Strangely, Panasonic hides its scene modes within the full menu, so you’re less likely to use them than the TM10’s other settings. The nine options include the usual portrait, sports, beach and snow. Manual audio level control is available, too, despite the inability to attach an external microphone. There are also Digital Cinema and Digital Cinema Colour options. The former provides a more cinematic colour gamut along with progressive shooting, whilst the latter enables x.v.Colour, which will only be visible when the video is viewed on a compatible TV. We’re also pleased to see that there are controls for toggling record and zooming located on the LCD – a virtual necessity with tiny camcorders such as the TM10, which can be uncomfortable to use Handycam style.
As the basic optics and sensor features are identical to the SD20 and HS20, the TM10 provides very similar image quality. In good light, colour is faithful but a little dark, particularly in areas of blue. There is plenty of detail, with little sign of noise, although the image is not as sharp as top-end models such as Panasonic’s own HDC-HS300. In low light, the TM10 manages to better the SD20 and HS20, but not by much, and it is marginally behind JVC’s Everio GZ-HD300. Fortunately, an LED video light is built in, which manages to improve the picture at short ranges.
Whilst Panasonic’s HDC-HS20 and SD20 are good, they didn’t quite have the right combination of features, image quality and value when we first reviewed them. The TM10, however, offers virtually the same abilities in a smaller package for considerably less. Low light performance may not be great, but overall image quality is good for the price, only marginally behind JVC’s great-value but slightly more expensive Everio GZ-HD300. If you’re after a pocket HD camcorder with a little bit more than just point-and-shoot, the HDC-TM10’s more readily accessible manual controls, decent picture and keen price make it worth considering.