Whether you need/want high definition is up to you - and your editing capabilities. If you are editing, your computer needs lots of hard drive space because HD video takes lots of room... but lets slide that out of the way for a moment...
You need a camcorder with AV-in. That is what the helmetcam connects to. You already know that. What you might not know is the AV in comes in as an analog (composite) signal... the Yellow RCA jack in the Yellow-video; red-right audio; white-left audio connectors similar to the analog/composite connections in/out of a VCR or DVD player to/from a non-HD TV. That helmet cam will be recording in stabdard definition - even if the camcorder is an HD model. That said, the HD camcorders will record in standard def, too, so it is a question of whether you are considering mix/match modes during edit or if it will be all standard definition throughout. (Heads up: HD is ALWAYS 16:9; SD can be 16:9 or 4:3...) And some computer video editors will throw up on mixing formats...
Because of the diverse nature you mentioned and the "high quality" you have as a requirement, I regret that there is no cam in your price range that will give you everything you have specified... plus I have a few suggestions. I think the closest you will get will be the Sony VX2100, but a new one has a list price of ~3,000 and a street price of ~$2,300. The Canon XL1 does not seem to get much closer to your budget price - and in both cases, this does not include the helmet cam... That takes us to the next step down...
The Sony HDR-HC7 does not have analog input and will not accept a composite signal from a helmet cam. I could not get to the HV20 product page to confirm, but I am pretty sure the Canon HV20 will not accept a composite signal from a helmet cam, either... The HV20 has an analog/digital passthrough feature, but I don't think this allows recording to the camcorder's miniDV tape.
The Sony DCR-HC96 is most likely your best bet - in the price range you specified leaving you $ for the helmet cam... The other thing nice about the HC96 is that is has a LANC port.
This is a wired remote that lets you start/stop the recording, take stills and control the zoom - though in your case, this will be tough since you cannot see what you are shooting. The HC96 also has analog in - and is on the list of compatible cams at http://www.hoyttech.com/Compatability_2005.htm
These folks look like NTSC - and if you know DogCam, then you are in the UK... which means you will want a PAL rig... so the Sony DCR-HC96E and the DogCam should work just fine.
If this is not correct, you want the non-E HC96 and the NTSC helmet cams...
I envision the camcorder in a fannypack with the LANC clipped to your belt and the wired helmet cam velcroed to a hat on your head... or if you want to make yourself a cam-headset that looks a little like the big muff mono headsets like the coaches wear at football games, then you can use that mic as the audio-in...
Yes, miniDV tape provides the best quality video currently available from consumer camcorders. I think using a helmet could spook the dogs... heck, some dogs freak-out at hats...
I think you stick with Standard definition.
Hope you all are enjoying the holiday season? Really would love some help and thanks to all in advance. Looking for recommendations on purchasing: 1) camcorder and 2) bullet/head/helmet cam.
I apologize in advance for my lack of understanding of the technology ? very new to this field. The more I research the less I know. I have to make these purchases BEFORE the end of year and I am running out of time. Budget for the camcorder is $1000.00 +/- 500.00.
I no nothing about the bullet cams (except camcorder needs analog or A/V input to connect the cam) or how they work? would love to talk specifics with someone about this? but basically need something that is hands free that I can strap to my head or a hat ? need to be filming what I am looking at.
I welcome any recommendations/advise/suggestions on which camcorder as well as bullet cam that would suit my purpose best.
Most important: high video quality
My subject: dogs interacting, in action, sometimes very fast action. Shooting mostly outdoors in many different conditions, times of day, etc or in others facilities so there is no control over lighting, set up, etc. Essentially a documentary on dog behavior, have a top end computer/video-editing program, logged 35 hours of footage and gathering more, made 100 plus short clips so far - goal is a (as professional as I can do) DVD. (Before my life in dogs used to be in graphic design)
Camcorder I have: Canon ZR45, very nice friends have lent me: Canon XL1s & Sony(?) - I am not familiar with HD at all or other formats.
With my little understanding? heard: mini dv tapes gives best video quality over hard drive based camcorder???
Should I stick with SD or go to HD???
Some I heard of but again no nothing about:
Canon HV20, Sony HDR HD7, Sony DCR-VX2100, Sony DCR-HC96
DogCam Pro 550 Zoom (the name fits anyway)
Much appreciate any advice anyone has to offer. Thanks in advance to all. Need more info from me just ask. Look forward to hearing what you have to say. Thanks again and have a great day!