As with the TM300 and TM350, there’s no accessory shoe built in, with the TM700 instead relying on an adapter that slots onto the side of the body. Unfortunately, Panasonic has eschewed the sturdy sliding cover of the previous models and now uses a much more flimsy plastic door. This swivels round out of the way, so shouldn’t be too prone to damage, but we still prefer the previous implementation. The tougher hard covers over the video ports and SD slot have also been swapped for plastic. Only the flap covering the microphone and headphone minijacks remains the same.
The control system has been changed yet again from the previous generation, and we’re pleased to report that the alterations here are for the better. There’s still a lens ring, and a nearby function button changes its operation between manual focus, white balance, shutter and iris. The single function button replaces the two previously used. A single press enables manual mode, whilst a second one cycles through the four options. The lens ring is then used to make adjustments. It’s an extremely quick and easy system to use, and the most powerful manual control method of any consumer camcorder.
Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto system has been further enhanced by the addition of face recognition. You can register faces and these will be the ones kept in focus even in a large group. They are stored permanently, and can be recalled for use at a later date. We found that the system does actually work, but is quite picky about the lighting conditions being similar to when you registered the face. The AFAE system will also now remember faces when they go off screen, locking back onto them when they return to the frame. In digital camera mode, you can call upon the smile shutter system to take the picture when people have the appropriately joyful facial expression.
There are some smaller additional features, too. A time-lapse recording facility lets you record a frame at intervals from one per second to one every two minutes. But no high-speed option is available. The wind noise cancellation has been dramatically improved, and has a noticeable effect on the clarity of recordings made in breezy conditions. The LCD has been increased in size from 2.7in to 3in.
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