Panasonic PV-GS500


New member
I shudder each time I see a question like "What's the best MiniDV camera?" So, I'll change the question a bit. . . but first:

I love anamorphic widescreen, the fact that it can, if used correctly, increase the resolution DVD can render. Very few if any consumer and even prosumer cameras can match the effective pixel numbers reached by film to anamorphic DVD (Eg. Hollywood productions on DVD :). So I wanted to find a video camera that took advantage of that idea, using enough of the ccd to completely fill the DV stream w/ squeezed info, instead of cropping and scaling. . . ugh! And, I wanted manual control of the aperture and focus. . . all for a low price.

Enter the GS500 (the 400 seems better, but harder and more expensive to get). First off, it's resolution is astounding. In fully AUTO mode, I shot a short video, which, when shown, someone asked "You actually shot all that on film? Must've been expensive. Good job," to which I answered "Nope, that was digital!" Wow. Because it used all of the 3CCD space for a sqeezed image, no crop-and-scale junk, it is very clear.

It overexposes a lot, though, so, my next production with it will be shot in manual. Biggest problem is that the focus function, although accessed by a ring, is still electronic. I can't make a measurement and then set the ring there. Darn. But, still, for $800, which included a 6h battery, (admittedly poor quality) tripod, a wide-angle lens, and a bag, from E-Bay, it was an excellent buy. Low light is a problem, but I intend on very artsy, surreal lighting schemes anyway, so that won't be a problem. Bright scenes are rendered beautifully.

So, the new question. Anyone else know about this beauty? What do you think? It isn't your typical "I'm a low-budget filmmaker, so I own a ________ (eg. dvx-100)" kind of camera, but hey! What the heck!