DVX100 full review

The long-anticipated DVX100 has finally hit our shores. While the progressive frame mode may not be nearly as important in the UK as in the US, the DV-cinema hype has not distilled in the slightest. The DVX100 is a highly impressive camera, even against competitors in the same price range. Stand-out features are the exceptionally wide non-removable Leica Dicomar lens (32.5-35mm equivalent), twin XLR audio sockets (with phantom power – unusual for a camera in this price bracket), manual zoom and focus rings, a 3.5-inch LCD screen, excellent build and balance and, perhaps most importantly, cinema-mode adjustable gamma settings. Even when shooting interlaced footage, the DVX100 produces exceptional results – certainly on a par with Sony’s PD150. The wide-angle lens is a major performance booster, making it relatively easy to get decent shots of cramped interiors. Audio performance is also good with the microphone capturing sounds accurately, although all-too-easily picking up the zoom motor. There’s no true 16:9 mode as standard, although Panasonic does offer an anamorphic adaptor (the AG-LA7200, around £600 plus VAT) for the DVX100 to make full use of the three 1/3-inch CCDs. The imaging can be tweaked to a large degree using the simple-but-effective menu system, with settings for skin detail and so on making it possible to truly hone a look. Although the zoom ring is fixed (the motor can also be disabled using a flick-switch beneath the lens), the focus is the freewheeling type that can be off-putting at first. However, it’s possible to pull focus accurately, as both zoom and focus can be displayed as percentages on the LCD and viewfinder screens. Macworld’s buying advice The DVX100 is an outstanding camera that reaches for the stars, and falls only slightly short. The Cine mode certainly achieves a more film-like aesthetic than standard MiniDV, although no MiniDV format camera is ever likely to seriously compete at all levels with Super 16 or 35mm film. That said, the gamma curve of the ‘cine’ progressive mode works extremely well, allowing far more detail in the darker areas of the picture when lit accordingly. There are some small niggles about the DVX100 that in an ideal world we’d like changed – a memory card/stills feature and fixed focus ring, for example. However, these omissions are understandable given the DVX100’s price point. Ultimately, Panasonic has recognized users’ needs to achieve film-style aesthetics without Hollywood budgets, and has made positive steps towards achieving it. But despite the DV cinema hype, whether you shoot corporate videos, journalism, or low-budget independent films, the DVX100 is recommended to all.
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