For the hardcore...
This week Sony has stepped up its pursuit of the high end HD camcorder market with this pair of beasts: the 'HVR-Z7U' (above, left) and 'HVR-S270U' (obviously above, right).
Both offer three 1/3-inch ClearVID CMOS sensors with Sony's 'Exmor' technology which sounds like a skin condition aims to reduce noise and boost low light performance plus 12x optical zooms, image stabilisation, interchangeable lenses, the option to dual record HDV/DVCAM/DV files to tape and CompactFlash cards and a bundled memory-recording unit.
Native 1080p, 1080i and 720p HDV recording is also on offer which can be automatically convert to SD through FireWire and SD outputs if needed while a neat trick means the duo can employ an adaptor for use of Sony's α series of DSLRs.
As for differentiators, the cheaper Z7U cannot be shoulder mounted and is also missing an HDMI output while the larger S270U has an additional monochrome display to show audio levels and remaining recording time and battery life. In addition, the S270U can take standard size cassettes and offers a far greater recording time (4.5 hours verses the Z7U's 63 minutes).
Naturally enough however these benefits are heavily represented by their respective prices with the Z7U going for $6,850 and the S270U a monstrous $10,500. Shipping starts in February.
I said they were for the hardcore...