Panasonic Introduces Low-Light-Optimized 1080p Camcorders

Panasonic HDC-TM700 camcorder
Panasonic today announced two new high-definition camcorders, each equipped with three low-light-optimized Live MOS sensors and the ability to record 1080p video at 60 frames per second.

The hard-drive-based HDC-HS700 (240GB) and flash-storage-based HDC-TM700 (32GB) also snap 14-megapixel stills and offer additional storage via slots that handle SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards.

Panasonic HDC-HS700 camcorder

Panasonic is touting the low-light performance of both HD camcorders, claiming that the 3MOS system captures bright, crisp video with good color accuracy in darkly lit settings. Both camcorders support operation via a flip-out 3-inch LCD touchscreen, and both have an eye-level electronic viewfinder as well.

Each of the two high-end consumer camcorders also offers manual controls for focus, aperture, shutter speed, and zoom by way of a dial around the 35mm/f1.5 wide-angle Leica lens. More beginner-oriented features include optical image stabilization (which Panasonic says has improved dramatically over last year's version), Intelligent Auto shooting mode, and a setting that automatically snaps a still image during video recording when an on-camera subject smiles.

Atop the camcorders are 5.1-channel surround-sound microphones, equipped with two notable audio tricks: Each microphone can "zoom" to capture audio independently, and a "Wind Noise Canceller" feature analyzes the audio track and strips out noise caused by breezy conditions.

Panasonic HDC-HS700 camcorder

At the highest video resolution and frame rate (1920 by 1080 at 60 fps), both camcorders record MPEG-4 video using the H.264 codec at a 28-megabits-per-second bit rate. That's higher than the bit rate the AVCHD format supports (24 mbps), which means that the file sizes should be a bit bigger, but the raw footage is compatible with most video editing and playback software. Both camcorders also shoot 1980-by-1080-resolution AVCHD video at lower bit rates: 17 mbps, 13 mbps, 9 mbps, and 5 mbps.

Panasonic has not announced pricing or availability information for the HDC-HS700 or the HDC-TM700, but judging from the pricing on last year's high-end Panasonic HDC-HS100, the cost for each will probably be somewhere in the $1300 range.

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