miniDV tape based camcorders. DV (or HDV) transfers from camcorder's DV port over firewire to the computer's firewire port. DV can be used by pretty much all video editors directly, including MovieMaker - and *most* of them (not MovieMaker, though) can do HDV.
DV is DV no matter which manufacturer - same with HDV... all manufacturers do it the same.
This assumes your computer has - or you will add - a firewire 400 port. Firewire 400, IEEE1394a, DV and i.LINK are all the same thing.
Is there a single place where you can find out what video file formats are used by the different camcorder makers, or do I have to go to each manufacturers website and navigate to the specs of each of their cameras?
I am looking for the manufacturers (if any) that use video files that can import directly into Windows movie maker without a bunch of unnecessary conversions (with loss of image). There are so many horror stories about folks getting home with their great new camcorder only to find out it Windows Movie Maker won't read it.