using camcorders, you will use miniDV tape. Your film class instructure surely would have taught you that much. They are easy to use with your Macintosh (and a Firewire cable). If you are somehow brainwashed to believe a HDD will be easier, understand the following:
1) MiniDV tape continues to provide the best available video quality. Other internal storage media at the consumer level compress more than DV or HDV. The exceptions to this are external hard drives from Firestore and the P@ cards used in the Panasonic Proline cameras.
2) As a "student" of the art, you will also need manual audio control with that mic-in jack. The Sony DCR-VX2100, HVR-V1U and Z1u will provide for that. As well, the Can XHA1 and GL2 and XL series will be good candidates... along with the Panasonic HVX200 abd DVX100.
If you require consumer grade, the Sony HDR-HC7 abd HC9 and Canon HV20 and HC30 are good candidates. Any camcorder with a 1/8" mic in jack will need an XLR adapter to use good mics. BeachTek makes good gear.
$600 won't get you very far.
I am a student that is passionate about film making. It has really become a task that I enjoy embarking on. The camera I use now just does not cut it for me, due to it shooting at very low resolution. I would like to know which camcorder would be best for me with my budget of $600 dollars. Through my research I have deduced that I should buy a HDD or MiniDV Camcorder. Yet, I think MiniDV camcorders seem like more of a hassle to use them with Final Cut Pro. Also, I need the camcorder to have a microphone input. Lastly, I do not care for still image quality on this camcorder but I would like it to display the best video picture quality possible with my given budget.
Thank you in Advance.