Today's Digital8 and Digital Videocassette (DV) camcorders are small and lightweight, shoot crystal-clear images, interface with the latest computer editing software (we know you're a director at heart), and even take still pictures
John Lawton

PANASONIC PV-DV200 ($1,000)
This MiniDV camcorder has a 2.5-inch color monitor and an IEEE digital interface (popularly known as FireWire) for transferring footage onto a computer. Store up to 240 still images on an 8 MB MultiMediaCard. With Adobe PhotoDeluxe software, you can electronically enhance your shots—off go those 15 pounds you were planning to shed.

SHARP VL-FD1U ($1,500)
Has image-stabilization and selectable shutter speeds, plus an option that lets you "draw" on the 3.5-inch screen. Put captions on pictures (or add mustaches to your in-laws). Still images are recorded onto the MiniDV tape.

HITACHI VM-D865LA ($700)
This Digital8 camcorder, with image-stabilization, has a macro focus that can zero in clearly on objects a half-inch away. You create title credits and add cinematic touches such as a "mosaic" effect. "Princess, Daddy needs just one more take."

CANON ELURA 2MC ($1,800)
Expensive, but worth it. A miniature marvel of a MiniDV camera: 10X optical zoom, with an image-capturing technology known as progressive scanning that improves picture sharpness. Still photos are recorded onto a removable 8 MB MultiMediaCard.

Okay, so the Mavica isn't technically a camcorder. It's a powerful digital still camera with the ability to record movies (Uncle Louis dancing to "Who Let the Dogs Out") onto a 3.5-inch floppy disk. And it has five types of exposures for all you Stieglitzes.