A compact, high-definition Panasonic camcorder with a 3-chip sensor.
- Compact size, external audio jack, 24p progressive scan mode
- Poorly thought out design, below par image quality, too expensive
The Panasonic HDC-SD100 provides a great set of well-implemented tools that are in the right place at the right price. Unfortunately, poor connection placement and poor imaging make it hard to recommend this camcorder.
Price$ 1,979.00 (AUD)
Panasonic's small and conveniently packed HDC-SD100 camcorder uses a three-chip image sensor, a rarity in the consumer camcorder market these days. But the Panasonic HDC-SD100 HD uses that three-chip sensor to make up for each individual sensor's anaemic 1/6in size. There are many great features on the HDC-SD100, but image quality unfortunately isn't one of them.
The Panasonic HDC-SD100 is very comfortable to hold and shoot with. Panasonic uses a lens ring that gives the HDC-SD100 great manual control, and the ring is truly intuitive. You can use it to adjust the focus, iris, shutter speed, and white balance. The Panasonic HDC-SD100's manual tools provide an easy way to deal with challenging shooting environments when the stock camera responses just aren't enough. It's much more effective than jumping through menus.
The focus assist that pops up when you are focusing (giving you a zoomed-in sample of the image to focus on) is a great and well-implemented tool. We did find it curious that, in adjusting the white balance settings, you have access to preset values only; you cannot, for instance, smoothly change the color temperature by 100-degree increments.
The Panasonic HDC-SD100 has a viewfinder; cute, but most people won't use it and many people will accidentally hit the EVF/LCD switch on the top of the camcorder and then be confused as to why the video isn't showing up on the LCD (when you change from LCD to EVF, the LCD turns off). This is usually a power-saving feature, but looking through a viewfinder on a small camcorder hurts the video due to added hand movement.
The component out port, AV/headphone jack, and SD card access are conveniently placed and protected on the side of the Panasonic HDC-SD100 (though we have some concerns about the longevity of the SD card release; it feels a little cheap, like it would just stop working over time). However, the power, mini-HDMI, and USB connectors are behind the battery. This means you're forced to plug the Panasonic HDC-SD100 into an external power outlet to pull data off the card (without a card reader) or to use the HDMI connection. When we did transfer video from the Panasonic HDC-SD100 to a PC, we had no problems importing the movie files.
The Panasonic HDC-SD100 HD captures 5.1-channel surround sound that works surprising well. In addition to the onboard microphones, the camera provides an external audio input in the front. It's a great implementation; you have the sound-in jack up front, and the headphone jack to the side. With these items plugged in, the cables don't conflict with each other when they are both being used by the more discerning shooter. If you're planning to do anything remotely professional (like podcasting), separate audio-in is key.
Panasonic will extol the virtues of three-chip imaging sensors and tell you how great they are in low light and detail. Unfortunately, none of this is evident in the Panasonic HDC-SD100. To be blunt, the image quality was just okay in good light (3,000 lux) and a mess in low light (300 lux).
The loss in detail in low light situations was dramatic, and 300 lux isn't even what some would call true low light. The lesson here is that a 1/6-inch sensor is not enough for a camcorder at this price point. It's not about the colour or even the graininess (we would expect some degradation in low light here), but the image just gets much softer in resolution tests. This kind of problem is normal for small cameras like the Flip Mino, but at the price point Panasonic is selling into, this is unacceptable.
As something of a consolation prize, the Panasonic HDC-SD100 does shoot at 24p (progressive scan video at 24 frames per second), which is a great feature and something every camcorder should have when consumers are shooting for output to a computer or LCD. The Panasonic HDC-SD100 saves the video at 17 megabits per second; normally, we like to see a little higher rate (like Canon's 24Mbps) but we don't think the higher bit rate would capture any more data through the sensors that are provided.
The still photo quality is okay, capturing shots at 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. But the small sensor size also adversely affects photos. In both video and stills, size does matter. The Panasonic HDC-SD100 HD features facial recognition and optical image stabilisation, which both work well.
One of the unique features of the HDC-SD100 (which we'd love to see in other camcorders) is the integrated menu explanation system. As you are going through the menus on the HDC-SD100, short SMS-length descriptions of each feature pop up. These work remarkably well and speed up the acclimation process a great deal. In conjunction with the surprisingly well-engineered joystick, the camcorder settings are some of the easiest to navigate of any camcorder that we've tested.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 HTC U11 phone: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Gigabyte Aero 15 corporate gaming laptop review
- 3 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 4 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
Latest News Articles
- Microsoft's Beam becomes Mixer, adds four person split-screen streaming to battle Twitch
- Microsoft's Story Remix uses machine learning and mixed reality to make your movies awesome
- New IoT malware targets 100,000 IP cameras via known flaw
- Twitter will stream video news from Bloomberg all day, every day
- Facebook launches tool for capturing 360 video inside VR
PCW Evaluation Team
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
- MSI GL62M 7RDX gaming laptop review
- Alcatel A3 XL phone: Full, in-depth review
- Sony X9300E 2017 TV: Full, in-depth review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- TP.Net DeveloperWA
- FTSenior Analyst - Security / DevOpsOther
- CCDigital Content SpecialistNSW
- FT.Net DeveloperNSW
- FTCareer transition Specialist | Must be immediately availableOther
- FTPlatform/Technology Manager | Security & GovernanceOther
- CCDesktop Support EngineerVIC
- FTSAP HANA Data Modelling ConsultantsACT
- CCSenior Project ManagerNSW
- FTService Desk AnalystOther
- CCSAP Trainer l Start before the 1st JulyNSW
- FTSenior Data ModellerOther
- FTIT PMO OfficerOther
- FTSecurity Service Desk Operative - TelecommunicationsOther
- FTJunior .Net DeveloperOther
- FTLevel 2 Network EngineerOther
- FTCX Lead/Customer experience/Customer marketingOther
- TPIT Procurement Officer - Multiple PositionsQLD
- FTLevel 2 and 3 Server EngineerOther
- CCSecurity Incident Analyst - Splunk - TelcoVIC
- FTSenior Program AnalystOther
- CCInfrastructure Project ManagerNSW
- FTSAP Logistics Consultant - SD/MM/LE/WMOther
- FTProject Implementation ManagerOther
- FT.NET DeveloperOther