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Cheap flicks: Digital camcorders on a budget

By Troy Dreier


(Money Magazine) -- Best for the technophobe: Flip UltraHD, $150

You don't buy this pocket-size model for its features but for its simplicity. Just press the big red button to shoot. Everyone can figure it out -- and every-one gets great high-def (1280 x 720p) results, says Antonio Bille of New York's B&H Photo & Video.

digicam.03.jpg
Sanyo VPC-CG102
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On the downside, the flip doesn't offer shooting modes or effects, and there's no optical zoom or memory-card slot. (It can hold two hours of video.)

Best for the eager novice: Sanyo VPC-CG102, $210

For just a bit more money than the Flip, the Sanyo gives you lots of extra features. It films at higher resolution (1920 x 1080i) and works with SD memory cards for expanded storage. It includes a 5x optical zoom and delivers better results in low light, says Bille.

Best of all, it takes rich still pictures, so you needn't carry a separate digital camera.

Best for the budding Fellini: Sony HDR-CX150, $550

With its large, back-illuminated image sensor, this camcorder gathers enough info to create stunning video in all kinds of light conditions.

The Sony also has 25x optical zoom. And it captures HD video at a 24MB per second, a frame rate "you would not have found at this price a few years ago," says Colleen Lerro of the Consumer Electronics Association.  To top of page

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