Panasonic HDC-TM700 review

£785
Price when reviewed

With cheap pocket video cameras now boasting 1080p resolutions and phones going HD too, producers of enthusiast camcorders are having a harder time than ever persuading consumers to part with their cash. Some manufacturers have gone down the route of adding extra toys and gimmicky features. Panasonic, on the other hand, has simply concentrated on quality, and with its HDC-TM700 that focus has paid off.

At first glance, it doesn’t look very exciting. It’s quite chunky and of a similar design to existing Panasonic models. Examine the small print, however, and you’ll note several key improvements over its predecessor, the HDC-HS300. Shooting resolution is the most obvious change, with the HDC-TM700 moving to a super-smooth 50fps at Full HD resolution.

Panasonic HDC-TM700

With a bit rate of 28Mbits/sec you’ll need both a powerful PC and software that supports the standard to get the most out of it. With the 32GB of flash memory in this model you’ll also only be able to shoot 2hrs 44mins of footage, though there is an SDXC card slot, allowing up to 64GB to be added.

A more useful improvement is the 12x Leica lens, which is larger than before and boasts a wider 35mm equivalent wide angle, down from the 45mm of the HS300. The maximum aperture has also improved from f1.8 to f1.5, as has the touchscreen – from 2.7in to 3in in diagonal.

Panasonic has improved on its already good optical image stabilisation system, upped the resolution of still image capture from 10.6 to 14.2 megapixels, and added face recognition features. You can even opt to register certain faces in the camera’s memory and have the HDC-TM700 prioritise exposure and focus for these “special” people. We were surprised at how well it worked, too.

The image capture system remains the same, although that’s no bad thing, with three separate 1/4.1in CMOS sensors, and the excellent lens ring manual control system from the HDC-HS300. Quality achieved using the camera is slightly improved too.

In all conditions, from low light to very bright scenes, the results were simply stunning. Detail capture was fantastic, colours were balanced and accurate, and highlights never blew out. The camera’s intelligent auto mode worked like a dream most of the time and, when it doesn’t, the manual adjustment system lets you master the conditions quickly, providing fine focus, white balance, iris and shutter controls.

Overall, the Panasonic HDC-TM700 is an outstanding product and one that brings many more improvements than mentioned here. It may be expensive, but its manual control system, top video quality and general ease of use make it the best consumer camcorder around.

Specifications

Camcorder HD standard 1080p
Camcorder maximum video resolution 1920 x 1080
Camera megapixel rating 14.2mp
Camcorder recording format AVCHD
Accessory shoe? yes
Camera optical zoom range 12x
Camera optical image stabilisation yes
Electronic image stabilisation? no
Screen size 3.0in
Touchscreen yes
Viewfinder? yes
Built-in flash? yes
Light? no
Number of sensors 3

Audio

Internal mic type 5.1
External mic socket? yes

Dimensions

Dimensions width 66
Dimensions depth 138
Dimensions height 69
Dimensions 66 x 138 x 69mm (WDH)
Weight 432g

Storage

Integrated memory 32.0GB
Camcorder internal storage type Flash memory
Memory card support SDXC

Outputs

Data connection USB
Composite video output? yes
Component video output? yes

Accessories

Remote control? yes
Dock? no

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