Dedicated to the world's smallest
DVD-quality camcorder, the Panasonic SV-AV100
We have three topics here - first, the FAQ (at right), then a number of sample downloadable video clips to allow others to see what can be done with the camera. Finally, a section detailing my design of a tripod alternative for the camera - a magnetic altazimuth monopod.

Questions? Visit me at:
The new SV-AV100 Users Forum, a brand new forum with answers, help, and files.
Frequently Asked Questions
I read some articles on the web stating that you might have to upgrade the firmware of this camcorder in order to use any other card besides the Panasonic SD card? Is this true?    Yes. Download my copy. Take an SD card that works with the camera, put it in a card reader, and erase all files from it. Then unzip this file and write the contents on the card. Put the card into the camera and turn it on. The AV100 should detect the software and upgrade. This is for the US/Canada camera only. Do this at your own risk - it worked for me, but I make no guarantees. The original appears to not be online anywhere else. Afterwards you should be able to use any of the recent "fast" 1GB cards.
My video looks worse than your samples!    Well, the camera makes NTSC interlaced video, and you are probably trying to view it on a computer screen. Instead, burn it to a DVD and watch it on your TV. You will be impressed. Computers can't handle interlaced video well. Never deinterlace the video! (unless you are making low resolution 320x240 VCD's out of it.)
My video still doesn't look as good as yours! It jumps all over!    Turn on your EIS. And try to hold the camera still. It's an ultra low mass camera and the slightest tremble of your hand will cause a bigger jump in the picture than any camera you've ever used before. Use something like my monopod, below.
I notice that when background illumination changes, the autoexposure changes the exposure even when the brightness of the subject did not change! What's wrong with this camera?    Panasonic made the mistake of using a still-camera type autoexposure function in their video mode. Minimize the problem like this: In the shooting menu, set the "Program AE" to the "Surf and Snow" setting. Exit the menu and activate the select function on the auto-manual-select switch until it shows the exposure control. If the indicator is in the center of the control, hit the left-arrow control twice. You want the indicator two stops to the left (lower) than the center setting. Leave the switch in the manual setting. Shooting in this mode you will find that the autoexposure is set to its least sensitive setting, but even in this mode you cannot freeze the exposure totally. You will have to readjust the "manual setting" yourself based on your own experience.
I desperately need help editing my videos!!    I don't want to try to provide you with editing help from this little site. Do some searching and you'll find lots of help editing Mpeg2 video elsewhere. This site is for camera issues only.
I want to see some samples of the camera's MP4 (Mpeg4) video.    It's terrible. The camera's Mpeg4 mode is only suitable for bad email videos. This is the kind of video that the low-cost model SV-AV50 makes. The AV100 has a low-resolution Mpeg2 mode too, which they call "normal" (though it isn't) and you may find it decent for some lower quality home video, but everyone I know who uses this camera only uses it in the "fine" Mpeg2 mode, the camera's best. The camera's stills are fair (an example is below at step #1 of the Monopod section) but keep in mind that there is no flash.
How is the sound quality in the video?    It is absolutely splendid. The AV100 has no moving tape or disk to ruin your sound with background noise. This makes it superior to almost every other consumer video camera you can buy in terms of uncontaminated dynamic range. You can record whispers from many feet away if you are in a very quiet place, and when you play it back you don't hear a motor turning a disk or tape. The camera's Mpeg4 mode has lower quality 16-bit, mono, 8kbps sound, useful as a voice recorder if you set the mode to Mpeg4-economy (22 hours per 1GB SD card) and then strip the soundtrack out of the ASF file, throwing away the video. Panasonic will be introducing some "D-Snap Audio" devices soon according to a recent announcement.
I'm going to link to your downloads from my website.    Don't do it. I use dynamic renaming and your links will all stop working within a few days. Instead, send your visitors to this page.
Where did the Jackbrown forum go? The site went down and is unlikely to be rebuilt. It's successor is the Panasonic SV-AV100 Users Forum. The forum just came online 4-23-2005! Please visit it. In addition, I am placing there a file vault and a readable archive of some parts of the original Jackbrown forum.

Some of My Own Sample Clips

These clips are all in the Mpeg2 fine mode, the AV100's best mode. The other modes, in my opinion, do not produce quality video and I have no interest in using them. Most of these were trimmed using Tmpgenc's tools, one of which can cut a piece of video from a longer piece without reencoding or otherwise altering the original, so in that sense they are all unprocessed, raw video, exactly the same as what is produced by the camera, unless otherwise specified in the description.
    This clip is of ducks in a pond. This was at midafternoon but in very deep shade. All settings are at default except that the image stabilizer ("EIS") is on. Here you can see a characteristic of this camera -- that it slightly underestimates the aperture needed in low light. [10 seconds, Mpeg2 fine] Here I tried an extremely close macro shot to demonstrate the macro capabilities. This is a shot of an American dime in the center of the frame, with the camera backing away. You can see the point at which the focus locks on - the dime occupies almost the full height of the picture. The camera's macro capabilities almost qualify it as a video microscope. Amazing. [10 seconds, Mpeg2 fine]
  Here's a slightly longer clip in which I have a conversation with my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter. The clip begins in full wide angle, then I zoom in just a bit, about 2x or 3x, which is only a fraction of the 10x available. The location is outdoors, shortly after sunset, in a heavily forested location, but with two angled floodlights about 15 feet away. Because the camera initially chose a white balance which seemed too bluish to me, I manually set the white balance to "sunlight" before taking this shot. You can't blame the camera for being unable to decide on a white balance under these conditions - the mixture of dim blue twilight, dark green trees, and floodlights made things very hard for any camera's auto-setting to determine the right balance. I think the AV100 user needs to just check the monitor, which thankfully shows such a high quality picture that judging the white balance isn't hard at all. The image stabilizer is also on. Other than that, all settings are default and "auto".
  I think my granddaughter is VERY cute. I adore her. She's probably the main subject of my videos. That's her cat next to her. She was talking about how the cat, Callisto, likes her, then she notices that lots of leaves fell out of the tree and landed on the table. One comment she makes which you might not understand is "Callisto don't have mouth to sssshh." By that she means that Callisto can't say "ssshh" because he doesn't have a mouth like people do. She was saying "ssshh" because we were waiting for the squirrels to come out and she was telling me we should be quiet. She said "ssshh", I said "ssshh", then I guess she wanted to explain why Callisto didn't say "ssshh" too. Hamming it up for the camera, perhaps. She does like having her picture taken.
  Maybe this is a good example of how a typical home video will look. I was seated, and trying to hold the camera steady, but there is still some unwanted movement, because the camera's low mass just makes it too hard to hold still without a tripod. This clip predates my making the magnetic monopod. Notice how clear and undistorted the sound is, and how you can hear her whisper. Video cameras with motors which are turning tape cassettes or disks are never as quiet as this - the AV100's sound has the widest uncontaminated dynamic range I've ever experienced from a video camera. [mpeg2 fine, 45 seconds]
   In this clip I photographed some harbor seals and birds at maximum zoom 10x, the camera being held by hand, and all other settings at default. This is to show the function of the EIS (electrical image stabilizer). The clip is made of two 2.5 second segments, the first with EIS off, the second with EIS on, but everything else the same. I joined the two segments into 1 segment using Tmpgenc. You'll see that the video becomes more stable and less quivery when EIS is on. The first point I wanted to demonstrate is that EIS really does work, and extremely well. There is no visible image degradation. This proves to my satisfaction that the stabilization is a mechanical one, in which the image is repositioned in real time using information from the built-in mini-gyroscope. That's a step beyond the technology which I was aware of in digital cameras. Wow. The second point is to illustrate the reason for EIS. I'm convinced it's for zoom photography. The camera's low mass makes it unable to make an acceptably stable picture when handheld at maximum zoom. Panasonic had to come up with a method to stabilize the picture or the zoom would be useless. With EIS, the 10x zoom becomes usable. However, this is the kind of shot which is best done using the Magnetic Monopod. [mpeg2 fine, 5 seconds]
In this clip I was shooting with the monopod outdoors and this fat starling landed on a piling about 20 feet away. This was after sunset and as usual the AV100 in auto mode leaves the image a bit too dark. Using the monopod, the image is rock steady despite having the telephoto at full 10x. [10 seconds, Mpeg2 fine] I was at work and noticed a squirrel busily nibbling on seeds outside the window, and decided to try shooting this clip right through the glass. I sat the camera down on its monopod and let it run. You can hear some faint interior voices in the background. The telephoto was at full 10x. [20 seconds, Mpeg2 fine] This seagull swam up about 10 feet away from me and I grabbed a shot with the telephoto set to x5 or more. The light was just right to make this shot remarkably high contrast, almost to the point of being harsh, with a bit too much of the sharpening effect, but it looks great nevertheless. [10 seconds, Mpeg2 fine]

Make Your Own Magnetic Altazimuth Monopod For Your Panasonic SV-AV100 Miniature Camcorder

I was sure that Panasonic would not honor the warranty for the little camera if I cut or drilled into it, so whatever solution I came up with had to be one which did not radically alter the camera. A magnetic mount was an obvious direction to go, but the only place with room was the battery compartment itself. I did some experimenting and found that the Nokia BLD-3 battery in my Nokia 6560 cellphone would power the camera and being thinner than the N60 battery it left room for thin magnets between it and the battery cover. I obtained the magnets from K&J Magnetics. To prevent a far-reaching magnetic field from erasing the credit cards in my purse, the magnets needed to be small, and arranged in a north-to-south-to-north array. This produces a locally intense field which rapidly fades at a distance. The steel or iron in the monopod itself provides the rest of the magnetic shielding. I recommend using the K&J model D41 magnet. BLD-3 batteries may be purchased from Nokia outlets, but only at outrageous prices - cloned aftermarket batteries are available on Ebay for as low as $8 each including shipping. The final item to obtain is the sheet metal - steel or soft iron in a thickness of 1/16th inch to 1/8th inch. (Don't make the mistake of using brass, aluminum, or stainless!) The heavy steel I chose is best cut with a machinist's cutting wheel, but I suppose it could be done with a hacksaw if one is patient. Step-by-step directions are below - click on thumbnail photos to see the corresponding full size photo.
Handheld Use

There is no need to detach the monopod when shooting with the camera handheld. The photo above shows how to hold the camera while the monopod is attached. Slip the monopod down just enough to give room to your ring finger (if you are righthanded). Place your thumb over the Start-Stop button. The camera then rests on your ring finger and doesn't need to be gripped forcefully - preventing a major cause of camera shake. An unexpected benefit is that your first two fingers will automatically avoid blocking the camera sensor.
Step-by-Step Instructions
1. First, glue the magnets onto the top side of the Nokia BLD-3 battery. The magnets need to be in a N-S-N pattern, both row-wise and column-wise. This won't be difficult, since they will resist being placed side by side in a N-N-N pattern anyway. Use the best cyanoacrylate gel glue you can find - the Locktite brand is good. This step is a bit delicate - while the glue is not yet set fully, the magnets are prone to jumping out of place. By the way, this photo was taken with the AV100 in picture mode. All the rest were done using a Nikon 5700.

2. Using the small magnets, you'll have 7 rows of 5 each. The battery still fits in the charger. (An aftermarket Nokia charger is shown.)

3. The BLD-3 battery with the top layer of magnets fits nicely into the camera. Some BLD-3 batteries may need their end sanded slightly, since the BLD-3 battery is a tiny bit longer than the NP-60. Slide and lock the battery cover into position in the usual way - it will not be obstructed by the magnets.
4. The monopod itself is a single piece of 1/8th inch steel, 4.25 inches long and 1.9 inches wide. Make the bend at about 1.125 inches from one end. Use a file to remove all sharp edges. Apply a layer of transparent package sealing tape to the inner side of the monopod to prevent the sliding metal surface from marring the battery compartment lid.
5. The magnetic altazimuth monopod is finished. Lay the monopod piece against the battery cover and the camera will cling to it with enough force to be secure. You now have a mount which not only allows the camera to stand unattended, but the camera may also be tilted and turned to photograph in any direction you like. Two-axis mounts of this type are referred to as altazimuth mounts.

6. Here is a photo showing the camera adjusted to view a pencil lying nearby.

7. The monopod snuggles up to the camera so compactly that it still fits into its original case.
8. Be creative. Carrying a simple binding clamp with you makes the magnetic monopod even more versatile.
This space to be filled later.
Some Additional Information
  • I tested the BLD-3 battery shown and found it was able to power the camera for 32.5 minutes of continuous recording onto a Transcend 1GB SD card, which is quite good. A generic 1100mah NP-60 tested under the same conditions ran for 43 minutes. This implies that the BLD-3 battery is rated about 850mah.
  • The BLD-3 battery will not charge properly in the camera. You must use a charger meant for the BLD-3. Find one here on Ebay.
  • The magnets do not seem to affect the zoom, the EIS, or any other aspect of camera operation based on my tests.
  • When the BLD-3 with magnets is out of the camera it should be attached to a "keeper", a piece of iron or steel which covers the magnets, to prevent it from affecting objects close to it such as credit cards. Due to the strength of the magnets, there should be a layer of cloth or cardboard between the magnets and the iron. I will make one and put a picture here later.
  • There are no reports yet of anyone else duplicating this design. I guarantee nothing - if you break your camera, I am not responsible. Your camera is expensive and a small accident (such as with the glue) can easily ruin it. So be careful.
  • This design is discussed here at the Jackbrown forum.