Panasonic’s consumer camcorders are unique in the market because they possess the more advanced 3CCD technology as standard. This means it has three image sensors (one each for Red, Blue and Green) as opposed to the single chip you find on most consumer camcorders. As you’d expect, this leads to brighter, sharper colours and the output of this camera is stunning both indoors or outside.
Low lighting conditions usually present a problem for 3CCD camcorders (because the image sensors are smaller), however, the quality remained surprisingly good on the NV-GS300. A novel touch is that you can flip the monitor around and use it as a white light. There’s also a Colour Night View option, but the frame rate is incredibly poor. It does make for interesting artsy shots though.
This model has a lot of useful little features. The lens cap is integrated into the lens, so you can’t lose it. The tapes are inserted and removed from the top rather than the bottom as is found in many compact cameras – a godsend when it’s mounted on a tripod. The zoom button is well placed at the top of the device providing excellent control over the speed of your zoom.
The stills feature is also surprisingly good: shots are vibrant and sharp and are captured at 3.1 megapixels, which is a decent size. Although it doesn’t come with any software for the Mac, none is actually needed: just use iMovie to export your footage via FireWire and iPhoto to get to your stills, using the bundled USB cable.
The NV-GS300 isn’t perfect though. While having the more expensive optical image stabiliser function (rather than a digital version), it doesn’t appear to be that effective. The camcorder also doesn’t record in true widescreen but rather anamorphic 4:3 (meaning the pixels are stretched to fill the screen. The manual focus is also so fiddly it’s next to useless, which leaves the camcorder firmly in the amateur camp, despite its professional innards.
For the consumer market, this camera is excellent. It even has features some compact pro camcorders lack. It has a good optical and 3CCD recording system and image quality for both video and stills is high. It’s pleasant to use when left on automatic, but the manual settings can be a little fiddly. If you’re a professional videographers you may want to go for something with better manual controls.