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Panasonic HDC-SD100 - Panasonic HDC-SD100

By James Morris

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

In the best lighting, the HDC-SD100 produces incredibly vibrant colour. Point-and-shoot users will be very pleased with the results. But the more professional end of the market will be after a more naturalistic look, and we would like to have seen controls for toning down saturation a bit, as found with Canon’s HF10 and HF100. Performance is still excellent, though, and footage is noticeably sharper than the HDC-SD9. But it still can’t quite reach the benchmark set by the Canons – one large CMOS clearly has the edge over three smaller ones.

The oversaturation does have its benefits. In moderately low light, there is still plenty of colour, more than with the SD9. The level of grain is also lower, and finer, so greater detail is visible. Again, though, the Canon HF10 and HF100 retain more colour and produce a sharper image, albeit with a similar level of grain. Unfortunately, in lower light the Canons increase their lead. The SD100 maintains some colour definition, but the overall image is too dark and marred by grain.

Since it records AVCHD, the Panasonic can now enjoy a wide compatibility for its footage. Even Adobe has recently announced a new version of Premiere Elements with support. As with virtually all non-tape-based consumer camcorders these days, USB 2.0 is the primary means of PC connectivity – if you can find the port. Panasonic has buried it underneath the battery, forcing you to use mains power when copying footage to a computer. The HDMI port is also hidden here, and it’s of the mini variety so will need an adapter for hooking up to a HDTV.

But at least Panasonic’s AC power brick allows you to charge batteries on their own. Under the LCD, alongside the aforementioned dual-purpose AV and microphone minijack, a proprietary port is available for component analogue. So, despite its small size, the SD100 still manages to incorporate a full complement of connectivity options, without the need for a docking station.

Verdict

In previous camcorder eras, Panasonic has excelled at providing models with comprehensive features for the enthusiast. Its NV-GS400 was the last great ‘prosumer’ DV model. Until the HDC-SD100 arrived, no manufacturer had combined AVCHD with quite that level of professional features. Canon’s HF10 and HF100 are close, but the HDC-SD100 goes a few steps further with its standard accessory shoe, viewfinder and lens ring. Most amazingly, Panasonic has managed to fit all this into a tiny camcorder weighing just 382g. It’s not perfect – the Canon’s beat it for overall image quality, and at close to £700 it’s not cheap. But if you’ve been holding out for an AVCHD camcorder with the full gamut of professional features, this could be your dream come true at last.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Value 7
  • Image Quality 9
  • Features 10

hellodavey

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.

telocho

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.

Joe48

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.

zdla

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.

Enzo

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?





Thanks.






Enzo

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.

inthemarket

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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