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Panasonic SDR-H80 review

Seth Barton
20 Mar 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
310
inc VAT

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Specifications

1/8in CCD sensor, PAL, 70.0x zoom, 360g

For capturing events such as weddings, we'd recommend an HD camcorder such as the HDC-SD9.

Even if you don't have an HD TV now, you probably will in the future. However, lots of video is shot purely for YouTube. Panasonic has designed its SDR-H80 camcorder specifically for this purpose and includes YouTube-friendly features.

A small button activates the Web Mode. You get a 10-minute countdown to remind you of YouTube's maximum running time. Connect the SDR-H80 to your PC and the provided software launches automatically, showing thumbnails of any clips shot in Web Mode. These can then be uploaded directly to YouTube.

Dissapointingly, there are no basic editing tools for setting in and out points. We also see no reason why the software can't include all clips of less than 10 minutes in length. Finally, the software must be installed on your PC before you can use this feature. We'd rather see it run directly from the camcorder's built-in storage, as on Flip's Mino (What's New, Shopper 250).

The SDR-H80 has a built-in 60GB hard disk. This will hold around 15 hours of MPEG2 video at the highest quality setting of 10Mbit/s, which makes it a good choice if you're going on a long holiday. It also has an SDHC card slot should you need yet more space.

The 70x optical zoom is the biggest we've seen, making it ideal for wildlife shooting. Optical image stabilisation helps reduce camera shake on handheld shots. However, even with stabilisation, we struggled to get a steady handheld shot beyond a factor of around 50x. Despite this, the huge zoom makes it a very flexible camcorder.

The 1/8in CCD sensor is among the smallest you'll find on any camcorder. In good lighting conditions, the SDR-H80 performs admirably, with accurate colours and reasonable detail. However, the results start to suffer when viewed on a large TV, as there isn't enough detail to fill a big display. In less favourable lighting, it really struggles. We've seen worse results from camcorders with small sensors in dark conditions, but there's still a lot of noise here.

The SDR-H80 is compact, comfortable to hold and easy to operate and its battery is capable of almost two hours of continuous recording. However, you have to run it off mains power to access files via USB. This means that to upload a video while on the move, you'll need to carry a power adaptor with you.

The SDR-H80 isn't a bad camcorder, but memory card storage makes better financial sense for most users. At £16 for a 16GB SDHC card, it's no more expensive than hard disk storage, and you need only buy the amount you require. Thankfully, Panasonic makes a more compact, memory-card only version of this camcorder. The SDR-S26 has an otherwise identical specification, and is available for £256 including VAT from the same supplier. However, if you're looking to shoot a lot of standard-definition footage, then the SDR-H80 is a decent choice.

Basic Specifications

Rating***

Recording

Optical zoom70.0x
Sensor1/8in CCD
Sensor pixels800,000
Widescreen modeanamorphic
LCD screen size2.7in
Viewfinder typenone
Video lampNo
Video recording formatMPEG2
Video recording media60GB hard disk, SDHC
SoundDolby Digital Stereo
Video resolutionsPAL
Maximum image resolution640x480
Memory slotSDHC
Mermory suppliednone
Flashno

Physical

Digital inputs/outputsUSB
Analogue inputs/outputsA/V out
Other connectionscharge jack
Battery type7.2V 725mAh Li-ion
Battery life1h 57m
Battery charging positioncharger
Size66x53x107mm
Weight360g

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB
Price£310
Supplierhttp://www.elitegadgets.com
Detailswww.panasonic.co.uk

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