1) Stored file format is "leased compression". Typically, this is DV/HDV - but can be other low loss or loss less formats. There are some pro-grade flash memory, DVD and external hard drive units. NONE apply the compression found in most consumer cams whether highly compressed MPEG2, AVCHD or VOB/VOR.
2) Audio input is generally XLR connectors. NOT a 1/8" (3.5cm) stereo jack.
3) Manual controls are abundant, easy to get to on the outside of the camcorder and at a minimum, include manual audio control, zoom, focus, white balance, shutter speed and aperture... among others. Many consumer cams *might have access to these, though typically not externally (but through a menu system).
4) True pro-grade cam start at about 70mm lens diameter and have relatively large imaging chips.
You did not provide a budget. Start with that.
The BEST hard drive based camcorder will be a miniDV tape based one with an external firewire connected hard drive like those from firewire. The pros will reduce the chances of not being able to capture video. HDD camcorders have known issues with vibration and high altitude. Flash memory and miniDV tape do not.
A short list starting point:
Canon XHA1, Panasonic HDX200, Sony HVR-Z1U, Red Scarlet
There are many others... these are the ones in pretty common use.
I'm looking to purchase a professional HD camcorder sometime in the near future.
Can anyone tell me the best camcorder to buy?
I'm looking for something with great image quality, fairly simple to use, and at a good value.
I've been looking for a while now and cant decide on what brand/model to go with.
If you've used certain models that have worked better or had better quality than others please let me know.
Also, I want to know if there is any company planning on releasing an HDD camcorder?
I would much rather buy HDD than miniDV.
However, I cant seem to find any information on the release of an HDD camcorder at the professional level.
Thank you for any help you can offer.