Hi All, I've just brought a SV AV100. This little device uses an SD memory card to store the video you shoot in MPEG2 & MPEG4. As I am new to the digital video game and the SV AV100 is also a new device I took a chance, it looked good on paper, it looked good in the flesh, it's solid state(no moving parts) so it should be reliable and with no tape or motors the battery should last well. Even though there were no reviews of this just the normal promotional stuff, I took a chance and I think that I may of inadvetantly jumped in at the deep end. I brought the camera from the USA for £420 which saved me a massive £580 on the UK list price, although the output is American format (704 X 480 Pixels 0.9). The camera comes with a 512Mb high speed SD card but this will only capture 10mins of footage in Fine MPEG2 mode and at £300 plus for another card I opted to buy a Vorsonic X-drive Pro for £250 this is a 30Gig portable hard drive which you can down load to from its own 6 in card reader. It takes about 10mins to download a full 512Mb sd card. I did try the Panasonic PT SV1 which is only 5Gig, it is smaller but each time you use it you have to insert the hard drive which is kept in a seperate holder and place in on a level surface. If it is moved or picked up it aborts the transfer. the only benifit this device has is it can upload a file to an SD card with out the need for a PC (the only benifit of this is being able to upload last nights soaps in MPEG4 to watch on the train), But at an extra £150 I wouldn't recomend this over the Vorsonic which can hold 6X the data and can store data from most flash memory cards ie your digital cameras it is also a MP3 player. Now the camera. well it is tiny, fairly well layed out, although you do need to make sure that you don't cover up the sensor on the side and front with your hand and the control buttons under the screen are at a 45 degree angle, which takes some getting used to (this is so you can control the camera from behind while filming and from the front while editing) the zoom and record buttons are very easy to use and well placed although as with most cameras if you are left handed it is a little difficult to use. The screen is very good, the zoom is only 10X optical but it seem very good to me smooth and fast. The battery also seems quite good, filling the card twice and some editing still with some life left when I had done (about 40min total) but I did take it out the other day in the cold, about 5 degrees and it only filled the card 1.1/4 times (13mins) before turning off. But you can get new batteries on the net for £18.75 and they are very small, so having a few spare would be a good idea, The sound is excelent in PCM stereo but it does pick up a lot of wind noise, there is a setting to help with this though. The picture is also very good in the higher settings although MPEG4 is not to be used for anything other than E-mail or on the web. The low light quality is not so good but this can be improved in the settings. So far so good. Well the bad points the so called cradle is difficult to use and as far as I can see pointless, This is not impotant as you really don't need to use it. The software is just a joke, I mean it when I say don't even take it out of the box. You can do some simple editing but the only place you can send the files are back to the camera, it seem that Panasonic want us all to buy their H/D DVD-R's and not use a PC to edit the footage you get from this little device, also the files from the camera are .MOD which only the supplied software will read. Although if you change the file extension in Explorer to .MPG and download Stinky's MPEG2 codec it will work on most PC's (not Mac (you will need to be very brave to buy this for use on a Mac)) Some people have had to use .VOB or .MPEG extensions for it to work. A useful Appl. is a re-name program which will rename all the extensions in one go rather than one by one. This is free at www.weltera.com and it works a treat. Now you can watch you shots on a PC. Now,how about some editing, well I am stuck here, I have tried Adobe Premier 6 which will read the files once Stinky's codec was installed (www.softpedia.com) Before the codec it would only see a sound clip even though the preview showed video and sound when played. But after saving the finished file as an .AVI (the only option) and burnt with Ulead Movie Factory 2 the final footage was quite poor, very choppy. When I used just Ulead Movie Factory the results were better but still not 100% and not half as professional as with Adobe Premier. Anyone have any ideas how to get a better result please let me know. I could record direct onto Video or DVD but again Panasonic are not helping only giving a composite video lead with no other options. So my view so far, the camera is great well made and it does everything well, if you can live with the 10mins at a time recording or shell out for more SD memory cards (1 gig soon 4 & 16 gig on the way but expect to spend thousands on these) you will have a lot of fun filming. As for watching, editing and burning your films, well you are just going to have to face it, it will not be easy and with mixed results, but I am sure, that in time all these things will get sorted out and I'll be able the edit with ease, but I have to say that, otherwise I am looking at a very small and expensive peice of modern art. Anyone that can help me get some better results please contact me, as I and every other owner of this camera need every bit of help out there, as Panasonic are in no rush to supply a fix.
Carl & Lee.
I hope this helps and dosn't put you off to much.