Just got a smoking deal on this camera at Circuit City — open box price of $350 with a $100 mail-in rebate for a net price of $250. Many people do not like the AV100 as compared with MiniDV because of the straight digital recording, and I would tend to agree, but I’m not trying to produce motion pictures, rather I’m trying to capture small movies with a camera that has an extremely small form factor (there’s no MiniDV camera out there that can touch the AV100 and the JVC Everio at $1000 was not an option).
One of the main quirks with the AV100 is that out of the box it will only allow MPEG2 recording on Panasonic-branded SD cards. Luckily, there is a fix for this. If you download this firmware update, you will be able to use all brands of SD cards that meet the speed requirements for MPEG2 recording. Here’s how I got the firmware to work:
- Format the SD card in the camera. My camera did not come with a Panasonic SD card, so I simply formatted a SanDisk 512MB card.
- Attach the camera to a PC with the USB cable. Windows was able to find all of the drivers for the camera online through Windows Update.
- Open the camera through My Computer and delete all of the folders.
- Drag the firmware upgrade into the camera.
- Eject the camera and turn it off.
- Turn the camera on and it should prompt for whether or not you want to do the firmware update. Select “Yes.”
- Once the firmware update is done, the camera will ask you to power cycle. When the camera reboots, it will tell you that the firmware update has already been applied and will ask if you want to format the SD card; select “Yes” and you will be ready to go.
There are more instructions on how to load the firmware on the link above. Some people in the forum did not have quite as easy a time as I did, so a lot of this depends on your system and configuration. Note that you will not really be able to do this on a Mac.
The other quirk in this camera is that there are no Mac drivers to address the camera directly through USB. This is a small problem and easily overcome by getting a USB card reader that is Mac-compatible. One small note that applies to both Mac and Windows is that the videos files on the card are stored as .MOD and really need to be .MPG to allow editing. This program does the job of renaming on a Mac and this program will do it for Windows. Other users have reported the MPEG Streamclip is a much better program on the Mac, but have yet to have a chance to try it.
I’ll continue to post my experiences with this camera and am happy to help try to answer any questions from all of you.