There are a few extra goodies available if you delve into the full menu. These include 10 scene modes, digital cinema colour, and the new wind canceller Panasonic has added with this year's models, which we have found to be quite effective. Perhaps the most surprising new feature here, however, is the Picture Adjust section, which lets you manually configure sharpness, colour, brightness and white balance offset between red (warm) and blue (cold). This goes even further than the Image Effects now found in many Canon camcorders.
The healthy range of manual settings is mirrored by the SD60's image quality. In good lighting, there's almost no evidence of noise and the picture is very sharp - much sharper than the HDC-TM10, thanks to the extra pixel resolution of the sensor. Colours are also very faithful, although here the TM10 was about on par. Colours remain remarkably strong in low light.
Although focus accuracy is understandably not as good as in optimal illumination, there is a marked improvement here over previous models such as the TM10, and performance is now as good or better than any other model we've tested in the same price bracket. Crucially, where the TM10 produced an unacceptably dark image in important types of artificial lighting, the SD60 shoots usable video. So you'll get great, or at least good results in most everyday conditions.
Panasonic appears to have finally cracked the lower end of the high definition market. The HDC-SD60 and its siblings don't offer quite the gobsmacking value of Samsung's HMX-R10, but the prices of these models are still extremely good, and their performance and features are far superior. If you're after a small, versatile camcorder for holidays or family social gatherings with exceptional HD video quality, the HDC-SD60 should be top of your list.