Panasonic SDR-S26-K digital video camcorder
Standard-definition flash memory camcorder with ultra-powerful 70x optical zoom
- 70x optical zoom, attractive lightweight design, novice-friendly iA mode
- Poor night mode, 'Web Mode' is a poorly implemented gimmick
The Panasonic SDR-S26-K digital video camcorder is a solid performer in the standard-definition space. It offers an impressive array of features for the asking price, the highlight of which is its ultra-powerful 70x optical zoom.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic SDR-S26-K is an ultra-compact camcorder that records standard-definition video to removable SD memory cards. Its main claim to fame is its 70x optical zoom lens, which is considerably more powerful than the average entry-level camcorder (most models offer an optical zoom of between 10x and 40x). This makes the Panasonic SDR-S26 an excellent choice for outdoor shooters, as you’ll be able to get intimately close to distant objects without affecting the picture quality (provided you’re armed with a tripod, that is).
It also comes packed with plenty of consumer-friendly features (some of which work better than others). This includes an Intelligent Auto (iA) mode with inbuilt face detection, a dedicated Web button for one-step YouTube uploads and an Advanced O.I.S stabiliser for shake-free recordings. While image quality isn’t stellar, it remains more than reasonable for the asking price of $549.
The Panasonic SDR-S26-K comes in a choice of three colours: red, black and blue. We tested the latter version, which sports a curious sky-blue finish rather than the typical navy shade. It’s a bit unconventional, but not unpleasant to look at it. (We’d take it over boring old silver any day). With dimensions of 107x56x65mm, the Panasonic SDR-S26-K isn’t quite so compact as its pint-sized predecessor — the Panasonic SDR-S7 — yet it should still slip comfortably into a bag or jacket pocket without weighing you down.
Thankfully, the Panasonic SDR-S26-K has managed to avoid the protruding ‘ghetto booty’ battery that has marred so many of its siblings (see the Panasonic SDR-H80-K, Panasonic HDC-SD20-K and the Panasonic HDC-SX5 for some unsightly examples). Instead, the battery remains tucked inside the camera’s body, which lends the device a much classier appearance.
On the imaging front, the SDR-S26-K camcorder shares the same 1/8in CCD sensor and 380k pixel count as the SDR-H80. These are not particularly impressive specifications, even for the asking price. Most modern digital camcorders offer CMOS chipsets, which are said to provide more reliable video quality in low lighting. Despite these considerable handicaps, the Panasonic SDR-S26-K managed to impress us during testing. When we used the camera in optimum lighting, our footage exhibited accurate colours that were relatively free of noise. Naturally, things rapidly changed for the worse when we moved to a dimmer environment, though the grainy results were still acceptable for private home viewing. Unfortunately, the lack of an inbuilt lamp or decent night mode means you can’t really use this camera in the dark.
For navigation, the Panasonic SDR-S26-K uses a traditional joystick interface, which is located on the outside of the LCD cavity. We’ve never been fans of this arrangement, as it means you have to use both hands to make menu adjustments. On the plus side, the stick is responsive and easy to use, which is not something that can be said of every camcorder's control scheme. Considering its low price tag, there are a decent array of modes and features available on this camera; including face detection technology, adjustable iris and shutter speeds, multiple white balance modes, manual focus, 16:9 and 4:3 recording ratios, face framing and the usual digital effects and scene modes. For novice users, the standout feature will probably be the iA mode, which adjusts camcorder settings to suit the situation at hand. (It’s essentially an automatic Scene mode, but it works, and that’s all that really matters.)
We were less enthused with the SDR-S26-K’s Web Mode, however. This ‘feature’ merely shuts off recording after ten minutes — which is the maximum length for a YouTube video. While this does save you the trouble of having to trim down your movies, it also means there’s no room for error (for example if the blog or skit you’re shooting goes over by a couple of seconds, the camcorder will refuse to record the extra footage.) We’re willing to give camcorder gimmicks the benefit of the doubt, but broken camcorder gimmicks are another matter entirely. Panasonic really needs to go back to the drawing board with this one. (On another note, do we really need to clutter YouTube with more unedited videos? The Panasonic SDR-S26-K’s Web mode clearly encourages you to upload directly from the camera, which is rarely a good thing.)
Aside from that one caveat, the SDR-S26-K is a decent little performer. It might not be the smallest flash-memory model on the market, or the most feature-packed, but the inclusion of that 70x optical zoom more than makes up for any shortcomings.
Join the newsletter!
Featuring a high capacity ink tank system, that completely removes the need for cartridges - it comes with up to 2 years of ink in the box
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy S9+ review: A predictably-exellent flagship uplifted by a standout camera
- 2 Panasonic Lumix G9 review: A mirrorless moulded to the needs of still-shooters
- 3 LG 65E7T Ultra HD OLED TV review: The South Korean thoroughbred is still first past the post
- 4 Hisense takes the fight to home entertainment heavyweights with flagship Series 8 and 9 ULED TVs
- 5 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
Latest News Articles
- Netgear Launches the Arlo Go LTE Wire-Free Camera on Telstra’s Mobile Network
- D-Link Wins Prestigious iF Design Award 2018
- Reolink Launches a New 4G LTE Security Camera, Available in Australia
- Netgear announce local availability for smarter, sharper, Alexa-friendly Arlo Pro 2
- Netgear to spin off Arlo
PCW Evaluation Team
The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use
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.
- Everything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: Comparing The Google Home’s Assistant To Amazon Echo’s Alexa
- Hands On: Pitting the Apple HomePod against the Sonos One
- MWC 2018: Everything You Need To Know
- 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
- FTSenior Java DeveloperNSW
- FTBusiness Intelligence DeveloperNSW
- FTService Centre ConsultantQLD
- FTData AnalystOther
- FTSAP Functional AnalystACT
- CCDevops EngineerQLD
- FTLead Consultant AIXOther
- CCScrum MasterQLD
- CCCyber Security Business AnalystACT
- FTCyber Security ArchitectOther
- TPSenior Business Analyst - Grants Management ProjectQLD
- FTIT Program ManagerOther
- FTPrincipal Consultant - Scheduling & Planning (Primavera & MSP)Other
- TPEnterprise Technology ArchitectNSW
- CCProgram DirectorNSW
- CCHadoop DeveloperACT
- TPCloud DevOps EngineerNSW
- TPBusiness AnalystNSW
- TPSupport OfficerQLD
- FTTester (Dynamics AX)Other
- FTSenior Business AnalystOther
- FTSAP HR LeadOther
- FTProject Manager ? Cyber SecurityQLD
- FT3rd Level Network and Systems AdministratorNSW