Written on: 26/03/2003 by Geoff.
Stylish; compact; ergonomic; LED non-glare light; Magic Pix; Progressive Photo Shot
Interpolation instead of "real" megapixel still imaging; mediocre video quality in low light situations.
As an experienced digital camcorder and camera owner, I have been on the move again. I was recently trying to decide which digital camcorder to keep. Decisions, decisions. Immediately after buying the Panasonic PVDV203, I tried out the new Sony TRV19. I found that it had some nice Sony features, especially the Carl Zeiss lens and touch screen LCD. I wish it had at least megapixel still image quality or at least some type of interpolation. I then returned to the Panasonic DV203 and have grown to like it a lot. It offers nice features for the price and the overall quality is fairly decent.
The Panasonic PVDV203 that I originally, only briefly tried out is looking better and better for the money.
Admittedly, the Panasonic PV-DV203 has some disadvantages and might not be the "heavy duty serious" type of camcorder that critical cameraphiles look for, but it has some nice features for the price. The non-glare LED style light is a plus and it offers SD media storage for $599. There is a the "magic pix" setting for enhanced exposure. Audio, a hallmark of Panasonic not always mentioned in camcorder discussions, is superb.
Unfortunately, the low light capability of the Panasonic PV-DV203 is mediocre in a dark or dimly lit room but quality seems to improve significantly using the LED light and/or Magic Pix feature. I still need to use this camcorder under a lot of different conditions to get a much better idea as to its capabilities. Initial reaction is that Sony optics in particular are definitely superior. Whether that justified the price difference is another matter and a very subjective decision. I will be doing a lot of outdoor shooting shortly, but of course that is optimal for most digital cameras and camcorders.
One of the major disadvantages is mainly the "interpolation" instead of "real" megapixel still imaging. You can definitely see the difference.
A web designer I work with who is very experienced with digital photography pointed out to me that low light video is usually not that great with many camcorders and that the low or zero lux features available on some are a nice and important feature only if you happen to shoot in very dark or non-lit areas. After examining and handling it, he also noted that the Panasonic DV203 has some nice features and that suggested that I should use it extensively rather than prejudging it by constantly looking for slight advantages or disadvantages. It does offer a lot of functionality and I guess I am not going to find the "perfect" digital camcorder in this price range. The bottom line is that I need to get used to it, enjoy it and explore its versatility, which is significant. It would also be nice, however, if there were more published reviews on this product but I can't find any - so far. I guess because the product is so new. I am now leaning toward keeping this camcorder. By the way, if you look up this camcorder on the Circuit City web site, you'll see my admittedly :-) non-professional mini-review of it. There currently only two on the site for the 203 as of this writing. It is also available online at a lower price than the MSRP.