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Panasonic HDC-SD60 review

Ben Pitt
22 Apr 2010
Expert Reviews Best Buy Logo
Panasonic HDC-SD60
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
393
inc VAT

Competitive picture quality, a great collection of features and a price that should appeal to the masses

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Specifications

1/4.1in CMOS sensor, 1,920x1,080, 25.0x zoom, 255g

The SD60 packs lots of impressive features into its petite shell. The lens benefits from Panasonic’s superb Power O.I.S. stabilisation system to counteract camera shake, and has a massive 25x zoom range. A so-called Intelligent Zoom function extends this to 35x without a noticeable deterioration in quality, and there’s also the option of a 1,500x digital zoom for those who like to record nondescript fuzzy blobs.

As usual, most of the controls appear on the touchscreen interface, but there’s also a row of buttons below the screen including a dedicated button to enable the LED lamp for shooting in very dark conditions. Battery life is impressive at exactly two hours, although two hours and 18 minutes to recharge is on the slow side.

There’s no built-in memory, but the HDC-TM60 is the same camera with 16GB of flash memory and costs £440. As usual, though, it’s more economical to buy the SD60 and stock up on SDHC cards – a 16GB card costs around £25. This camera also accepts SDXC cards for capacities over SDHC’s 32GB limit. A 64GB SDXC card is phenomenally expensive at around £350, but prices are bound to come down eventually.

In common with all Panasonic video cameras we’ve seen recently, the SD60 includes direct access to shutter speed, iris and gain for full manual control over exposure. This provides a greater level of creative control than the majority of video cameras, which group these functions together into a single exposure control. It’s a shame there’s no spot focus option, though. Adjusting the focus manually using the up and down buttons on the touchscreen feels clumsy. The fully automatic mode includes an option to touch the screen to track a moving subject for focus, but it’s not particularly reliable.

We were surprised to find that this camera doesn’t support progressive scan – a feature that appears on Panasonic’s cheaper HDC-TM10 under the guise of Digital Cinema mode. It’s possible to achieve the same effect by activating Auto Slow Shutter and locking the shutter speed manually to 1/25 seconds. However, this means that sunlit shots are likely to be overexposed, so it’s not an ideal solution.

Casual users won’t be put off by this omission, though. The fully automatic mode proved to be extremely adept at capturing high-quality video. Face detection worked superbly, and was completely unfazed when our subject was backlit against a bright sky. The autofocus was exceptionally responsive and reliable.

The lens produced a sharp picture with minimal chromatic aberrations throughout its zoom, which is a terrific achievement considering the huge zoom range. We also really appreciate how this lens extends further than usual into wide-angle as well as telephoto zoom positions, with a wide-angle focal length that’s equivalent to 35.7mm on a film camera – most other AVCHD cameras start at around 40mm. This makes it much easier to squeeze everyone into the frame, especially indoors.

No HD video cameras at this price excel in dim lighting, but the SD60 held its own against similarly priced competitors. Indoor shots in ambient sunlight looked clean and detailed, and it was only in moody artificial lighting that noise became intrusive.

Spending more will get you better image quality and more features, but this camera strikes a great balance between quality and value and wins a Best Buy award.

Basic Specifications

Rating*****

Recording

Optical zoom25.0x
Digital zoom1,500x
Sensor1/4.1in CMOS
Sensor pixels3,320,000
Widescreen modenative
LCD screen size2.7in
Viewfinder typenone
Video lampYes
Video recording formatAVCHD
Video recording mediaSDHC
SoundDolby Digital Stereo
Video resolutions1,920x1,080
Maximum image resolution2,812x1,584
Memory slotSDXC
Mermory suppliednone
Flashyes

Physical

Digital inputs/outputsUSB Hi-speed
Analogue inputs/outputsAV out, component out, mini HDMI out
Other connectionscharge jack
Battery type3.6V 1790mAh Li-ion
Battery life2h 0m
Battery charging positioncamcorder
Size66x52x112mm
Weight255g

Buying Information

Warrantyone-year RTB
Price£393
Supplierhttp://www.cclonline.com
Detailswww.panasonic.co.uk

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