1. Wide angle: Most of the consumer camcorders in your price range will have a similar field of view. So... you could add a lens - 0.7 is a good "wide angle" without too much distortion. Be sure whatever camcorder you get has a way to mount a lens. The easy method is to check the camcorder specs for "lens filter diameter". This means there are threads for a screw-mount filter or lens add-on.
2. Good low light performance: Small lenses and imaging chip in your price range make this impossible. Sorry.
3. Wind noise reduction: Most camcorders in your price range have this - for any mic, the trick is to isolate the mics (whether built-in or external) form the wind. When you pick a camcorder, check to see if there is a fuzzy made for it (or for the external mics you plan to use). Foam wind screens don't work too well. Built-in mics don't work too well, but if it is all you have, then, add the fuzzy (or "dead cat"). I've added fuzzies to the built-in mics on my camcorders and they help a lot.
4. Long recording (i.e. not Mini DV 60 minutes): Then you are limiting yourself to expensive flash memory cards. But that is your choice. Before we go too far, what is your plan on archiving captured video - or is this not important?
5. No camera noise (Whining tape machanism noise on all my vids!): Fair enough - but when the built-in mics are used - and in the same housing as a motor, there will be some of this... especially in camcorders in your price range. External mics in shock mounts can eliminate this. Keep in mind that (1) if there is adequate ambient noise, then the built-in auto audio gain control might not pick up the motor noise; (2) if manual audio control is used, the audio recording is better controlled to substantially reduce this; (3) even flash memory cams have a motor to control focus or zoom and that motor noise can also be recorded by internal mics under quiet audio conditions.
6. Quick on/startup (in 1 or 2 seconds instead of 8): Limits you to flash memory.
so... you like the CX700, but that is too much $. That leaves the Sony CX300 series and Canon HF R or HF M series.
I'm looking for some advice on my next camcorder purchase.
After extensive use of my Canon MVX3i all around the world, I have identified a bunch of features that I really want in my next camera:
1. Wide angle
2. Good low light performance
3. Wind noise reduction
4. Long recording (i.e. not Mini DV 60 minutes)
5. No camera noise (Whining tape machanism noise on all my vids!)
6. Quick on/startup (in 1 or 2 seconds instead of
The Canon had a whole lot of manual functions which I never used.
It was nice and solid, quite big - which I wanted at the time but I dont think I need to worry about my next camcorder being too big.
I would prefer a camcorder with built in flash memory - no moving parts hopefully means no noise and better battery life.
The old Mini DV camera really did have an annoying noise from the whirring tape mechanism recorded onto the soundtrack of every tape I put through it.
I'm not sure a Hard Drive camera would be completly noise free either.
I have found the Sony HDRCX700V which does meet my needs - but unfortunatly not my budget.
I would prefer not to spend more than $600 US.
Hope someone can point out a camera or two that suits! Thanks