Panasonic SDR-S26-K digital video camcorder
Standard-definition flash memory camcorder with ultra-powerful 70x optical zoom
- 70x optical zoom, attractive lightweight design, novice-friendly iA mode
- Poor night mode, 'Web Mode' is a poorly implemented gimmick
The Panasonic SDR-S26-K digital video camcorder is a solid performer in the standard-definition space. It offers an impressive array of features for the asking price, the highlight of which is its ultra-powerful 70x optical zoom.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic SDR-S26-K is an ultra-compact camcorder that records standard-definition video to removable SD memory cards. Its main claim to fame is its 70x optical zoom lens, which is considerably more powerful than the average entry-level camcorder (most models offer an optical zoom of between 10x and 40x). This makes the Panasonic SDR-S26 an excellent choice for outdoor shooters, as you’ll be able to get intimately close to distant objects without affecting the picture quality (provided you’re armed with a tripod, that is).
It also comes packed with plenty of consumer-friendly features (some of which work better than others). This includes an Intelligent Auto (iA) mode with inbuilt face detection, a dedicated Web button for one-step YouTube uploads and an Advanced O.I.S stabiliser for shake-free recordings. While image quality isn’t stellar, it remains more than reasonable for the asking price of $549.
The Panasonic SDR-S26-K comes in a choice of three colours: red, black and blue. We tested the latter version, which sports a curious sky-blue finish rather than the typical navy shade. It’s a bit unconventional, but not unpleasant to look at it. (We’d take it over boring old silver any day). With dimensions of 107x56x65mm, the Panasonic SDR-S26-K isn’t quite so compact as its pint-sized predecessor — the Panasonic SDR-S7 — yet it should still slip comfortably into a bag or jacket pocket without weighing you down.
Thankfully, the Panasonic SDR-S26-K has managed to avoid the protruding ‘ghetto booty’ battery that has marred so many of its siblings (see the Panasonic SDR-H80-K, Panasonic HDC-SD20-K and the Panasonic HDC-SX5 for some unsightly examples). Instead, the battery remains tucked inside the camera’s body, which lends the device a much classier appearance.
On the imaging front, the SDR-S26-K camcorder shares the same 1/8in CCD sensor and 380k pixel count as the SDR-H80. These are not particularly impressive specifications, even for the asking price. Most modern digital camcorders offer CMOS chipsets, which are said to provide more reliable video quality in low lighting. Despite these considerable handicaps, the Panasonic SDR-S26-K managed to impress us during testing. When we used the camera in optimum lighting, our footage exhibited accurate colours that were relatively free of noise. Naturally, things rapidly changed for the worse when we moved to a dimmer environment, though the grainy results were still acceptable for private home viewing. Unfortunately, the lack of an inbuilt lamp or decent night mode means you can’t really use this camera in the dark.
For navigation, the Panasonic SDR-S26-K uses a traditional joystick interface, which is located on the outside of the LCD cavity. We’ve never been fans of this arrangement, as it means you have to use both hands to make menu adjustments. On the plus side, the stick is responsive and easy to use, which is not something that can be said of every camcorder's control scheme. Considering its low price tag, there are a decent array of modes and features available on this camera; including face detection technology, adjustable iris and shutter speeds, multiple white balance modes, manual focus, 16:9 and 4:3 recording ratios, face framing and the usual digital effects and scene modes. For novice users, the standout feature will probably be the iA mode, which adjusts camcorder settings to suit the situation at hand. (It’s essentially an automatic Scene mode, but it works, and that’s all that really matters.)
We were less enthused with the SDR-S26-K’s Web Mode, however. This ‘feature’ merely shuts off recording after ten minutes — which is the maximum length for a YouTube video. While this does save you the trouble of having to trim down your movies, it also means there’s no room for error (for example if the blog or skit you’re shooting goes over by a couple of seconds, the camcorder will refuse to record the extra footage.) We’re willing to give camcorder gimmicks the benefit of the doubt, but broken camcorder gimmicks are another matter entirely. Panasonic really needs to go back to the drawing board with this one. (On another note, do we really need to clutter YouTube with more unedited videos? The Panasonic SDR-S26-K’s Web mode clearly encourages you to upload directly from the camera, which is rarely a good thing.)
Aside from that one caveat, the SDR-S26-K is a decent little performer. It might not be the smallest flash-memory model on the market, or the most feature-packed, but the inclusion of that 70x optical zoom more than makes up for any shortcomings.
Join the newsletter!
Ballistix Sport AT
Apple iMac Pro
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Toys for Boys
ESET Internet Security
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
ESET Smart Security Premium
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
Tivoli PAL BT
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
Ransomware has been one of the most prolific malware families for years, generating financial losses for targeted users and organizations, as well as significant revenue for cybercriminals.
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R17 Pro review: Oppo's thriftiest flagship yet drives a hard bargain
- 2 Nokia 7.1 review: A modest and modern mid-tier option
- 3 Tenda Nova MW6 review: A gateway drug for mesh Wi-Fi
- 4 Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Expensive, but probably the best phone you can buy right now
- 5 Apple iPhone XS review: Astonishment at a price
Latest News Articles
- Arlo announces 4K HDR wire-free security camera system
- Navman introduces the MiVUE dash cam
- Uniden adds Artificial Intelligence functionality to Wired surveillance range
- Logitech announces Logitech Rally
- Swann launches new wireless camera with Alexa integration
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- PC World 2018 Editor's Choice Awards
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?