Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Panasonic HDC-TM200 camcorder
This Panasonic video camera offers on-board flash memory, a touch-screen and good image stabilisation
- Good 1080p video quality, 10.6-megapixel still shots, iA mode works well
- Difficult touch-screen interface, expensive, not much flash memory
Panasonic’s HDC-TM200 camcorder sits in a difficult position, costing only a few hundred dollars less than the flagship KDC-HS200-K. It is still a capable camcorder, with great quality video when using automatic settings as well as surprisingly stills mode.
Price$ 2,089.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic HDC-TM200 is a flash memory–based, Full HD camcorder with 16GB of on-board memory and an SD card slot. It captures excellent video.
Like the slightly more expensive HDC-HS200-K, the Panasonic HDC-TM200 uses Panasonic’s 3MOS chipset with three 1/4in CMOS sensors leading to an effective pixel count of 6210k (6.21 megapixels). It has a maximum video resolution of 1920x1080 (Full HD).
We found the Panasonic HDV-TM200's video quality to be exceptional at the Full HD maximum, with our test samples showing a great amount of detail and colour. Low-light performance is also brilliant: the camera is able to adapt to low-light situations quickly and with a minimum of fuss. We only noticed a very small amount of grain in dim environments, and colours were far more natural than we were expecting. Skin tones are very realistic, with no over-saturation robbing detail from facial features.
Video is shot at a 17Mbps bit-rate, which doesn’t seem to introduce any significant compression artefacts but is nonetheless lower than Canon’s 24Mbps standard. We foresee users needing a backup SD card, since the internal memory can only hold a maximum of around 2hr 45min of high quality video. There’s no YouTube quality option; the lowest setting you can select is 1440x900, which allows you to capture a little under seven hours of video.
For most of our testing we left the camera in its Intelligent Auto setting. This ensures you’re always shooting in the best settings, but if you want to experiment a little there is a manual mode available with adjustments for white balance, aperture and shutter speed, as well as other extras. You'll be forced to use the small 2.7in touch screen to change these settings though, making the process a little too fiddly for our liking.
The camera also has a surprisingly competent still mode, capturing 10.6-megapixel shots. You’re also able to grab 8.3-megapixel shots while recording video, but if you want to extract a frame from already-captured video you’ll be stuck with a comparatively small 2.1-megapixel image.
The main problem we have with this camcorder is that for a small extra out-lay of cash, you can pick up the more powerful Panasonic HDC-HS200-K, which has an 80GB hard drive. The Panasonic HDC-TM200 has fantastic video picture quality with only a few flaws — but you can pick up a better camera for a little extra. Perhaps we’re expecting too much; for example, it would have been nice to see an external 3.5mm microphone option on a camera costing over $2000. Instead you’re stuck with the internal 5.1 channel microphone (to be fair, it does capture crisp and clear audio).
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