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We have had our NV-DS11 for a year or two now and it has proven to be an immensely capable beast. We originally were looking at Analogue camcorders but having drooled over the magazines and reviews it was quite obvious Digital was they way to go (if you could afford it). Fortunately an excellent special offer at Jessops allowed us to stretch to this unit. As well as an excellent colour viewfinder, it also has a pop out colour LCD screen which tends to be used more often and is well worth considering on any camcorder. The screen can also be flipped to face the front so you can do those "film-yourself" shots so popular in the media. (An option allows you to have this "self image" mirrored or as-it will be on the tape on the display. Most of the less-used functions are neatly hidden away on the menu system - accessed by pressing a button on the side, then a rotary and push wheel (similar to the Sony Z5 phone) allows the various options to be called up and settings changed. The same dial is used to set manual overrides on focus/brightness etc. if you choose to go native, but normally Auto works remarkably well for most situations. There is an AE selector dial on the side to select for Auto, Manual, Sports, Portraits and night shots. A set of controls on top give you the VCR-type functions, plus double up in record mode for a number of special effects (Fade etc.) At the back (user-end) it is fairly minimalist with a combined power and record button, battery eject release, VCR/Camera mode selector (with LED indicator). Some more connectors (S-Video, Power, Digital Picture download) are hidden behind the Lithium Ion battery pack. Round the corner (thumb position) are a Wide-Telephoto zoom control and a "photoshot" button which takes still pictures onto the tape. Also here is the Tape eject button. The Tape holder is quite elegant, however like most Camcorders the windo
w to show the tape used is almost unusable - it's more a "have I got a tape in" window, however the viewfinder/screen display shows remaining time etc. so no worries there. At the front is the IR remote control window (a diddy remote control comes with it, although the main use I have found is for playback control. Beside that is the recording light (which can be turned off), manual focus selector button, Stereo Microphone, and under a small cover is the Firewire connector if you are into these things. To the front side under another cover is the Edit and AV out connections, and an additional Mic socket (not covered). The lens gives a 20x optical zoom, and up to 400x digital zoom if you really want to. Overall it's proven to be excellent and very reliable. Picture quality is good as you'd expect, and it is easy to use, yet has a lot of useful features if you want to get creative.