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Beyond VHS

Digital is the new standard for on-the-go moviemaking. But with so many sizes and features to choose from, which new camcorder is right for you?Here, our picks of the best.

CANON ZR85
$499
Media Format MiniDV cassettes and SecureDigital memory cards
Size and Weight A little over a pound; typical paperback-book size
Special Features Records movie clips for e-mail; softens skin tones; takes .8-megapixel stills compatible with PictBridge-enabled printers
Clarity/Lens Power Excellent; 20x optical zoom, 400x digital zoom
Low-Light Performance Preserves and brightens images
Power Two-hour battery with option of additional pack
Bottom Line Affordable and portable, but make sure you're tech-savvy
To Buy 800/652-2666 www.canondv.com

FISHER FVD-C1 CAMERACORDER
$799
Media Format 30-minute and one-hour SecureDigital memory cards
Size and Weight Featherweight at 5.4 ounces; fits the palm
Special Features Takes 3.2-megapixel stills; connects to TV's or PC's; impressive in-camera editing; includes helpful software and docking station to charge battery
Clarity/Lens Power Average; 5.8x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom
Low-Light Performance Fine indoors, but has no specific night mode
Power One-hour battery
Bottom Line Easy to pack and multi-functional, but you'll have to load up on memory cards
To Buy 800/349-4358 www.sears.com

SONY DCR-DVD201
$1,000
Media Format Three-inch and full-sized DVD-R's, and DVD-RW's
Size and Weight About a pound; average sized
Special Features In-camera editing; snaps one-megapixel stills; reduces camera-shake; creates thumbnail images at the beginning of each scene
Clarity/Lens Power Good; 10x optical zoom, 120x digital zoom
Low-Light Performance Strong color-recording
Power One-hour battery
Bottom Line Records to DVD, so no computer skills required; perfect for Luddites
To Buy 877/865-7669 www.sonystyle.com

CANON OPTURA Xi
$1,499
Media Format MiniDV cassettes and SecureDigital memory cards
Size and Weight Just under two pounds; slightly larger than most
Special Features Marks overexposure on-screen; doubles as Webcam; takes two-megapixel stills for PictBridge printers; loaded with effects options
Clarity/Lens Power Very good; 11x optical zoom, 220x digital zoom
Low-Light Performance Intensifies hues but blurs images
Power Two-hour battery
Bottom Line Top quality, if you don't mind the extra bulk
To Buy 800/652-2666 www.canondv.com

PANASONIC AG-DVC30
$2,595
Media Format MiniDV cassettes
Size and Weight 2.4 pounds; at 4 by 10 inches, the largest of the bunch
Special Features Built-in audio meter; zoom speed options; various cinematic and old-time movie effects like slow-shutter function for motion lag shots
Clarity/Lens Power Best; 16x variable-speed optical zoom, 160x digital zoom
Low-Light Performance Black-and-white night filming with infrared viewing in darkness
Power One-hour battery
Bottom Line Only for professionals and Sundance wannabes
To Buy 866/528-8601 www.panasonic.com/broadcast

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