Pros 32X optical zoom, takes photos, cold-shoe mount for external light, built-in light, user friendly.
Cons No Firewire cable, flimsy door covering for SD memory card, no aux input for external mic, sockets for USB, Firewire and AC placed in battery socket requires battery removal, no remote control.
Summary My first camcorder was an analog 8mm Sony that I had for nine years. I had a hard time deciding between buying a new Sony and a Panasonic with a limited budget of around the $300.00 range. Despite the Cons about the PV-GS85, this camcorder delivers great video coverage as long as there is available light, (artificial or natural) indoors or outdoors. As for the Pros, what made me decide to buy this camcorder was the optical zoom. I can zoom in easily from a distance if I am sitting twenty rows back from the front of a school auditorium stage taping my son's school play. Or when I am at my son's baseball game, I can zoom in when he's in the outfield or when he's running to the bases in the infield. I can even take a photo if I anticipate my son to slide into 2nd base! (Reminder: If you want still photos, it is better to use a still camera.) I can't do that with other camcorders that only have a 10X optical zoom! If you are on a limited budget but want a camcorder that is solid and delivers what you expect it to do, look no more, this is the one! If your budget allows, get a UV filter to protect the lens and an extra battery.
Pros Vivid color, optical image stabilizer, joystick, sound quality
Cons access to DV port
Summary This is my third camcorder. I had two Sony before. The first was an 8 mm camcorder, and it recorded nice footage and had a clear stereo sound. The second one, Digital 8 format, was very noisy and the footage was rather grainy. I was disapointed with this model that broke after just over 3 years. I decided to put Sony aside and give a chance to another maker. After looking at reviews on budget camcorder, I decided to go for the Panasonic PV-GS85. I have had it for more that a month now and I am very satisfied with it. I shot under different conditions, both inside and outside. Now that I am more familiar with the model and its different menu options, I really appreciate its video qualities and ease of use. What I like most are the vivid colors it provides, that are fine in automatic mode, but can be significantly improved by simply using the manual white balance option and a small piece of paper as reference. The camcorder is very silent, which is nice for recording music concerts and plays at school. The optical image stabilization system works nicely, even at high zoom (impressive!), whereas the micophone zoom is OK to cut unwanted low noise, but it transforms a nearby conversation into some out of space voices. Still photos are of low quality, but you have them, Overall, I would recommand this camcorder to a friend as it provides very decent footage and clear sound at an affordable price. Great for family home movies
Pros OIS, Simple Userface, DVI.
Cons EVF doesn't have angular adjustment, Most interfaces require battery removal, not the best "hand feel".
Summary Overall. a GREAT value for your dollar. The Optical Image Stabilization actually works! The image quality played back on a 16/9 50" was acceptable, in fact surprisingly good. Wish the EVF was angularly adjustable, and the hand strap was a bit more stout. The still image capability is nice, but at less than a megapixel, somewhat useless. But you can't go wrong in this price range.
I would highly recommend this camera for the "Home Video", "Traveler" crowd. The OIS alone beats most rivals,
Pros OIS, the Bright Video light is VERY usefull for darker locations. The positioning of all of the buttons all fall into your comfort range, as they are all right at your thumb and fore fingers.
Cons One- When you zoom, the OIS decreases, but that can be fixed with a Tri-pod, or a mono-pod EASILY. Two- The battery must come out so you can used the Fire-Wire...not bad, just strange.
Summary If you are either a person who makes Family movies for get-togethers, or are a ameture movie maker, this is a good start. I am not saying that this is a professinal camera of the masters of film, I am saying that this is where you should start. All-in-all, a Great camera.
Pros Outrageously great audio quality. Very low wind interference. Voices come out crystal clear.
Cons Colors are slightly less vibrant than real life. Built-in playback speaker sounds very bad....the actual recorded audio is much better.
Summary Overall great camera for its low price range. I would advise paying the few extra dollars to get the PV-GS85, and not the PV-GS80. The built-in light and SD card compatibility is worth it.