Review: Panasonic ipalm PV-DC3000
Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor
Originally posted: Thursday, November 9, 2000
Last Updated: Thursday, November 9, 2000
already busy 3 Megapixel camera market is about to get even more
crowded, with the introduction of the ipalm PV-DC3000
($899) from Panasonic. Besides it's somewhat unique shape, what
really makes the ipalm unique is its method for storing photos.
The ipalm is the first digital camera to use the Secure Digital
(SD) memory card format (and it can also read MultiMediaCards as
well -- also a first). Panasonic wants to make SD cards the ubiquitous
storage format -- appearing not only in cameras but also in portable
music players, consumer electronics and appliances. SD memory
cards currently max out at 64MB, but a 256MB card is in the works.
main thing you'll notice about the SD card (and similar MultiMediaCard,
which Panasonic includes with the camera) is how small it is. Check
it out below.
left: CompactFlash, SD/MultiMediaCard, SmartMedia
does the Secure part come into it? Well, it really doesn't in this
application. But SD cards do support the Secure Digital Music Initiative,
which protects copyrighted music on portable music devices.
it's great that you'll be able to move these cards around between
devices, I feel that it just makes the already difficult process
of purchasing a digital camera even more so. While CompactFlash
and SmartMedia have been battling it out for the last few years,
Sony and Panasonic have snuck in their own proprietary formats (Memory
Stick and SD respectively) that splinter things even more. I'd love
to see someone settle on a standard one of these days. OK, off the
soapbox and onto the review!
in the Box?
PV-DC3000s bundle is just okay. It includes:
3.34 Mpixel Panasonic PV-DC3000 camera
AA alkaline batteries
featuring Adobe PhotoDeluxe and drivers
bundle included with the DC3000 isn't nearly as nice as the one
included with the PV-SD5000 I just reviewed. Instead of getting
a rechargeable battery, charger, and AC adapter, the DC3000 gets
just four non-rechargeable AA batteries. You're going to want to
get at least two sets of rechargeable batteries if you buy this
camera. From my usage of the camera, I'd say it drinks batteries
more than most digital cameras.
thing that I feel a $900 camera should have is a lens cap, and the
DC3000 didn't come with one.
software for the DC3000 is somewhat unique. I tested the Windows
version, since the Mac version is not out yet (you'll be able to
download it here).
You can download photos one of two ways: load up the thumbnails
in the ipalm software, choose the ones you want, and they'll be
downloaded to your hard drive. Or, you can actually use the camera's
One Touch Transfer function. You can hit "All" on the
camera, and it will transfer all the photos. Or, hit "Page",
and that photo will be transferred. There's even a "Mail"
button which will download up to five photos, and automatically
attach them to a new e-mail message.
manual for the Panasonic cameras reminds me of the one you get with
your VCR: confusing. There's a lot of information there, but it's
just not presented very well.
DC3000 is quite a change from the last two Panasonic cameras I've
tested. Where the SD4090 and SD5000 were very large and bulky, the
DC3000 is small, elegant, and easy to hold with one hand.
The body of the DC3000 reminds me of the Fuji 700 series, but with
curves. The dimensions of the camera are 3.69 x 3.81 x 1.63 inches,
and it weighs 8.5 ounces (empty, I presume). The body is a combination
of rubber and metal, and it feels pretty solid.
DC3000's zoom lens features a 2X optical zoom with a range of 6.5
- 13mm, equivalent to 32-64mm lens on a 35mm camera. The CCD is
the usual 3.3 Megapixel 1/1.8" sensor, which produces images
at 2048 x 1536.
onto the back of the camera. The 1.5" LCD is smaller than on
most cameras and is a bit grainy, but it is smooth and bright. If
you wish, you can adjust the brightness of the LCD via the menu
nice to finally review a Panasonic digital camera with an optical
viewfinder, and the DC3000 has one. My only complaints are that
it lacks diopter correction, and that your nose will smudge the
the LCD, you'll find two buttons: Display toggles the LCD on or
off, and Delete does just what is says.
mode wheel below that has four choices: Playback, Off, Auto Record,
Manual Record. I'll describe those in further detail in the next
four buttons to the right serve various purposes, depending on the
mode you're in. The buttons are:
(rec) / Send All Photos (play)
settings (rec) / Send One Photo (play)
record (rec) / Mail Photo (play)
only one of those buttons which requires further explanation is
Mode. When you hit this button in Record mode, the camera cycles
through the following choices:
on included 16MB card (approx.)
sets of 12 sec movies
nice change over the SD5000 is that Super Fine images aren't compressed
as much. On the SD5000, a Super Fine image took up just 450k --
on the DC3000, it's more like 950k.
is an uncompressed TIFF mode on the DC3000 as well, though it takes
a whopping 3 minutes to store it to the memory card.
back to the camera design now-- the final piece of the back of the
camera is the four-way switch. If you move up or down, that changes
the volume of the speaker. If you go left or right, you'll activate
the zoom lens. I'd prefer to see the zoom on a separate button -
I couldn't remember what part of the switch I was touching, so I'd
have to stop and look.
not much action on the top of the camera. You'll only find the shutter
release button, which worked just fine. The DC3000 lacks an LCD
info display up here.
onto the side of the camera (the other side has nothing of interest).
You can see the speaker bulging out towards the top, and the USB
and power ports just below that. To the right of the power port,
there's a switch that opens the door to the SD card slot (bottom).
The door stays shut, and the card slot is spring loaded (much like
SmartMedia slots), so it's easy to remove.
finally, the bottom of the camera. Down here you'll find a metal
tripod mount, as well as the battery compartment. The only thing
of note here is that sometimes, removing the batteries was a little
tough -- I found that you need to extend the door out all the way
when it's open, for best results.
going to discuss record as well as playback mode in this section.
DC3000 takes a little less than six seconds to warm up before you
can start taking pictures. That's about twice as fast as the SD5000
model I just reviewed. The shot-to-shot time is about five seconds
in Super Fine mode. The Rapid Fire feature that helped speed up
processing time on the SD5000 didn't make it to the DC3000 for some
the DC3000 doesn't have an LCD info display on the top of the camera,
Panasonic put some of the same information on the main LCD, as you
can see above. The word "Light" in the middle indicates
that this is a low light shot (and it came out grainy, as you'll
thing I noticed was that there isn't a button for macro on the camera
itself -- instead, you'll need to enter the menu system to set that.
in Record Mode
that brings us to the menu system. The DC3000's menus are easier
to navigate than those found on the SD5000. Here's what you'll find
in the menu system in record mode. If the feature is only available
in Manual mode, I'll put it in bold.
compensation (-1.5EV to +1.5EV in 0.5EV increments)
(auto, macro, portrait, landscape)
balance (auto, sunlight, halogen, manual)
Lapse (take a shot every so often... ranging from one minute
to 24 hours)
nice to see the manual white balance feature on the DC3000. You
just take a picture of whatever you want to be white, and the camera
will use that going forward.
DC3000 suffers from the same low light problems as the SD5000 did:
it just can't do it. The shot above was taken from the usual spot
on Twin Peaks on a windy, clear, and cold night. Even with slow
shutter turned on, the camera captured very little light. Turning
up the exposure compensation didn't help. If there's one good point
here, is that there's no noise to speak of.
took me quite a few tries to get a decent macro shot with the DC3000.
I ended up turning on Slow Shutter mode because the noise was so
great without it. The camera's auto white balance settings did a
good job in this situation, where my Coolpix 950 has trouble.
the SD5000, the ipalm DC3000 has a QuickTime movie mode, that lets
you capture 12 second mini-movies with sound. Due to time constraints,
I didn't have any time to test this feature, but I'd imagine that
sample movie will give you an idea of the output in this mode.
far as overall photo quality goes-- I found the photos to be lacking
something -- saturation perhaps. They're better than the SD5000,
but not by much. In low light situations (see the two indoor shots
in the gallery), the results were very
grainy, and using the flash didn't help in those situations.
see what I mean, compare the two un-retouched shots below:
from Panasonic PV-DC3000
from Olympus C-2100 Ultra Zoom
DC3000's playback mode has many of the same quirks as the SD5000
-- at least the menus are a little better. The things that bother
me about the playback mode are:
get into thumbnail mode, you have to hit Mode. That's okay. But
to get into zoom & scroll mode, you have to hit Mode again,
then select an area, hit the shutter release, and then you're
zoomed in, you cannot scroll around the photo. Instead you have
to back out and select another area to zoom into.'
no exposure information about the photos available - just the
basics like date/time and filename
the very nice multiple photo delete function is there, image protection
takes around three seconds to scroll between high res photos on
the LCD -- this is about average.
only other features of note in playback mode are a slideshow function,
as well as DPOF print marking.
Does it Compare?
I hate to be negative in reviews, I feel that it's my duty to give
you all an honest opinion, before you spend your hard-earned money.
But that's why you're here, right? The Panasonic ipalm PV-DC3000
is a camera with an interesting design, and decent features, it's
just not competitive in the fast paced world of 3 Megapixel cameras.
Priced at $899, the DC3000 is in the same price range as such cameras
as the Kodak
PowerShot G1, Nikon Coolpix 880
and the Olympus C-3000Z
-- all of which are much better cameras for the money. I'm hoping
that the next version of the camera will let the DC3000 catch up
with these other cameras.
design - solid, easy to hold, good looking
mode with sound
I didn't care for:
low light photos - worse than average
photos seem unsaturated
for what you get
real manual controls
not a big fan of proprietary memory cards
just listed a bunch of cameras that you'll want to consider -- and
here's a few more: the Sony DSC-S70
PhotoPC 3000Z, and the Casio
always, I recommend trying the DC3000 and its competitors out at
your local reseller before you buy!
how does the photo quality stand up? Check out the sample photos
in our photo gallery!
a second opinion?
else has reviewed this camera!
welcomes your comments or questions. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.