Extending the 3-chip prosumer AVCHD camcorder line it launched last June, Panasonic's hard disk-based HDC-HS300/HS250 and SD-based HDC-TM300 incorporate higher resolution 1/4.1-inch sensors and updated lenses over the older models.
Though Panasonic overstates resolution--"World's highest pixel count of 9,150,000 pixels (3,050,000 pixels x 3)"--the real 3-megapixels for the predownsampled HD video finally breaks the resolution barrier; normally, 3-chip systems use lower-than-HD resolution sensors, which don't seem to produce terribly sharp HD video. So it'll be quite interesting to see how these stack up. According to Panasonic, it uses faster f1.6 lenses as well
, but it didn't provide details .
The HDC-HS300 shares the same higher-end features as the HS100--manual focus ring, EVF, and microphone input--while the HS250 trades those for a more compact design. Both have a 120GB hard disk. As the name indicates, the TM300 is analogous to the HS300, but records to SD cards or the built-in 32GB memory. They all include the optical image stabilization and Intelligent Automatic features of the older versions. In an interesting design move, Panasonic added an accessory shoe to the TM300, but put it in the side rather than the top--a more practical location given how far your hand covers the top.
They'll all be available in April. The HS300 will cost $1,399, the HS250, $999.95, and the TM300, $1,299.95.