Panasonic HDC-SDT750 3D camcorder

We review Panasonic's first consumer-level 3D camcorder

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Panasonic HDC-SDT750
  • Panasonic HDC-SDT750
  • Panasonic HDC-SDT750
  • Panasonic HDC-SDT750

Pros

  • Excellent Full HD video performance, multi-purpose servo ring, 3D looks effective (when shot correctly)

Cons

  • 3D shooting takes some getting used to, camcorder gets hot during operation, no 3D photo options

Bottom Line

The Panasonic HDC-SDT750 is a bold step forwards into 3D videography. Perhaps more importantly, it doubles as an excellent 2D camcorder. If you own a 3D TV, it represents a very logical purchase.

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Handling

Despite its top-heavy appearance, the Panasonic HDC-SDT750 exhibits good balance during handheld use. If we had one qualm, it's that the camcorder body tends to get quite warm during operation. This can lead to sweaty palms, so make sure the handstrap is secure!

3D camcorder
Panasonic HDC-SDT750 in action

For menu selections, the HDC-SDT750 relies on a 3in touchscreen — which people seem to either love or hate. For the record, we found the menu interface to be responsive and well laid out. It would have been nice if Panasonic had included a stylus though. (This is something that earlier Panasonic camcorders have provided.)

Unlike most consumer-level camcorders, the Panasonic HDC-SDT750 comes with a "multi-manual" ring around the lens barrel. If you plan to make short movies, or simply crave control, this tool is indispensable. It allows you to make minute adjustments to the focus for a proper cinematic feel. You can also use it to adjust the shutter speed, iris, white balance and zoom.

If you'd prefer to let the camcorder do all the work, don't fret — the new-and-improved Intelligent Auto mode does a good job of adjusting camcorder settings on the fly. It even gives you onscreen shooting tips when you do something wrong (such as panning too fast).

Video performance

To test the Panasonic HDC-SDT750's video performance, we shot footage in a variety of locations using both the 2D and 3D recording modes. We then played back the results on a Samsung Series 9 55in LED television, which sports 3D capabilities.

As expected, the camcorder gave a great showing in 2D, with the trio of CMOS sensors helping to minimise image noise. As with all camcorders, results were noticeably better in sunny, outdoor environments but it still fared admirably in low-light conditions. Its output easily competes with similarly priced camcorders from rival vendors — everything from colour accuracy to image sharpness is pretty spot on.

When it came to 3D movies, the Panasonic was slightly more problematic. Calibrating the camera is only half the battle — you also have to record subjects at an ideal distance (between 1.2 and four metres) and in optimum lighting. A steady hand is also required, which rules out moving car windows and the like. Naturally, you also have to be careful not to knock the 3D lens, otherwise the stereoscopic images could be jarred out of alignment.

We found that the 3D effect worked best on subjects that were around two metres away; any closer and you begin to see a faint double image, while distant objects recede into 2D. When you get the picture just right though, the results are definitely impressive. (The ol' "reaching towards the camera" trick never gets old, for example.)

We can certainly see the appeal that 3D affords its users; especially families with children. A baby video that you can almost reach out and touch? It's hard to put a price on that.

Conclusion

3D camcorder
3D lens attachment

Considering it's the first 3D camcorder in its class, the Panasonic HDC-SDT750 is a pretty impressive unit. It comes with all the features you'd expect from a high-end Panasonic camcorder, along with the much-touted 3D conversion lens.

Of course, the million-dollar question remains — is 3D the path to the future, or is it just a gimmick? Presumably, anyone who has bought a 3D TV has already made up their minds on that score, so it's a bit of a moot point. In short, if you're already on the 3D bandwagon, the Panasonic HDC-SDT750 will provide a fun ride.

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Read more on these topics: 3D camcorders, Panasonic, 3D camera, camcorders, digital video

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