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Panasonic HDC-SD100 - Panasonic HDC-SD100

By James Morris



Our Score:


The viewfinder is fixed and won’t be easy to use with a long-life battery attached, nor does it have a rubber surround for comfortable use. But at least it’s there. Annoyingly, Panasonic has moved its joystick from the rear to under the LCD, which is nowhere near as convenient. However, you won’t need it as much as with previous Panasonic camcorders. A switch near the lens toggles between auto and manual focusing, with a second push redirecting the ring to zoom operation instead.

The ring’s functions don’t end there, though. Press the CAM FUNC button, and a small menu appears offering White Balance, Shutter Speed and Iris. The lens ring is then used to scroll through the options, and the CAM FUNC button to make a selection. Then the lens ring adjusts your chosen settings. You can configure shutter from 1/50th to 1/8000th, and the iris from F16 to F1.8, with up to 18dB of gain on top. These can be set independently. Overall, it’s very intuitive and easy to use, making this the friendliest manual control system on any AVCHD camcorder we’ve yet seen.

With a lens ring and viewfinder, it will come as no surprise the HDC-SD100 also has a standard-sized accessory shoe, microphone input and headphone jack. Since you must have the LCD open to use the joystick, there’s a switch on the side to turn it off and enable the viewfinder instead. The latter also doubles as AV output, which must be switched in the menu.

Further discrete buttons toggle the Optical Image Stabilisation and the PRE-REC function. This keeps a few seconds of video buffered, so if you hit record too late you won’t miss the moment. The final button controls the iA Intelligent Auto mode. This adds functions to the Scene modes, such as augmenting Portrait mode with face recognition, or switching on Intelligent Contrast and Low Light mode when necessary.

The remaining controls are only available via the joystick and full menu. You can turn on backlight compensation or soft skin mode via the joystick. One highlight in the menu is the Digital Cinema Mode, which is Panasonic’s version of x.v.Color, but also bundles 25p shooting. We would have preferred to see these as separate options, as the colour alteration may not be to everyone’s taste.

As with Panasonic’s HDC-SD9 and HS9, the SD100 incorporates a quintet of microphones arranged in a cross. These are used to produce the directional signals for a 5.1 surround sound signal, but they also enhance the Zoom Mic function, as well as providing a Focus Mic feature. This attempts to reduce the level of sounds not coming from within the visible video frame.


September 1, 2008, 2:19 am

Man! If this had slow mo recording function (hi fps recording) this would be the perfect replacement for my Sony HDR-HC3E. Does anybody know if there is such a ideal camcorder around or about to make an appearance.

Martin Briley

September 2, 2008, 2:13 am

You didn't address one of the primary questions any camcorder buyer should be asking: Does this thing shoot real progressive images?

Nobody but NOBODY should be shooting interlaced video anymore. And people need to be aware of half-assed, fake "cinema" modes that are not true progressive.


September 13, 2008, 11:17 pm

The storage of the videostream (according their user manual) is always in 50i mode (2:2 pulldown), the video itself is progressive.

James Morris

September 15, 2008, 2:00 pm

This is pretty common. All HD-capable software understands 50i, but far fewer apps can do 25p yet. So a lot of camcorders store 25p in a 50i bitstream, for wider compatibility. Otherwise, the camcorder will need a special mode supported in the software.


December 15, 2008, 2:44 am

Can anybody tell me how can Panasonic shot full progressive HD if they only have 3x610K (520K effective)pixels? For full HD at least you need 1920x1080=2073600 pixels.


December 17, 2008, 5:48 pm

Panasonic needs 3 chips (520k effective pixels) for 3 colours. For size transfering Panasonic needs one row of pixels more and one column more ... For better imaging: every time for one frame is divided into 4 periods: in the first period the data are transmitted into the memory matrix (cells: 1,3,5,...), during second period there is one row shifting in the chip and data are transmitted into the memory matrix (cells: 2,4,6,..), in the third and fourth period it became the same action but with column ... So it is created one image with 1920*1080 size from only 4*520k size... in time of one frame.


December 30, 2008, 11:57 pm

How does the SD100 compare to the Canon HF11??? Of course the Canon HF11 has the 32GB internal memory on top of allowing you to add more memory with an SD card.

But over all, which one has the BEST set of features/quality?



December 31, 2008, 12:01 am

Also, I forgot to ask... does it have the 24p (cinema mode) that the Canon HF11 has? Would the 32GB storage that the Canon HF11 has be a VERY important factor that would make me want to buy it instead of the Panasonic SD100?

James Morris

February 17, 2009, 4:13 am

Better late than never... the HF11 has the best image quality, but the SD100 has the best manual features.


May 1, 2010, 9:26 pm

I want to buy this camcorder, but I have to ask something important for me first...

I own an old and small, but trustworthy, sony mini-dv, but I don't want to buy cassettes all the time!

I usually film live concerts with vivid and sometimes strobe lights and I use the wide/tele option all the time!

When using a sony with hard-disk instead, my filming was interrupted all the time (catastrophic, it was a disaster)... disk consistency, overflow (or something like that anyway, the camera wasn't mine, I had borrowed it, so to hell with it) etc. ...

Would I have the same troubles by shooting on HD, having to use Flash Memory?

Should I buy a High-Speed SD Flash Memory with it or it's unnecessary?

Thank you all!

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