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Panasonic HDC-HS100 review

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  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic HDC-HS100

Summary

Our Score

9/10

User Score

Review Price free/subscription

Just like London buses, you wait all year for a fully-featured AVCHD camcorder, then two come at once. In the case of the Panasonic HDC-HS100, this isn’t so surprising as it’s the sibling of the HDC-SD100, in the same way that the HDC-SD9 is the sibling of the HDC-HS9. Where the SD100 records exclusively to SDHC flash memory cards, the HS100 uses a hard disk instead.

The hard disk has a 60GB capacity, which isn’t as large as the top models in JVC and Sony’s ranges. But it’s still enough for 7.5 hours of footage even at the HS100’s top HA quality setting. This records at 17Mbits/sec, which is still the highest data rate of any AVCHD camcorder currently available, although there are models due later in 2008 that will exceed this. The hard drive pushes the HS100’s weight to 482g with battery, 100g more than the SD100. It’s also about 1cm fatter.

The HS100 is Panasonic’s second camcorder to sport CMOS sensors instead of the company’s usual CCDs. But it still uses three smaller 1/6in units, rather than the single larger one favoured by virtually every other manufacturer now, even JVC. Whilst three sensors have traditionally allowed a better colour signal, one large CMOS has proven the better choice for low-light performance in consumer models.

Thanks to the fatter body, the HS100 shifts its camera/VCR mode dial back to the rear, with the record button in the middle – a more familiar location for Panasonic camcorders. The joystick remains in its new position on the side, underneath the LCD, which is nowhere near as convenient as with earlier designs. But, as with the SD100, you don’t actually need to use it for the main manual functions. Thanks to the lens ring, these are actually easier to access and use than ever before.

The lens ring has two primary modes. Flick the nearby switch once, and the ring performs manual focusing duties. A second flick and it becomes an alternative zoom control to the one on the top of the camcorder’s body. But the lens ring has still more functions than this. The CAM FUNC button beneath the focus/zoom switch calls up a short onscreen menu, giving access to White Balance, Shutter Speed and Iris. The lens ring then scrolls through the options, with the CAM FUNC again used to make a choice. The lens ring then configures the settings. The HS100 has a healthy four white balance presets, as well as manual and automatic options. Shutter speed can be varied from 1/50th to 1/8000th, and iris from F16 to F1.8, with the ability to add up to 18dB of video gain on the top. Shutter and iris can be varied entirely independently, too, for complete control.

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SimonJo

December 13, 2008, 6:16 pm

I've just taken delivery of my Pana HS100 and can say it's the best gadget I've bought ALL YEAR...and I've bought an ipod Touch so that's quite a statement. Just had a baby and needed to update my previous Sony Mini DV unit which served me well for years. Not sure where you're getting your prices from TR but www.webelectricals.co.uk sold me one for 𧼏 including free delivery.





Anyway - I particularly like the quality of the colours. I thought my Sony had it covered but the colour of the output with this have to be seen to be believed...it's like looking through a pane of glass not a digital lens. I hate it when I take a photo or moving shot and then look at the image and all the colours are different (to reality) so you have to mess around with the settings...and then reset them for the next shot. This seems to adjust according to the environment which is what 'point and click' customers want!

john salkeld

December 22, 2008, 1:30 pm

i have a imac with final cut pro can any one tell me how to get the video on to the mac never mind finalcut pro if i cant do this its back to the shop and money back

Milly

January 25, 2009, 6:29 pm

The image on the LCD looks perfect but when I transfer it to the computer or tv it appears liney and often a little grainy. I brought it back to the shop to see was it a setting I was using but it wasn't. Has anyone had this problem? For the price and good reviews I have read I expected a LOT more!





For the previous question which i'm sure you have discovered at this stage - Firstly install the program disc onto your computer. Connect your charger to the camera and plug the usb into the computer. So now you have two leads attached to your camcorder.





Open the LCD screen on your camcorder and you will see 3 options appear. Choose "PC connect".





When using your video editing software there should be an option to import media.



barbaradarby

February 16, 2009, 9:50 pm

I bought a HDC-HS100 last month on my way to Aus.I am delighted with it, especially the sockets for independent mike and headphones, and the Manual focus, audio,and white balance. The lens ring is an added bonus.the pics look really crisp too.


I too am struggling with getting the footage onto my windows xp computer.apart from using the composite lead, which ofcourse lowers the definition.I've tried loading the cd rom , it appears I need the windows xp service pack 2.I'm loath to download anything I'm not sure about, I'm trying to contact my comp dealer.Apart from the above I am delighted with it.

Ian 14

May 20, 2009, 6:32 pm

Hello James, I am looking at buying my first HD camcorder. I was taken with the SD card version of this but then saw the newer SD-200 version being similar to the 300 you review very positively here.


So the choice - go for the older but with more features 100 or sacrifice the viewfinder, external mike and light for the 200??


I have not seen one against the other in a review yet. What say you?


Many thanks.

Mike Lacross

June 10, 2012, 11:08 pm

Hi. I got my self a HDC-HS100 from the Ebay! but it came with NO software. Anyone have any idea where I can get some from?
Many thanks
Mike

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