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Panasonic HDC-SD80 review

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Panasonic HDC-SD80
  • Panasonic HDC-SD80
  • Panasonic HDC-SD80
  • Panasonic HDC-SD80
  • Panasonic HDC-SD80
  • HDC-SD80 Full HD Camcorder - Gunmetal

Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Decent low-light performance
  • Touch-screen LCD
  • Manual features

Cons

  • Relatively expensive for a budget model
  • No accessory shoe
  • No mic input

Key Features

  • 1/5.8in CMOS sensor with 1.5Mpixels
  • Full HD shooting
  • SDXC-compatible SD memory slot
  • 37x optical zoom; 42x Intelligent zoom
  • Independent iris and shutter controls
  • Manufacturer: Panasonic
  • Review Price: £307.00

Although pocket Internet camcorders have drastically reduced the entry-level price of HD video shooting, you still need to spend at least £200 to get a decent fully featured model. Panasonic’s cheapest units haven’t dropped significantly in this area. So you will need to shell out around £300 for the HDC-SD80, which isn’t quite Panasonic’s budget offering, but just a rung up.

The HDC-SD80 is not the SD90 without as many bells and whistles. It uses a smaller 1/5.8in CMOS with just 1.5Mpixels. So although it records Full HD, there’s a little interpolation involved to make up the full 2.07Mpixels of this format. Even more interpolation is involved in the maximum still image resolution of 2,304 x 1,296, which the SD80 can even manage at the same time as shooting video.

The small sensor allows the SD80 to offer a hefty 37x optical zoom, and you can turn on the Intelligent Zoom function to boost this a little to 42x. However, where most systems use surplus sensor pixels for this kind of technology, the SD80 doesn’t have any, so this will reduce resolution, just not as much as a traditional digital zoom. Strangely, although the built-in lens cover is not fully automatic, it does pop open when you power the camcorder on. But you need to close it manually after you’ve turned the unit off.

Despite being a lower end model, the SD80 still offers Panasonic’s latest Hybrid OIS. This blends electronic and optical systems to provide even more powerful stabilisation, tuned to smooth out the low-frequency vibrations caused by shooting whilst walking, as well as the higher-frequency jerkiness associated with handheld work whilst zoomed in. There are two modes available, although the second of these is aimed at still image mode.

DolphinSquared

October 22, 2012, 7:38 pm

Dear John,

There's something I am really curious to ask. & I hope this message gets to you even though this review is more than a year old.

I am a little confused about the Iris & Shutter settings of my own Panasonic HDC-SD80 camcorder, thus I would like to seek your advise.

From what I understand, Shutter Speed controls the smoothness of a video, as increasing it makes videos smoother. But at the same time, the shutter speed decreases the brightness of the video. Is this natural for changing the shutter speed?

Also, I am not familiar with the Iris settings as well. The only detail I know is that it will change the exposure of the video.

I have been doing low light recordings on portable gaming systems, & the quality is just above average for me. The only problem I had is with inconsistent color "waves", & trying to tweak the 2 aforementioned settings to the best possible setting.

Your reply will be much appreciated.

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