- Records to both SD cards and inbuilt 30GB memory, high quality 3CCD sensors
- Underperformed in dim lighting, lacks certain selling points found in its cheaper siblings, connectivity is a pain
The SDR-H280 is a well-rounded hybrid camcorder that offers high-grade standard-definition video. It might not represent the best value for money when compared to Panasonic's other SD efforts, but it certainly offers the best video quality.
Price$ 1,209.00 (AUD)
The camcorder buyer is a somewhat fickle creature. A couple of years ago, everyone and their dog fell crazy-in-love with DVD cameras, a format that shone as brightly – and briefly – as a shooting star. Nowadays, it's all about flash memory and hard disk-based models; otherwise known as the new 'black' in home movie making.
Galvanised by this explosion in HDD/flash memory sales, Panasonic has attempted to combine the two into one versatile package. Its latest range of standard-definition camcorders includes four HDD models (compared to one DVD model); all of which are equipped with SD-card slots for additional storage and recording. Among these, the 30GB SDR-H280 stands out as the premium, top-tier model; outclassed only by the high-definition HDC-HS9 . While it performed solidly for a standard-def camera, it lacks some of the beginner-friendly features found on the SDR-H40 and SDR-H60; two cheaper models that arguably offer better value for money.
Indeed, at first glance the SDR-H280 appears to be inferior to its two HDD siblings, despite being burdened with a higher price tag. Both the H40 and H60 come equipped with bigger hard drives (40GB and 60GB respectively) as well as larger optical zooms (an enormous 42x and 50x, compared to the H280's piddling 10x). What the SDR-H280 does offer however, is an advanced 3CCD camera system and Leica Dicomar lens for optimum image clarity, colour and gradation. (The H40 and H60 only sport single CCD sensors.)
This presents the consumer with an interesting dilemma – should you go for the superior image quality of the H280, or the higher memory and optical magnification of the H40/ H60? Personally, we think the latter option represents a better bargain; particularly when it comes to casual users. (If you're serious about image quality, you're obviously better off getting a high-definition model – many of which cost around the same price as the SDR-H280.) With all that being said, the H280 remains a well-rounded hard disk-based camcorder that offers superior high-grade SD footage. As such, it will mainly appeal to serious users who aren't ready to make the leap to HD.
During our testing, we were fairly impressed with the H280's video performance, although results did tend to vary depending on the shooting conditions at hand. Naturally, it faired a lot worse in poorly lit environments, where graininess swiftly enveloped the picture. While this is a common complaint levelled at most digital camcorders, the noise levels we encountered seemed slightly higher than normal. At 3.1 megapixels, its still image capabilities could never hope to compete with a dedicated compact camera, yet they remain adequate for occasional snap shots. All up, we wouldn't exactly class the H280's output as perfect, yet it should nevertheless satisfy the average user.
When it comes to design, the H280 is a curious throwback to camcorders of old. From its dull grey-and-silver finish to its protruding rear-mounted battery, it looks like a model from Panasonic's previous generation of camcorders. On the plus side, it manages to strike a good balance between weight and portability, with its slightly heavier dimensions helping to minimise shaky footage. In another nod to the past, the miniature directional stick is located at the back of the unit in easy reach of the thumb. We actually prefer this layout, as it allows you to access the menu without needing to use two hands (most new camcorder models mount the directional stick near the LCD screen).
The H280 comes equipped with an impressive assortment of manual settings (including shutter, gain and aperture), though most of these are controlled via the directional stick. This is especially problematic when attempting to adjust the focus, which requires minute precision (rather cheekily, Panasonic has included what looks like a focus ring on the lens barrel, but this is only used to open the lens cap). Other than an obligatory fade in/fade out function, the SDR-H280 does away with any inbuilt digital effects. This means you'll need to invest in some editing software if you yearn to film your friends in 'sepia', or whatever. The included night mode is also of little use, as it simply adjusts the exposure and shutter speed for an unattractive 'strobe' effect.
Like most standard-def HDD camcorders, the H40 records video in the MPEG2 format. Transferring your footage to a computer with the supplied software is fairly straightforward; though the placement of the USB port beneath the battery recess is bound to cause a few headaches. This forces you to plug your camera into a power socket whenever you want to access your HDD footage. As for editing on a notebook while on location – forget about it.
Join the newsletter!
WD MY PASSPORT™ Gaming Storage
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-55EZ950U
Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44
Panasonic OLED 4K Ultra HD TV - TH-77EZ1000U
cloudandco Smart Cane
Dyson Supersonic™ Hair Dryer Fuchsia/Iron
SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™
Apple iPhone X
Nespresso Creatista Coffee Machine
WD MY PASSPORT™ X Gaming Storage
Toys for Boys
Bose SoundLink Micro
Google Daydream View VR Headset
Propel Star Wars T-65 X-Wing Drone
Onyx Smart Walkie Talkie
Lego Mindstorms EV3
LaCie Rugged USB-C Portable Hard Drive
Ubiquiti Network’s Front Row Camera
Leica M10 Digital Rangefinder Camera
Toffee Bags Commuter Satchel
Belkin Pocket Power 10,000mAh
Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K
Dearear Endear In-ear Wireless Earphones
Xbox One X
Amazon Echo Bluetooth Speaker
Panasonic Hi-Fi - SC-UA7GS-K
Nest Protect Smart Smoke Alarm
iRobot Roomba 980 Vaccum Cleaning Robot
WD MY CLOUD™ HOME Personal Cloud Storage
PETKIG Go Smart Dog Leash
Tile Pro Bluetooth Tracker
Urbanworx Full HD Action Camera
Lexon Flip Alarm Clock
Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse
Ikea NORDMÄRKE Wireless Charging Pad
Logitech Doodle Collection Wireless Mouse
Panasonic Portable Splashproof Fun - RF-D20U
3SIXT 3-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit
Raspberry Pi Starter Kit
Kogan Bluetooth Soundbar
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Hisense takes the fight to home entertainment heavyweights with flagship Series 8 and 9 ULED TVs
- 2 Sony's latest Ultra HD OLED debuts in Australia
- 3 Panasonic Ultra HD OLED TV Review
- 4 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
- 5 Oppo A77 smartphone: Full in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Sony make shooting in HDR easy with new 4K camcorders
- Sony announces Australian availability for new waterproof RX0 action-camera
- Microsoft's Beam becomes Mixer, adds four person split-screen streaming to battle Twitch
- Microsoft's Story Remix uses machine learning and mixed reality to make your movies awesome
- New IoT malware targets 100,000 IP cameras via known flaw
PCW Evaluation Team
I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.
It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.
Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.
The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.
The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.
The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic
- Fitbit Ionic review: Impressive but not quite iconic
- Xbox One X review: Brave new world
- Huawei Mate 10 Pro Review
- 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
- FTHadoop DevelopersOther
- CCJava LeadQLD
- CCProgram ManagerNSW
- CCTechnical Business Analyst-GenesysNSW
- CCProject Manager - InfrastructureWA
- FTSenior .Net DeveloperQLD
- FTApplication Support Technical LeadQLD
- FTTM1 Application Management AnalystOther
- FTTechnical Services AdministratorVIC
- FTTester with AXOther
- FTProgram CoordinatorACT
- FTAutomation Test ManagerOther
- FTStorage & Data Protection Team LeadACT
- CCBusiness Process Analyst (Green Belt)NSW
- TPProject Manager - Credit CardsNSW
- FTPlatform Engineer (Teradata/Datastage) - Permanent - Sydney CBDNSW
- CCTechnical Business AnalystNSW
- FTHosting/Virtualisation ArchitectVIC
- CCOracle DeveloperVIC
- FTMid-Level Drupal Developer (Brisbane Location)QLD
- PTAxway developersVIC
- CCTechnical Lead - BrisbaneNSW
- FTProduct Support ManagerVIC
- FTScrum MasterOther
- TPSenior Business AnalystNSW