Panasonic zooms in on HD camcorder market
High definition and highly portable
If you're already besotted with high definition content and have the whole technical set-up, including an HD TV with Sky subscription, then your next step could be an HD camcorder. At least that's what Panasonic is hoping, as it has unveiled two new tiny models.
The HDC-SD5 measures 6.6 x 6.6 x 13.4cm and the HDC-SX5 is only a fraction larger. Both are extremely similar in their technical capabilities, recording video at 1920 x 1080 resolution into the Advanced Video Codec High Definition (AVCHD) format and then onto an SDHC or SD memory card. The SX5 also has the advantage of being able to record onto internal 3in DVD discs too, which accounts for its slightly larger body.
Panasonic's HDC-SD5 camcorder...
Each camcorder has a 10x optical/700x digital zoom and a 300,000 pixel LCD display, capable of providing a 170° viewing angle both horizontally and vertically.
Panasonic has built its Pre-Rec technology into both camcorders, which it claims helps users overcome missing those golden moments by recording the first three seconds of video footage onto buffer memory and ensuring that everything is stored from the moment record is pressed. An image stabilisation feature, already common in digital cameras, is also built into both models.
...and with similar specs, the HDC-SX5 camcorder
However, both differ slightly in their ability to transfer recorded content into another format because while the SD5 can be connected up to an optical DVD burner via USB 2.0, and then burn ACVHD content onto a DVD. The SX5 can internally transfer data from its memory card and then onto DVD disc.
For those who haven't quite got to grips with full-HD AVCHD format though, which Panasonic states is suitable for playback in a Blu-ray drive, then both camcorders come with video editing software that allows content to be manipulated and then alternatively saved into standard definition DVD video format.
Both products will be available in Europe this September. The HD-SD5 will retail for around $1000 (£550/€700) and the HD-SX5 will retail for $900 (£455/€630).
I fail to be impressed!
Meh, 10x optical? I personally wouldn't touch anything less than 20x optical. The digital zoom is just marketing BS. Realistically is translates of massive camera shake and pixellation.
Digital zoom.. (2)
Errrmmm... no, David, you divide each of 1920 and 1080 by the square root of 700, or else it would be 490000x zoom...
So that's a 72x40 image, which could just be called "show me the malfunctioning CGA display in the centre [UK!] of the frame" feature... :-)
RE: digital zoom
While I agree that digital zoom in pretty much any form is virtually pointless, could they have got that 700x using the 10x optical zoom as a factor? So it might be 10x optical plus 70x digital zoom, making an overall effective zoom of 700x? I know my camera zooms optically as far as it will go, and only then does the digital zoom come in.
I dunno, I could be wrong and it could just show you the colour in the middle of the frame.
RE: Digital zoom
The unfortunate truth is that the average consumer is technically challenged. When marketing teams ask Mr and Mrs Joe Soap what features they most want in new digital camcorder they will specify digital zoom, yes they actually specify digital zoom. If they're too thick to really know what they're talking about and it costs the manufacturer nothing then why not give it to them.
For god's sake, why do camcorder makers always have to toss in totally ludicrous digital zoom specs? 700x? What's that equivalent to, a 12,000mm lens? Are there people swayed by a claim to zoom better than the largest land telescopes?
And just for the record, a 700x digital zoom, even at 1920x1080, will get you somewhere around a whopping THREE BY TWO PIXEL IMAGE. Wow. That's... really high definition. They could just call this the "show me the color in the center of the frame" feature!