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Panasonic DV / MX / GS series Assistant
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Old September 6th, 2004, 06:52 PM   #16
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The GS400 just arrived in the local Fry's store here. I knew it wouldn't be small. And it isn't.
The GS400 isn't micro sized like a lot of other MiniDV cams but they don't offer the features of the GS400.

At least its not a vertical cam.
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Old September 8th, 2004, 09:40 AM   #17
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<<<-- Originally posted by Claus Olesen :
The GS400 just arrived in the local Fry's store here. I knew it wouldn't be small. And it isn't. -->>>


You can't have quality stuff if you go too small. Transport systems, 3-ccd head, large LCD screen and quality lens will limit the downsize.


Carlos
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Old September 8th, 2004, 10:44 AM   #18
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Good point Carlos, the GS400 1/4.7" 3CCD optical assembly is noticeably larger than the 1/6" 3CCD GS100 as you can see from this photo
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Old September 8th, 2004, 12:39 PM   #19
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at loss

So much I have learned with the kind help of you people, and also through some research I did in between. But to tell you the truth I have no idea which camera I best get!
I understand PAL is favoured over NTSC.
But so far I have a lot of points going for NTSC:
I have checked the DVD player and the TV I bought last year here in Bali, Indonesia. Although they were cheap models ( well, the TV was not so cheap but only because it is 28 inch ) I can choose 'auto', or 'PAL' or 'NTSC, the TV even got SECAM and two kinds on NTSC ( 4.43 and 3.58 - whatever that may mean ) And it seems to me that most machines in Europe will be not much different in this respect.
DVD players and TVs in Japan, as I understand, very likely will not be able to show PAL propperly.
The NTSC GS400 costs about 150 US$ less than the PAL GS200, taking Allen's PAL and NTSC prizes offered on the internet in Japan. Even though generally PAL could be better, should I still favour a more expensive PAL GS200 over a NTSC GS400?
For me a strong point against a japanese NTSC camera remains the japanese menus on the camera and even in the LCD. Is there any way to get what's displayed on the LCD changed to English?
If I wasn't scared of that I definitely would say I am decided to go for a japanese GS400.

But so far still at a loss:
I did find a PAL SONY DCR-TRV 38E here at the local market for 500 Euros ( 600 US$ ) It felt nice in my big hands, I liked the big LCD, not the bottom tape loading, but it seemed a better choice than the DCR-HC40 for 600 Euro, and the PC108 for a bit over 600 Euro. ( and that's about the complete choice here in Bali )

If I was to get a PAL camera I could, after all, as well buy it in Austria, but only if it was a Canon. But check out those prize difference for the Panasonics!
( prizes all converted in YEN, first prize = online shopping NTSC in Japan, second PAL in Japan acc. to Allen, third prize internet shopping Austria )
Canon Elura 70: 60.000+, / 84.000 / 87.000
Canon Optura 40: 70.000+ / 99.800 / 115.000
Optura 500: 85.000 / 114.000 / 143.000
Pana GS200: 68.300 / 118.000 / 143.000
Pana GS400 97.400 / 158.000 / 208.000
Considering that I should pay 20% VAT once I bring the camera into Austria the PAL prizes for the Elura70 and Optura40 are even surprisingly 'cheap' in Austria. ( they are called differently there however, MVX250I and MVX25I - in case that I did find the correct models )

Wow, soon I will have MY first video camera!
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Old September 8th, 2004, 01:13 PM   #20
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Re: at loss

<<<-- Originally posted by Andreas Griesmayr :
Considering that I should pay 20% VAT once I bring the camera into Austria the PAL prizes for the Elura70 and Optura40 are even surprisingly 'cheap' in Austria. -->>>

You have to pay VAT even if you buy it abroad? Then it's not VAT but import tax.

Just one important thing: think of the warranty. You buy it in Europe, particularly in Austria, if you have any problems you will be able to solve them easily. If you buy the camera abroad it may be quite more problematic.


Carlos
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Old September 8th, 2004, 07:36 PM   #21
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taxes

dear Carlos,
on importing I certainly do have to pay 20% Vat AND import tax on top of that. Import tax could be very low however, just 2 or 3 %, if any. However usually one could get the VAT refunded in the country where one bought the camera on leaving that country if one is not a resident there but a visiting tourist only. In Japan this would be 5%. VAT refund. Those 20% VAT + import also would apply if I ordered e.g. online from the US.
VAT differes throughout Europe, even between countries which use the Euro. In Germany it is, I believe, 16%. So if I ordered online in Germany I even would have to get the german VAT refunded first, and then pay the austria VAT again. It seems however that customs doesn't practice that any more within Euroland, and I don't have to go through that procedure. One can note however that the same product cost slightly more in Austria then in Germany, even if offered by the same shop because of the difference of the corresponding VATs.
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Old September 8th, 2004, 08:22 PM   #22
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Andreas, if you carry the cam on your shoulder (and trash the box), how would the Customs inspectors or tax people know that you just bought the cam from overseas?

If you can live with NTSC, the Japanese versions of the Canons have multi-lingual menu! However, markings on the body are only in Japanese.

If you buy a PAL model in those duty free shops, you get international warranty valid only in PAL countries.

Malaysia and Singapore sell PAL cams at cheaper prices.

A GS200 does not compare with a GS400, IMO.
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Old September 8th, 2004, 08:31 PM   #23
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If you can live with Japanese menus and if Sony cams can indeed play both NTSC and PAL tapes, then you should try-out the HC1000 too. Price is about the same as the GS400 and you get the benefit of low shutter speed settings under video mode, spot focus and a slighly better low-light performance. You might even prefer the color saturation of the Sony over a Panasonic. Manual shooting is gonna be more complicated though because settings are embedded within the Japanese menus (touch-screen).
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Old September 9th, 2004, 07:56 AM   #24
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<<<-- Originally posted by Allan Rejoso : If you can live with Japanese menus and if Sony cams can indeed play both NTSC and PAL tapes, then you should try-out the HC1000 too. Price is about the same as the GS400 and you get the benefit of low shutter speed settings under video mode, spot focus and a slighly better low-light performance. You might even prefer the color saturation of the Sony over a Panasonic. Manual shooting is gonna be more complicated though because settings are embedded within the Japanese menus (touch-screen). -->>>

This is a question I seem to be coming often these weeks: have you tried the HC1000, Alan?

The Sony color saturation seems to be something I didn't think about until recently.

Tape problems I had with a Canon GL1 last year made me aware of a DV weakness I didn't know about: not being able to mix tapes. But it also raised another question: that Sony equipment seemed to play problematic tapes that Panasonic's didn't.

Apparently Sony cameras are a lot less sensible to this tape mix problem than Canons or Panasonics. This is a fact to nobody seemed to acknowledge on these forums.

So I will definitely include HC1000 and the future FX1 in my options, to try against GS400 and DVX100.



Carlos
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Old September 9th, 2004, 08:53 AM   #25
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living with japanese menus

<<<-- Originally posted by Allan Rejoso : If you can live with NTSC, the Japanese versions of the Canons have multi-lingual menu! However, markings on the body are only in Japanese.

<<<--If you can live with Japanese menus and if Sony cams can indeed play both NTSC and PAL tapes, then you should try-out the HC1000 too. Price is about the same as ......

'if you can live with NTSC'.....is it really that bad?
My biggest question now: How difficlut will it be to understand the japanese menus? The switches around the camera one can understand quite fast, i believe, but does anyone, maybe you again, Allen, know just how many menus will be displayed on the LCD, and how difficult will it be to understand them? Will those rather use symbols, or a lot of japanese Kanji'? ( well. more likely Hiragana/Katagana ) How do the different models compare in this respect? Optura 40 and GS400? Won't be the Sonys more difficult with all their menus on the touchscreen, not only because of handling issue, but because of the language issue? Thank you for mentioning the Canon's advantage of bilinqual display!
The review of the HC1000 are not very enthusiastic about this camera. I'd be curious, just as Carlos had asked, have you ever used one yourself?

<<<-- Andreas, if you carry the cam on your shoulder (and trash the box), how would the Customs inspectors or tax people know that you just bought the cam from overseas?

Allen I defintitely would not do that: Austrian customs officials are bad...though not as bad as the Germans who definitely would ask me for my purchase receipt, for they want me to proove that I did NOT buy it overseas. The Germans would do the tax declaration for me however, the Austrias could even have me contact a cargo agent do fill out the paper for me ( you need somebody to fill in the correct number ) who would charge me another 50 buks or so for that.

<<<--Carlos also says: Sony equipment seemed to play problematic tapes that Panasonic's didn't.

well, that could be a real good point for a camera, but I, as a beginner, will very likely only play the tapes which I shot myself, don't you think? But since it shoots well with the automatic settings, could be very good for a beginner!

andreas
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Old September 9th, 2004, 01:35 PM   #26
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Be careful of Canon's

I was searching for a camcorder too a few weeks back. I read quite a few postings from news group. There seems to be a reliability issue for Canon camcorders that many complain having issues after 1 year (when the warranty expires.) I could not afford to spend a thousand dollars for camcorder "every year". And I certainly do not want to be the one to test for Canon's reliability with my money. So decided to skip Canon. Just be alert!

Eric.
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Old September 10th, 2004, 04:45 AM   #27
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<<<-- Originally posted by Andreas Griesmayr :

'if you can live with NTSC'.....is it really that bad?

Most definitely not, but you have to consider being able to watch video both in NTSC and PALsville. That is the main issue you need to address. You've been to NTSC Japan many times right, and you probably have seen how eye-popping the quality of SD broadcast here (no need to discuss HD). Watching widescreen video shot with a GS100 on a super fine pitch 32-inch NTSC Sony with wega engine, I just cannot imagine how much clearer a PAL system can be. But at least on paper, PAL should be the better system if all other factors are the same (TV make and cam model). I have not actually seen how good PAL is - the PAL TVs I used in Malaysia and Singapore and in the hotels in Europe did not compare with the ones I've been using in Japan).


Allen I defintitely would not do that: Austrian customs officials are bad...

Be a good citizen then :-) But you mean to say if I were an Austrian, everytime I leave the country for any reason and carry some of my electronic stuffs on my shoulder or in my bag, I would have to bring some proof that such items were not bought overseas or that I have had paid for the customs duties of those or that I would have to declare the gadgets I would be bringing out? Which reminds me, somebody once told me to put the cam in a dilapidated cam bag to make it look old :-) Are we allowed to talk about these things here? :-)


The review of the HC1000 are not very enthusiastic about this camera. I'd be curious, just as Carlos had asked, have you ever used one yourself?

I have played with the HC1000 in stores many times. I have almost 30 minutes of videos shot inside various stores, and those samples provided by a Japanese magazine. The HC1000 certainly will not appeal to everybody. I still think the body shape is "not beautiful" but I am a big fan of its menu system (because I am not a pro!) :-) I appreciate its clean image, the capability to retain color even under insufficient lighting conditions, the tons of manual features (except for Bluetooth, every feature in the TRV950 is available but the access procedure is different - and will probably annoy the pros), slow shutter settings, availability of LANC, but I am still biased against the Sony color saturation although it cannot be denied that there are more people in this world who are satisfied owners of Sony cams. Kaku mentioned something about the Sony having more dynamic range (in color). Based on what I have seen, I think I would have to agree with that, but IMO, the Pany (and Canons) exhibit more closer to life colors. In the end, it all comes down to your personal preference. The Sony's ability to properly letterbox widescreen on the LCD is quite cool indeed (kudos to the new Canons as well), on the other hand, a 2.5 LCD just doesn't have the same impact as the bright and clear 3.5 LCD of the GS400. Finally, I paid almost 2x for my Optura100 (what a bummer) compared to the current market price of the GS400 and HC1000 and the latter 2 have soooo much more videocam features than the Canon. Price-wise alone (in Japan - that's why I qualified with a statement regarding acceptance of Japanese menus) , I find it hard to ignore the HC1000.

<<<--Carlos also says: Sony equipment seemed to play problematic tapes that Panasonic's didn't.

I have posted this previously but problems related to tape mixing is still a myth for me personally. I mix Sonys, Panys, and Fuji all the time, whichever tape color my family prefers on a particular shooting day without a single problem. I've been doing that on a Canon Optura100 for 3 years, and a Panasonic GS100 since March 2004. I don't know, I am probably lucky that's all :-), and there's no harm in heeding the advise of people who have actually experienced such tape-mixing problem. BTW, don't forget to buy a video head cleaner as well.

In regard to reliability, IMO, it does not matter what the make is. There's going to be at least 1 lemon somewhere and the risk should almost be the same for any giant cam maker.

BTW, I am only referring to consumer level cams ok :-)
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Old September 10th, 2004, 11:14 AM   #28
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Thanks for your comments on the HC1000, Allan. They are the first unbiased ones I have read on that camera.

Can you be a bit more specific on what you think pros would not like on menus and access procedure?

About the color saturation on the Sony cameras, isn't there something you can do to adjust it?

Are there less image fine-tunings you can do on the HC1000 than on the GS400?

My comments on tape problems actually did happen to me and I think it's quite annoying, besides being unpractical. Software should universal and "mixable".

But what surprised more was that the problematic tapes I recorded could be played almost flawlessly on Sony prosumer equipment and not on Canon or Panasonic. Susprising because I considered myself a "Pana person", or at least in VHS, S-VHS and TV, so I always thought of Panasonic as something people had to discover. That tape problem destroyed that idea I had. Now I even have my doubts on the DVX100.


Carlos
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Old September 12th, 2004, 12:11 PM   #29
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Allan,

My information about HC1000 having wider dynamic range was said in their own development team's interveiw (kinda bogus because interview is done internally, and Panasonic does that too on the website, kinda silly).

So, I don't know how much to believe, but it mus have better dynamic range comparing to its older model (don't know which one).

I will find out soon and provide you folks a comparison footage.
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Old September 12th, 2004, 11:01 PM   #30
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...Can you be a bit more specific on what you think pros would not like on menus and access procedure?

Try to imagine operating your camcorder like an ATM machine, i.e., instead of pressing or sliding discrete buttons or turning jogwheel on the cam body, all you need to (lightly) press with your finger is the LCD. Do you think you'd be happy with that? Personally, I don't consider that a major problem because I'm pretty adept to touch-panel controls systems in my line of work. In fairness to Sony, I feel they have significantly improved the menus to make the arrangement more user-friendly and convenient compared to its first version, not to mention that icons and control buttons have become bigger and easier to press. At any rate, if you're not used to it, I imagine it can be a very slow and frustrating manual operation process. Unlike the GS400, you can do menu-operation even while in the process of recording which raises some concern about causing unwanted cam shake as you press the LCD. One solution I find is to support the back of the LCD with my left pointing and middle fingers and let my left thumb do all the operations (2.5 inch LCD is pretty small and all corners can be easily reached by the thumb). That way, cam remains steady as a rock. But if you're going to move while shooting and want to do some manual adjustments, that's a different story. Does the menu block the view? Yes of course, but not totally. Even with the menu displayed on top of the image, you can still see "through" it and easily notice the effect of the fine adjustments you're making. Does touch-screen operation smudge the LCD? Yes it should but not so much unless you have dirty or moist fingers, or you press the LCD too hard (all that is needed is just a slight press).


...About the color saturation on the Sony cameras, isn't there something you can do to adjust it?

Color intensity adjustment through menu-operation is available, but I think Pros usually make color adjustments through NLE. As I posted previously, you might even prefer the color saturation of this cam compared to Panasonic. Compared to other Sonys that I've played with which tend to exhibit reds with strong orange hue or image with yellowish or bluish tint especially under fluorescent lights, the HC1000 has pretty accurate and bright colors although I simply prefer the Pany look.


...Are there less image fine-tunings you can do on the HC1000 than on the GS400?

The HC1000 has the following features: manual shutter speed setting including slow shutter speed settings under video mode (1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30), 24-step brightness setting (shown as bars and not iris value), sharpness setting, AE shift (+-4 steps), backlight compensation, color intensity setting, 2-mode zebra pattern (100%, 70%) color bar, LCD fine tuning such as color and brightness settings, HQ widescreen, interval recording, manual WB, sound level adjustment (mic only - same as TRV950), guide frame, manual focus ring that can also function as manual zoom ring with a slide of a selector switch, spot focus and active lens type OIS.

The HC1000 does not have Procinema mode and frame mode.
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