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Video recording freeware?

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This would probably get more attention in Applications, but I guess I should post in the appropriate forum. Anyway...

I was hoping someone could help out with finding some decent free recording software. I'm using a Sony Digital Handycam DCR-TRV250 NTSC. It came with its own video recording/editing software, but I have no idea what happened to the CD, and I can't get a free replacement. I've been trying to use Windows Movie Maker, but it just doesn't cut it. Everything turns out very, very dark and when I try to brighten it, it doesn't look natural at all (it looks too hazy).

I have a trial for Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0, but I can't get it to recognize my camera for some reason.

I tried ZS4 Video Editor, but it's one of the most confusing programs I have ever used. That thing is not user-friendly at all. And from what I can tell, it's solely for editing, not recording. I couldn't find any recording options, nor do the help files make any mention of it.

Someone suggested VirtualDub, but I'm having a bit of trouble getting this to do what I want. I want a bigger-sized (resolution) video with decent quality that isn't 100's of MB for only a few seconds.

I also tried Avid Free DV, but it absolutely doesn't want to cooperate with me.

I'm currently trying out Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 7.0 and I like it, but it's not free. Also, the videos are still a little dark (not nearly as bad as Windows Movie Maker, though) and I'm having trouble finding an option to change the resolution. I can get the resolution I want by encoding in QuickTime, but that's not my preferred format.

Vegas is a decent program and it will do for now, but I would like know if anyone has some good freeware suggestions. Do you know of anything that is easy to customize, record decent quality, and not create insane file sizes? It would also be nice if it can edit color and brightness and frames and whatnot, but I can use something else for that if I need to. Thanks for your time.
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