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Panasonic HDC-TM300 - Panasonic HDC-TM300

By James Morris


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Other than the differences already mentioned, the TM300 is pretty much the same camcorder as the HS300. The use of flash memory means power consumption is 10 per cent less, so batteries will last a proportional amount longer. But the features which made the HS300 such an excellent camcorder remain. Chief amongst these is the lens ring, something so few HD camcorders offer. In auto mode, this provides another way of controlling zoom. But simply press the manual focus button and it switches to controlling this feature instead.

There's an assist function to make things even easier. This magnifies a central rectangle of the frame so you can see more clearly whether your focus is sharp. Although we like the focus knobs on Canon's HF S10 and Sony's HDR-XR520, Panasonic's lens ring is better still. It allows you to perform 'rack focus', also known as focus pulling, where you change focus to guide viewer attention. The Canon and Sony knobs are too slow to execute this popular piece of camerawork.

There are discrete buttons for toggling Intelligent Auto (iA) mode and PRE-REC. The former switches on Panasonic's automatic system which detects conditions and switched on functions such as Portrait and Low Light accordingly. The PRE-REC system spools footage until you hit record, tacking it on the front so you don't miss a shot. There are also buttons for disabling the optical image stabiliser and manual mode, but after pressing the latter everything else is operated via the touchscreen.

As usual for a Panasonic camcorder, manual settings are comprehensive. You can configure shutter and iris independently, and once the aperture is fully open you can add up to 18dB of video gain. There's even an onscreen histogram. However, these settings are harder to configure with the touchscreen than they were with the multi-function lens ring provided by the HDC-HS100 and SD100. The touchscreen also enables an AFAE option when in auto mode. This lets you specify a reference point for focus and exposure by simply touching within the frame. If this is a moving object the camcorder will track it across the frame, including human subjects picked up by the face detection system.

The only real missing feature with the TM300, as with the HS300, is that there is no specific progressive mode. The Digital Cinema option shoots x.v.Colour and progressive, but this also disables some of the features, in particular the AFAE function, so won't please the semi-pros. We wish Panasonic would follow Canon's leave and offer a true, separate progressive mode, because more and more TVs support this now and it's clearly the way computers display video.

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May 23, 2009, 9:56 pm

Hi James. Thanks for your thorough review. One question: Can you tell us which manual controls are deactivated/ unavailable when you use Digital Cinema mode? This was surprising to me, and I even downloaded the manual to see if there was any info on it, but to no avail. Thanks again!


May 28, 2009, 4:08 pm

Great review, very informative. Thanks. The question burning on mind and seemingly taking me back and forth in Deciding is:

If the price of the Panasonic HDC-TM300 where the same as the Canon HF S10 which one is better?

I am looking at purchasing one of these and live in China the price here for these cameras are very very similar not like in the UK, so it is not a clear cut decision.

Any thoughts and advice on this would be much appreciated. Great site, and great reviews - Thanks

Louis 4

May 30, 2009, 12:16 am

I was wondering the same thing as starbees. Which out of these two camcorders would you buy if they were the same price?

James Morris

May 31, 2009, 5:10 pm

Well, if they were the same price I would be very torn, and the choice would depend on my intended usage. Overall, the S10 shoots better video and has some compelling features. But its focus knob just isn't quite as friendly as a real lens ring. As I said in the review, you can't do focus pulling as a result - it's too slow and fiddly. So if you do want to perform this kind of camerawork trickery, the TM300 has to be your choice.


June 5, 2009, 11:38 pm

Thanks for the review. I've downloaded the Operators Manual for the TM-300 and there are several warnings about NOT blocking the fan outlet. My understanding is that you cannot use the viewfinder (EVF) whilst the LCD is open. As one of the compelling reasons for purchasing this camera is the viewfinder, do you think that extended use of the EVF with the LCD closed i.e blocking the fan is likely to cause problems? Or is there a way of using the EVF with the LCD open?

Thomas 7

June 8, 2009, 4:59 pm

Hello James,

Excellent review on all the camcorders I read thru on your site. I got this link from a friend & I read all the camcorder reviews posted since the beginning of this year. MUST say best of all the sites I had visited till date.

Back to my query, comparing the Canon LEGRIA HF S10 with Panasonic HDC-TM300GC, ignoring the price factor, please advise which one of these two are best on Features and Video Quality. I had been using the JVC GZ-HD6 since its launch & was quite happy with its video quality when compared with the models then launched by Sony, Panasonic & Canon. I badly need a switch-over from HDD to SDHC keeping rest of all the features at the optimum level. Greatly appreciate your assistance to give me just one shot… Go for “---“ Many Thanks & Regards, Tom.

James Morris

June 10, 2009, 4:01 am

@philmurray As far as I know, there is no way of turning off the LCD when it is open. However, I've not noticed these camcorders getting very hot, particularly the TM300 - the Flash memory doesn't generate heat like a hard disk.

@Thomas Thanks very much for your kind words about our camcorder reviews! You won't entirely like my answer. From my testing, the Canon has marginally better image quality than the Panasonic, but the Panasonic has better features. It has a lens ring and full-sized accessory shoe. It's also cheaper in Europe. So if you want the best image quality and are willing to pay for it, go for the Canon. If you're willing to compromise on image quality (and, honestly, not very much) then the Panasonic TM300 would be the better (and cheaper) bet. Hope this helps!

Thomas 7

June 10, 2009, 10:28 am

Thanks very much James, I checked with both the agents here and the difference in price is just UKL50 more for Canon. I was a bit more concerned on night indoor / party recordings which from your review showed Canon better image quality where as Panasonic come with a 5.1 channel recording. James one last request, Is there any other model I should consider as the best performer under consumer camcorders before I finalize on Panasonic. Thanks & Regards, Thomas.

James Morris

June 10, 2009, 3:47 pm

@Thomas In this class, and restricting myself to models released this year, only Sony's HDR-XR520 is in the same league.


June 11, 2009, 6:48 pm

Hi James,

Thank you for your very informative reviews. I am deciding between Panasonic TM 300 and canon HF 10.

Which of them would you say gives better overall video quality? I have red some bad reviews about Panasonic's low light performance... I really love Panasonic's look but all accessories are much more expensive that for older Canon... Which of them would you say lighter / handles better?

Thanks a lot.


Jens Kjærsgaard

June 12, 2009, 12:49 am

Hi James. Great and inspirering reviews.

I´m new to Camcorders and just want to make some "moviememories" of my little son.

Q1: Comparing the HDC-TM300 and HDC-SD200.....Please help me out...

- beside internal storage (disc) and Viewfinder - is there any other differences between TM300 and SD200 that i really should care about?

Q: Is a viewfinder an important feature?

Best regards

Jens K., Denmark


June 13, 2009, 7:54 pm


Many thanks for your excellent and most informative reviews. I have had Sony camcorders since year 0 (analogue), my last/current one is a SD miniDV Sony DCR-TRV950, excellent but heavy. I usually use a wide lens attachment (Kenko 0.5x SWG-05 Pro).

I now wish to move to HD and want to buy a good prosumer or similar quality camcorder. It must be light, as light as possible, and I want to take it to mountains (around 5000 and more metres). I know from own experience that miniDV cameras at altitude work OK but I understand (from numerous forums and dicussions) that cameras using hard disks for storage will not work safely above 3000 metres. There is no opportunity to play with adjusting camera manually at altitude so I heavily rely on preset/tested settings or auto. My other application is architecture and landscapes so I need a wide angle lens.

I am obviously interested in the HDC-TM300 and assume that a solid state storage will not be subject to any high/low air pressure fluctuations. The weight is right and the quality and a viewfinder are there.

What would be your choice ? - the HDC-TM300, perhaps Sony HDR-CX105, or a Sony mini-DV or ? - If the high altitude was not an issue would you change your recommendation ?

My Sony camcorders never ever failed so I have a natural brand name loyalty. Are Panasonic higher end camcorders built as well as Sonys ?

- Best regards and thanks

Philip Bacon

June 14, 2009, 3:33 pm

I have just purchased the TM300. I have been waiting patiently for a couple of years for a camcorder that takes high mp stills as I want a camcorder and still camera in one unit.From all the reviews I have seen the TM300 was supposed to be the bees knees. However I am very disappointed as the still colours are not at all vibrant true colour. I bought this unit to be automatic as it proclaims to be. I take a lot of beach/sky/sunny photos. Despite even altering the white balance to various preset conditions the pictures are grey/green with very little, or in some cases any, way to differentiate between the clouds and the beach for instance. I have been back to the dealer and he knows I am not happy. I am going to return the camera! I have spent too much time experimenting and have lost valuable photo opportunities.

Any suggestions before I take this drastic step? Anyone else had similar problems?

toni 1

June 15, 2009, 3:55 am

hello, very interesting review

i have been watching hundreds of videos in vimeo of hv30/40 and tm300, and i see that the canon it has much better colour and image quality. what do you think? can you compare please both models?


Philip Bacon

June 15, 2009, 7:15 pm

It would have been helpful if I had found this review before purchase.

Quote:- Still photographs taken with the TM300 were not as impressive. The camcorder advertises its 10.6 megapixel still photo mode, and while it's adequate, it doesn't seem to live up to standalone digital cameras in the same megapixel range. Pictures appeared muted and lacking definition.

Since it seems the TM300 is lacking decent colour on stills I would feel more than justified in returning it as not fit for purpose?

It cost over £1,100 in the UK (before haggling) - around $1700US at moment. I should expect perfection for my lmited demands at that price


July 13, 2009, 11:41 pm

Is there an SD mode on this camera and if yes, what is the performance of this camera in SD and it's connectivity to Mac / FCPro for editing ?

Jens Kjærsgaard

July 17, 2009, 8:32 pm

HDC-TM300 versus HDC-SD300...

just bought a SD300 - i am soooo pleased and highly recommend!

Why not the HS300 og the TM300? -> because of the developement of SDHC is faster than ever.. In a short period of time the capacity of these cards is larger than the build in memory (32 Gb for the TM300). And prices are falling constantly..:-)

To alle that want to make great stills - by at great camera. And use the camcorder to capture moving objects ;-)


Jens Kjærsgaard


July 28, 2009, 8:43 am


Watched & absorbed a multitude of your precise & informative reviews. I am very glad to have found your web site. Put in an order for the TM300 largely based on your reviews over the last four months..

Thanks, and I know I won't be disappointed!


August 8, 2009, 11:51 pm


Many thanks for your great reviews. I am trying to decide between these 2 excellent cameras (HFS10 and TM300). I have done hours of research and swayed both ways. I have a CANON HV20 producing excellent results. Time for upgrade. INFOSYNC rates the Canon HFS10 at 86% and is their winner. They rate Pan HS300(TM300) as 74% in 8th position! They slate the HS300/TM300 and suggest they should scap the 3-chip sensors. They say the manual controls on the Touchscreen crashed and the camera could not perform. SLASHCAM (Germany) produced extremely informative review and comparison. They rate the Panasonic HS300/TM300 at 372/570. They rate Canon HFS10 at 344/70. Their published review can be seen at www.slashcam.com/slashcom/cam-.... 3 Camcorders can be analysed simultaneously. It was incredible to see the 1200 lux and 12 lux picture comparison. Both cameras were excellent in good light (1200 lux). The Canon suffered terribly in lowlight (12 lux). Their analysis covers 13 categories and some of those categories can involve up to 37 parameters! TRUSTED REVIEWS (James Morris) also produce a fantastic comparison/review and I have read your articles with great interest. At the end of the day, some guys may prefer greener grass or paler skin or bluer sky. As SLASHCAM states, the Panasonic HS300/TM300 has excellent Focus Ring etc. They state that the image quality is FLAWLESS and even adjustable. Canon is equally praised in most areas. DIGITAL TRENDS states HFS10 needs better wind noise reduction (not a problem with directional mic attached?). Other cons for the HFS10 is 2 channel stereo, LCD should be bigger. They say that the CANON HFS10 has outstanding video quality but it is not the HOLY GRAIL. The search for the HOLY GRAIL continues. My research findings are that the HFS10 and TM300 are fantastic cameras and perhaps the CANON has the slight edge over the PANASONIC in image quality. Most of the camcorder ratings show that the HS300/TM300 has better numbers CAMCORDERINFO gives the Panason HS300/TM300 268.43 (1st) and the Canon HFS100 (HFS10 sister) 253.91 (3rd). My overall conclusion is that I would prefer the PANASONIC TM300 at the moment (£300 cheaper and within a cats-whisker of quality). Now that the PANASONIC TM350(and the CANON HFS11) has been launched in Japan (and the CANON HFS11) it will be interesting to compare these 2. I think I will reserve my choice (probably TM350, or is the HOLY GRAIL TM350?). ANY COMMENTS would be appreciated. To JAMES, please, please, please give us a review of the TM350 and HS11 as soon as you can, plus any comments of my other observations.

I hope this evidence is helpful to readers in this dilemma of searching for the Holy Grail


September 11, 2009, 8:06 pm

@ abbeydale - Funny. I've just spent the last few hours going through those exact reviews you mention. Great summary, by the way..

I'm also torn between the Canon and the Panny, although I'm leaning toward the TM350, rather than the HF S11. (I live in Japan). I like the manual controls, focus ring, and slightly longer optical zoom. I also bought a Lumix TZ7 a few months ago, and love it.. Maybe I'll be as happy with the TM350.

A couple videos that helped me decide:

An extensive video review/sample of the TM300 on Vimeo - http://www.vimeo.com/5434462

I opened these two videos and compared side by side:



I'm still not sure.. Happy hunting!


September 11, 2009, 8:11 pm

Doh! It's me again.. Since I have to wait for moderation, I think I made a mistake in one of my URLs..

One of the YouTube links should've been for the TM300, NOT the TM30.. Correct URL should be:


Terry 8

December 2, 2009, 1:38 pm

hi guys

i just sold my sony sr10 after being disappointed with its low light. after search through the net looking for a new camcorder that has good picture quality in low light i ended up here with the canon s10 and pan tm300. after reading this column it has made life easier for me coz i was pulling my hair on this one. i read somewhere that although the canon has better picture values than the tm300, u can't burn DVD's (AVCHD) with 24mbps recording, is that so and WHY?. i know a lot of people choose the tm300 for the view finder but the only thing that wld make me opt for a vf is that it may lengthen the life span of the battery, i'm assuming it takes more juice to run the LCD than the vf, btw is the vf colour? as to the still pictures...another WHY! here for me...they say the s10 still picture at 8.6mp is better than the tm300 at 12.6mp. if anyone wants to confused me with this hi-tech staff, this is the one. as mentioned by James, money not being the obsticle, tm300 wld be a better buy. the tm350 with larger storage is not going to pull me, 4hrs at full HD is more than enough for a wedding shoot or even on a family outing. if its not already obvious, i'm going for the tm300 not bcoz of the vf but mainly for the low light, lens ring and 12x optical zoom aside from better features. the only thing i wish pan wld include is the slow motion, a good feature to hv.

Rob 20

January 10, 2010, 10:59 pm

I have recently purchased a TM300 and found the camera excellent however getting the footage to DVD is a nightmare. The accompanying software 'freezes' part way through and takes so long.

Can anyone suggest alternative software?

lu f

February 1, 2010, 1:10 am

sorry about this question, but is it a 1/2.6 sensor (s11) better than three 1/1.44 (tm300)?????? i can afford both of them, but everybody says the canon has better image quality. i just cant understand why.

the s11 uses 6.01-megapixels when shooting movies. what about the tm-300?

thanks for the reviews!!! hope you can help me


February 12, 2010, 1:15 am

i recently purchased the TM300, and out of all the camcorders i have ever owned, the TM300 has got to be the biggest disserpointment.

For a 3mos sensor, the colours lack dinamic range, everything i film in good light turns out green looking, i.e. a grey road looks more like a green road.

auto WB is bad and gives cold looking greenish colours, and in manual mode you can worm up the pic a bit but the green hue is still there.

for a 3 sensor camcorder at the top of the consumer camcorder range, i was expecting near semi professional video footage with rich dinamic colours, but it looks flat and greenish, just like a cheap single sensor, albeit in sharp hd quality.

I have also noticed a lot more blow out in bright areas compared to my old camcorders which proves a lack of dinamic range.

Photo quality is crap even for a camcorder, i have a very old 1.3mp digital camera which gives better colours and sharper pics than this claimed 10mp camcorder. no way can this TM300 be 10mp, and photos all have a green hue

Panasonic have recently anounced their 2010 models the TM700 with a claimed 14mp still camera, but after looking at the spec, it uses the same sensors with same native pixel count, so this again will be a sales gimick which won't be able to deliver.

I bought this camcorder because of its semi pro features and high claimed performance levels, but because the colours are so bad for a 3 sensor camera, i feel put off using it

i'm very disserpointed.

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