Together with the HDC-TM900 and HDC-HS900, the Panasonic HDC-SD800 is part of Panasonic’s 2011 range of flagship HD camcorders. The HDC-SD800 offers the renowned 3MOS image sensor system with 1080/60p recording, Intelligent Auto, Hybrid OIS, and Eco-Mode.
What’s Different between the other HDC camcorders and the Panasonic HDC-SD800
Aside from price differences, the main difference between these camcorders is the amount of storage. The Panasonic HDC-SD800 records to memory cards, while the HDC-TM900 had 32GB of internal memory and the HDC-HS900 has a 220GB hard disk drive. That said, all three camcorders can record to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. The Panasonic HDC-SD800 lacks the lens control ring found on the HDC-HS900 and HDC-TM900. It also lacks the 5.1-Channel Surround Sound System.
The touch screen is smaller too. It has a 3 inch 230,000 dot touch-screen LCD, while the HDC-HS900 and HDC-TM900 have 3.5 inch touch screen LCDs with 460,800 dots. The larger 3.5 inch touch screen of the other HDC-xx900 models is a half inch wider than last year’s model, the TM700. All three camcorders can record still images at 14.2 megapixels. The body of these camcorders is offered in one color, black.
What to Expect of the Panasonic HDC-SD800 Camcorder
When evaluating this camcorder this review focused on these features:
• Picture Quality
The SD800 is a slightly smaller and lighter model compared to the HDC-TM900 and the HDC-HS900. This Panasonic 3D HD camcorder has a shorter barrel lens than the other models in the series. There is a support strap on the right side of the camera.
The “HDC” in the model name stands for high-definition color. If you are wondering what high-definition offers the viewer, it is video that is shot at a resolution of either 1920 x 1080 pixels or 1280 x 720 pixels. It is almost two times more distinct than that of a standard-definition, or video shot in 720 pixels × 480 or 640 pixels × 480. Some newer standard definition camcorders can shoot in widescreen, but the quality is still much lower than HD video.
The HDC-SD800 utilizes the 3MOS system to achieve high-definition videos and still images. The 3MOS is made up of three different components including the 3MOS Sensor, the Leica Dicomar Lens and the Crystal Engine PRO. These three systems work together to produce stunning pictures in HD resolution even in low-light situations
The 3MOS sensor separates incoming light into primary colors red, green and blue. The HDC-SD800 has separate color sensors that process these colors so the final image has extraordinary detail. This camcorder’s recording translates into high definition at 1920×1080/60P. The resulting picture provides 28 Mbps rate which is about two times as much picture information as does a conventional recording system.
If you take pictures of groups of people you will appreciate the 35mm wide-angle lens feature of the SD800. This wide-angle lens makes it easy to fit several people (pets, animals, cars, etc.) into your picture. Some newer SD camcorders can shoot in widescreen-mode, too, but the resolution is much lower at 720 x 480 pixels and the quality is degraded.
The 3 inch wide touch screen is easier to use with the “Touch Zoom” and “Touch Shutter” features. “Touch Zoom” allows you to zoom in on your subject matter using a light finger touch to the 3 inch touch screen. The camera’s Intelligent Zoom system allows you to zoom 20x while maintaining good definition without blurring the images. This allows you to film at high zoom rates, but still get sharp images without blurring the edges. Last, but not least, the “Touch Shutter” feature means that you can touch the subject on the touch screen and the camera automatically focuses on that person or object.
If you have been looking forward to a new camcorder that offers the 3D feature, then you’ll be delighted to learn that 3D is available on the SD800 at a lower price than on the other HDC-xx900 models. The Panasonic HDC-SD800 and the other models in this series are compatible with the new VW-CLT1 3D adapter. This is the lens that makes the 3D images. You attach it by screwing it onto the end of the camera lens. One point about backward compatibility to note is that the VW-CLT13D adaptor will also fit on last year’s TM700 camcorder model.
Have you noticed a lot of “noise” in your current recordings that were recorded in low light? The Panasonic HDC-SD800’s Noise Reduction technology is greatly improved over earlier Panasonic camcorders. When you use the SD800 in low-light settings, the picture quality is much clearer, as much as 50% clearer than that presented by earlier models.
Aside from the 3D capability, the most appreciated feature of the HDC-SD800 is the HYBRID Optical Image Stabilizer (O.I.S.) The O.I.S. system suppresses any arm and hand movements that occur when you zoom or pan with the camera. There is an electrical sensor that actually senses and cancels out the movement resulting in a blur-free video.
The higher-end models, TM900 and the HS900 camcorders, are equipped with 5 mics and offer Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. The HDC-SD800 does not have the Dolby sound, but does offer quality stereo recordings. If you are just concerned with good quality high-definition video, then you should consider the savings the SD800 offers even without the Dolby Surround Sound.
• You can bump your elbow and the O.I.S. cancels out the shake and blur.
• The Intelligent Auto, Face Recognition feature is very user friendly.
• For the new video camcorder buyer, the Panasonic HDC-SD800 is more affordable than the higher capacity HDC-xx900 models.
• Does a great job of recording fast action in 2D.
• To take advantage of the 3D video capability, you need to purchase another lens, the VW-CLT1.
• The Panasonic HDC-SD800 doesn’t have any built-in storage and uses SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards, which is very cheap storage. However the higher end HDC-TM900 offers 32GB of internal memory and the HDC-HS900 has a 220GB hard disk drive. Get a larger memory card because the video sucks up storage fast.
• There isn’t a built-in flash so you will need to get an external flash.
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