It gets really tricky when advising on "good".
In the $500 range there aren't any "good" cameras. But all of them
can be used to create something. So in that price range you can
go to any retailer, pick up the first one you see and you'll be
fine. Make sure it uses tape (miniDV) or records to a built in
hard drive and not to DVD. Sony, Canon, Sharp and Panasonic all
make camcorders in the $500 range that your boyfriend can use to
create something and that is compatible with his Mac.
When you get into the "good" range there are three things that are
VERY important when getting a camera:
Manual controls for the iris, shutter, focus and white balance.
A microphone input.
There are no cameras in the $500 range that have all those
features. Very close is the JVC GZ-HD3 is a nice starter camera
that records to a 60GB HDD with manual controls and a mic input.
It can be found for around $800.
In the around $1,000 - $1,500 range there are currently only 4:
The Panasonic series (PV-GS300, PV-GS400, PV-GS500) are terrific
3CCD cameras. It seems the 400 is hard to find and thatís too
bad. Itís a great little camera. But the 500 is still an
excellent starter camera with the essentials.
Sony DCR-HC1000 is very similar to the Panasonic cameras. If
youíre more comfortable with Sony, this is the camera for you.
I like the new JVC GZ-HD7. Iíve seen these on line for as little
as $1,200. A really nice Fujinon lens makes a huge difference and
full manual controls is important. Three 1/5í 16:9 progressive
scan CCDís are pretty impressive for a camera in this price
range. It records directly to a built in 60GB hard drive.
Close is the Canon HV20. It records in HDV (1080i) and 24p (60i),
has a mic input and manual controls of white balance and focus
but it uses one 1/2.7Ē CMOS sensor rather than 3 CCDís. For me
the jury is still out on the CMOS. And itís so small the handling
Don't let the numbers (1080i, 24p) or the acronyms (HDV, HDD)
confuse you. For a beginning filmmaker like your boyfriend none
of that really matters right now. Check on line at B&H Photo
the cameras mentioned or at a retail store near you and he will
be happy with any of the cameras mentioned.