I'd try the CNET CAMCORDER FORUM but there is so much ground to cover I hope you can post half your questions and half this size so you'll get better answers.
In my view I always record at the highest quality since I can always remove quality. I can never add it later.
Ok...A little information...then my question(s).
First of all, I am no computer genius...quite the opposite. However, I do try and educate myself as much as possible to understand what I'm working/dealing with, but there are some things(many things) and terms that I simply do not understand. I'm not trying to become a genius at this stuff, just get a general understanding so I can record, manage and create home videos.
I bought the Panasonic HDC-SD100 back in 2009 (or so) to record vacations, kids events...typical home movie stuff. I wanted a camera that could record HD because I want the best possible video...why not...its available.
I also have an imac which I also bought around the same time. I have iMovie and iPhoto, but I rarely use them and plan to start...My iMac has a 1 TB harddrive. I also have a 1 TB Timecapsule. I subsequently bought a 1 TB External harddrive, and then another 2TB External Harddrive. I'll explain why in a minute.
When I first got my Camera, I set the recording to the highest possible setting...HA1920. The Chip I bought and have been using is a ScanDisk Ultra II, SDHC 4, 15 MB/s, 32GB.
So I recorded a lot of things and eventually filled the chip and then proceeded to empty the chip on my iMac. At this point, I wanted to make sure that after recording in that highest possible setting, that I would retain most if not all of that quality by choosing the best possible settings when transffering the info to my iMac. So I think I remember choosing the stabilization option as well as Full (original size) as opposed to Large (significantly reduces file size with little image quality loss).
It did take a while to transfer that info...but I figured..."Hey that's the price to pay for high quality!". So with an empty chip, I began recording again...all this was over a time span of roughly 1-2 years(not sure how important that info is, but I thought I would mention it).
The chip eventually filled again so I did the same thing, and emptied the chip.
Then one day...My iMac wasn't working properly. The screen wasn't loading properly and such and I couldn't figure out why. I still had warranty through Apple so I brought it to the Apple store. Turns out my internal hardrive was broken, or corrupt...not sure but they installed a new harddrive...thank god for the timecapsule!!
I get home, reconnect my iMac and do a backup or whatever its called...to get the info from my timecapsule back to my iMac...but I think it kept failing...not enough space. I suspect that even though my iMac and Timecapsule have the same size...the iMac also houses the operating system along with games, apps...whatever...that occupy space. So its possible that the Time Capsule had 800GB's of info and the iMac only had 700GB's available?
So the reason I bought those external harddrives was due to the fact that the amount of information that I was transffering from my camcorder to my imac was huge! A hell of a lot bigger than the 32GB chip in the camera, which leads me to believe that there is a compression thing happening as I record onto the chip and then when it gets decompressed to the computer...it expands...a lot! but not sure how much.
So first question stems from the beginning of the recording process. Lets compare recording in HA1920 or one of the other setting (HG1920 or HX1920...forget HE 1440...I don't think I would ever use that one anyway).
Now lets say that I fill the 32GB chip once with everything recorded in HA1920...when I transfer it to the computer...it obviously decompresses but is it 5X or 10X? And what if I recorded in one of the other, slightly lower setting... is the decompression ratio any different or is it still the same 5X or 10X? That's the 1st thing I need to know because if there no difference...then that doesn't affect my decision my making process of which setting to use.
The next thing is transffering the info to my iMac. What options should I chose? I've read that some people say that some camcorders don't actually record in full 1080p (or 1080i...not sure what the difference is and which is better).
The other thing I should mention is that I need to understand how I should properly save all this video or picture data. Is storing the data, or backing it up...whatever you call it, to an external harddrive the best option? and what about accessing this info to use in such programs as iMovie and iPhoto? I think I'll cut and paste this same question in my question list to follow
Maybe I should just make a list of questions...but please add in more suggestions. I just need to understand what I should be doing because even after I manage all this data...I still need to learn how to use iMovie to make those fantastic home movies to impress my wife and kids =)
1-What setting on the camcorder should I record in?
2-What cable should I use to transfer the data from my camcorder to the iMac? I have a USB but I think that is also an HDMI terminal...should I use that? Also, how do I know if I have the right kind of USB? I read that USB 2 should be used?
3-What options should I chose to transfer the info to my iMac?
4-Isn't stabilization important?
5-Any suggestions on how to learn to use iMovie and/or iPhoto?
6-Is there anything I should mention regarding my iMac? processor speed or whatever...?
7-Is the chip I'm using the right kind of chip?
8-Is storing the data, or backing it up...whatever you call it, to an external harddrive the best option? and what about accessing this info to use in such programs as iMovie and iPhoto?
If you have taken the time to read my whole thread and comment...then I can't thank you enough. If you can help me, I will be so appreciative even though I won't be able to show you...so a big thank you! in advance.