Since no one else has responded
I'll throw in some other stuff to consider. Before deciding which camcorder is better, what kind of computer are you planning to use for editing? Of course, this assumes you will be editing the video captured using a computer-based video editor. Specifically, does the computer have a firewire - or IEEE1394 - port? This is a *requirement* for any miniDV tape based camcorders. Since you are already using a miniDV tape based camcorder, one might assume a firewire port is available to you - but "back in the day" there were USB drivers which allowed for use of USB video transfer. This is no longer supported with "modern" operating systems.
If the computer has no firewire port - and you are unwilling or unable to add one - then the discussion of which camcorder is better for you is irrelevant. On the other hand, if a firewire port is something familiar to you, then...
"Grainy" video usually means poor lighting (for the camcorder's requirements)... whether indoors or night, etc... Generally, video captured under daylight conditions is "acceptable". We cannot see what you see. The quality of the captured video from standard definition miniDV tape - assuming SP record mode is used on the camcorder should be good (with good lighting) even after compression to VOB files using a DVD authoring application.
The technology of the Sony DCR-HC19 is similar to the JVC-GR-DV1800 and Panasonic NV-DX100. All are miniDV tape based and record standard definition video. The differences will be in the the lens filter diameter and imaging chip size. For better low-light behavior, both should be large. The larger lens allows more light into the camcorder and onto the imaging chip (or array) and the larger imaging chip processes available light.
The lens filter diameter of the DCR-HC19 is 25mm; and the imaging chip is 3mm (1/6 inch) single chip system.
The lens filter diameter of the GR-DV1800 is 52mm; and the imaging chip is 6.35mm (~1/4 inch) single chip system.
The lens filter diameter of the NV-DX100 is 43mm; and the imaging chip is a 6.35mm 3CCD chip array system.
The DV1800 and DX100 should both get much better low light results than the HC19. Whether the JVC would be "better" than the Panny is a good question. The 3CCD array in the Panny is quite good and Panasonic was ahead of Sony and others on this at the time. That allowed for a smaller lens filter diameter while still allowing for good video capture. My take is they would be similar - but I'd opt for the Panny (specifically because of the 3CCD imaging chip system).
I don't know how any of these camcorders would be considered "semi-pro"... maybe my definition is different. In my mind, these are all consumer-grade camcorders. I do not have any experience with these specific camcorder models - I have used various JVC, Sony and Panasonic consumer and pro-grade camcorders over the years.
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