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Panasonic camcorders let you get a lot closer

Long zoom ranges are popular with still cameras, but on camcorders they can be more of a hassle than a bonus unless you've got rock-steady hands or a tripod. But that hasn't stopped Panasonic.

Panasonic

Part of Panasonic's CES 2009 product announcements is a triumvirate of camcorders featuring a 70x zoom lens. That's apparently a "world's first and most powerful" lens, though I'm still not sure this was something the average consumer was clamoring for.

The models featuring the new optical zoom are the standard-definition SDR-H80, the SDR-H90, and the SDR-S26. Hand-shake is a big issue with these megazoom lenses and Panasonic had the good sense to back these models with its advanced O.I.S. system, which reduces the effect. Gyrosensors detect shake and shift the lens to correct the optical axis, but it does it at about 4,000 times per second.

Selling for between $329.95 to $499.95, the camcorders will be available in April 2009.