The success of the pocket Internet camcorder has proved that people do want to shoot video; they’re just far less interested in the details of how they shoot it than with still photography. So mainstream manufacturers have found they have to join in. JVC has a growing range of PICSIOs, and Sony is now on its second round of Bloggies. Now Panasonic has thrown its hat in the ring with the HM-TA1.
At first glance, the HM-TA1 diverges very little from the pocket Internet camcorder genre. It has the same upright format, with few buttons or controls. There’s a D-pad for menu operation, a power button on the side, and a couple of buttons for toggling playback and digital camera modes. The most positive common features are present, too, with a decently-sized 1/4.1in CMOS at the helm, sporting 5.33Mpixels. This isn’t quite as large as the sensors JVC and Sony are using in their latest pocket Internet camcorders, but it’s bigger than a lot of entry-level fully featured camcorders, which bodes well for low light performance.
A variety of video format options are available. There’s 1080p Full HD on the menu, but also 720p and VGA (640 x 480). Strangely, whilst Full HD runs at a reasonably healthy 12Mbits/sec, the highest data rate actually comes from the iFrame mode, which has a resolution of 960 x 540 but operates at 24Mbits/sec. The key feature of iFrame mode is that it’s Mac compatible. The HM-TA1 has no video storage onboard, instead relying on SD memory cards. There’s support for SDXC, so 48GB and 64GB cards will be compatible, although you probably won’t need them. A 4GB card would be enough for around 45 minutes of Full HD or over 20 minutes of iFrame mode video. The HM-TA1 also shoots still images, and Panasonic has added a little interpolation to the 5.33-megapixel sensor for 8-megapixel photos at a resolution of 3,264 x 2,448.