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This was my first camcorder and I was not disappointed. When i got it it was one of the more expensive amateur models (£450).
I have now owned it for over two years, and I have saved some great memories thanks to this device.
The best thing about it is its picture quality and stability - it has optical image stabilisation technology which means that tiny motorised gyros within the device are constantly buzzing and counteracting any shaky hands - it is a godsend without which footage would look like it had been shot from the back of a lorry whilst jumping on a pogo stick!
The image quality is also impressive thanks to the three separate CCD chips - one for red, green and blue respectively. Many commercially available camcorders only have one combined CCD.
On the down side: it is not the easiest camera to learn to use - there are definitely simpler models available, which might be more suitable for beginners. Even in automatic mode, you still need to know how to zoom properly.
However, if you are more a advanced user then you should have no problems with this! You can toggle manual focus on or off (which is great), but unfortunately the controls for this are a bit fiddly - you have to use a switch behind the LCD screen. A focus ring would have been better!