1st Place: Panasonic HDC-TM300It's been a fairly incremental year for camcorders with few truly ground breaking innovations. That's not to say, however, that there aren't still some oustanding models from which to choose. Top of the bunch is the Panasonic HDC-TM300. With three 3.05 megapixel, 1/4.1in, CMOS sensors, a top notch 12x Leica Dicomar lens, and some superb video processing, it produces top quality footage and particularly excels in low light situations.
With 32GB of onboard Flash storage it can record up to four hours of footage yet weighs significantly less than hard drive based alternatives. If more storage is needed it then has an SDHC slot for adding memory cards. It is expensive but once you add in the superb manual focus and exposure adjustment, controlled using a simple lens ring, you get , quite simply, the best camcorder on the market.
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2nd Place: Sony Handycam HDR-CX105EIf your concerns are more for compactness and ease of use than the utmost in picture quality, then our pick of this year's models is undoubtedly the Sony HDR-CX105E. It's not the smallest on the market and isn't quite pocketable, but weighing a mere 300g and with dimensions of 55 x 107 x 60mm, it's going to be pretty unobtrusive in your rucksack. Whats more, it doesn't compromise on picture quality and thanks to 8GB of internal memory, as well as a MemoryStick Duo slot, there are plenty of storage options.
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3rd Place: Canon LEGRIA HF S10Were it not for the Panasonic TM300, this would have been our pick of the enthusiast compact camcorders as it offers picture quality that is easily equal, if not slightly better. However, we disliked the Canon's use of a proprietary accessory shoe and find the lens ring of the TM300 easier to use for manual settings, so that pipped it to the post. Nevertheless, with 32GB of onboard storage, an SDHC slot, a trio of high quality 1/4in sensors and generally great handling, its still a superb camcorder.
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