I have GS400 in hand in NTSC Canada - here are early impressions at DVinfo.net

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Old August 13th, 2004, 08:30 PM   #1
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I have GS400 in hand in NTSC Canada - here are early impressions

Hi folks.

I've got GS400 in my hands this weekend for evaluative purposes courtesy of some friends in high places here in Toronto... Let me tell you, this camera rocks - I will be shooting comparisons against AGDVX100 this weekend just for your interest - the procinema mode looks incredible after you bring it into an NLE and "output" it. Wow - it's a nice look!

Oh, the sharpness! It's night here now - will shoot some traffic to see how the "smearing" goes...

This camera shoots better than my 1/3" original XL1 - the image is sharper and the colours are "richer."

Let's just say now that the great footage provided so far by the likes of Kaku and the other sources (incl. Allan with the Japanese magazine footage) ring true - I can't believe this. I would easily pay $1,000.00 more for this kind of video - don't tell Panasonic!

Yours enthusiastically,
Mark

sorry - gotta go back and shoot.

Chris Hurd - will you host my original GS400 footage for our viewers here? Guy?

I don't have colour charts and the such here at home - any requests for some specific test footage?

Stabilization is good... Wow, the LCD makes a difference - so easy to use!

And the focus ring! Yes, you can rack focus nicely with this camera! You have to zoom in a bit of course to do it but whoa, the ring is amazing. This camera is already easier to handle for me than DVX100 - so compact, so powerful!

No, I do not work for Panasonic - I was a diehard Canon XL1 user until I got tired of waiting for something innovative to come along.

The GS400 to me is more exciting than the XL2 - I can't believe the picture you get for this amount of money.
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Old August 13th, 2004, 08:59 PM   #2
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Yes, Mark, I'll host some video on my site. If you want to post some WMV or MOV files, put them in the GS400 album. If you want to post some MPEG2 files, PM me at my site and I'll give you the FTP instructions.

Chris has more bandwidth than me so if he will host it will be better for all of us.
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Old August 13th, 2004, 09:10 PM   #3
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Yup, I'd be happy to host some choice clips for you, Mark. Pick a few good ones and contact me off list. As long as they're not too god-aswful long. We've got plenty of bandwidth, but it ain't exactly unlimited, you know.
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Old August 14th, 2004, 02:05 AM   #4
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Any way to set it up so that anyone accessing the files does an automatic download instead of creating the problem Guy encountered with his site earlier? You have to think about folks (like me) who unthinkingly click on a link without reading the instructions to "right click to download the file" (especially on a Mac Powerbook, where there is no such thing as "right click").
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Old August 14th, 2004, 12:32 PM   #5
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update - more observations on gs400 (part one)

Hi folks. I am shooting up north in the country today so will have clips to send off for Chris Hurd to host here... was shooting with a colleague who came over last night for hours as we put the camera through its paces...

Some initial observations as I've now had the cam for about 12 plus hours:

Ergonomically, the camera looks a bit funny at first with that relatively large 3.5 lcd, but it sure handles tremendously well - it feels solid and good in the hands - it's easy to cradle this camera and shoot handheld for very long periods of time - you don't want to put this thing down. The lcd extends out past 90 degrees when you're shooting - it's so easy to film with this cam.

The lcd is very high quality, very rich in colours - you get a real sense of the great footage you're capturing while being further away from the cam. Like on the DVX100, when you "mirror" the LCD by flipping all the way around, you can snap lcd back against camera body - very handy for instance if you're shooting solo with 2 cams and you're to the left of the un-manned b-cam gs400 and you want to look over from say 5 or 10 feet away and see if the shot is still working... as you look at the b-cam from the side... gosh, am I explaining this right?

The ring is the best I've ever seen on a cam like this. You turn it a little - it adjusts a little. You turn it faster, it adjusts faster. Wow, so easy to use to do pull-focus or rack focus - I have already shot a demo of this that I will post to Chris tomorrow. As my buddy put it, Panasonic has gone "inside out" in terms of digging out a lot of the manual adjustment features you usually see deep in menus and putting them on buttons on the cam body. It's so easy to switch around from setting manually the focus, zoom, aperture, exposure...

The only minor minor qualm about ergonomics to me so far is this: the 3 buttons on front left side of lens infront of lcd for white balance, manual zoom/focus and shutter/iris are difficult to access while the flip-out lcd is out and swiveled up as you're cradling the cam - the screen gets in the way. Not a deal-breaker, but I figure I've got to say something critical!

Procinema looks great. There is some smearing on all settings under the typical smearing conditions, but I wish I had a pdx10 to compare with under the same circumstances. Doesn't seem to be major concern - unless filming head-on into lights at night is your thing.

Procinema does great in low areas of light - you see pools of black - not pixel noise - I am surprised. Blacks are black. And the cam is doing it right out of the box on it's own - you don't have to "black balance" like you do when you first get your AGDVX100...
I capture and edit in Sony Vegas on PC and the software doesn't seem to have a native way of handling "frame" footage on import - you have to "render" it to truly appreciate what it's doing interms of the cadence/time slur whatever you want to call it and the gamma correction.

Important note re: procinema - you really don't get a sense of the true power of this mode during shooting. The lcd image of course is squeezed and the gamma correction isn't truly resolved on the lcd - you immediately see the difference as you're capturing live to a pc and you see the difference on a t.v. monitor patched through compared to what is playing on the lcd as you capture. Users testing casually in a store will be frustrated by this no doubt unless you can capture to a pc and see the final output. But trust me - it works great - it looks terrific.

You can tweak colour, contrast, sharpness and default exposure settings in the menu of course... no knee settings, etc. But amazing to see this level of control on a cam at this level.

The zoom rocker is INCREDIBLE... I know the camcorderinfo.com review mentioned how you lose your manual focus setting if you switch off to manual zoom or whatever but let me assure you, you'll be using the rocker/magic wand remote more often than not - it's tremendous. Wow - I'm not sure officially how many speeds there are set in but it seems to be more than enough - you can whip in and out or do the most gentle of Kubrick Barry Lyndon slow-zooms...

The stabilization is very very good. Very steady. You can hold the camera "backwards" in the palm of your hand, mirror the lcd, and film yourself walking around with a your arm straight out in front of you and there's no bobble, no jitter - it looks amazing. It's so easy with the big lcd to check the focus on yourself!

And mark my words, folks - I predict very soon someone will jury rig a focus-pull gear system similar to what you see on pro cams incl. the DVX100 - it would work with the way the gs400 ring is built and the way it responds. You could definitely work out a way to pull focus with this camera...

Compared to other cams I've used recently - why I would pick the gs400:

over the XL1/S - well, just from personal experience, the gs400 wins out with the native 16:9 and the frame mode to me seems better than Canon's (is it the same?) because on fast pans, the gs400 in procinema doesn't "stutter" as much as the XL1 frame mode does. The 3.5 LCD on the gs400 is a strong plus over the Canon here. I will shoot my test comparison later this week, but right now to my naked eye, 1/4.7" with 690K x 3CCD effective looks as good/nicer than the effective 1/3" on the XL1s... tremendous resolution on gs400. And the price... So I could buy two and do weddings with a 2 cam setup and not be "as paranoid" leaving one unattended on a tripod somewhere.... Okay, lack of direct XLR audio input might seem to be the Achilles heel of the gs400 but that would probably make the cam more pricey etc - I am willing to live with the beachtek adapter, etc.

over the pdx10 - I've shot with the pdx10 but don't have one to compare this weekend. If it IS the same chips etc. I'd have to give points to gs400 because of the ease of use in terms of manual settings while shooting - none of this touch-screen stuff to slow you down. Plus, you can independently set everything you want on the gs400 - you're not in the quagmire of not being able to set certain things like you are on the pdx10. If I remember correctly (am looking for footage now) the pdx10's smearing under the same conditions was much worse - I'd say the lens on the gs400 is better. The gs400 feels better in your hands than pdx10...

over the Pana DVC30 - magic pix night mode on the gs400 is definitely a more realistic option for vacationers at a campfire than the DVC30's infrared modes. magic pix uses the shutter/aperture trick to compensate and the lcd becomes a light source you flip over for closeups - it goes white and illuminates, giving a cool hue to your subject. If Blair Witch was shot now with the gs400 and it would have done twice the business because of the better stabilization, resolution etc. and the magic pix would have helped out tremendously. The gs400 picture is much better in terms of resolution. The native 16:9 wins out in terms of the procinema mode/gamma making the gs400 the better choice for indie filmmakers over the DVC30. I see less noise on the gs400. Ergonomically, it's easier to hold the gs400 and it's less conspicuous... definitely easier to use manual features on gs400 while shooting compared to dvc30 - the focus ring control on gs400 is a big plus over the dvc30...

over the DVX100A - okay, this is bound to be interesting for some: here are my thoughts. I am also an indie filmmaker so let me say that I love the DVX100 but nevertheless, I might be inclined to take the gs400 if I was "starting out" because: I could buy 2 gs400s and have a 2 cam shoot for the price of one dvx100; the 16:9 native 1/4.7" x 690K x 3CCD effective looks REALLY REALLY good compared to squeezed 30p cinegamma on the DVX; you can have auto settings on the gs400 whilte shooting in the 30 frame procinema mode unlike the dvx100 (non-A) so I think you get a better sense of how your shots are coming out as you're shooting... Right out of the box, the gs400 gives a tremendous image. Note to DVX100 users - you can definitely use gs400 as a b-cam - it matches quite well. Default image on gs400 is a little more "colourful" than dvx but maybe that depends on your "black balance" and if you have 0 or 7.6 IRE, etc.
I know DVX100 of course has display with focal readings and zoom on display but the feel of gs400 ring is more real to me - it's more fun to hold and use.

Sure, if someone dropped a DVX100 in my lap I'd use it but if I was starting out from scratch, the fact that I could get 2 gs400's for the money would incline me to go that way.

To sum it up, it looks like I've definitely found an upgrade path that makes sense to me: I'll now be looking to sell off my old XL1 kit to upgrade to 2 gs400's - this allows me to do weddings comfortably with a 2 cam setup everytime, with newer technology and higher resolution. I will test lowlight comparison tonight to make up my mind for sure - when I use the XL1 for weddings, I always have a helluva time with lowlight. Yes, yes, I know about the Sony's - I honestly prefer the Panasonic and Canon colourspaces to the cooler Sony look. For the money, I don't think the feature set of the GS400 can be beat.
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Old August 14th, 2004, 12:33 PM   #6
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I double that request Chris. I couldn't get anything out of Guys site and didn't want to burn a dvd for Kakus site - an easy download please- thanks
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Old August 14th, 2004, 12:46 PM   #7
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Mark - you posted your second update while I was posting so I just want to thank you and say keep it coming - you're blowing my socks off- thanks
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Old August 14th, 2004, 01:48 PM   #8
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Mark,
Interesting read!
Quote:
I capture and edit in Sony Vegas on PC and the software doesn't seem to have a native way of handling "frame" footage on import - you have to "render" it to truly appreciate what it's doing interms of the cadence/time slur whatever you want to call it and the gamma correction.
If you want to see the video on the Vegas timeline in progressive, go into File/Properties and set Field Order to None (progressive). You can then preview frame mode as it will look upon render. I presume you already know about setting the pixel shape for widescreen to 1.2121.
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Old August 14th, 2004, 04:10 PM   #9
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Wow Mark, this is great information!

It definitely sounds like the GS400 will be my B-Cam to compliment my DVX100A (not replace it though..).

Looking forward to your footage!
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Old August 14th, 2004, 06:37 PM   #10
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That's an excellent point for another DVX100 owner as myself--a solid "B" camcorder that can be the perfect backup at a significantly lesser price.
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Old August 14th, 2004, 08:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
to upgrade to 2 gs400's - this allows me to do weddings comfortably with a 2 cam setup
I shot a couple of weddings last year with my VX2000 and past PDX10 and the PDX10 indoor footage was just about useless due to poor low light performance. I think you may be limiting yourself by not having at least one 1/3" 3CCD cam for weddings.
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Old August 15th, 2004, 01:51 AM   #12
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you cant compare the gs-400 to the dvc-30 the dvc-30 is made by panas pro dept it has same gamma curve as dvx-100a same rgb gamma processor latest low dispersion leica 16x lens 3 1/4 inch interline transfer ccds much better manual controls seious looking tough magnesium body for 500 hundred bux more i believe the 400 is a great cam but lets be real my friend has the 100a and the 30 compliments it perfectly in 60i
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Old August 15th, 2004, 01:57 AM   #13
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i sold my 953 and updated to the dvc-30 because the 30 looks great in the lowest of lighting conditions i would reccomens the dvc-30 over the 400 but i cant afford another 30 so ill wait a few month for the 400 to drop since it will be great as a backup
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Old August 15th, 2004, 02:04 AM   #14
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hey tommy whats the scoop with the jvc-gydv300 at 2000 dollars looks like a steal i heard lots had falty tape drive but people say video quality rivals the dvx in 60i and it has gamma only in 60i
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Old August 15th, 2004, 11:14 AM   #15
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The only problems I've heard about the JVC tape mechanism is if you use lp tapes (gt 60min). Even the sales reps will tell you that.

Even though the cam is a couple of years old, it still out performs similar Sony and Panas in low light.

It has cinema gamma features too. It's achilles heel is terribly
slow autofocus . If you shoot in manual, then this is not a problem. I would actually recommend it over the dvc30.

the jvc gy-dv300 seems to be one of the great 'what ifs' in the dv industry.
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