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Panasonic HDC-SDT750 review

Tim Smalley
19 Oct 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
1,191
inc VAT

At £1,200 it’s ludicrously priced, but it’s the first of its type, so if you really want to shoot in 3D you’ve little choice than to pay up.

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Specifications

3x 1/4.1in CMOS sensor, 1,920x1,080, 1,440x1,080, 960x1,080x2 (3D), 12.0x zoom, 590g

As the first consumer 3D camcorder, Panasonic’s HDC-SDT750 allows anyone, with deep enough pockets, to have a go at 3D movie-making. It may be ground-breaking, but it’s also rather familiar-looking. That’s because the camcorder component of this kit is almost identical to the company’s current 700-series of camcorders – such as the HDC-TM700 we reviewed a few months back.

The SDT750’s highlight is the bolt-on 3D conversion lens. This uses a pair of lenses that sit side-by-side to pick up two slightly different points of view – one for each eye. When the lens is screwed in for the first time, the camera prompts you to follow a calibration wizard to make sure it’s properly configured. While it’s only necessary to calibrate the lens the first time you connect it, Panasonic recommends that you re-calibrate every time you re-attach the lens, which is rather annoying.

Panasonic HDC-SDT750

The lens almost doubles the length of the camcorder, and adds 215g to the body’s 375g weight – which makes it rather unbalanced and front heavy. With the lens attached, swathes of key functions are disabled. These include zoom, the intelligent auto mode, the built in scene modes, face detection and manual focusing. There’s also no control over shutter or aperture either.

The pair of images captured by the lens are recorded side-by-side in a single AVCHD frame – one of the standard 3D formats supported by current 3D capable HDTVs. This means you lose half the horizontal resolution, with the effective resolution of the final image being 960x1,080. This is stretched out to 1,920x1,080 when played back, which not surprisingly, means 3D footage isn’t nearly as crisp as 2D footage recorded without the conversion lens attached.

Despite the limitations, the results are impressive. Scenes can have a much greater sense of depth, and very close objects appear to loom out of the screen towards you. There are no settings to play with regarding the 3D element of the picture – you get what you’re given. Don’t expect to get incredible results just bumbling around either, the initial thrill of shooting in 3D quickly wanes, and some considered cinematography is still required.

Panasonic HDC-SDT750

Given that the horizontal resolution is halved with the 3D conversion lens attached, it wasn’t a surprise to find that low-light performance wasn’t as good as it is in 2D mode. The image is very dark and there’s a lot of noise, but colours aren’t too bad. Performance in good light is commendable and there’s both depth and clarity to the images, even though they’re not quite as sharp as the SDT750’s 2D pictures.

In 3D mode, the highest recording quality is 1080i at 25 fps with a data rate of 17Mbps, meaning you’ll get about an hour of footage on an 8GB SDHC card. The highest quality in 2D mode is 1080p at 50 fps with a data rate of 24Mbps, meaning there’s room for just over 40 minutes on the same 8GB SDHC card.

The SD card slot not only supports SD and SDHC type cards though, as it can also record to the new SDXC cards, thus allowing 48GB and 64GB SDXC cards to be used. As the battery lasts for around two hours of recording from a full charge, the sweet spot for storage is a 16GB SDHC card, as that’ll allow you to record around two hours of the highest quality video in 3D mode and about 85 minutes in 2D mode.

Like all 700-series models, the SDT750 is an excellent 2D camcorder, with a full complement of features. There are jacks for headphones and an external microphone socket – should the cross-shaped 5.1 surround array microphone not be enough. What’s more, while there’s no accessory shoe built onto the SDT750, there’s a slot for housing an accessory shoe bracket below a flap on the hand grip that enables the use of standard third-party accessories and devices.

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