Thinking about buying camcorder - Panasonic PVDV953. Need advice.

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Vlad D, Apr 17, 2004.

  1. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    I'm going to be purchasing a camcorder in the next few weeks. I don't want to spend more than $1000. I've read a good review of the Panasonic PVDV953 at camecorderinfo.com and right now B&H has it for $979 (MSRP $1499). I was just wondering if anyone here has it or knows anyone that does, and what you're thoughts and comments of it are. Pros, cons, etc. Also, if you guys can think of any other camcorders I should be considering. I have looked at a few from Sony and Canon, but the Panny has 3CCD's and the price is right.

    Thanks,

    Vlad
     
  2. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    I checked out the Sony DCR-TRV950 online, looks comparable to the Panny PVDV953, but at $1599 it's way past my budget. Also looked up the Sony DCR-TRV80, it got some favorable reviews and I found it for $895. But since it's only $100 less than the Panny, I'm not sure it's the better buy.

    Any advice?
     
  3. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Vlad, post this sort of query here in A/V Sources, not After Hours. Thanks.
     
  4. Bill Will

    Bill Will Screenwriter

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    www.ecoustics.com has 11 user reviews on it that might help you decide & www.pcvideoonline.com has it for $933.37 delivered & if B&H Photo won't match the price J&R usually will. Owners on ecoustics rated it 4 1/2 stars out of five.
     
  5. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Sorry Jack. I thought the After Hours forum was the right forum to ask about a mini DV camcorder, since I've seen threads there in the past pertaining to digital cameras and camcorders. Actually, there is a another one there now: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=194120 . Anyway, in the future I will post similiar threads here instead.

    Bill,
    I'll check out those reviews. I'm not familiar with pcvideoonline.com, but I have dealt with B&H before so I'd probably spend the extra $46 and deal with them.

    Thanks,

    Vlad
     
  6. Bill Will

    Bill Will Screenwriter

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    Vlad, I don't know much about that outfit either but maybe you can use their price to get B&H to match it. Both B&H Photo & J&R Music World www.jandr.com are "Great" places to do business with & they are big NY Competiors with each other & I've gotten both of them to price match other outfits so don't be affraid to ask them because people are always asking them to price match so it's nothing that they haven't heard before & $50 really isn't any big deal for them to match so give it a shot.
     
  7. EdD

    EdD Agent

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    I bought the PVDV953 about a year ago after it just came out in preparation for our baby. We have used it pretty heavily in the last 6 or so months since the birth. Overall, very easy to use.

    Ergonomics
    Tt is pretty comfortable to hold and shoot. The menu is kind of difficult to navigate with one hand however. The buttons for AIS (Automatic Image Stabilization) is by the lens and requires the left hand. No way to shoot with the left for left handed people but that's pretty normal. There are a full set of "vcr" type controls but the buttons are a bit small and there are few/no tactile keys to help guide by touch. This is not one of those super compact units but, in a way, I prefer the non "toy" like size. It is a bit heavy with the battery so arm fatigue can be an issue if holding it for more than 15-20minutes at a time.

    Video quality
    In a word... amazing. Colors are sharp and bright. Well balanced and little to no bleeding. It can be set to record in a 4:3 ratio or 16:9. Contrast is good with very little vignetting (very slight dropoff at the extreme edges). I have not run any edge to edge focus test but looks sharp throught the frame. Slight flare problem in very bright sunlight conditions but much less flare than I've seen on some other (more compact) units. The lens is somewhat recessed which helps reduce the flare. If you do demo this unit somewhere, have them hook it up to a full-sized display. The small LCD doesn't do it justice.

    Low light performance
    This is a problem with this unit. As an example, indoor shooting on an overcast day is about the limit of it's light gathering capability. I typically use manual exposure mode and it is usually in the fully open/max gain mode when indoors. At night, we usually have to add lighting to our regular room lights to shoot. This is due to the fact that each of the 3 CCDs are actually smaller than the CCD in single CCD units. I did purchase a camera top light from B&H but it adds weight and has limited battery life. Overall, I think this is a good tradeoff for the incredible images I get.

    Still image quality
    As good as can be expected from I camcorder I guess. Resolution isn't as high as other single CCD units but sufficient in a crunch. I thought the flash would be useful but since we bought a digital camera shortly after, we never use the still image feature. Don't expect the quality to compare with any digital camera over the $150 price point.

    Post processing
    One of the most important features of miniDV for me is the ability to digitally transfer the video and burn to DVD. I loaded the software that came with the camera but it only came with a still image manager. For downloading video, you will have to purchase additional hardware if you are using PC based hardware. I believe Macs come with all necessary HW and SW. Being neither a Mac or Windows person, I opted to use Linux. After some initial problems with my firewire card, I can now download (dvgrab), convert (transcode), author (dvdauthor), and burn (dvdrecord) a dvd in a single day. Most software will actually control the camera through the firewire interface (play/stop) but you may need to set everything up and push play on the camera. Overall very easy to use. I don't expect any of this to be any different with this unit or another. One comment (very minor issue) about the PVDV953 is that the firewire connector is right where the hand goes when shooting to it is a bit awkward to change the mode and operate the menu when the firewire cable is connected.

    Hope this helps and good luck.
     
  8. Vlad D

    Vlad D Screenwriter

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    Funny, but that is the exact reason I'm shopping for a miniDV. We are expecting twins.

    Thanks EdD. That was a great review, and is in line with some online reviews that I have read. My only concern is the low light performance issue, as I will be doing a lot of indoor shooting. It would be great if I could find another miniDV that would give me the same image quality as the Panny without the low light issue and still fall in my "under $1000" budget. Tall order. [​IMG]

    Vlad
     

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