The Sony is a consumer high-definition hand-held camcorder.
The Panasonic is a shoulder-mount standard definition camcorder. It may be the low-end of the pro-line, but I can't call it a pro-grade camera. Maybe pro-sumer. No XLR, for one thing...
When you shoot, are you expecting to be mobile or on a tripod.
What is your requirement for high-definition?
I think when you honestly answer these questions, the rest are moot.
By the way, using FinalCut to import/edit highdef video from miniDV tape based camcorders is easy - I use a Sony HDR-HC1 - with FireWire. iMovie works well, too. If someone is having problems it is likely either they aren't following directions or the camera they have uses AVCHD encoding (DVD-based and hard drive-based hidef cameras only). Mine works great and I have used Sony, Panasonic and Canon miniDV tape based cameras connected to my G5 flatpanel and transfered all sorts of hidef video footage using FinalCut and iMovie.
I am looking to buy a new camcorder to shoot a low budget film, and I can't decide what to go with. I can only spend about 1,500, and I'm trying to buy the right camera for the job. Now I know that the Panasonic AG-DVC20 is a professional camera but at the same time it standard def. I've been looking at the Sony HC7 because it high def and really the only consumer model with a external mic jac, headphone jac, and manual focus. I have also heard horror stories about how it's impossible to use Final cut to edit with some of the high def cameras. There seems to be pros and con in each one but I still can't figure out which would be best for the job. I also know the HC7 is a consumer camera and does not posses the pro features like Zebra's aperture settings, manual white balance that the AG-DVC20 has. With that said I'm very serious about this film, and I want something that look somewhat professional, if you had to make the decision , what would you go with? Also does anyone now about the manual focus on the HC7, I know it's not controlled with a focus ring, which makes me believe that the manual focus isn't very good.