Analog camcorder like VHS-C and Hi8 are typically less expensive than their digital camcorder counterparts. Hard disk and flash drive camcorders tend to be more expensive, although you save money long term by not buying tapes. MiniDV camcorders are found in both low and high-end camcorder models, but require you to purchase new tapes often.
Size and amount of CCD's
The CCD (charge-couple-device) in your camcorder is a chip that determines the brightness and brilliance of the picture your camcorder record. The CCD divides your video into the three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. The more CCDs you have, and the bigger those CCD's are, the better your video quality. A low-end consumer camcorder will usually only has one single CCD that is used for all three colors. That CCD is typically pretty small, around � or 1/6 of an inch. A high-end professional camcorder however will usually have three CCDs and each CCD will be a full inch in size. In general, the more CCD's you have and the larger those chips are, the better your video will look and the more expensive your camcorder will be.
The majority of consumer camcorders are, for the most part, point and shoot camcorders that anyone should be able to pick up, press record, and immediately start shooting video. Camcorders that have a manual focus ring that allows you to change you to manually alter your camcorders focus directly on the camcorder lens, or controls that allow you to manually change things about your picture much like a professional still camera typically tend to be more expensive than their point-and-shoot counterparts.
High Definition vs. Standard Definition
High-definition camcorders record a much better looking picture than their standard definition counterparts, and are typically more expensive. You can read more about high-definition camcorder is this:
Resolution of Digital Pictures
The difference between two identical camcorder models is in many cases the resolution of the still pictures the camcorder can take. A 2-megapixel built-in camera will allow you to print 4x6 photos; a 5-megapixel camera however will allow you to print photos up to 11x14.
What kind of camcorder can I expect to get at different price points?
$300 and below: $300 will typically get you a standard definition camcorder with one small CCD. These camcorders are usually analog or MiniDV and do not have built-in digital cameras. Camcorders at this price point typically have pretty low video quality (comparable to an old VHS tape) and not a lot of features to work with.
$350-$500: Camcorders in this price range are also typically one CCD, although that CCD is in many case larger than you would find in a less expensive camcorder.. Most of these camcorders have a variety of different shooting modes built-in for shooting video in low-light and other settings and many will have a built-in digital camera with a resolution around 2 megapixels. Formats: MiniDV, MiniDVD, hard disk (15-30GB hard drive), flash
$500-$800: In this price range you start to find some high-definition camcorders. These camcorders come with a fairly substantial amount of shooting modes and some manual features such as a manual focus. Many camcorders in this price range can take photos up to 7 megapixels. Formats: MiniDV, MiniDVD, hard disk (30-60GB hard drive), flash
$800-$1300: In this price range you find almost exclusively high-definition camcorders. Some of these camcorders have 3 CCDs and many a manual focus feature. Built-in digital cameras will take photos up to 10 megapixels. Formats: MiniDV, MiniDVD, hard disk (60-80GB hard drive), flash
$1300 and up: This price range starts to bring you into pro camcorders. The majority of these camcorders are high-definition and most will have 3CCDs. Formats: MiniDV, MiniDVD, hard disk (80-120GB hard drive), flash