Average User RatingAverage User RatingAverage User Rating: Number of User Reviews: 2
Reviewed by: diestler from CO on Dec 5, 2004
Experience: 3 Days
Strengths: Video quality and low light are great. IR B&W shooting. Manual control of everything. Big LCD, 16X Optical Zoom. CineGamma (like DVX100A). Not too big, not too small - just right.
Weaknesses: No Multi Function Ring. Desirable add-ons are spendy. No memory card feature for stills. Spendy for having similar features to the GS400 (quite a bit cheaper). No true 16x9 no built in XLR inputs.
Summary: The Panasonic DVC30 produces an outstanding picture for a "small" price. You won't find better low light in any camera near this price range except the Sony VX2100/PD170 which cannot be beat in low light. The picture quality (regular and low light) is better than the Canon GL2 and the Sony TRV950 in my honest opinion. I have been looking to upgrade my camcorder for awhile, but couldn't get all the features I required and meet certain requirements such as size and cost. This camera has manual control over everything (including gain). The camera is what I would call midsized. It is big enough to look good in the field while shooting, yet compact enough to take on vacation. It has 3 1/4 inch CCDs to accurately reproduce colors. The 16X optical zoom is more than sufficient. Variable setting Zebra Pattern. A cool synchro scan feature - this option allows the user to match the scan rate of a television or computer monitor. CineGamma that gives your video more of a film look. And much, much, more. It far exceeded my expectations of what a camera costing $1750 ($2600 retail) could do.
Slights problems - no multi function ring. Shutter/iris are a shared button/wheel. Supplied battery doesn't last that long. No built in ND filters that aren't automatic. To add an XLR breakout box you are looking at an additional $250. The 16x9 mode will not give you as nice of a picture as the Sony PDX10 due to it's lower pixel count per CCD. In addition, if you can find a Panasonic GS400 that doesn't have tape transport noise problems you can get nearly all the same features for about 2/3 the price.
I would highly recommend this camera to anyone that is a serious videographer.
In my opinion, this camera offers a great value for those looking for a not too big, not too small prosumer camera.
Reviewed by: halljw from NY on Mar 19, 2005
Experience: 2 Weeks
Strengths: Compact for a pro-grade camcorder, sturdy construction, highly tailorable, outstanding autofocus for sports and wildlife, and (most importantly) great video.
Weaknesses: Cost seems a bit high considering the alternatives; plan on dropping $350 more on a Bogen / Manfrotto pan handle/controller (& more yet if you don't already own one of their fluid heads).
Summary: As advertised, this is an ideal second camera for serious videographers or a great step up for aspiring pros (like myself). I won't duplicate reviews available elsewhere (this camera was CNET editor's choice), but I'll tell you what I would like to know if I was considering this camera.
(1) If you're considering this camera, you're probably also considering the Canon GL2 and the Sony DCR-VX2100. Compared to these, the DVC30 seems expensive, especially considering the venerable reputation of the GL2 and the exceptional performance of the Sony (which uses 1/3" CCDs). For me, it boiled down to size (the "user guide" at Panasonic's website (be sure to go to PROFESSIONAL products) has a side-by-side-by-side photo of the three). If you're just doing weddings, etc., go with the VX2100 or wait for the GL3. If, however, you are humping this thing through the woods (or Disneyland) or doing action sports shots on the field of play, the size is a real advantage.
(2) If you're considering jumping up to the tantalizing array of pseudo-HD and 24p cameras (as I was), you may wish to consider waiting for a couple of years, at which time $3000 will probably get you a camera that will let you produce your own HD DVDs. I had to consider whether the "film look" of 24p was worth a grand, and for a sports videographer it wasn't (not to mention the size thing again).
(3) If you're considering moving UP to this camera (as I did), be very clear that this is a professional camera. That is not to say that it is unduly complicated. To the contrary, it is every bit as intuitive as the Sony Handycam I left behind (although the feature set is much richer). What I mean is that you can say goodbye to consumer-priced accessories and the utility of conveniently located stores like Best Buy. The $120 LANC-controller tripod I used with my Sony doesn't work; replacing it means $300 on a Bogen / Manfrotto tripod with a 501 fluid head and another $350 on the 522P pan handle controller. And, while I said the tailorability of this cam was a strength, it comes at cost. The XLR adapter for pro audio gear goes for $250, the XLR stereo mic is nearly another $200, and the long range IR light (which is more than a "nightshot" gimmick) is over $300. I can attest that the $140 non-XLR stereo mic works great, however, if you don't have immediate need of pro audio equipment.
(4) Finally, I've become something of a shill for Lowepro (although they haven't started paying me yet. Their Compact AW DV bag is a bit big for this cam (it was designed for the GL2), but it has room for every accessory, tapes, cables, chargers, etc., and takes Lowepro's S&F sliplock accessories--of course with the built-in rain cover that garners the AW (all-weather) designation.
Bottom line: this camera is for you if great video and(small) size is important, but 24p and HDV are not.