I had been looking for a good camcorder for a while and I ended up picking the Canon ZR 850. This is a great first time camcorder. The price is reasonable and the quality is fantastic. It's a very compact camcorder. Very light weight. Easy to carry around with you. I carried it all through the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World with no problems with weight. It pretty much just fits in the palm of your hand and with the adjustable strap you can make it fit so that you just carry it on your hand the whole day and hardly know it is there.
the 35X zoom is fantastic. You can get great in focus close ups of things pretty far away. The 1000x digital zoom is pretty good as well but I haven't found much use for that much zoom yet.
The camera comes with a built in light in the front for night recording. It also has phot abilities. You can also insert a SD memory card and easily switch between tape and SD card with the flip of a switch for easy photo storage. The phot button is at easy reach for your index finger. No weird reaching to reach the photo button to take a simple photo.
The Camcorder can also be attached to the computer with a USB cord (provided with my camera). It can also be attached to your TV or DVD burner for easy burning to DVD.
The power adaptor is also the battery charger. No need to buy a seperate battery charger unless you want to recharge more then one battery at a time. The batter life isn't all that long but it's long enough to get about 30 - 45 minutes depending on how much play back or quick start you use. I bought another battery for a back up to make sure I didn't miss anything because of a dead battery.
The quick start button is really neat. It takes a few seconds for the camera to come on when you turn it off. With the quick start feature you can leave the camer on and hit the quick start button and the camera goes off. Hit the quick start button again and itcomes back on ready to record with out the start up wait. This is a great feature for quick action. I used this feature a lot at Disney World on the rides. If the ride stopped then I quick started the camera off, as soon as the ride started back up I quick started the camera on.
The play back is excelent too. Easy controls (either with the on camera joystick or the remote control). Perfect image on the TV and DVD after burning.
Over all I am very pleased with the Canon ZR850 Mini DV Camcorder. Defenatly a great camera. Easy to run and use and great quality for a first time camera.