HomeSoftwareArchiveTop TipsGlossaryOther Stuff




The first PAL samples of the Panasonic NV-DS5 have begun to trickle through to the UK and we’ve had the opportunity to put one of the first ones though its paces, to see if it lives up to the promise of the NTSC machine already previewed. Externally there have been no changes and in our opinion it remains one of, if not the neatest-looking pocket camcorder on the market. 


Nothing has been lost in the translation to PAL, quite the opposite in fact. The extra picture lines and superior colour processing circuitry results in an even crisper-looking image; it’s one of the best pictures we’ve seen, on any compact digital camcorder. With all of the effects and auto systems switched off the resolution on our sample topped out at just over 470-lines. Noise levels were very low and there was no evidence of colour bleed, even in areas of high saturation. There’s a slight drop in resolution and a very small increase in picture noise when the electronic image stabiliser is switched on. Incidentally, this works very well indeed, a little too well in fact and the picture can appear quite ‘sticky’ on a very slow horizontal pan.


Colour are bright and vibrant,  accuracy in the auto white balance mode is spot-on in natural and tungsten light; reds are a touch muted under tube light but it’s easily corrected using the manual lock or presets. The auto exposure copes well with sudden changes in lighting level and bright areas in the image, however, it could do with some form of backlight compensation Fine manual exposure adjustments are quite tricky using the main LCD viewfinder screen. The top-mounted viewfinder is a little better in that respect however neither screen is completely trustworthy.


The manual shutter and iris are most welcome but they’re not as readily accessible as we would have liked, never less than three or four button presses away, on the main on-screen menu. Whilst we’re on the subject, and without wishing to appear picky, this excellent little machine deserves a more sophisticated exposure system. Of course full manual control is appreciated, but the three program AE options (sports portrait & low-light), are a bit limited. The most flexible solution would be aperture and shutter priority, which gives the required amount of manual control, leaving the camera to fine-tune settings for optimum results. Just a thought...


During playback the image is very steady, jitter is imperceptible and the deck is mechanically very stable, with no disturbance, even if it is vigorously shaken whilst recording or playing back.


As before audio performance is excellent. The forward-facing stereo microphones have just the right blend of sensitivity and directionality. The 16 bit soundtrack is exceptionally clean with a flat response and there’s only the very slightest increase in background noise levels when recording in the 12-bit mode. 


We see no reason to change our opinions of the NV-DS5. In a nutshell, it is quite simply the best compact DVC machine to date!



Ó R. Maybury 1997 0409




[Home][Software][Archive][Top Tips][Glossary][Other Stuff]

Copyright (c) 2005 Rick Maybury Ltd.