- Solid video performance for specs and asking price, 30GB hard drive, 42x optical zoom, records to both SD card and HDD
- Image quality takes a significant hit under dim lighting
With its 30GB hard drive, SD card slot and 42x optical zoom, the SDR-H40 is a versatile little performer. If you're on the lookout for an affordable standard-def camera for casual use, it is definitely one of the better buys on the market.
Price$ 879.00 (AUD)
The SDR-H40 is the entry-level model in Panasonic's new range of HDD/SD hybrid camcorders. Like the H60 and SDR-H280 , it records standard-definition video to either SD memory cards or an inbuilt hard disk drive (which in the H40's case, sports 40GB of memory for up to 36 hours of recording). While its video quality isn't anything to write home about, a bevy of user-friendly features – including a gigantic 42x optical zoom – lifts it head-and-shoulders above the majority of competitors. If you're not overly fussed by high-definition video, the SDR-H40 definitely represents good value for money.
Falling in line with its sub-$850 price tag, the SDR-H40 comes equipped with a single 1/6in CCD sensor with an effective pixel count of 400. In terms of image quality, it performed about as well as can be expected for a unit with these specifications; offering reasonable colour and contrast in optimum shooting conditions. It should certainly satisfy its intended user base of casual shooters, though as with most standard-def CCD cameras, bright lighting is an essential ingredient to attaining quality footage. While it can't compete with pricier models such as the SDR-H280 , most users will be satisfied with the majority of its video output.
By far the most impressive feature found on the SDR-H40 is its 42x optical zoom. This will prove incredibly useful for a variety of purposes, from zooming into your son as he scores the winning soccer goal to capturing distant bird-life without spooking it away. The advanced O.I.S really works a charm here, although shaky-handed individuals may want to invest in a tripod if they plan to frequently max out the zoom. A 2000x digital zoom is also included, though like all digital magnifications, this is essentially a pointless and unusable gimmick (it could prove useful for a B-grade spy movie though).
If you're a fashion aficionado who prefers flashy good looks over functionality, the SDR-H40 probably won't be your bag. With its squat, boxy design and old school silver finish, it almost resembles a throwback to the previous generation of camcorders (no doubt this was a conscious decision on Panasonic's part to make its premium 'high-def' models look cooler). While it certainly won't win any points for style, the H40 is pleasingly compact for a HDD camera, making it an ideal, if ugly, travel companion.
The SDR-H40 sports the usual array of advanced camera settings, including four white balance modes, six programmable AE modes, 16:9 and 4:3 recording ratios, auto and manual focus and adjustable shutter speeds. As with the H60 and H280, the miniature directional stick is located at the back of the unit in easy reach of the thumb. Personally, we find this makes menu navigation easier, though this is obviously in the eye of the beholder, as some users will doubtlessly prefer the LCD-mounted stick found on the JVC Everio range. At the risk of committing the greatest of reviewing sins, we'd have to advise you to try before you buy.
Like most standard-def HDD camcorders, the H40 records video in the MPEG2 format. For those who would prefer to bypass the editing process altogether, the H40 is fully compatible with Panasonic's VW-BN1E disc burner, which offers one-touch copying to DVD without the need for a computer. Once again though, you'll need to use an AC power adapter to gain access to your footage. (At $329, it's also a bit on the steep side, though the device remains entirely optional.)
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Gadgets & Things
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- AT&T will acquire Time Warner for US$85.4b in content play
- Facebook adds Apple TV and Chromecast support as video push ramps up
- Remocam review: This security camera can control your home appliances
- Logitech's C922 webcam is the revered C920's vastly upgraded successor
- Jump the line for the newest Chromecast features with Google's new preview program
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- The top 10 best and worst tech gadgets and products of 2016
- Best phone of the year 2016
- TV of the year award 2016
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCSenior Project ManagerNSW
- FTSolutions Architect - Data Centre/ NetworkQLD
- FTMarketing Automation DeveloperVIC
- CCAgile TesterNSW
- CCProject Engineer (Microwave)SA
- FTUX / UI DesignerVIC
- FT2nd Line Engineer - CitrixVIC
- CCSenior Business AnalystNSW
- CCApplication Specialist (Cerner) - Brisbane BasedNSW
- CCAdobe AEM DeveloperVIC
- FTService Desk AnalystNSW
- FTProduct Manager - TV and MediaVIC
- FTChief Security Officer l CISSP l ISO27001NSW
- CCSoftware DeveloperNSW
- CCJDE ERP Technical ConsultantVIC
- CCElectronic Medications Management Solution ArchitectQLD
- FTAgile Business AnalystQLD
- FTOracle IDM R1/R2 Implementation SpecialistNSW
- CCFinancial AnalystNSW
- CCSenior Security Analyst | 6mth ContractVIC
- TPSenior Systems EngineerWA
- CCOracle SOA DeveloperACT
- CCBusiness and Reporting AnalystWA
- CCService Desk Consultant - Must have baseline or NV1 clearanceNSW
- CCPerformance Test AnalystOther