The Panasonic HDC-TM700 is the highly anticipated successor to last year’s well-lauded HDC-TM300. Many new features and innovations were included and some of these include a new wider angle lens, larger LCD, 1080/60p record mode, and improved Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS). With these improvements and a sub $1000 price tag, the HDC-TM700 is perfectly poised to raise the bar for consumer camcorders.
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Design & Features
Weighing in at just 380g with battery, the HDC-TM700 is small and easy to work with. It fits comfortably in the hand and the hand-strap is tough and well padded. Overall built quality is excellent.
The TM700 comes with the high performance Leica Dicomar lens and three 1/4.1” CMOS sensors. This combination has been used successfully by Panasonic for some time on their flagship models. The new lens has a 35mm wide angle which is impressive for a camcorder. This makes a huge difference when shooting indoors and landscapes. Optical zoom remains the same at 12X and digital zoom maxes out at 30X.
New on the HDC-TM700 is the inclusion of a 1080/60p recording option, a rare feature even for top of the line models. Panasonic also upped the numbers game with a whopping 14.2 megapixels for stills. Size of the LCD screen is now 3 inches, which is 0.3” larger than last year’s TM300. A viewfinder is also included. There’s a diopter adjustment dial on its left side, and its screen is 0.27-inches in size with a 123,000-pixel resolution.
The TM700 records on 32GB internal flash memory. Not large by any means and there is no option for a second memory card slot like Canon HF S21. This is perhaps one of the few shortcomings. The other is fan noise. There’s a small cooling fan that generates an audible noise when it is used in a quiet room. Although the fan is not on all the time it can be an annoyance.
One huge improvement is the multi-function lens ring which can be used to set focus, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, or gain.
The top-mounted microphone records audio in 5.1-channel Dolby Digital with full manual control of audio levels from -30dB to +6dB. You can also switch to 2 channel stereo recording if you prefer. The built-in mic also has a new Wind Noise Canceler feature that uses noise canceling technology similar to those on noise canceling headphones.
The improved Power O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) feature reduces the effects of hand-shake. It is very effective even at high zoom settings. The system uses gyro sensors to detect tiny amounts of hand-shake, then shifts the lens and adjusts the optical axis to compensate.
Connectivity wise, the TM700 has a HDMI output, USB port, dual AV/Component-out port, microphone and headphone jacks, and a cold accessory shoe (with a slide-in adapter). The DC-input is located inside the battery compartment. We find this rather inconvenient as you would have to remove the battery to access it.
“Got the TM700K for a couple of weeks and shoot some swim events of my kids and tested at home. The video quality is shockingly good — literally better than the Bluray movies! on my 1080P 65″ TV and 28″ computer monitor. The resolution and color are flawless. The first thing I noticed is how good the Image Stablizer is, comparing to my old Canon HV20, actually makes a difference now. The size is so small it can comfortably fit in my jacket pocket, which is very handy in real life shooting so I don’t have to carry a bag any more. I am not at all bothered by the fan noise. I was worried before ordering it. It turns out a none issue for my case, didn’t notice it at all. Highly Recommended!” – HiFi Enthusiast(CA,USA)
Even though the TM700 is loaded with advanced features, it is surprisingly easy to use even for a beginner. The Intelligent Auto (iA) control makes it very intuitive to use if you just want to point and shoot. For the more adventurous, the clever multi-function lens ring gives you full control and versatility. It is a joy to use.
The forte of this camcorder lies in its video quality. At 1080/60p progressive mode, the Leica lens captured details that were stunning even at 12X zoom. Colors were rich, bright and accurate. With video that is recorded progressively rather than interlaced, fast moving subjects were sharp and smooth. Motion artifacts like jaggies were virtually non-existent. The 3MOS sensors kept grain to a minimum even in dim conditions. This makes the TM700 a good choice if you regularly shoot indoors.
The improved O.I.S. is very effective in minimizing blurry images from unsteady hands.
Audio recorded on Dolby Digital 5.1 mode was crisp and distinct with an abundance of ambiance.
The playback mode on the camcorder is simple to use and there are some useful built-in editing features. However the playback buttons are touchscreen icons on the LCD which makes it harder to use compared to physical buttons like those on the Canons and Sonys.
The included battery can easily last for an hour and a half of start stop usage.
Be aware that the file size for a 1080/60p recording is huge and not widely supported by third party editing programs at the moment. The size of a one hour video is around 12GB, and editing it will demand huge resources from your PC. The included software does allow you to view the 60p footage on a PC, but unfortunately, Macs are not supported. It is a good idea to invest in a large external Hard Disk drive to store your recorded footage.
Like its predecessors, the feature packed Panasonic HDC-TM700 is a simple camcorder to use. Serious hobbyists will appreciate the advanced features and controls while beginners will find it easy and intuitive to use. The 1080/60p record mode captures video with stunning details and impeccable quality. It is one of the best videos we’ve ever seen from a consumer camcorder. It certainly raised the bar by a few notches.
• “For our trip to South Africa, my wife and I extensively previewed all the new camcorders for 2010, and we decided on the HDC-TM700 hands down for its performance compared to other brands (Canon & Sony in particular). We took a couple videos just for fun, testing out the picture quality inside and outside on a sunny day, and we even played around with the time lapse feature (pretty stinking cool by the way).
This camcorder has a ton of features, and they are all pretty accessible. I read a couple pages of the manual every now and then to make sure I am doing everything right. It’s an easy read and not confusing at all.
You’re not going to get an amazing low-light performer with a small camcorder like this, no matter the brand, so don’t worry about it. Everything else on this camcorder screams excellence, and we have been more than pleased with our purchase.
We plugged it into the TV to play back our videos and it looked great! Such nice picture playback, and the remote worked seamlessly with the device. My advice, read the simple manual as you go, and enjoy taking excellent HD videos quickly and easily.” – S.Brister (USA)
• “The Panasonic HDC-TM700 is a rare camcorder in that it breaks new ground. The key upside of this camcorder is its 28 Mbps 60P mode — the camera is capable of recording at 1920×1080 resolution in 60 PROGRESSIVE frames per second. This captures TWICE the image information of the interlaced method, resulting in smoother motion. The TM700 also capture more vertical resolution than other consumer camcorders when used in 60P mode.
There are many features of this camera that blur the line between “consumer” and “prosumer.”
Whether you dub the 35mm lens “wide” or not, it’s a hell of a lot more wide than any other consumer cam lens I’ve tried. My $6500 Sony EX1 has a 31.4mm equivalent lens, so the TM700 is in the same ballpark. For me this make a big difference in the practical use of the camera. No longer do I need to carry and constantly attach/detach a wide angle adapter. This also makes me more likely to use the 18X zoom (since there’s no wide angle adapter on the cam).
One nice TM700 feature I haven’t seen discussed elsewhere is peaking. Quite simply, “peaking” means that the camera outlines objects in focus with a color, so as to help the camera operator achieve correct focus. The camera does include a peaking function when switched to manual focus. Panasonic calls it “manual focus assist.” This really helps achieve critical focus with the 260k pixel LCD screen. The peaking color is blue; I prefer yellow, but will gladly settle for blue.
Another upside to the TM700 vis-a-vis other consumer cams is the manual control ring. Panasonic has done a nice job implementing this feature and it’s easy to quickly adjust zoom, focus, shutter speed, & iris using the ring. This is a slam dunk win for the TM700 because the competition doesn’t even offer a control ring (the control wheel is a far less satisfying alternative).
Some have expressed concern over the cooling fan. The fan does generate some noise when it activates, although it’s not always on. The fan has really not been an issue for me so far. I usually use an external mic when I’m serious about capturing quality audio.
If you want 60P…and you can handle 60P… then you will love this camcorder.” – C.Michael(Alabama,USA)
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