LAS VEGAS--With updated naming conventions and fewer offerings than last year, Panasonic's somewhat stolid lineup resists jumping on the Wi-Fi bandwagon.
This year's camcorder lineup from Panasonic is a refreshing change from previous years. Not only did the company take the opportunity to rationalize its offerings, simplifying its nomenclature with the convention that "M" indicates the model with built-in memory, but it's also pruned the number of models. Plus, this year it joins the march of companies declaring the death of the hard-disk camcorder.
One thing that hasn't changed is Panasonic's annoying practice of not announcing pricing and availability.
At the top of the line, the 3MOS (three-chip) HC-X900M replaces the SD800/TM900/HS900. Panasonic claims the new processing engine for the 3MOS system improves video quality by offsetting by half a pixel the sensor responsible for capturing greens; most detail and tonal information reside in the green channel. It's an intriguing idea and I'm interested to see the results in practice.
While the lens and basic design remain the same as before, including the manual control ring on the lens, viewfinder, and 1080/60p 28Mbps best-recording mode, Panasonic has increased the LCD size to 3.5 inches and bumped up the LCD resolution to 1.2 megapixels. The optical image stabilizer has also been tweaked with added roll correction.
Panasonic's single-sensor consumer offerings are reduced to three base models, all of which use a new 3.5-megapixel BSI sensor with a new processing engine, and support USB charging. They are:
- HC-V700/V700M, 0/16GB, 21x zoom, 460K LCD. Replaces SD90 line.
- HC-V500/V500M, 0/16GB, 38x zoom, 3-inch 230K LCD. Replaces SD80 line.
- V100, 0GB, 34x zoom. Replaces SD40 line.
As usual, they get smaller as you head down the price scale. They also feature tweaks to the user interface for more streamlined operation, and enhancements to the feature set for stuff like post-processing effects that most people never use.
On the subject of things that few people use, Panasonic will also be releasing a new optional conversion 3D lens, the VW-CLT2, a substantially smaller add-on lens than the previous model, which also has a wider maximum aperture.