Panasonic's brand new SDR-S10 is so hot off the manufacturing line it practically sizzles. Designed for the new generation of video makers who love to upload their footage to YouTube and MySpace, it records direct to SD/SDHC memory cards for instant access to and easy transfer of video clips.
Super svelte and compact - it's currently the world's smallest SD camcorder - the SDR-S10 is small enough to fit in your bag and light enough to lug around without breaking your back. But that titchy design belies some serious inner strength, because this Panny is fully weatherproof, dustproof and shockproof, meaning you can take it wherever you want without worrying about a little rough and tumble.
It offers a 10x variable speed optical zoom; a 16:9, 2.7in LCD monitor; a super-fast 1.7s start-up time; and 0.3 megapixel still shots. Crucially, the SD/SDHC format allows for long recording capability, so a 4GB SDHC memory card gives you up to 100 minutes of recording capacity and the bundled 2GB card gives up to 50 minutes.
Canon's latest MiniDV camcorder is designed to offer an affordable and easy to use introduction to home movie making. And it does, but with some caveats.
The MD160 is actually the top model in Canon's MiniDV line up, and as such features some nice additions, including a humungous 35x optical zoom - currently the highest offered on any Canon consumer model and a great feature for the long-lens voyeurs amongst us. But the electronic image stabilisation technology struggles badly at full zoom rendering the image shaky to the point of uselessness.
The MD160 features a new Quick Start button for instant shooting on the cuff, and the joystick control makes menu navigation quick and intuitive. Footage is displayed on a 16:9, 2.7in monitor, and image and colour reproduction is spot on - easily good enough for your family holiday footage.
The one-megapixel sensor - an upgrade on the previous MV960 model - makes a decent job of still images too, though we're not talking anywhere near the quality of a standalone digicam. Low-light conditions cause real problems for the Canon, with a lot of noise and image break-up creeping into shadowy areas. Keep it in the light, though, and it's smiles all round.
The MD160 is a very capable and superbly priced MiniDV camcorder that offers a great first step into home shooting. Perfect for your average home footage, the price is reflected in a lack of features - there's no way to convert analogue signals, for example - but it's comfy in the hand and easy to use. And for most of us, that's more than enough.
In a burgeoning market, it's not difficult to pick ten different camcorders that each offer something very different in terms of usability, style, format and, of course, price. It's a diverse selection in this test, but for us a couple of the new additions stand out. We love the Panasonic SDR-S10, if only because it's designed to appeal to the YouTube generation and anything that encourages people to post videos injuring themselves has to be a good thing. Plus, it's great looking, tough and pretty darn cheap to boot. Of the HD crop, however, Sony's DCR-SR72E and JVC's new Everio GZ-HD7 are up above the competition. Their capacious hard drives are bounteous and durable, they look the dog's knackers, and the pictures each produces are excellent.
Easy cam, easy go: camcorders on test
mixing the standards without explanation!!
I hope you purchased this article from Which? or something similar because yet again the mxing of comparisons between 1080i and 720p is bound to leave people unclear which is a 'higher' HD quality. It really annoys to see the industry claiming broadcast quality with an interlaced (i) resolution when broadcaster are most likely to take a pixel true level of quality. (p) so in this case what would we rather watch? the output from a squashed colour image on a 1080i camera, or the true detail of the pixel for pixel colour and b/w images of the uncompressed 720p? where are the 1080p perfoming 'behemoths'??
HD is super but .... !
High Definition cameras are Super ! I myself have been filming HD ( using a sony HC1 ) for almost a year now.
But beware ! there is lots of stuff they don't tell you ...
- dont fall for the Harddisk based ones. 4 hours and the drives are full. so if you go on a multiday / multiweek trip : bring a laptop with PLENTY of storage space ... so you can dump the files
- the direct to DVD macines : only blue rayplayers can handel the discs. you cannot play back in normal dvd player ( i am talking about the HD cameras that record to DVD . for SD there is no problem
and then editing , and this is where the frustration begins.
if you want to do anything with your HD video on the computer you need horsepower.
the bare minimum is the fastst dualcore with 2 gigs of ram. and that machine still crawls ... especially when you start doing color correction and fancy effects. ( even a simple 3 second crossfade kan take 1 minute rendertime ... )
if you want the editing to move think about quad cores or 2 physical processors ( Xeons or Opteron64's ), or go for a hardware solution like Matrox RTX2 then everything becomes realtime ( you still need a very powerful pc. again the bare minimum is a dualcore with 2 gigs ram )