Panasonic HM-TA20 underwater camcorder
Taking a dip
Making a scene
Additionally the HM-TA20 is equipped with Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto System, which automatically recognises a scene, adjusts exposure and white balance and enables functions like low-light or face detection. The HM-TA20 sports a nice, if limited, range of creative effects: black and white, sepia and skin tone smooth.
A satisfactory rather than outstanding performer
Video quality is not outstanding but certainly acceptable. The camera features decent electronic image stabilisation with well-controlled judder that enables capture of fast moving subjects and delivers smooth panning. Colours are quite vibrant and the monochrome modes appear well contrasted.
The actual videos are not always super sharp but there is sufficient level of detail and a pleasant overall result. Underwater the HM-TA20 does not deliver a particularly distinctive image quality. When you are quite close to the subject it can be quite clear and detailed but at a distance it becomes foggy and loses contrast and depth. I found it near impossible to use the zoom without producing unacceptable shake.
Battery life is not a particularly strong point but allows you to get through a day or two of occasional recording. In the box are some handy accessories including a tiny but useful mini tripod and a stylus pen for operating the touchscreen with gloves. Even so, these are hardly enough to make up for the cost, which depending on which Panasonic link you click on is either £160 or £180. This pricetag is a bit steep compared to cheaper waterproof offerings in the Kodak PlaySport range, when the only main difference is the touchscreen.
The Panasonic HM-TA20 is far from faultless and suffers from a chunky design and poorly implemented software. Still, if you have kids, are into water sports or just need a survive-all camcorder to take on holiday with you, it can be a reliable companion for your trips and is capable of producing decent looking videos and, if you shop around, can be found at a reasonable price. ®
Catherine Monfils is a professional photographer specialising in portraiture, lifestyle and fashion.
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