If you are in the market for an entry-level lightweight HD camcorder and would like something in a very affordable price range, the Panasonic HDC-SD40 high definition SD camcorder can most likely fit the bill. This camcorder is loaded with features and qualities that can only be compared to the Panasonic HDC-TM40 HD camcorder, but without the 16GB of internal memory. The price point of this feature loaded HD camcorder is right about what you would expect for a nice camera to invest in. Without the battery, the SD40 weighs only 169 grams; with the battery installed it is about 50 grams more and still very light in your hand.
The Panasonic HDC-SD40 records at the 1920 x 1080 video producing HD video with vivid, detailed images. When you’re done shooting and ready to share with friends and family, you use Panasonic’s HD Writer LE 1.0 software to import the videos, change and edit the footage and then upload to YouTube or view on a VIERA Image Viewer. Of course, you can always view it on your HDTV using the VIERA Link cable.
The HDC-SD40 has impressive 16.8x zoom to capture great close video of distant subjects. The Power O.I.S. (Hybrid Optical Image Stabilizer) feature recognizes any arm or hand movements and neutralizes it to give you recordings free of distortions.
Comparing the Panasonic HDC-SD40 to the HDC-HS80
The HDC-SD40 and HDC-HS80 record in 1920 x 1080 high definition. However, the HDC-SD40 does not come with an internal hard disc drive like the HDC-HS80. However, you can use all sizes of SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards to store videos in the SD40. Using SD memory cards saves you some money while providing a totally workable alternative to the hard disc option. Some camcorder enthusiasts even prefer the memory cards over the hard disc as they are easy to swap between other cameras.
Another point worth noting is that the HDC-HS80 is capable of telephoto zooming 42x, while the SD40 zooms 16.8x. However, if the lower zoom power meets your needs, you are save a couple of hundred dollars buying the SD40 instead of the HS80.
Reviewing the HDC-SD40 Camcorder
This review evaluated these features:
• Picture Quality
The style and light-weight design makes this HD camcorder very easy to use and fits into your hand as though it was made just for you. The sleek style and perfect curvature allows for comfort and usability that is important when on the move and trying to get those more difficult shots. The camera comes in a grey/black color. The strap location on the right side of the camera helps you keep a firm grip on the camera.
The first thing you notice about this camera is how little it weighs. In fact, the HDC-SD40 is the most lightweight video camera in the world weighing in at approximately 169 grams. Even after you install a memory card and battery, the camera is still very lightweight at approximately 213 grams. You can record over 2 hours (135 minutes) of memories with a fully charged battery. This is fantastic for recording action shots so you don’t continually have to check the battery. However, it really comes in handy when you are recording events. You can simply set the camera up, begin recording, set your watch, and come back to retrieve it when finished. Watch out, you may get asked to record weddings for all your friends!
The 2.7 inch LCD touch screen has good quality viewing screen and can be viewed at an angle of 170 degrees vertically and horizontally. It makes it easy for everyone to gather around the screen to view the digital video you just recorded. It has a light that turns on automatically when the ambient light in the surroundings is insufficient.
The Panasonic HDC-SD40K high definition camcorder picture quality is phenomenal. This camera, unlike most in its class, sports the 16.8x optical zoom, coupled with Power O.I.S (Optical Image Stabilizer) makes this perfect for those distance shots. The “power optical zoom” feature allows you to zoom without image degradation, blurring, or image instability. This makes for a great shot at any time or place. You also have the option to take still pictures in 2.1 megapixels. The other option is, on playback, you can use the “capture” feature to grab stills from your video you just recorded. Now you can opt to leave your still camera at home–just use the HDC-SD40 camcorder.
You have several focus modes for different scenes you may want depending on the lighting and theme. The camera is so versatile it has this feature set on automatic to get the best shot every time. However, you can change this at any time by selecting the mode you are most comfortable with. The modes include: sports, portrait, snow, beach, fireworks, scenery, and many more.
Another fantastic feature is how the camcorder can sense dark or harsh shadows in the tone of the skin on your subject. The HDC-SD40 model will automatically adjust the picture quality to a softer focus, allowing the picture quality and contrast to be forgiving.
Another feature SD40 camcorder has is Tele-Macro which allows perfect close-ups while you are a good distance away. You can use the zoom at full magnification and not be afraid of poor picture quality. The SD40 can shoot macro close-ups while maintaining a distance of 50 cm (about 20 inches) from your subject. You can also capture close-up shots without fighting shadows from your body or camera. You just use full magnification zoom to get in so close as to remove your shadow from the viewing screen.
The sound quality is good and the camera comes with a built-in mic and 2-channel stereo speaker. It has a HDMI (mini out) connector that allows the HDC-SD40 series camcorder to hook right into your HDTV so you can watch and hear your recording.
The Panasonic HDC-SD40 high definition camcorder offers a 16.8x optical zoom as well as the ability to take 2.1 megapixel still pictures. It records to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory discs.
• Incredibly lightweight, even with the internal battery.
• You can zoom close to catch great shots of distant objects without much degradation of the photo. The power O.I.S. is the key feature behind blur-free images.
• Unless you really want to take along another camera, you can use the SD40 for taking great 2.1-megapixel still images.
• This camcorder is expected to be around $600-$750 less than high-end Panasonic 3MOS 3D HD models.
• The camera cannot record 3D, so if that is a requirement, you’ll have to step up to the next level like the HDC-SD900.
• Zoom is not as strong as higher-end models like the HDC-HS80 with 42x zoom.
• Changing settings and controls is done from buttons on the recorder and not by finger touch on the LCD screen.
At a very light 169 grams, the HDC-SD40 camcorder is easy to pack and take anywhere. The compact design makes this camcorder ideal for parties, weddings, time with family, vacations, business and almost anything you can think to record. You have the ability to record for extended periods of time and the camera is very versatile. Because of the lightweight body, holding on to this camera takes virtually no effort on your part, which makes it really easy to hold for long periods for continuous recording. Panasonic is pricing this camcorder at a low-price range making it a very affordable camera for people just starting out in digital recording.
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