JVC GR-DVP3

Small may well be beautiful, but in DV (digital video) camera circles it also tends to mean a trade-off in quality. This preconception may be challenged with the release of JVC's new pocket-sized GR-DVP3, a tiny yet powerful mini-DV model that has made remarkably few compromises to maintain its Lilliputian dimensions.

The DVP3's brushed metal appearance makes for a neat and sturdy unit. Attention to detail is apparent in its well thought-out controls, which make it easy to shoot video with a single hand as all the main video controls are housed on a single dial.

Where concessions have been made, they're in the right places. For example, only the most commonly-used input and "output ports - audio-out, video-out and FireWire - are on the main body.

It supports DV input, which lets you use the DVP3 as part of a digital-editing suite with an optional extra cable. The docking station, which adds a couple of centimetres to the camera's length, sports USB, S-Video out, microphone and headphone outlets.

A credit-card-sized lithium ion battery provides a good hour of recording, and the unit weighs only fractionally more than 400g. It has two viewfinders: a freely tiltable 2in active matrix TFT monitor or a pull-out 0.44in viewfinder, which automatically activates the camera as it is retracted from the unit.

The 800,000-pixel sensor is served by a 10x optical zoom lens, which can zoom to 100x with digital assistance. Image quality is excellent, with good colour saturation and little perceptible difference in quality between short and extended play modes, and the sound quality is generally crisp. The camera also has a digital image stabiliser and digital light enhancement for low-light shooting.

Few DV cameras marry specification and performance as neatly as the DVP3E. People after a quality pocket-sized camera might find that the JVC GR-DVP3 is their ideal machine.

JVC GR-DVP3

4 stars; Price: $3299; Phone: 1800 225 044; URL: http://www.jvc-australia.com.