With capable, speedy performance, and a friendly but powerful interface, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 is a good choice for people looking to upgrade from a point-and-shoot.
Panasonic's trio of prosumer camcorders, the hard-disk-based HDC-HS900 and flash-based TM900 and SD800, deliver generally excellent video quality and provide the full set of manual controls and features advanced users want. But you have to be willing to baby the white balance a bit. The TM900 is my top pick of the three for its EVF, but if you're on a tight budget the SD800 should suit just fine.
The ContourRoam finally matches the rugged construction and ultrawide field of view of the competition, while still excelling as a sports camera with its ease of use and low price.
Panasonic's HDC-TM40, TM41 and SD40 are some of the cheapest camcorders you can buy with a zoom lens and manual controls. If you care about video quality, spend a little more money on another model; if you don't, buy the cheapest one of these you can find, adjusting for the cost of memory for the SD40.
The Contour GPS sports camera is the sweet spot in Contour's sports camera lineup, offering most of the features that most owners will find useful, and at an affordable price.
A functional trio of camcorders, the Panasonic HDC-SD80, TM80, and HS80 are notable for their manual exposure controls (unusual for their price class) and well-designed touch-screen interface, but otherwise you can find better options. Of the three, the SD80 is the best choice simply on price.
Panasonic's quartet of entry-level HD camcorders--the HDC-HS60, TM60, TM55, and SD60--delivers a nice manual feature set and good performance, as well as solid video quality for their class. As long as you don't pay list price, the SD60 is a great value, and if possible, avoid paying the unnecessary price premium for the hard drive in the HS60.
A functional trio of camcorders, the Panasonic HDC-SD80, TM80, and HS80 are notable for their manual exposure controls, unusual for their price class, and well designed touch-screen interface but otherwise you can find better options. Of the three, the SD80 is the best choice simply on price.
The four sibling models--the JVC Everio GZ-HM300, HM320, HM340, and HD500--deliver subpar video for even their dirt-cheap prices.
The flash-based Panasonic HDC-TM700 and its hard-disk sibling, the HDC-HS700, stand out for their low-light video quality and broad set of manual controls. However, while the TM700 is very attractively priced for its class, the HS700 is not, and not worth the price premium unless you absolutely need the hard disk.