Gadgets
Panasonic Intros New Full-HD Camcorders
Look for the SD100 ($1,099) and HS-100 ($1,299) to hit the market in September.
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The memory cards from the SD100 and HS100 (above) work in Panasonic’s BD50 & BD30 Blu-ray players.
July 15, 2008 by Dennis P. Barker

Panasonic is expanding its High Definition suite of products, with two new full-HD camcorders—the HDC-SD100 and HDC-HS100. According to the company, these are world’s first AVCHD camcorders featuring a 3MOS system which reportedly provides superb video image quality. The HDC-SD100 records to SD Memory Card, and comes packaged with an 8GB SDHC Memory Card as a standard accessory, while the hybrid HDC-HS100 records to both SD Memory Card and to its internal 60 GB hard drive. Both models also include a 2.7-in. LCD screen (with a 300,000 pixel resolution and 170-degree wide-viewing angle) and a 12x optical zoom.

These new AVCHD camcorders feature the 3MOS system, which has been newly developed by Panasonic and based on the company’s 3CCD technology. 3CCD technology is an already-established system that provides excellent color reproduction. With their expanded light-receiving areas, the MOS sensors will also improve image quality, even in low lighting situations. The three MOS sensors process the red, green, and blue components of incoming light separately, so color reproduction is really good. These sensors reportedly have about double the light-receiving area of standard CCD sensors, so image quality when shooting in low light is much higher. Compared with a conventional 1MOS, Panasonic’s new 3MOS system captures more vibrant, true-to-life colors, greater detail and richer gradation. Panasonic claims that this high-precision imaging element is first in the world to shoot in lighting as low as 2 lux and helps the SD100 and HS100 capture exceptionally clear, bright images.

In addition to the 3MOS sensor, Panasonic had added its HD Advanced Pure Color Engine and a new Leica Dicomar lens, which helps the SD100 and HS100 to deliver the excellent images in full-HD 1920 x 1080 recording. Full-HD recording, with its total of 2,070,000 pixels, provides high-quality image details and rich colors. The Leica Dicomer lens system used in camcorders comprise 12 lenses in 9 groups, including aspherical lenses to improve resolution and contrast and an LD (low-dispersion) lens to help prevent color bleeding. Also, a special multi-coating process is applied to all lens elements to minimize chromatic aberration, so images are crisp, clear, and free of flare and ghosting. The use of a highly-refractive lens also made it possible to have both 12x zoom power and a compact body.

To maximize the capabilities of the new HD-level 3MOS sensor, Panasonic has further enhanced the company’s Advanced Pure Color Engine image processor with the introduction of its new HD Advanced Pure Color Engine. A noise reduction circuit combines with the Intelligent Contrast Control circuit to boost image quality while reducing power consumption. The dynamic range is about twice that in previous Panasonic models, which helps prevent blown highlights, blocked shadows and allows more natural color expression. In the end, the HD Advanced Pure Color Engine offers both higher image quality and longer battery life.

Both models include manual functions for the user wanting more precise control over zoom, focus, iris, shutter speed and white balance. The models also include Panasonic’s new Intelligent Auto (iA) mode, an intuitive set of technologies that automatically activate, making video shooting an easy, seamless process. Panasonic’s iA mode automatically activates several convenient shooting functions at once, so the user does not have to manually change any settings. The settings include: Advanced O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization) that detects hand-shake and then triggers the lens to shift to correctly align the optical axis, Face Detection, Intelligent Contrast Control that continually measures the ambient light intensity and adjusts the contrast as it changes, and Intelligent Scene Selection. Other features of both the HDC-SD100 and HDC-HS100 include Quick Power-On, Digital Cinema Color, Intelligent Shooting Selection Playback, 5-Microphone 5.1-channel Surround Sound System, Mic Input and Headphone Jack, High-Speed Burst Shooting, and Pre-Rec.

Both camcorders come packaged with HD Writer 2.6 software for Windows, and support iMovie ‘08 for Apple, which let users directly edit their video. The SD100 and HS100 are compatible with Panasonic’s VIERA Link, allowing users to connect the camcorder to a VIERA HDTV via an HDMI cable, and operate the camcorder using the TV remote control, and following on-screen prompts.

Furthermore, users can also take the SD Memory Cards from the camcorders and slip it into the SD card slot on a Panasonic PZ850 series VIERA HDTV, or a Panasonic BD50 or BD30 Blu-ray Disc Player, and enjoy easy, instant large-screen viewing of stunning HD video. According to Panasonic, users can also copy their video content to DVDs for quick, convenient playback. A Panasonic VW-BN1 DVD Burner (optional) can be used to burn HD images onto a DVD disc in the original AVCHD format; no need to use a PC. The copied DVD discs can then be easily played with the VW-BN1 and sent via the SD100 or HS100 to a HDTV.

Both Panasonic models will be available in September 2008 for $1,099.95 for the HDC-SD100 and $1,299.95 for the HDC-HS100.

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Dennis P. Barker - Contributing Writer
Dennis has been involved with Consumer Electronics forever it seems. His 25+-year career includes a 12-year tour of duty at Consumer Reports magazine, as well as stints as a product reviewer, market analyst, technical editor, and consultant for the electronics industry. He lives in Ossining, NY with his two children, one demanding cat and piles of A/V equipment.

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