In my opinion, a "professional camcorder" is one that has:
=> lenses larger than 60mm diameter (filter size).
=> imaging chip(s) larger than 1/4".
=> XLR audio-in connectors.
When you see the camcorders that have these items, all the other prograde stuff is pretty much "included"... granular manual audio gain control, separate rings around the lens barrel for manual zoom and manual focus, several other manual controls on the outside of the camcorder. Storage media that saves to DV/HDV format - or less compression. The Canon XHA1 (and XLH series), Sony HVR-Z5U (and Z7U), Panasonic AG-HVX200 are in this category for high definition. The Standard def Canon XL2 and Panasonic AG-DVX100 are here, too. WHile the Sony HVR-A1U is in the Sony HVR pro line up and it does have XLR audio-in connectors and a 1/3" CMOS chip (and can also deal with DVCAM video format), it has only a 37mm diameter lens and is essentially a "sibling" to the consumer-grade HDR-HC1 from a few years ago.
Given the teeny lenses and imaging chips on the pocket cams, I think it is a bit of a stretch to consider them in the same breath as a XHA1 or similar pro-grade rig. If you think the A1 is "blown out" because of the reports on low light issues, there's no way the Flip should even get any time from you. Once the video is in the computer and the editor can deal with it, video editing is video editing. Your comment that the Flip is limited to "really basic editing" does not make sense to me.
This could easily turn into a thesis... so, the short version:
Canon HV30 (though low light is as "good" as the A1's). This is solidly in the consumer-grade environment.
In the "prosumer" environment, the Canon GL2 (standard def) and Sony HDR-FX7 (high def). They have good sized lenses and imaging chips - and use 1/8" (3.5mm) audio in jacks rather than XLR audio connectors. These are in the XHA1 size category.
Internal hard drive based camcorders that record to DV/HDV do not exist. There are a few flash memory camcorders - Panasonic HVX200, Sony HVR-Z7U, JVC GY-HM100. They are all in the size category of the XHA1.
So... what is your budget? How about we understand if you want to spend more or less than $1,000... or more or less that $2,000... The low light performance requirement = large lenses and large imaging chips...
Does the "remote control" requirement mean wired or wireless?
MiniDV tape means the computer doing the editing should have a firewire port. Flash memory uses USB to copy the video to the computer - but a more robust computing environment than miniDV tape... In either case, the software included in the box with the camcorder is useless, so software that can deal with HDV (or AVCHD/MTS) will be needed and more discussion regarding YOUR computing environment is needed.
Professional vs YouTube, bit of a stretch. I have looked at the XH-A1 but that is way too bulky for my needs. The A1 is nice and small but the write ups and low light blow it out. The Flip is attractive but I don't see how that will let me do anything but really basic editing plus it has very limited scope, e.g. zooming and there is no remote. The viewers I want will be on the web via the blog or YouTube so that makes life easier. So my shopping list is:
- HD (Cos that is what YouTube says, feel free to discuss!)
- A very small & discrete footprint
- Able to handle an external mic (not critical)
- Good directional sound pick up
- Good lux values
- An internal disc would be neat but cards are fine
- Remote control
Target filming types:
- Interview type situations, waist to shoulder or full height
- Buildings (hence zoom and low light)
There are just so many cameras about it is a tough choice but I always reckon experience is the best judge, so over to you.