A Review of the Panasonic Handycam PV-GS9 Mini DV Digital Camcorder

Panasonic makes a variety of electronics, one of which is the PV-GS9 Mini Digital Camcorder, made mostly for short videos and a great choice for beginners. Although the digital camcorder is lightweight and easy to learn, and has a list of impressive functions, it also lacks a few of the advanced features on some more expensive digital recorders.

The Panasonic PV-GS9 Camcorder has many functions that most consumers need and want: compact and lightweight design, 2.5″ LCD screen, zoom feature, the ability to take stills, rechargeable battery, manual and automatic settings, USB connection, and fire wire connection (if you purchase the cords) – all for under $300 – but there are a couple of issues with the recorder as well.

Upon receiving the camcorder, I noticed right away that there was no USB cord for web cam functions. This cord is about $25 at your local electronics store. Secondly, the camera did not come with software to edit and upload movies which are taken free of the web cam cord. So, without the specific software, you’ll find that you can only use the camera while connected to your computer. The package did, however, come with the necessary cords to hook the camera directly to a tv to view the video.

It’s easy to edit the web cam movies using the software provided by your own computer – mine is Windows Movie Maker – by simply capturing the video and following the prompts to add written introductions, credits and picture enhancements. You can speed up frames, fade in and out, brighten dark frames, turn to black and white, stretch and contort images, and even make the movie look old and worn.

The camera works great outdoors, with a clear picture and great sound, but indoors you need really good lighting to be satisfied with the picture quality. Upon using bright artificial light indoors you’re then faced with shadows and glare. Some colors don’t ring true in really bright or really dark lighting, but for the most part, the picture is accurate.

Although the camera came with a detailed instruction book, covering every aspect of the camera from lens to accessories, many of the features are self-explanatory simply by glancing at the various buttons. The menu is easy to access and easy to read as well.

The camcorder features a Quick Start button that allows the filming to begin in 1.3 seconds. When using the Quick Start feature the camcorder automatically returns to the previous settings you used. In Record or Playback mode, the PV-GS9 has some interesting features, such as a digital mirror which creates mirror images, a strobe, which digitally freezes sets of images, mosaic pattern to the pictures, ability to stretch pictures, create “trails”, and slim down the image.
The 20x optical zoom allows you to take really close shots while retaining a clear picture. And you can set the zoom to close in at a rate of 2 seconds to 22 seconds. The camcorder has a built-in SD memory card drive that allows you to store images before transferring them to PC or another device, yet the cards are very small.

A fully charged battery lasts only about an hour, making the camera a poor choice for full-length movies, but a fair choice for short home or event videos. The camcorder shuts itself off after several minutes of inactivity, saving on the overall life span of the battery. The audio is adequate if you’re in a quiet room but will pick up noises from quite a distance away.

Having used the camera several times I’ve found that it’s easy to set up, takes decent videos, and offers all the functions that I personally need. As a matter of fact, I like that it’s so small and lightweight, and I appreciate how easy it is to use. For my purposes – short films to upload online – the camera is perfect. For some people expensive camcorders might offer more functions or better features, but for me, the Panasonic PV-GS9 is the perfect choice.

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