"Great HD value. Strikingly beautiful picture quality."4.5 starson by Bantokfomoki
Pros: The Canon picture quality is excellent. Controls intuitive. Works decently in low light. I particularly liked the 15x zoom. Beats Sony SR47 60x because image starts out in HD. (1080 to 540@30x : SD is 480). Superior image stabilization.
Cons: I would like to have an optional "write to usb" to send the movie directly into a pocket portable hard drive running off the camera battery. Better low light would be nice. Stand alone software HD movie player wouldn't show green and is useless.
Summary: I found the picture quality to be perfect to my untrained eye. Absolutely beautiful. The 15x zoom surprised me ... it was superior to the Sony SR47 (SD) that I purchased at Fry's and took back for store credit and upgraded to HD. Even at 60x digital zoom, the image stabilization was better than the Sony SR47 optical.
I zoomed in to 60x on a tv relay tower and could hold the zoom stable enough to count the cables on the receivers at a couple hundred yards. For someone used to SD, zooming in to 15x on some tree or flower in HD causes one to "tear up". It's just that beautiful.
Stereo sound was fine though not 5:1 Dolby.
You could do better if you upped the price to $1200 but the picture quality couldn't be improved at all. It doesn't get any better. I had a Panasonic SD9 HD camera in 2008 and took it back dissatisfied with picture quality and ate the $75 restocking fee. I won't be taking back the Canon HF200.
Though it lacks some features I'd like to have, I'm unwilling to pay much more for them. This Canon fulfills my minimum expectations perfectly and exceeds them by far in picture quality, zoom and image stabilization.
If you want a great HD picture quality at the lowest price ... this will fill the bill. And ... if you pay $8,000.00 for a professional HD rig ... it still won't give you better picture quality. Significantly better picture quality isn't offered on this planet (maybe you could get 1% better for 8g's). However, you can and will get 40% worse picture quality for about $200 dollars less.
One downside to HD cameras in general is the "hidden" cost of ownership. I now need a new computer ... my 5 year old HP can't quite handle the processing load required by HD files. And ... now my 720p Sony rear projection TV is inadequate for 1080p ... so ... I have to buy a new super duper LCD TV.
Well, I'd have to get them anyway sometime.