one of the requirements would be that it be miniDV. May I suggest that you read through the forum sticky at the top of this camcorder forum (in case you have not already done so).
There are many reasons I would get miniDV including: that tape becomes the archive, best video quality available (compared to other storage media) and "unlimited" capacity (just pop in a new tape).
I agree that analog tape is going by the wayside, and it is possible that certain manufacturers are more focused on making money on poorer quality video capture devices, but I do not agree that digital tape is an antiquated capture method that "should not be bothered with".
Having been an IT manager, I know that hard drives will fail, and recovery of the data stored on that hard drive (in this case a camcorder) means an expensive interaction with a company like Drive Savers, or if the camcorder fails (not the hard drive), I have no method to get to the video - but with miniDV tape, I take out the tape and insert it to another camera... and with over 300 tapes, I have yet to have a tape failure, so that is a minor concern to me. With miniDVD disc based camcorders, the video compression is so high, the resulting video is awful to edit. I believe the next good thing is solid state memory, but I still need a better archive mechanism and cheaper memory so for now, miniDV tapes it is.
Please note that transferring miniDV taped video requires FireWire on your computer... so we need to know what you have there, too. Hard drive based camcorders typically use USB - and the higher-end hard drive based camcorders may also provide video that is good enough for you.
For your price range and stated requirements, the Panasonic PV-GS miniDV based camcorder line seems about right... but this is just my opinion...
So, I am new to cameras and camcorders in general. I have been looking at various websites, and doing research- but each individual seems to have his/her own opinion on aspects of camcorders. For example, one website stated that Mini-DV camcorders are becoming outdated, but it has good quality video and is good for editing. However, another site states that Mini-DV camcorders are old and just shouldn't be bothered with or compared to newer camcorders.
Then there are technical issues. I am completely lost when websites through out fancy camcorder terms.
All I know is that I want a good camera for a person interested in making personal films. My price range is $200-$600, but I want something that will give me a good couple of years' worth.
Nothing fancy, but nothing worthless.
Does anyone have any suggestions?