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Panasonic HDC-SD1 High Definition SD Camcorder - Design and display
The disadvantage of AVCHD is that it's difficult to edit. Where’s as DV is supported by every video editing application, AVCHD is very much the new kid on the block. Fortunately, there is help at hand as Pinnacle has just released Studio Plus 11, with support for AVCHD, and Ulead has released its rather similarly named Video Studio II Plus . Those looking for higher end packages or Mac support will have to wait, though Adobe has said that its flagship Premier package will support AVCHD via a an update at some point in the future.
The HDC-SDC is a really lovely product to hold in the hand. It is barrel shaped, with a curved hand grip on the right and a large 3in fold-out screen that’s about as large as I’ve seen on a camcorder. It’s only 480g, which is light enough to hold for extended periods, but still weighty enough for you to be able to balance it properly to shoot. It is also some 200g lighter than the Sony AVCHD recorder, which uses a 30GB hard disk.
The display is really smooth, bright and clear and I was able to see it even in bright sunlight. At first I was a little thrown by the lack of a viewfinder option but I rarely use it much on my DV camera and the quality of the screen is such that I doubt I would miss it here. You can even choose to have composition guidelines appear on the screen if you wish. The lens has an automatic lens cover, so you don’t have to fiddle with putting a plastic cover on and off. The lens is Leica designed and branded though it’s actually manufactured by Panasonic, which give the purists something to turn their noses up at. The lens has a 12x optical zoom, and the equivalent 35mm focal length range is 38.5 – 462mm. This means that’s its not the widest angle lens in the world so take care not walk backwards to get everyone in shot when filming near cliffs.
There’s a dial at the rear that has four settings, Record Mode, Playback Mode, PC connection mode and Off. It does have an Auto-Off from Record Mode, but not from the PC connection mode as I found to my cost. I forgot to turn it off after hooking up to the PC and by the time I got it home the battery was flat. Underneath the dial there’s a menu button and a button for deleting clips or stills.