Video Experiments


This page was put up over 4 years ago to talk about my (then) new Sony TRV-340 camcorder.  Some things have changed and some have not.  The orignal Sony TRV-340 page is now a link off of this page.  The DVD burning stuff is now irrelevant, but it is still included (DVD burning is now alot easier) on the TRV-340 page.

I just bought a new Panasonic PV-GS250 3 CCD camcorder to replace my aging Sony TRV-340 camcorder.  The GS250 is good, but, it won't be totally replacing my TRV-340.  Amazingly, camcorder technology has not progressed very far in 3 years!  And, really sadly, quality now seems to be sinking as all of the camcorder makers try to increase profits.  Many manufactures removed features and decreased the size of the CCD sensors for the 2005 line up.
  No matter what a manufacturer says, a smaller CCD sensor size is always bad.  Think about it, if the photo sensor is smaller  how in the world can it give you a better picture?  If you look at the high end digital camera market, everyone is trying to make a reasonably priced "full frame" 35mm sensor (for reference, a full frame Canon 1Ds digital camera cost $8000.00USD.  I think that it's a joke that manufacturers like Sony try to tell you that a smaller HAD CCD sensor is just as good as the the bigger one that they used last year.)  Also, for reference, all consumer grade (under $2000USD) camcorders use a CCD sensor that is smaller than 7mm (1/4 inch = 6.35 mm)(Most miniDV camcorders for model year 2005 shrunk the CCD sensor from 1/4 to 1/6 inches (smaller)).  I understand why you can't put a 35mm sensor in a camcorder, but why do all of the camcorder manufacturers try to make everyone think that smaller is better!!??

  I just bought a Panasonic PV-GS250 3 CCD camcorder for $899.00USD.  The 3 CCD means that it has 3 CCDs, one each for red, green, and blue.  This should give you better colors since there is a CCD sensor dedicated to each color vs 1 CCD sensor trying to get everything.  This is supposed to be "high end" (consumer level) stuff.  Well, ya, sort of.   Don't get me wrong, it's a nice camcorder and I'm going to keep it.  But, it's not the "breakthru" that some people may think that it is.  The GS250 is nice because it is so dang small (but not as small as the Sony HS-30).  The GS250 is a quarter of ther size of my  TRV-340 so that is a good thing.  But, it's video picture seems to be about the same (so much for the 3 CCD).  Yes, reds are alittle better, but not a big deal.  The night mode is where the GS250 really falls down (as do all small CCD sensor mini DV camcorders).  The TRV-340 kicks the GS250's butt.  And, the Sony's Nightshot works (even though it's green, the GS250 doesn't have any thing to match it)(I tried using the TRV-340's infrared light with the GS250 and it didn't work.  The GS250 cannot record in pitch black (which is neat for animals (my cats are nutty at night), and the TRV-340 can do it)).
  It seems like all camcorders still stink when recording in low light.  This is really unfortunate.  As the light drops off, the recorded movie gets "grainy".  The Sony has Nightshot which means that it has a infrared light and can record in no light (but the movie will have a green tint to it, if you have seen the Blare Witch Trials you'll know what I mean).  The Panasonic slows it's shutter way down which makes the movie jerky.  Neither solution is real good.  Most camcorders don't do very well below 60 lux (a lux is measurement of light.  1 lux is the amont of light given off by a candle at 1 meter.  A 60 watt light bulb gives off about 60 lux at 1 foot, but drops off quicky as you move away from it. )

Sony TRV-340 (2001)
Panasonic PV-GS250 3 CCD  (2005)
Cost (when purchased)
$699 (2001)
$899 (2005)
Digital8 (8mm)(digital and analog)
MiniDV (about half the size of a 8mm tape)(digital)
optical zoom
Lux (low light)
4/0 (with Nighshot, but pictures are green)
1 (but it's very bad)
8.12 x 3.37 x 4 (inches)
5.6 x 2.9 x 3.3 (inches)
985 g (2.17 lbs)
500 g (1.1 lbs)
1 x 1/6 inch 460k 500 lines resolution
3 x 1/6 inch 800K total 540 lines resolution
digital (works ok)
optical (works well)
Movie quality
Sometime better, sometimes worse than the TRV-340
Still picture
Proprietary Sony memoy stick, 460K resolution (bad)
SD media, 3M resolution (pretty good)
Frame from a low light
movie taken at
approximately 20 lux
Color is better, but picture is darker

Sony TRV 340 page Original video page

Panasonic GS 250 page

Copyright © 1993-2005 by Robert Barnes

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