Panasonic has recently released two new budget camcorders: the PV-GS80 and PV-GS85. Both camcorders are sub-$300 shooters, so as you might imagine, they are now jam-packed with features. This article will focus on the PV-GS85, so keep reading for a full review.
Both of these camcorders have a few features that aren't always seen in budget camcorders - especially the PV-GS85. The main difference between these two Panasonic models is that the PV-GS85 costs a bit more, has an LED video light for shooting in the dark, and features an SD card slot for shooting still images.
The Panasonic PV-GS85 is a MiniDV camcorder, which means it records digital video onto a MiniDV tape - not the newest technology in the world, but it does have its advantages. For one, a MiniDV tape will record very high quality video, and it's a much better value than a camcorder that records video onto a DVD. MiniDV tapes are very inexpensive, fast, and tend to be much more durable than DVDs. On top of this, they have a relatively long shelf life.
The disadvantage of using a MiniDV camcorder is that transferring an hour of video to a computer takes an hour to accomplish. It doesn't transfer video nearly as fast as a DVD camcorder does. Also, MiniDV tapes are a lot like VHS tapes; you can't quickly skip around to different scenes as a DVD can. Instead, you must fast-forward and rewind the tape to get to various scenes. All in all, MiniDV is an inexpensive alternative to DVD or HDD camcorders, but it is slower than these other formats and more outdated.
The Panasonic PV-GS85 offers some impressive features for the money. Some of these features include: 35x optical zoom, optical image stabilization, still-shot mode, manual controls, and video light. The PV-GS85 has a relatively small 1/6 " sensor with a gross pixel count of 680,000. This small of a sensor can't produce the greatest image quality in the world, but this camcorder does produce solid video.
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