Panasonic PV-GS400

Panasonic PV-GS400
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If you’re trying to break into Hollywood, you don’t want your brilliant script ruined by poor video quality. Go ahead and plunk down $1,200 for the Panasonic PV-GS400: a superb camcorder with the best-quality video we’ve seen yet.

Two factors contribute to the PV-GS400’s excellent video. First, a Leica 12x optical zoom lens delivers great clarity and is terrific at pulling in distant subjects. Second, the PV-GS400 uses a triple-CCD system. Instead of having a single image sensor overlaid by a mosaic-patterned color filter, this camcorder uses one CCD for each of the three primary colors, giving captured video more detail and richer color.

The PV-GS400 also sports a generously sized 3.5-inch LCD, the ability to take 4-megapixel still photos, and a host of video-enhancing and editing features.

Unfortunately, you’ll pay for this power: The PV-GS400 is exactly twice the price of the Sony DCR-HC40. It’s also almost twice as heavy. Although your eyes will thank you, your pocketbook — and right arm — will be hurting. –Dylan Tweney

Best Feature: Top-notch video quality
Worst Feature: Great weight and price

Panasonic PV-GS400
Weight: 1.8 pounds
Size: 7.2 x 3 x 3 inches
Specs: MiniDV recording; 12x optical zoom; SD card slot; accessory shoe; USB 2.0; FireWire; AV port; external microphone port (external wired microphone/remote control included); 4-megapixel still photos

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