Any filming equipment you buy will be superseded quicker than you can figure out how to spell ‘superseded’ (did I even spell that right?). It’s not going to be an investment (unless you are regularly making money out of the videos you make from it). I’ve seen a number of people (and have been one myself) get a really expensive video camera for their first buy, and then by the time they get good at video, the camera is outdated or broken. We also tend to get in the mind set that you have to have really expensive equipment to get good quality, especially after we see the kind of gear that they use to make movies. And we usually get dazzled by what a video camera can do before we think about sound (remember the principles?).
What I did for a while was had a cheap camcorder for doing day-to-day videos, and then hired better equipment for shooting a short film. The kind of cameras I could hire were much better than any I could even think about buying, and since I only needed it once or twice a year, it was comparatively cheap. And they had great sound equipment that was very cheap to hire. The other option of buying something a bit better would have meant that my short films would not have come out as nice. This is especially the case now that the cheapest equipment can give you a really nice image compared with 10 years ago.
So, if you’re new to video and are thinking about buying a camera, my suggestion would be to start on something cheap that you can make lots of videos on, and then hire something better when you want to make something of a better quality. This will also give you the opportunity of trying equipment before you buy. If you go on to more professional video, you will then be familiar enough with the equipment to know what you want. Also, the hire equipment will keep getting upgraded, so you keep getting more bang for your buck.
(please comment if you have any suggestions for where to hire)
Think about how long do you expect your camera purchase to last. 5 years? It will most likely have either broken or been massively outdated by then. So, break down the cost over 5 years and work out if your use will justify the money, or whether it will be better to just hire the decent equipment when you need it. Think about what you want this equipment for, and whether buying or hiring will be better for you. Anyway, onto the equipment…