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Panasonic HDC-TM10 review

Ben Pitt
18 Apr 2010
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Panasonic HDC-TM10
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
320
inc VAT

It can’t deliver razor-sharp details, but respectable image quality and a great set of features add up to a great deal

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Specifications

1/6in CMOS sensor, 1,920x1,080, 1,440x1,080, 16.0x zoom, 227g

Exchange rates mean that the UK prices of stills and video cameras have generally risen over the last couple of years. The TM10 bucks the trend, though. It has a lot in common with the SD20 we reviewed a year ago, but costs £85 less. To sweeten the deal further, the TM10 includes 8GB of internal memory whereas the SD20 had none. The best deal to be had is the SD10, which is identical to the TM10 except that it has just an SDHC slot for storage and costs just £280, leaving enough change for a 16GB card and a round of drinks.

The main limitation of this budget camera is its sensor. Its 1/6in diagonal is positively tiny, and that doesn’t bode well for its ability to capture a clean picture in low light. It also has a surprisingly low resolution. The 1,920x1,080 video resolution equates to 2.1 megapixels, but this sensor only has 1.47 megapixels, of which only 1.17 megapixels are used to record the widescreen image.

That means that this camera has to use guesswork to fill in the missing picture information, which is a bit daft considering how much processing power and memory capacity is required to process and store 1,920x1,080 video – both in the camera and on a PC. It’s a shame, then, that the TM10 can’t record at 1,280x720, considering that this resolution is supported by the AVCHD specification and would be more in keeping with the sensor’s resolution.

Otherwise, though, there’s little to distinguish the TM10 from pricier AVCHD cameras. There’s a 2.7in, 230,400-pixel touchscreen and its interface is quick to navigate. It’s also packed with advanced features including full manual control over the shutter speed and iris, a manual white-balance function and progressive-scan shooting.

There’s a generous 16x zoom range, although the widest zoom position isn’t very wide, equating to 44.1mm on a 35mm film camera. Best of all for a budget camcorder, optical image stabilisation is built into the lens. It’s the older Advanced O.I.S. system rather than Panasonic’s new and improved Power O.I.S., but it’s still a significant improvement on electronic stabilisation systems used by other budget cameras, particularly when zoomed right in.

The TM10’s picture quality wasn’t any better than that of the SD20’s, but while we found the older model to be disappointing, at this lower price it’s less of a concern. It couldn’t capture fine details with the same fidelity as pricier AVCHD cameras, but when viewed in isolation, it was only dense textures such as grass and foliage that were obviously lacking.

Noise reduction had to work flat out in low light, and the results looked scruffy, under-saturated and with no hint of subtle details, but that’s the inevitable downside of such a small sensor. At least there’s a lamp to help out in extremely low light. Sound quality was excellent, with an authoritative, full-bodied tone and plenty of high-frequency sparkle.

£320 is a remarkably low price for an HD camera from a major brand, but it’s still a significant investment. It’s reassuring then, that while the TM10 is clearly built to a price, it delivers in all the areas that count. Its ergonomics and ease of use aren’t compromised, optical stabilisation is included and picture quality is dependable.

Basic Specifications

Rating****

Recording

Optical zoom16.0x
Digital zoom1,000x
Sensor1/6in CMOS
Sensor pixels1,470,000
Widescreen modenative
LCD screen size2.7in
Viewfinder typenone
Video lampYes
Video recording formatAVCHD
Video recording mediaflash memory and SDHC
SoundDolby Digital Stereo
Video resolutions1,920x1,080, 1,440x1,080
Maximum image resolution1,920x1,080
Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied8GB internal
Flashyes

Physical

Digital inputs/outputsUSB Hi-speed
Analogue inputs/outputsAV out, component out, mini HDMI out
Other connectionsnone
Battery type7.2W 725mAh Li-ion
Battery life1h 35m
Battery charging positioncharger
Size63x48x115mm
Weight227g

Buying Information

Warrantyone-year RTB
Price£320
Supplierhttp://www.askdirect.co.uk
Detailswww.panasonic.co.uk

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