The PV-GS180 shoots video with three 800K, 1/6" CCDs. It only records interlaced video, but does so in both 4:3 and anamorphic widescreen modes. The PV-GS180's widescreen video, but employs the "crop and zoom" technique in order to get it. Instead of optical image stabilization found on the GS300 and GS500, the PV-GS180 uses electronic stabilization. The GS180's widescreen video has a widened field of view like the GS500, but unlike the GS300 which uses crop and zoom for its widescreen image. Therefore, electronic image stabilization does not work in widescreen mode because there is no sensor territory to spare. Panasonic's electronic stabilization works well in good light, but becomes inactive in light levels below about 100 lux.
**Low Light Performance
**Last year's GS150 experienced some problems in low light. Due to bad shielding in the internals of the camcorder, three red lines (or four on PAL models) were seen superimposed over a low light image on many units. The red line problem was supposed to have been corrected late in 2005. We could not tell if the problem was carried forward into the PV-GS180. When we get a model for testing, we will verify if the problem has been resolved.
The PV-GS180 has a minimum light sensitivity of 12 lux, like last year's GS150. In MagicPix mode, Panasonic lists a low light sensitivity of 0 lux; however, this is with supplemental light from the LCD screen. In addition, MagicPix slows shutter speed considerably, which creates a frame rate of about 8 frames per second. As a result, any motion in the scene is severely blurred. We wouldn’t recommend using MagicPix mode for anything but an effect or for relatively motionless night shooting.