I am planning to purchase a new camcorder with which I want to edit video and audio(add music) on my iMac which has OS X 10.4.11. I have iMovie HD v 6.0.3 and also have a boxed copy of iLife '08 which I have not yet installed. I have virtually no knowledge of what would be an appropriate purchase and have become even more confused by attempting to do some research on the topic. I don't think I need an HD camcorder since I have lots of home video on DVDs which I obtained from previous camcorders I owned from almost 20 years ago which are not HD and I don't want to spend a lot of money on upgrading my computer system so a standard def recorder should work well enough for me considering that I'm almost 70 years old. My present camcorder will not work with my iMac - it is a Sony using mini DVDs as the media. I really would like to get a camcorder with HDD for storage so that I don't require any more tapes, DVDs, etc. I don't know what would work for me, what connections would be required (USB or firewire cable) and what camcorders have been found to work easily with Macs for editing on what I believe would be iMovie. Can I use my old iMovie '06 or do I need '08 for if I purchase a camcorder with HDD? I think that iMovie '09 requires OS X 10.5 (Leopard) and I have 10.4 which suits my purposes at this time. That is why I have iLife 08 rather than 09. Any advice from anyone would be much appreciated.
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If you want to upgrade your Mac as little as possible, stay with iMovie 6.0.3 (which is an excellent app) and simply buy a mini-DV (tape) standard def camcorder. One of the Canon ZR series will work fine (although this series isn't known for great low light performance). I'll suggest you check your camcorder preference up at Apple's Discussions in order to verify that whichever unit you choose works with iMovie. Do remember that iMovieHD (which is v6.0.x) speaks through FireWire so you must have that port on the camcorder.
If you end up with one of the newer camcorders that captures on a HD or SDHC card, you'll have to transcode the video into DV in order for iMovie to work with it. I use a Samsung MX20 (standard def with SDHC card) which captures in some non-compliant H264. My Mac has no problem playing the files but the wide-screen flag isn't set properly. This isn't a problem because I use MPEG Streamclip to transcode the H264 into DV and I set the wide-screen flag during export. Then I can drop the video clip into my iMovie project's Media folder (right-click on the project file and show package contents to find it), launch iMovie and it sees the added clip; saves time not having to actually "import" it.
I can also use this DV clip in FCP if I wish.
Do note that most of the camcorders that use a HD save in MPEG2 so you'll need Apple's MPEG2 component if you go down that road. MPEG Streamclip will manage the transcoding okay but the MPEG2 component is required.
That should get you started. Let us know if you have more ?'s.