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Panasonic HDC-TM700 review



Our Score


User Score


  • First 1080/50p-capable camcorder
  • High quality 35mm lens
  • Excellent video quality


  • Expensive

Review Price £709.99

Key Features: HD video recording; Impressive array of manual controls; 1080/50p recording

Manufacturer: Panasonic

TrustedReviews awards winner 2010

Panasonic showed us an early sample of the HDC-TM700 at the end of last year, but if we’d told you about it then, we’d have had to kill you afterwards. Now, at last, we can bring you the first big camcorder release of 2010 – the initial benchmark the other manufacturers will have to meet or exceed. The TM700 is the heir to the HDC-TM300 and TM350, and it improves on them in some key areas.

The first surprise is a new flavour of Full HD. This is the first consumer camcorder to offer 1080/50p recording – yes, that’s a full 50 progressive frames of Full HD video every second. However, this isn’t part of the AVCHD standard so Panasonic has had to use a different file format. The video is recorded as H.264 running at 28Mbits/sec. Strangely, Panasonic hasn’t taken this opportunity to implement the top AVCHD option, and instead the maximum AVCHD data rate available is still 17Mbit/sec, rather than the 24Mbits/sec now offered by most of the other big names.

Panasonic is also sticking with its 3MOS system, and each of the three CMOS sensors remains 1/4in in size with a gross 3.05-megapixels apiece. However, a smidgen more interpolation boosts still image resolution to 14.2-megapixels, up from the 10.6-megapixels offered by the previous generation.

Panasonic HDC-TM700 front angle

The lens has been upgraded, however. The new Leica Dicomar glass is now equivalent to a 35mm wide angle at its maximum width, which will allow you to record more at close quarters indoors, for example. Panasonic has also added a new flavour of image stabilisation called Power OIS. This can detect vibrations down to a 5Hz frequency and, in our testing, was able to iron out quite severe motion, so long as it was regular.

The TM700 has a relatively healthy 12x optical zoom like its predecessors, but Panasonic has followed the trend and augmented this with an Intelligent Zoom system. This makes use of the extra pixels the CMOS has above those required for Full HD, which boosts the zoom factor to 18x without the loss in quality normally associated with a digital zoom.

Being a Panasonic TM model, the TM700 records its video to flash memory and has 32GB built in. This is enough for over four hours of footage in the top HA Full HD 1080i mode, but only two hours 44 minutes when shooting 1080/50p. You can augment storage capacity using the SDHC slot, which supports SDXC so allows capacities up to 64GB. If one storage medium runs out of space in the middle of a shot, the TM700 will automatically switch to the other and continue recording without dropping a frame.

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March 22, 2010, 3:44 pm

excellent review, thanks very much.

i was in the market for a camcorder for teh last few months, been waiting for the announcement of the TM700 as i was hoping the TM300 would go down in price. I eventually bought the SD200 as it has very similair functions of the TM300, it just doenst have Lense Ring (which i would never use), doenst have a 32gb internal drive (prefer to use removable storage media any way) and doesnt have external mic option, which i can live without.

Been using the SD200 for the last week, its FANTASTIC! quality is amazing. only issue it low light, but in the house, as long as the lights are on the picture quality is acceptable, well acceptable for me any way.

Also SD200 is great as i can just take out the SD card, stick it into the PS3 and watch the video's instantly, no need to worry about plugging in the camcorder via HDMI to view the video.


March 22, 2010, 4:03 pm

"The video is recorded as H.264 running at 28Mbits/sec. Strangely, Panasonic hasn’t taken this opportunity to implement the top AVCHD option, and instead the maximum AVCHD data rate available is still 17Mbit/sec"

So if I understand this correctly, if I want to record at 28Mbits/sec, it can only do it in H.264, otherwise if I want to record as AVCHD, it can only do it at a max rate of 17Mbits/sec? and by the way, I thought AVCHD was H.264??

James Morris

March 22, 2010, 5:00 pm

AVCHD is a specific profile of H.264, with more limited options. The video is also encoded into a transport stream file. With the TM700, the 28Mbits/sec mode uses a more generic version of H.264 (although it's still encoded into a transport stream). The main issue is that Full HD recorded at 50P and 28Mbits/sec is not AVCHD, so for example you can't pull a memory card out from the TM700 containing this video format and play it on your PS3 directly, as Jai has with the video from his SD200.


March 22, 2010, 5:42 pm

PHEW! glad i got the SD200 then!

simple simon

March 22, 2010, 8:42 pm

Its a toss-up between the HDC300 and HDC700. One of the things I want to do is digitise a lot of super 8 cine films (family holidays, etc) which date from when I was a babe in arms until I bought my first camcorder, the Panasonic MS50. Do these new camcorders include the option of filming in 4:3 format, as widescreen would not be right for the old films?

Another reason for asking this is that I want to revisit places, etc which I filmed using my MS50, film them 'as they are now' and create compilation films showing the changes. OK, the newer machines will provide a much better image quality (although the MS50's S-VHS was excellent for the day) but mixing widescreen and 4:3 will look 'wrong', so at times I will want to film in 4:3 format.

I am also concerned about how good the cameras are in low light, as some of the time I will be using the camera on underground railway stations where additional lights is strictly forbidden.

Thanks for you advice,



March 22, 2010, 9:33 pm

James, Mike. I can understand why the 50P on an SD card won't play back, but the other lower formats will play back from the card as the SD200 does, or is this not correct?



March 22, 2010, 9:37 pm

Hello, Does anyone have a link where there are some full size still images from any of 200, 300 or 700 cameras. I would like to download a file and have a look for myself.



Robert Webb

March 23, 2010, 3:54 am

On the 300 the lens ring could be used for focus or zoom. Looks like the 700 allows its use for a few new things, but what about zoom? Can it not still be used for zoom?!



James Morris

March 23, 2010, 2:15 pm

Simon: I'm afraid the Panasonic HD camcorders are HD only, so they only shoot footage in 16:9. Sony's camcorders usually still do SD, so they will have 4:3 shooting (but not in HD, which is exclusively widescreen). But all the top-end Panasonic HD camcorders are excellent in low light.

DadHav: If you shoot regular AVCHD, the SD card will play on the likes of the PS3.

Robert Webb: The TM700's lens ring only operates the zoom in auto mode. It can't be used for zoom in manual mode.

Glyn Martin

March 24, 2010, 2:23 am

Hi James,

I am interested in the HDC SD700 rather than the HDC TM700. I was wondering would any SDHC card (Class 6) be able to cope with being able to record at the highest quality of 1080/50P? Or would you need to buy a fastest type card to be able to record in this format (1080/50P).

Many Thanks


James Morris

March 24, 2010, 7:38 pm

I'm sure Class 6 will be fine.


March 25, 2010, 2:45 am

Jim or anyone, Am I wrong in assuming a good quality camera like the TM300 or 700 will also give me a better than usual quality video at lower resolutions. I'm interested in getting the best quality I can for YouTube videos while still using a format which I can edit with Pinnacle on my notebook. The notebook is dual core with 4 gigs ram so I should be able to do 720 with no problem. Someone else mentioned that the 300 and 700 aren't the best for YouTube video. What would have been behind that remark? does anyone know? Of course I will be upgrading soon and be ready for more of the capabilities of the camera. But for know I feel the quality is probably what I hope for especially since I need a view finder camera for filming R/C aircraft. You know. One eye in the sky and the other in the view finder.



March 26, 2010, 6:51 pm

Jim, First thank you for your advice. I was reading reviews on the 300. I'm concerned know as to whether Panasonic addressed the problem of white balance or the issue of green hues in what should be gray tone areas? Apparently there is disappointment with the still picture quality as well. Do you feel there was significant upgrades to satisfy these short cunnings when it comes to the 700?



March 28, 2010, 10:19 pm

Well, I guess the time for questions is over. I should have a TM700 in a few days. I'm anxious to answer my own questions and post a video showing my particular interests in it's capabilities. Next will be the search for a card. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks all.


James Morris

March 29, 2010, 7:26 pm

@DadHav Enjoy your purchase! I'm sure you will. I can't see any reason why it would be bad for YouTube. The old adage "Garbage in, garbage out" rings true here - the better the footage you start off with, the better the end result, even if it's low-res stuff for the Web.

simple simon

April 9, 2010, 2:55 am

James, Thanks for your reply to my comments of 22nd March. I've ended up going for the Panasonic SDR-T50, which is a variant of the SDR-S50 which you reviewed. Whilst this is only SD it ticks my other boxes, including 4:3 aspect (as well as 16:9) which is essential / not negotiable. I bought it from one of the places I saw advertised on TR and although they were actually within walking distance of where I live I quoted TR as being where I saw them.


April 18, 2010, 10:09 pm

A couple of things about this model.

Most if not many of the new HD camcorders are leaving out SD/4:3 modes, simply because it's easy to crop and downconvert. And perhaps, there's little demand in the consumer market. I have a Sanyo Xacti FH1 which supports one SD mode (still in MPEG-4), but neither my TM700 nor AG-HMC40 do.. yet the forthcoming AG-HMC50, based on the same parts, adds a DV mode... so it sounds like "a simple matter of software". You could do it, or have the camcorder do it for you.

Even 1080/50-60p is not a big stress for an SDHC card, even at 28Mb/s. The Class 6 is just dandy, the Class 4 works fine too.. Panasonic recommands Class 4 or better. Also, some older SD cards may not be fast enough -- they don't recommend anything under 512MB. The advantage of Class 6 is faster transfer to your PC, that's all.

Some reviews fault this camcorder for slow playback on PCs, but it's the PC's fault, not the camcorder, particularly in 1080/50-60p mode. As you might expect, that takes twice the CPU performance as 1080/50-60i. But it's the player.. this kind of video is pretty taxing on many PCs. A number of players stutter on it, even on my decent (Q9550 2.83GHz) PC. If you run Windows 7 and have a decent graphics card, things get much better for playback, just using Windows Media Player (other players use GPU acceleration without the need for Windows 7). I see 60-80% CPU used, and choppy playback, with VLC. Changing to WMP (which uses the new Microsoft AVC CODEC) I see 12% on the same videos, and perfect playback at 60p.

For editing, you probably want to convert to something else... I use Cineform Neo. Some people use MPEG-2/MXF, others the Apple Intermediate CODEC.


May 1, 2010, 7:50 am

Hazy and anyone else interested. I have my TM700 and have experimented for a week or so. First let me say I'm very happy with the camera. For the most part it is as advertised. A few small disappointments are in the fact it has a fan which you can here on the audio track under quite conditions. The other thing that bothered me is the power adapter plug is behind the battery. My current application for the camera is finding the highest quality setting which will improve my YouTube videos and still let me edit on my HP-dv6000 notebook and Pinnacle editing software. I'm no Pro at HD but this is what worked in case you are interested. I found I can shoot in HE, HX and HG settings, use Free HD Converter V1.6 to produce a 1280 x 720 AVI or MP4 file. These files saved at a 29.97 frame rate edit without the rendering process that takes so long if something isn't compatible in Pinnacle. The video preview in the software also works perfectly this way as apposed to being sticky when using the raw MTS or M2TS files. I then output an MP4 file for YouTube. The MP4 file also plays perfectly on the Free AllShow video player. The quality even at the lowest settings and file size puts standard definition to shame. Agreeing with Dave, you need to do your homework as far as the computer is concerned. I have a dual processor and it just makes it practical at the lower resolution settings. If you would like to see my first Tube video, with the 700, see if this link works for you.


Thank you everyone for your help.

John H


May 9, 2010, 8:03 am

Hey, I bought the TM700 a week ago and I am experiencing an issue with the audio since the fan is right next to the MIC. This is very disappointing because the camcorder is really good if this problem wasn't there. I wish Panasonic would solve this :(

Anyways, I have found a good way to edit my captured movies on my vista and windows 7 laptops. Basically, I was using Windows Live Movie Maker program, it is really cool tool since I was able to trim and rotate and apply effects and combine different clips together and upload to youtube/facebook. Here's a Free link to download: http://download.live.com/

richard hunt

May 21, 2010, 8:50 pm

Wow, I can't believe it. Had A panasonic hd Sd cam for 18 months, great video, even bought a new tv so sd card goes straight in. Fantastic. But old age means glasses on for menu and videoing, glasses off to find subject (wildlife). If only they made one with a viewfinder.......Bought an HDC sd700 this week, took it home (where it is quiet) test video, horrendous hum. Back to shop, swapped, still no joy. Phoned Panasonic, who, to give them their due, did a test on one whilst I'm on the phone. Yeah they got a hum too. I said how can this be? it's all solid state....Ah, they say, has it got a fan?.... Yes it has, when it's quiet the camera turns up gain on the microphone and records the fan!!!!!Unbelievable and unfixable. Have spoken to Panasonic and trust they will withdraw this range of cameras a la Toyota until the problem is fixed. I got my money back double quick. If they come back to me and say that the camera under normal circumstances (ie noisy) is OK I'll go to trading standards. It's ridiculous, recording a fan in Dolby surround sound, bonkers!

richard hunt

May 21, 2010, 8:55 pm

Also forgot to say that the x18 zoom only seems to apply to still images, am I mistaken? I hope so, 'cause, of course it's advertised in the shops as 18x optical zoom.

Vitalii Ivantsov

June 6, 2010, 1:38 am


It seems like the price difference between hs300 and hs700 is not crucial. I don't mind spending 150$ more on 700 but is it worth it? 50p sounds very good. I want to have as many manual features as I can! Buying it for documentaries and short films. Thank you!

simple simon

August 22, 2010, 7:51 pm

Is it possible to pre-compose the scene by zooming in on a location, switch the camera off to wait for the action, and then at the alloted time just 'switch on and press go'?

Reason I ask is that I have a different Panasonic camcorder and when switched off (or the screen is closed) so that the camcorder powers down the zoom always returns to the base setting - and when powered up again stays there (ie: at the base setting).

My Panasonic TZ3 digital camera has a 'zoom resume' feature which means that if switched off it returns to the same focal length when switched back on. This makes it much easier to plan a shot in advance...



Sven Okonomi

September 3, 2010, 10:40 pm

Im kinda hovering around this cam, but the fan problem is currently making my common sences give me a red light. Is it really as awful as it seems?

Im seeking a camera that will allow me to properly film small flying aircraft without whitebalance and focus going ballistic because of some clouds in the background and often the horizon coming into view. I need fast response times and a focus thats either rock solid automatic or can be used nicely in manual (the ring does seem to accommodate manual use very nicely) The Toshiba Camileo X100 was a complete letdown so I decided to spend a little more this time around.

Would this camera be what I am looking for, or are there other better sub 1000 euro options to look at?


November 4, 2010, 3:56 am

I want to test the TM700 NTSC video sample (moving objects). I want to view this video on PAL TV. Can anybody plz send me (noman_bwp@yahoo.com) the video sample of TM700 NTSC. Thanks in anticipation

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