Panasonic HDC-SD10 Inverness

For all of that, this Panasonic isn't a bad camcorder available in Inverness. It has some impressive attributes - the big zoom and optical image stabilisation chief among them - and image quality is still good.

John Paul Photography
01463 221682
12 Diriebught Road
Kenneth Findlay Photography
01463 242829
59 Craigton Avenue
Anderson Photographs
0871 7811154
3 Gordon Terrace
Ken Roberts Photography
01463 711220
7 West Heather Rd
Jack Watson Photography
07756 670697
6A Green Drive
Gordon Gillespie Northsport
01463 223288
17 Miller Gdns
Jack Watson
07756 670 697
22 Swanston Avenue
Mike Davidson Photography
01463 230575
24 Greig St
Sandy Fea
01463 731612
55 Bellfield Rd
Brian Watson Photography
01463 225781
Drumdevan Cott

Panasonic HDC-SD10

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Compact camcorders are all the rage right now, and Panasonic's HDC-SD10 is among the smallest full we've seen. Measuring a mere 48 x 115 x 63mm (WDH) and weighing just 174g, Panasonic claims it's the lightest Full HD camcorder in the world.

We're not convinced - after all Toshiba's budget Camileo S10 also does full HD (to 1,440 x 1,080) and is even slimmer and lighter. It's far from bulky though, and it carries a good deal less ballast than the Sony HDR-CX105E, which itself isn't much of a pocket-bulger.

But with that small size and light weight also comes a hefty price tag. The HDC-SD10 weighs in at a high £409 exc VAT- that's £59 more than the Sony and nearly £400 more than the Toshiba. The question is, does it justify that premium?

It's certainly packed with features. It shoots Full HD, naturally, and similar to the Sony this is in 1080/50i to AVCHD format at a maximum bit rate of 17Mbits/sec. It boasts a superior 16x optical zoom and optical image stabilisation, rather than the electronic mode of the Sony - and the latter two features are just about enough to justify the Panasonic's extra cost. The CX105E does, however, boast higher resolution stills and 8GB of integrated memory.

Other useful features include an automatic assistance light for when lighting conditions are less than ideal, plus a pre-recording feature that buffers footage so when you hit record, the resulting clip begins a few seconds earlier.

But does it all result in better quality? Well, with a smaller 1/6in CMOS sensor we weren't expecting much and close analysis of our test shots proved the Panasonic's output to be inferior to that of the Sony. Noise in our indoor test was coarser and, despite a nominally higher maximum bit rate, compression artefacts were more visible. We're not too keen on a blue-ish cast to the picture either, and the light only really helps with subjects close to the lens.

In outdoor shots, things look up, with the zoom and optical stabilisation coming into their own. Colours looked balanced, but that compression obscured some fine detail again, with the Sony's footage looking crisper and more balanced.

For all of that, this Panasonic isn't a bad camcorder. It has some impressive attributes - the big zoom and optical image stabilisation chief among them - and image quality is still good. The problem is that it's just too expensive. With the Sony offering better all-round image quality, higher resolution stills, and built-in memory, we'd choose that one every time.

System Specifications

1080/50i AVCHD format (1920 x 1080 pixels), 2.1MP stills, 1/6in CMOS, 16x optical zoom, optical image stabiliser, 2.7in touch-sensitive TFT, 1yr RTB warranty, 48 x 115 x 63mm (WDH), 274g


Packed with features and highly pocketable, but image quality is lacking considering the high price

Author: Jonathan Bray

Panasonic HDC-SD10