This used to be an easy question. Sony PD-150 miniDV. or the Pana DVX that alex is talking about.
But now, since almost any portable device with solid state memory contains some sort of camera or camera application, you need to first fully think out exactly what you'd like to be shooting with it.
I'm going to go ahead and assume that you are looking to do some single-camera (film-style) sketch comedy. stuff that is probably 5 minutes long, MAX.
that being said, IMO, priorities for YOUR budget camera should be:
- microphone input
- does the camera have easy-to-operate manual focus controls?
- image quality
- storage space
- battery life
The trick these days isn't to get a camera with good imaging, its getting a camera with good AUDIO inputs. Any camera that shoots HD-size images is going to compress down to the web in better quality then you'd ever expect. I've cut "flip cam" footage into many broadcast television shows, they are fantastic for capturing images, but the microphones in them do absolutely NOTHING.
So, if you're REALLY on a budget, you only really need the cheapest solid state recording camera with a microphone input that you can find.
If you have a laptop, you don't even need to worry about how much memory or HD space the camera has, just stop shooting when you are filled and back up your media to a folder on your HD.
Do yourself a favor and buy a LIGHT KIT and a 90 dollar microphone with the money you saved. Lights make the difference between shit and pro stuff almost all the time.
I'm pretty sure you can get all this stuff without too much of a hassle for >2000 bucks.
However, FYI, if i had to buy a camera for a professional job in 2010, this is what i'm getting... and i'm sticking Canon glass on it.http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10406925-1.html
PS - if you really want a "prosumer" camera, you can probably find an awesome deal on a used HVX on craigslist... those cameras are the most reliable tapeless HD cameras i've ever seen. the images are fantastic, but the storage medium is expensive.
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