Panasonic PV-GS300 MiniDV camcorder

The Panasonic PV-GS300 MiniDV is inexpensive for a camcorder that has three image sensors, but its video quality is quite impressive. It’s a little bulkier than some camcorders: it won’t fit into a pocket though it does fit comfortably in the hand. But the heavier components on the left side of its body mean that it will sometimes tilt to the left while you’re filming.

Although the Record and Zoom buttons are comfortable, the mode dial and joystick are a little awkward; you have to use your other hand to brace the camcorder before you can comfortably reach them.

The PV-GS300 lacks a couple of features that its more expensive cousin, the PV-GS500 (   ) has: absent are that model’s focus ring and some of its manual controls. The PV-GS300 can take still images at 3.1 megapixels, and these still images looked good, showing strong color and fine detail.

Three CCD image sensors (for red, green, and blue) inside the camcorder make the GS300 a strong performer; it captures video with bright, accurate colors and good detail. But its low-light video was a little pale; some objects in our test video lacked the vivid color that they showed under normal light.

This camcorder’s optical image stabilization is also a big plus: an element in the lens moves to compensate for small camera movements—this is more effective than the electronic image stabilization that camcorders such as the Sony DCR-HC36 MiniDV Handycam (   ) offer.

The battery life of the PV-GS300 is also above average: at a few minutes under two hours, it’s long enough to last a weekend trip.

performance

Still-Image Quality Good
Video Quality Superior
Battery Life Good

Scale = Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor

How We Tested: Each camcorder was tested at its highest-quality audio, video, and still-image settings in daylight and low-light conditions, with digital zoom disabled. A panel of experts evaluated the recorded scenes side-by-side on four identical TV sets to assign video and audio scores. The panel evaluated printed photos to assign still-image scores. Each camera was given a rating of Superior, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor. The scores for both video and stills are an average of all scores given; video and still scores were averaged separately.—Tested in conjunction with the PC World Test Center.

specifications

LCD Size 2.7 inches
Optical Zoom 10x
Still image resolution 640 x 480
Size (wxhxd) 2.9 x 3.0 x 5.3
Weight (oz.) 18

Macworld’s buying advice

The Panasonic PV-GS300 is a great choice for shooters who don’t mind spending a little extra for quality, but who don’t want to lay out a lot of cash for a high-end camera such as the PV-GS500. It has most of the features that most users need.

[ Richard Baguley is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in PC World, Wired , and other publications. ]

Panasonic PV-GS300

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