The AJ-DVC60 is a shoulder-mounted, DV-based video camera. It currently sits at the entry level of Panasonic’s professional camera range. As a professional camera, all the basic pre-requisites are in place. It features a side-loading tape mechanism to allow easy tape changes during tripod-based work. Battery charging is handled off camera, and the unit comes with a fairly powerful 1600mAh battery.
The two built-in XLR audio connectors are placed in the optimum position at the rear of the camera to feed balanced audio leads.Visuals are handled with a 16x fixed lens that enjoys an excellent variable zoom. The rocker switch is easy to use offering good feedback for smooth zooms. Images are captured using three 1/4-inch CCDs – so visual quality is excellent.
The AJ-DVC60 allows a high degree of image manipulation. Through the menu it’s possible to alter detail level, AE shift, chroma level, colour temperature, chroma phase, master ped, skin tone detail and record mode (normal or frame mode). Although these are set with a primitive user interface, they allow a breadth of varying shooting aesthetics. It’s also possible to switch the DVC60 to widescreen 16:9 ratio. When shooting, footage appears squeezed in the 4:3 ratio viewfinder or 2.5-inch TFT screen, but is stretched automatically when imported into a 16:9 project in Apple Final Cut Pro.
Also worthy of note is the high-sensitivity shooting mode. This uses the Infrared spectrum to allow shooting in complete darkness, a godsend for users involved in nocturnal shooting.
Despite these impressive features, the DVC60 is lacking in other areas. This camera will be little use for any scripted drama-based work due to the lack of a fixed focus ring. Without this feature, accurate focus pulling is out of the question. It would also have been nice to see some kind of memory card facility in the camera for saving image-setup presets.
The AJ-DVC60 certainly offers plenty of performance for its price. However, there are some small but important niggles: the camera’s buttons are frustrating; they offer so little travel when pressed that at times it’s impossible to tell if you’ve activated one. The shoulder padding is also a little thin and could make fatigue a problem. That said, Panasonic is to be commended for offering such a low-priced route into its pro camera range – and for raw visual price-to-performance ratio, the AJ-DVC60 is a serious contender. If the niggles mentioned are of little concern the DVC60 should prove a highly reliable workhorse camera.