Panasonic TM80 review: Panasonic TM80


  HDC-SD40/TM40 HDC-SD60/TM55 HDC-TM80/SD80 HDC-HS80 HDC-TM90/SD90
Sensor (effective resolution) 1.2-megapixel CMOS 3-megapixel CMOS 1.3-megapixel CMOS 1.3-megapixel CMOS 2.6-megapixel CMOS
1/5.8 inch 1/4.1 inch 1/5.8 inch 1/4.1 inch 1/4.1 inch
Lens 16.8x
f1.8-2.6
42.9 - 721mm (16:9)
25x
f1.8-3.3
35.7 - 893mm (16:9)
34x
f1.8-4
33.7 - 1240mm (16:9)
12x
f1.5-2.8
35 - 420mm (16:9)
21x
f1.8-3.5
28 - 729mm (16:9)
Min illumination (lux) standard: 1400
low light: 7
Color Night View: 1
standard: 1400
low light: 4
Color Night View: 1
standard: 1400
low light: 7
Color Night View: 1
standard: 1400
low light: 7
Color Night View: 1
standard: 1400
low light: 4
Color Night View: 1

EVF

No No No No No
LCD 2.7-inch 230,400-dot 2.7-inch 230,400-dot 2.7-inch 230,400-dot 2.7-inch 230,400-dot 3-inch 230,400-dot
Primary media 0GB/16GB flash; SDXC SD/8GB flash; SDXC 16GB/0GB flash; SDXC 120GB hard disk; SDXC 16GB/0GB flash; SDXC
HD recording AVCHD: 1080/60i @ 17, 13, 9Mbps
AVCHD:
1080/60i @ 17, 13, 9 ,5Mbps
AVCHD:
1080/60i @ 17, 13, 9 ,5Mbps
AVCHD:
1080/60i @ 17, 13, 9 ,5Mbps
AVCHD: nonstandard 1080/60p 28Mbps;
1080/60i @ 17, 13, 9 ,5Mbps
Manual shutter speed Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Manual iris Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Accessory shoe No No No No Yes
Audio 2 channels 2 channels
2 channels 2 channels 2 channels
Body dimensions (WHD, inches) 2.0x2.3x4.3 2.0x2.6x4.4 2.0x2.3x4.3 2.6x2.8x5.8 2.0x2.5x4.7
Operating weight (pounds) 7.4 (est) 10.5 8.3 10.8 (est) 10.1 (est)
Mfr. price $349.99/$399.99 $499.95/$529.95 $499.99/$449.99 $599.99 $599.99/$549.99
Ship date March 2011 March 2010 March 2011 March 2011 March 2011

While the microphone has a nice, warm quality compared with some competing tinny-sounding models, it's a lot more front-directional than most, even without turning on the zoom mic. Normally, my running commentary stands out loud and clear; with this camcorder, it was so muffled at times I couldn't even make out what I was saying. But it still picked up plenty of ambient noise.

As with a lot of these models, the LCD is difficult to view in direct sunlight. You can jack up the LCD's power and brightness separately, but increasing the brightness just washes it out and decreases the contrast, while increasing the power burdens the battery. At least at its defaults, however, the battery seems to last a decently long time.


  Canon Vixia HF M300/M30/ M31/M32 HDC-SD80/TM80 HDC-HS80 Sony Handycam HDR-CX130/CX160 Sony Handycam HDR-XR160
Sensor (effective resolution) 2.99-megapixel CMOS
1.3-megapixel CMOS 1.3-megapixel CMOS 1.49 megapixels 1.49 megapixels
1/4 inch 1/5.8 inch 1/4.1 inch 1/4-inch 1/4-inch
Lens 15x
f1.8-3.2
39.5-592.5mm
34x
f1.8-4
33.7 - 1240mm (16:9)
12x
f1.5-2.8
35 - 420mm (16:9)
30x
f1.8-3.4
29.8-894mm
(31.2-531mm
17x with Active Steady Shot)
30x
f1.8-3.4
29.8-894mm
(31.2-531mm
17x with Active Steady Shot)
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 1.2 1.2 0.4 0.4
Min illumination (lux) recommended: 100
standard: 5.5
low light: 0.4
standard: 1400
low light: 7
Color Night View: 1
standard: 1400
low light: 7
Color Night View: 1
recommended: n/a
standard: 11
low light: 3
recommended: n/a
standard: 11
low light: 3

EVF

None No No None None
LCD 2.7-inch 211,000 dots 2.7-inch 230,400-dot 2.7-inch 230,400-dot 3-inch 230,000 pixels 3-inch 230,000 pixels
Primary media 0GB/8GB/ 32GB/64GB internal; 1 x SDHC (SDXC on M32) 0GB/16GB flash; SDXC 120GB hard disk; SDXC 0GB/16GB internal; 1 x SDXC 160GB hard drive; 1 x SDXC
HD recording AVCHD: 1080/60i @ 24, 17Mbps; 1440 x 1080/60i @ 12, 7, 5Mbps
(also encodes 30p and 24p as 60i)
AVCHD:
1080/60i @ 17, 13, 9 ,5Mbps
AVCHD:
1080/60i @ 17, 13, 9 ,5Mbps
AVCHD: 1080/60p @ 28Mbps (nonstandard); 1080/60i @ 24, 17Mbps; 1440 x 1080/60i @ 9, 5Mbps AVCHD: 1080/60p @ 28Mbps (nonstandard); 1080/60i @ 24, 17Mbps; 1440 x 1080/60i @ 9, 5Mbps
Manual shutter speed 1/6 - 1/2,000 sec Yes Yes No No
Manual iris f1.8-f8 Yes Yes No No
Accessory shoe Yes Yes Yes No No
Audio 2 channels (5.1 via optional mic);
mic, headphone jacks
2 channels 2 channels 2 channels 5.1 channels
Body dimensions (WHD, inches) 2.7x2.4x4.8 2.0x2.3x4.3 2.6x2.8x5.8 2.1x2.3x4.9 2.4x2.6x5.1
Operating weight (pounds) 13.1 8.3 10.8 (est) 10.5 14.1 (est)
Mfr. Price $549.99/ $599.99/ $699.99/ $999.99 $449.99/$499.99 $599.99 $449.99/$499.99 $599.99
Ship date March 2010 March 2011 March 2011 March 2011 April 2011

There's not much notable about the design; it's pretty typical for a compact camcorder. There's a three-way video/still/playback switch on the back and there are auto/manual, OIS, and power switches in the LCD recess. The lens cover has a physical switch, but can open automatically when you power on, which is a nice touch. Like most compacts, if you've got large hands you may find it a touch small. That's the primary reason to consider the HS80, because the hard drive gives you a little extra bump to grab onto.

However, if you're looking for manual features--specifically control over shutter speed and aperture--Panasonic delivers them at low price points. And the implementation works very well, despite a display that's usually too small for comfortable touch-screen use.


The side navigation with relatively large onscreen buttons works well, and makes it easy to switch between shutter and aperture control--a facility that even more advanced camcorders don't have.

The camcorder also has useful features that are uncommon in lower-end models, like peaking (an edge-detection display) in manual focus, which actually makes it possible to use the manual focus on the low-resolution display.

Conclusion
I'm slightly annoyed about the naming convention here: you'd think an xx80 designation in the model name and a similar price would imply that it's a step-up or replacement model for the xx60 series, which I really liked. But thanks to the sensor, it's actually a step backward; the true replacement models are the xx90 series.

There really are better choices than this series. For many people it might be worth spending a little extra to get better video quality with the manual features; if you don't care about the manual features, you might as well go a little cheaper and get the same so-so video.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Panasonic HDC-TM80 (Red)

Part Number: HDC-TM80R Released: Mar 15, 2011
MSRP: $499.99 Low Price: $373.11 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Mar 15, 2011
  • Optical Sensor Type MOS
  • Width 2 in
  • Depth 4.3 in
  • Height 2.3 in
  • Weight 6.8 oz