3-chip Camcorders Getting Cheaper

According to an article in the NY Times Circuits, 3-chip DV camcorders are dropping in price. Most inexpensive camcorders have a single pick-up chip for recording images. While efficient, a single chip is more prone to noise and color aberrations. A 3-chip camcorder dedicates one pickup chip for each of the primary colors in video: red, green and blue.

In my professional work we use 3-chip camcorders exclusively because the picture quality looks more like broadcast TV and stands up to editing, processing and compression for streaming and DVDs better.

The Times article specifically mentions a pretty inexpensive Panasonic model I’ve come across and been curious about, PV-GS120. With a street price of $500 – $600 it’s cheaper than many single-chip models from Sony and Canon. According to some informed-sounding user reviews at Epinions, it sounds like this cam has just enough pro-level features to be a satisfactory for someone who wants something more than a basic “point-and-shoot” camcorder.

I may decide to replace my current camcorder, also an inexpensive Panasonic, in the near future because it’s got a flaky LCD screen. I will probably consider this model as a good compromise between price, size and picture quality. Though I haven’t yet used it, I reckon this kind of cam is ideally suited to indy video work, especially for actions and other citizen journalism, where you want good quality, but also don’t want to risk multi-thousand dollar equipment getting smashed by riot cops.