Although small, this camera definitely doesn't seem chintzy--its magnesium-alloy chassis gives it a nice solid feel, and its 2.4 pounds balance well in your hand. Unlike with the AG-DVX100A, the AG-DVC30's carrying handle is removable. Without the handle, this model makes for a very compact and discreet camera, which, with its stealthy, black color, could be easily mistaken for a much less sophisticated model.
While the AG-DVC30 has many of the features as the AG-DVX100A, it has far fewer physical controls. As a result, many features are accessible only through menus, while others share controls. The best example of the latter arrangement is the thumb wheel, which controls the iris, the shutter, the gain, the audio levels, and the headphone volume. A particularly odd control system is the single ring around the lens, which may be assigned via menu settings to control the zoom, the focus, or the iris. The good news is that all these functions can be controlled manually. The bad news is that, without dedicated mechanical controls, taking manual control is often awkward and time consuming. This weakness is alleviated somewhat by three customizable buttons that can be programmed via the menus to control a variety of common functions.
The AG-DVC30's batteries and LCD are exactly the same as the AG-DVX100A's. That's a good thing, as the 3.5-inch LCD is big and bright, and the world doesn't need yet another proprietary battery design. The AG-DVC30's viewfinder is quite similar to the AG-DVX100A's, though its lens and rubber eyecup are significantly smaller. The AG-DVC30 also comes with a larger eyecup, which may be swapped out according to personal preference. The lens and removable hood are also reminiscent of the AG-DVX100A's, but the AG-DVC30's lens diameter is a modest 43mm.
As is the case with many small cameras, the AG-DVC30 combines many connectors. Audio and video RCA jacks are combined into a single minijack, which requires a proprietary cable.When it came out a couple of years ago, the AG-DVX100 (further improved as the AG-DVX100A) was a revolutionary camera--the first to offer 24P imaging and a pro feature set in a prosumer model. The Panasonic AG-DVC30 is much more of an evolutionary camera, borrowing various features from the AG-DVX100A but offering little else that's new other than value.
Like its competitors at this price point, the AG-DVC30 captures images with three 1/4 -inch (380K effective pixel) CCDs. The 16X zoom range and optical stabilization of its Leica Dicomar lens are also competitive but not exceptional.