Pros: High quality video camcorder for consumer. 3CCD technology. Compact. Camera buit-in. Joystick feature.
Cons: No optical stabilization. Decent still picture. DV quality must be transfered via firewire cable.
I bought this camcorder to replace my outdated 8 year olds Hi-8 Sony. I have read several expert and consumer reviews from different websites. I finally selected this camcorder due to its low price offered only two weeks by Sixth Ave Eletronics 6ave.com. Other brandname camcorders such as Sony, Canon, JVC with same features are normally higher price. $500.06 included shipping for a 3CCD camcorder is a better choice.
These are the following camcorders I compared before buying this Panasonic GS150:
Sony DCR-DVD403: Better than GS150 on both video and still picture plus direct burn to miniDV disk. Best choice for whom does not need to do video editing. Expensive ($200 more). Remember that miniDV Disk cannot record as much as miniDV tape. If you are going to edit your recording anyway, so why direct DVD burn if you can save a couple hundred dollars.
Sony DCR-HC42 : good miniDV camcorder but only 1.3 mega pixel for still picture while Panasonic GS150 has 2.3 pixel.
Canon Optura 60 : good miniDV camcorder with 2.0 mega pixel still picutre as same as the GS150 but the recharger battery is shorter life. Price is little higher. 1CCD. High quality still image reviewed by consumers.
GS150 is very compact using miniDV tape. Camcorder overall size is about 1/2 of my old Hi-8 Sony which using 8mm tape. Approximately 5"L x 3"H x 2.5"W.
- 3CCD provides clearer and more colorful video recording than the one using a single chip. GS150 has superior video quality for the out-door recording. In-door recording is fine. Video quality is degraded in low light. Low light is considered when only one or couple light bulbs in the room such as table lamp. I've found that none of consumer camcorders can give a best video if recording in-door at low light. So, don't expect you can find a consumer camcorder that gives you a best indoor shooting unless you turn on all or use more lights for the indoor recording.
- Option to record your video in 16:9 mode like a cinamax. User can have the GS150 default setting in Auto Mode which GS150 will adjust itself to record a great video. However, I like to use the Manual Mode where I can see more natural color output and manual focus, especially for the indoor with low-light condition and when the outdoor is too much cloudy. Some other nice feautres include: MagicPix for recording in total darkness 0-lux, soft picture, wind noise reduction, background light...
- GS150 Digital Stabilization prevents your video jumping up and down as your hand is moving. It does not have optical stabilization (OS) like its brother GS250, so user should be aware. It is too bad that GS150 does not OS, so capturing a far away object with GS150, you must put it on tripod, or the video will be shaky a lot.
Still Picture Quality: How convenient it is that I don't have take both camcorder and camera with me since GS150 can do the job. GS150 uses Secure Card to hold still images separate from the recording video. User reviews were right about this. GS150 still picture quality cannot be compared to those dedicated digital cameras. Although GS150 can take 2.3 mega pixel still image but the quality is lower than my Kodak DC260 which takes only 1.6 mega pixels photo. The comparison is based on 8"x11" print out. Quality is almost the same for 4"x6" photo. In fact, GS150 images are more colorful and nicer. Possibly due to no optical stabilization, user should better wait for the GREEN dot indication in the view finder or on the LCD screen before pressing the SHOT button. Otherwise, the output of a still image will look "zigzag". In general, if you just use GS150 for taking your travel or birthday party images then it would be Ok. It is not ideal for sport activities or something that you need to point and quick shooting since the still image stabilization is not quite good enough. I have not seen the actual still picture from the Canon Optura 60. Many users have given good review for Canon Optura's still pictures.
User experience: GS150 is perfect to hold in the palm of my hand. Tape can be inserted on the top rather than from the bottom. That means, if you are recording with the tripod, you don't need to remove your tripod to change the tape. I spent a little time to read the menu since I just switched from a Sony user. I don't know how much easy to use the touch screen feature on the new Sony Camcorders. I really love and find it conveniently to use the GS150's joystick for navigating the menus. Another user experience one must not leave out is that you can shoot a 640x480 picture while recording your video simultaneously.
Sound : GS150 has built-in stereo microphone. This built-in condenser mic has good sound recording but little weak to pickup when the voice signal is low. However, GS150 package includes a remote microphone which can help you to get a better sound signal especially when you do self-recording. This remote microphone also have control buttons.
Software: GS150 package includes MotionDV Software. I have not gone much detail since I am pretty new. However, I already exported some of my test videos and still pictures from the GS150 to the PC via software. It is easy as a piece of cake. GS150 provides an USB cable for you to transfer both video and still image. Software editing is another story. If it is not useful, I can use Roxio to do the editing.
Conclusionally, technology keeps changing every day. 3CCD camcorders were once cost over $1000 and only found in professional product lines. Although, GS150 does not carry all features that a professional camcorder has, but it gives consumer a choice to record a great video. In addition, it is built in compact size, camera feature, affordable media DVCassette over DVDisk and HardDisk. I once paid my Hi-8 Sony Camcorder at $850. So, $500.06 for a miniDV 3CCD camcorder is really tempting and unbeatable. May be a few years later, I can get one of those HDD camcorders. These camcorder are pretty new in market, still pricey, and available only by JVC.