Review of "Panasonic NV-M40"

published 02/04/2015 | dobieg
Member since : 31/01/2003
Reviews : 256
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I'm a miserable old git. I'm ashamed to say it's been a **** very **** long time since I reviewed my "trusts", have sought to rectify this by going through every review I've written in the past couple of years, if you feel hard-done-by, drop me a note.
Excellent
Pro Big and clunky - gets you taken seriously
Cons Big and clunky - if anyone recognises the model, they won't take you seriously
very helpful
Ease of use
Durability
Range & quality of features
Recording quality
Picture quality

"Look like a pro"

Confession; I don’t have an NVM-40, mine is a 50 but there is virtually no chance that it will be added to CIAO – as I’m not delving into detailed specifications please indulge me.

Given that even the cheapest smartphones produce higher specification results in digital format, why would anyone be interested in buying a 20 year old camera the size of a suitcase when they could use something which fits in their shirt pocket?

Why indeed!

I reply with two words “size matters”.
In terms of bragging rights, the NVM range of camcorders always win in terms of ‘looking the part’.

These were semi-pro devices, primarily used by wedding photographers, the underlying specification was by current standards modest (they don’t even record in stereo) and share the same proportions as ‘ghetto blasters’.

They do look magnificent though, in a similar sense as do Ford Capri cars, shoulder pads and Duran Duran styling.

The camcorder uses a full-size VHS cassette – these are becoming harder to source nowadays, but you can pick up cheap ones in Poundland – given the choice of using a ‘good’ branded well-used 20 year old cassette or a cheap new one, the cheap one wins every time for me.

Original batteries will have long since died – I managed to source lead-acid replacements (just a little but too big, but can be held in with ‘duct tape’) for around £15 each.

To use, it’s pretty straightforward – charge the battery, switch on, press eject, slap a tape in, and it’s good to go.

Controls are as easy as they come; red button to stop/start recording, forward and backwards zoom, monochrome eyepiece folds out and can be used by either eye.

There are additional buttons switches and knobs which allow you to do fade in/out, colour balance and basic editing controls, but frankly I’ve never been a fan of that sort of thing I always prefer to get decent footage and then manipulate it post-production.

You don’t so much hold one of these jobs, as ‘wear’ them - the full size tape mechanism sits over and is supported by your right shoulder, you can of course use a tripod (although it will have to be sturdy!)

I’ve checked the instruction manual for the NV-M40 and compared it to my ’50, there are very few differences, both have a video and audio out, both have the ‘edit’ socket (more on this later) bth have a hot shoe for external lamp or microphone.

You can but an NV-M50 of ‘fleabay’ for anything between a tenner and £100 depending on condition.

My model 50 has additional features which allow, amongst other things, the connection of a ‘title generator’ for that genuine 1990s feel.

Optically, for a ‘standard resolution’ / 625 line picture, there’s little to complain about – autofocus is accurate, colours are rich. The advantage here is that the lens and sensor are reasonably big, and therefore forgiving.

Going back to the ‘edit’ socket; this is, in many ways, distinctly ‘uncool’ kit for all the right reasons.

It was none the less manufactured to a high standard.

Accessories are dirt cheap – I paid £15 for the title generator, and another £15 for the ‘edit console’ which converst your camcorder to a proper ‘edit desk’ with full ‘jog and shuttle’ functions.

If you’re feeling REALLY brave you can pick up a Panasonic VCR with the same socket for anything from £30 to £100 again on ebay, and have a full “pro” quality editing facility (I bought a really cheap one, found out the tape mechanism was dead, but transplanted the mech from a contemporary recorder for next to nothing)
Instruction manuals and maintenance books abound on the Internet – if you are so inclined, you could keep one of these going for years!

So – how would you use one of these beasts?

The first reason would be to make video recordings (obvious choice)

Less obvious is that they play back standard VHS video cassettes – if you have a box of these in the attic, but have thrown out the old VCR, you can play them back with one of these – they even accept the ‘piggyback’ VHS-C adapters.

But best of all – the NVM-40 (or 50) looks the part – print your own BBC or ITN and stick it on the side, and I defy anyone not to take you seriously!

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  • cath_del published 22/10/2015
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Product Information : Panasonic NV-M40

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