. The experts at B&H Photo were pretty agnostic about brands, and basically steered me to the Panasonic because it was on sale, but what sold me on the brand was the "Soft Skin Mode," which identifies skin tones and puts them in a slight soft-focus, to help hide wrinkles and skin imperfections. Who doesn't love a bit of that? Sold! Buy the Panasonic HDC-TM90K at amazon.com or B&H Photo on sale through June 18 for $419 (save $100). Spend a few hundred dollars more, and you get a 3-sensor camera, that provides even better color reproduction and intricate gradation and image detail.
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