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Narrowing down (from VPC-HD1010) my choices for a camcorder.

So, I've been lurking for a while and gotten a lot of nice third-hand advise here (thanks, all), but I think I might need some more direct advice now.

To summarize up-top, I'm basically looking for

.sub $500
.compact
.SD/MMC/CF storage (SD preferred)

Beyond that,
.manual focus (ON THE CAMERA--not buried in menus) is something I think I may be hurting for (though if at this price I don't have options.. that budget is sadly fixed)
.manual exposure/WB I think I could work around being in menus
.best optics/sensor and focal length range within that price range (I guess that's a given)
.compression isn't something I'm too worried about - I don't need production quality, some loss I can handle.
.I have iMovie and was recently given After Effects, so one of those is likely what I'd do some *basic* editing, if any.
.Still images while recording video would be a definite plus

Realistically,
.OIS obviously nice, but not expected at this price.


Most of these I've arrived at from a combination of reading advise on these forums and having recently tried the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1010 on a trip for the day. From this, I've decided that I don't mind the compressed video. Not having a flexible way to adjust focus was a real pain, but I realize I may not have many options at this price point. Same for IS.

Really, the only good things I could say about this model is that it's fairly inexpensive, produces satisfactory quality for my purposes, small form factor, and--despite reviews--takes stills while recording.

Still, other than the lack of manual focus and OIS, I think I'd be happy with it.


So, I guess my question is, at this price point is hoping for a decent manual focus and OIS in something similar to the Xacti (maybe it's the small form factor I desire as much or more than the price?) too hopeful? I will say that I don't need the camera to say that it's "1080p" like the HD1010. Though 720p would be better than SD.


Thanks all. (And if anyone is interested in any farther impressions or have questions on the Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1010, I'd be happy to provide/answer them.)

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