Panasonic HDC-HS60 Full HD camcorder

A Full HD Panasonic camcorder with a 120GB HDD and SDXC memory card support

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Panasonic HDC-HS60
  • Panasonic HDC-HS60
  • Panasonic HDC-HS60
  • Panasonic HDC-HS60

Pros

  • Great value for money, 120GB hard drive, excellent video quality, supports crazy-capacity SDXC cards

Cons

  • Lacking in bells and whistles, no external microphone jack

Bottom Line

The Panasonic HDC-HS60 may lack in-depth manual modes and superfluous gimmicks, but it makes up for it via excellent image quality and a price that is hard to beat. Highly recommended.

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The Panasonic HDC-HS60 is the first of a new generation of flash memory–based camcorders. Like the HDC-SD60, it supports Panasonic's groundbreaking SDXC memory cards — a high-capacity format with the potential to store up to 2TB of video. (Yes, you read that right: two terabytes!) SDXC cards are also faster than their SDHC predecessors, boasting a theoretical transfer rate of up to 300 megabytes per second (300MBps).

At present, the format only comes in capacities of up to 64GB, but that's still double the storage that SDHC cards offer. In addition, the Panasonic HDC-HS60 is fully compatible with SD/SDHC cards and also comes with a whopping 120GB of inbuilt memory. When it comes to video storage, consumers have rarely been this spoiled for choice.

But the Panasonic HDC-HS60 doesn't just rest of its SDXC laurels: it's also an incredibly user-friendly camera that boasts some of the best video quality in its price range. Highlights include 1080p Full HD recording, a 35.7mm wide-angle lens, Intelligent Auto with advanced face detection, a 5-megapixel still image mode and a 25x optical zoom lens (this can be extended to 35x via some digital trickery-pokery). While it may not be as feature-packed as some other camcorders we've looked at, the Panasonic HDC-HS60 remains excellent value for money. With an RRP of $1199, it's one of the cheapest 120GB model on the market.

The Panasonic HDC-HS60 is surprisingly small for a 120GB camcorder. Measuring just 65.5x54.5x112mm and weighing 327g, it will easily fit inside your purse or jacket pocket. It's also attractive, with a slate grey/silver finish in place of the usual black. Our only reservation with the design is its jutting battery — a common eyesore on Panasonic camcorders. Otherwise, the Panasonic HDC-HS60 is a great looking piece of hardware.

Panasonic is the latest company to embrace the all-conquering touch screen; as seen on the Apple iPhone, HTC Touch, HP TouchSmart and Sony handycam range. While some consumers despise camcorder touch screens, the majority of users prefer this interface for its intuitiveness and simplicity.

In recent years, the picture quality of Panasonic's camcorder range has improved steadily, until they arguably stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Canon's stellar output. The Panasonic HDC-HS60 is another solid offering that does nothing to upset the balance. To capture video, it uses a 1/4.1in MOS sensor with an effective pixel count of 1170k (MOS is a type of image sensor more commonly found in certain compact cameras). The camcorder is also capable of taking 5-megapixel stills via interpolation.

To test the Panasonic HDC-HS60's video performance, we recorded footage in a variety of settings and then connected the camera to a Pioneer KURO PDP-C509A TV via HDMI. The results impressed us on a number of levels, most notably when it came to image crispness and colour accuracy. Low-light performance was also above average — especially for a sub-$1200 HD camcorder.

We were also very impressed with the HDC-HS60's 35.7mm wide-angle lens. This makes it easy to capture multiple subjects at close quarters and eliminates the need to constantly shuffle backwards. Meanwhile, the Power OIS mode helps to keep footage smooth and relatively shake-free. All in all, the Panasonic HDC-HS60 is an excellent choice for casual users who hope to capture great looking, fuss-free video.

On the downside, the Panasonic HDC-HS60 isn't the best choice for serious videographers. Notable omissions include a manual servo-ring and an external microphone jack — two features that every enthusiast needs. Thankfully, the inbuilt 5.1 channel surround sound microphone does a good job of capturing audio. It also comes with advanced manual settings, although with no headphone jack, it's impossible to monitor your adjustments. Tch.

The HDC-HS60's 120GB flash drive will net you between 15 and 51 hours of video; depending on the selected quality level.

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Read more on these topics: Panasonic, camcorders, digital video

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