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Old January 10th, 2005, 08:35 PM   #1
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New Panasonic 3CCD Cams

Panasonic introduced three new 3CCD cams at CES in Las Vegas last week. The new cams are the GS65 at $599US, the GS150 at $699US and the GS250 at $999US. The GS65 is a budget 3CCD cam and is the first 3CCD cam to break $600. The GS250 has optical image stabilization and is the first 3CCD cam with OIS to break $1000. All three have 1/6 in. CCDs and 10X optical zoom.

Panasonic has upgraded the navigation features by replacing the cruciform rocker with a joystick located in the center of the mode dial. The navigation is displayed on the LCD in the lower right corner. Pictures of the GS250 are located here. The GS65 and 150 are similar and all three of the new cams resemble the GS120/200.

For now, the GS400 is unchanged and Panasonic has no immediate plans to replace it, according to the national marketing manager I talked to.
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Old January 10th, 2005, 09:41 PM   #2
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That was really good news I heard from other source three days ago. It means my GS400 won't be outdated for a moment.

Regards
Leigh
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Old January 11th, 2005, 07:09 AM   #3
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Guy, any chance the GS250 has quality 16:9?

Thanks for the heads-up. I've been waiting for new cams for what seems like forever!
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Old January 11th, 2005, 09:16 AM   #4
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Tommy,
I doubt it. It has the same CCDs as the DV953. So, at best it has the same 16:9 as that cam. We didn't get any information from Panasonic if they even put a 16:9 mode in any of the new cams. And, I wish I had taken the time to scroll through the menus while I had the cam powered. There is no wide button inside the LCD well like on the GS400 so it will have to be in the menus if it has it. My suspicion is they kept the same functions as on the GS120/200. If so, the only anamorphic mode will be digital effects slim mode.
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Old January 11th, 2005, 01:44 PM   #5
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Well, Tommy. I guessed wrong. Both the GS150 and 250 have widescreen, according to the panasonic.jp site. They call them both high quality but clarify the GS250's is close to the resolution of 4:3. (Sounds like the GS100.) There are also a few different features that we didn't see on the cams at CES.
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Old January 11th, 2005, 02:56 PM   #6
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I'm trying to translate some of the panasonic.jp site now and I've already found one interesting tidbit. It seems the Japanese GS250 has the capability of an English menu!

Click here for a photo/description
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Old January 11th, 2005, 04:53 PM   #7
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Interesting! And, Chinese, too. That should make Allan's black cam sales soar! (How's that for alliteration?)
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Old January 11th, 2005, 05:53 PM   #8
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Guy, in the past Panasonic US has acted generally clueless about what Panasonic Japan has been developing for the Japanese market. Remember all the flapping around last year about the GS 400 and its specs? Hopefully people like Allan will keep weighing in on what's released in Japan - not always the same as what gets released overseas, as we know from sad experience.
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Old January 11th, 2005, 08:34 PM   #9
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Pricejapan.com emailed me today and said the GS250 will be available on or after Jan. 25th. I wonder if there will be a black mamba edition?
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Old January 11th, 2005, 08:41 PM   #10
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Hi Pat,
Yes, I'm aware of the tendency of Panasonic to put things on cams in Japan that they don't in North America. For example, the GS150 I saw at CES didn't have a photo flash. According to Pana.jp the Japanese GS150 has a flash/video light. And, the GS250 I saw didn't have a soft grip but it is touted on the Pana.jp site. Who knows what will actually come to NA?
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Old January 26th, 2005, 10:36 PM   #11
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GS250

Plus Points:

Starting price

OIS (even the English menu says OIS not EIS)

LCD capable of displaying widescreen image in the proper aspect ratio

Widescreen appears to be slightly improved over the GS100 (in terms of increase in horizontal angle of view), but not quite at par with that of GS400.

Low dispersion lens glass

Menu language option (Japanese and English Ethere should be more options in the overseas models)

Manual focus ring

Very easy to read menu (although I still can't figure out the meaning of the symbols representing the 2 picture quality settings)

Choice between black or white fade (I read somebody complained about white fade before). I never use the fade function and wonder if this feature is available in the GS400 too

Improved battery life

Comfortable grip. The slant on the surface on top of the grip area where the fingers rest helps to make the grip more ergonomic. It's obviously a cheaper alternative to the soft grip found on the GS100 and GS400 but it works well.

Except for the pro features of the GS400, all other functions are available.

Power Save feature that can be manually turned off (bye bye to the 5-min timer).


Not So Happy:
Cheesy body (look and feel). Cam looks like a rounded block with shiny silver finish all over (as opposed to the combination of glossy/flat surfaces of the GS200). The tapered corner viewed from the back reminds me of the contour of the Nissan cars (Skyline in particular). Rounded and slightly bulging LCD back panel and contoured IR receiver are not exactly to my taste. Not really a silver space shuttle but it's kinda like soda can shaped. From the opposite view, the GS400 looks too square next to it . :-)

Not available in black.

Except for the Power LCD button and the Auto/Manual slide switch, all functions are embedded within the menus (menu button and joystick). You’ve got to be nimble with menu and joystick operation. Also familiarity with symbols representing certain functions is necessary because there are no labels to identify them. Personally. I prefer the most common functions to be readily accessible through discrete buttons, much like the GS400.

I personally find the joystick to be not as responsive as I'd hope it would be (I still prefer the jogwheel of the GS100/MX5000). Also, the joystick is probably too small or too hard (to press) for some persons. But once you find the technique on how to press the joystick (hint: dont press it straight) to activate the selected option, it should not be a big issue.

If you're used to viewing on a clear and sharp 3.5 inch LCD, a 2.5 inch low resolution LCD simply does not have It.

Still no separate ports for mic and remote, AV in/out and headphone, still no LANC, inconvenient sharing of port function

Hot shoe is still proprietary. I've been drooling at a Sony IR light that only works on Sony's proprietary hot shoe.

I'm very curious, just how difficult is it to implement a dual function video light and still flash no? The built-in flash is not pop-up and can be mistaken as a video light anyway.



Good or bad?

I couldn't find Frame Mode, but I'll try again next time (anybody care?)

Panasonics says the tape loading mechanism has been made faster compared to its previous models. Physically, the tape holder appears to be the same as that of GS400, and the one I played with has a slight misaligned tape-bay cover (the plate that you press) uh-oh.

Mic placement below the lens barrel (makes it nearer to noise producing elements of the tape transport mechanism).

Front thread is 43mm (good for somebody like me who has purchased accessories fit for 43mm thread).



Interesting Accessories
(Expensive - 10,000 yeb) Panasonic cam bag that transforms into rain & snow jacket with LCD hood. It also hoods the lens because of its protrusion from the edge of the cam front.

3rd party (Ocean Top) underwater housing that can be used up to a depth of 60m (standard 10m depth option is also available). No prices are available yet.



I didn't bother to examine the image quality closely. The optics, the CCDs and the engine are that (or derivatives) of GS100 and I think it should be safe to say that this cam would perform excellently compared to other cams within the same price range. A rather blocky cam with 600-gram operating weight may still be borderline big in the Japanese market, especially when compared to the bestselling upright Sonys and Canons and also JVCs new cams equipped with Toshiba's 1-inch hard drive. But outside Japan this cam is likely small enough, perhaps even too small for some. It's not that difficult to predict that this cam will sell pretty well. The GS250 has a rating of 540 lines of horizontal resolution (which I still do not fully understand) even with OIS on, compared to the GS400 which has a rating of 510 (I also do not understand why the GS400 is rated lower).

Good day!
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Old January 26th, 2005, 11:01 PM   #12
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Thanks for that, Allan. I think I'll just wait to see what the fall brings from Panasonic. Maybe there'll be another (semi) big gun for the upper end of the lower end videocam market then.
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