The NV-GS400 offered image quality to give semi-professional models a run for their money, and the NV-GS500 actually outperforms it. In the best lighting, its colours are on par, but the picture is even sharper and the dynamic range slightly better too. Moving to a reasonably well lit indoor environment, the excellent performance continues. Colours are a little more muted than in bright sunlight, but still very faithful. The 1/4.7in CCDs acquit themselves well. Best of all, noise levels are still fairly low – where the NV-GS400 was already a little grainy.
Moving to worse illumination, equivalent to candlelight, the image naturally loses a lot more colour and gains a heavy amount of noise. The sharp image also disappears. However, although the NV-GS500 can’t match semi-professional models in these kinds of conditions, it does manage to surpass its predecessor across the board – and that’s pretty commendable for a camcorder costing just over £600. So in this respect the NV-GS500 is a worthy successor.
Being a DV camcorder, the NV-GS500’s video will be compatible with virtually all editing software. Apart from the necessary FireWire jack, the NV-GS500 has a proprietary connection for a breakout cable sporting composite video, S-video, and RCA audio. However, unlike the NV-GS400, these are output only, so you won’t be able to use this camcorder to digitise straight from analogue sources. A USB port is available for accessing the contents of the SD card slot, but also turns the camcorder into a 320 x 240-resolution webcam.
After the revelation which was the NV-GS400, the NV-GS500 is a bit of a disappointment. Those who are looking for a great semi-pro camcorder would be better off picking up the older model second hand, even if the NV-GS500 has better image quality. Nevertheless, this is still a capable DV camcorder, and puts up a good fight against competitors from Sony and Canon which are similarly dumbed down (JVC no longer produces a DV camcorder in this price range). However, if you do like the look of the NV-GS500, hurry up and get one soon. Stocks are dwindling, and only a few shops still have this model available.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9