Panasonic PV-GS150

Panasonic remains the one digital video camera manufacturer producing 3CCD cameras at prices most people can afford. I snapped up a PV-GS70 when they originally started offering 3CCD cameras in the under $700 price range and remain happy with the quality of the output. They continue to offer what I consider the only option for consumer digital video with new additions to the line of 3-chip cameras. Panasonic is using 3 small chips in place of the 1 small chip typically found in consumer grade DV cams. This makes a big difference in the color quality of recorded video because each chip is picking up a separate portion of the color space instead of interpreting two other colors based on the image information gathered by 1 chip. For more on this, see my article on 1CCD vs. 3CCD DV cameras.
The latest addition to the 3-chip family is the PV-GS150, which uses 3 1/6-inch CCDs and has a great 10x Optical Zoom for getting closer to the action. Panasonic is continuing to put Leica Dicomar lenses in the 3CCD consumer line, which supposedly gives you better image quality, but is hard to compare since no one else is making a camera that meets the criteria set by the Panasonic line. You have to spend at least $1200 on any other brand name to get a 3CCD model. The big change to the PV-GS150 over previous models is an upgrade to 2.3 megapixels for the still camera function, which is a big so-what in my book. Using a true still digital camera will still deliver better pictures. The one area where Panasonic seems to skimp compared to Sony and Canon is in image stabilization. The Panasonic DV cams have it, but they aren’t as reliable as the other two brands. The overall increase in image quality from having 3CCDs more than makes up for this and knowing you can’t count on the camera to compensate for every little bump means you need to think more carefully about how you approach moving the camera while you record, which is a good idea anyway. The PV-GS150 is definitely not a pro camera and if you plan to shoot video professionally you still need more expensive gear, but for the amateur videographer, the PV-GS150 delivers great looking images at prices that other camera makers can’t touch with comparable features.