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Panasonic DV / MX / GS series Assistant
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Old December 13th, 2003, 04:18 PM   #1
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Panasonic PV-DV852 features

Bought a Panasonic PV-DV852 a few months ago. The manual that comes with this camera is typical, very skimpy. I think some of the features may be undocumented. I'd like to start a major features document in this thread. I'll keep adding/editing it. Some of this information already came from past threads. Feedback, additions, and corrections appreciated.

MAJOR FEATURES
1/3.8 inch, 1 CCD, 1.0-1.2 million pixels, F1.8 lense, MiniDV, prosumer camcorder, 2.5" LCD preview screen, color viewfinder and LCD. Stereo microphone. Analogue input, RCA out, DV firewire out, S-video out. Manual focus (ring), aperture, shutter. Still pictures stored on SD card or tape.

LOW LIGHT
Some say it can go as low as 1 LUX (pretty dark room), though grainy and grey at this level. Graininess is very well controlled even at +12, up to +18 gain. Reasonable pictures at 10 LUX (less light than many indoor lit rooms at night). Some users suggest low light nearly as good as a Canon GL2.

IMAGE STABILIZATION
Optical. Hard to notice it works at zoom 1x. Then I tried using digital zooms up to 200x just to check the effect. What a difference with it on and off. It just corrects small shaking motion, not generally unsteady hand.

ZOOM
10x optical zoom, 35mm to 350mm equivalent, wider angle than most cams (great). People say that digital zoom is not worth it. I found up to 20x nearly same quality as 10x and 50x resulted in very useful pictures for brief zoom-ins on tripod (telescope simulation). The 1.0 million pixels of CCD are 4x that required in output which I think aids in digital zooming quality.

STILL PICTURES
Up to 1280x960 or 1.3 MP saved to SD card. Not nearly as good quality as a 1.3 MP picture from my Nikon CP5400 digital still camera. I think it's due to poor JPG compression even in FINE mode and too much sharpening. Looks foggy and blurry compared to CP5400 picture. The pixel size on this camera is the same as my Nikon CP5400 and both have great lenses. Even at 640x480 the CP5400 is superior. But what's new. Any still picture I've seen from a camcorder is far less quality than a still picture from a still camera at the same number of pixels. Some say video CCDs can't pull off the same quality as still CCDs can.

VIDEO
This is my first camcorder. This camcorder has quite a lot of inter-line twitter (quivering, shimmering) when panning and on moving objects in it's standard 60 frames/second interlaced mode. But I tested it next to a Panasonic AG-DVX100 in 60i and both cams were similar. It's a fault of the 60i system. Commercial productions apparently are highly processed and filtered to reduce this effect. Many say the color is nearly as good as some 3 CCD cams. I found tweaking white balance (only presets it appears) resulted in pretty realistic picture with bright colors, but not so great in auto white balance. Resolution seemed quite similar to Panasonic AG-DVX100 I checked it against.

SHARPENING
I think this camera may do a little more sharpening around objects than some higher end cameras. Apparently consumer camcorders sharpen more than professional ones. Doesn't appear to be any way of adjusting the sharpening. Seems this camera has more sharpening that test shots I've seen with it's sister camera the MX8.

CINEMA WIDE SCREEN MODE
Has a cinema wide screen mode. Some say it stays as black bars top and bottom. Manual says wide screen TVs will readjust. Who is right? This camera has excess pixels to burn, so might still retain reasonable qualilty, but don't have a wide screen TV to try it on.

FRAME MODE, PROGRESSIVE MODE
Seems I can shoot video in Progressive Mode in SD Card mode. Doesn't record on MiniDV tape, but I can record to VCR. Looked similar to progressive picture from 3CCD Panasonic AG-DVX100 I tested. Bit jerky but other wise clear picture. Don't know how many frames/second. Seems like even more inter-line twitter than in 60i mode. Hmm, have to experiment a bit more with the settings. If it works doesn't seem to be optimized.

FINAL VIDEO OUTPUT
This is considered a great camera by many, and I agree, compared to other camcorders. At the current price it's an exceptional value. Far more manual controls than cheaper consumer camcorders. Video quality and low light ability is more similar to a professional camcorder like the Canon GL2 than a consumer camera like the Canon ZR50. Don't expect raw footage to be identical to what you see on TV though. Professional footage often comes from super expensive cameras which has been highly tweaked.
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Old December 14th, 2003, 02:06 PM   #2
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Thanks for the report, Ben -- sure appreciate your input!
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