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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Camcorders

Photos: Hands-on with the 3MOS Panasonic HDC-HS100

The Panasonic HDC-HS100 is a camcorder packing a manual focus ring, viewfinder and three CMOS sensors -- so the boffins have only gone and called it a 3MOS camera. Clever, eh?

The Panasonic HDC-HS100 we first met in Monte Carlo has arrived in Crave Towers with a raft of features, and even sporting a new name for this type of camcorder. It's a three CMOS model, or '3MOS' -- ooh, that's clever -- because it utilises three, 1/6-inch 'Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor' imaging sensors. Three CCD models are designed to absorb red, green or blue on each individual sensor, giving richer colour information than a single sensor, and 3MOS works on the same principle. Each sensor packs 610,000-pixels.

Video is recorded in AVCHD format, at full high definition 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution. It's stored on a 60GB hard disk drive, which isn't the biggest on the market, but still holds two minutes shy of 8 hours-worth of HD footage.

Our favourite feature is the lens ring on the Leica Dicomar Lens. It boasts a 12x optical zoom, which can be controlled by the zoom rocker at the back of the camera, or with the lens ring. A quick push of a switch at the front, and the lens ring allows you to focus manually, with the centre of the frame magnified on screen for fine adjustment.

The Panasonic HDC-HS100 is available for as little £610 online. To find out if it's the 3MOS with the most-est -- er, that didn't work, but we'll just gloss over it -- click through the photos for a closer look, and an HDMI surprise. -Rich Trenholm

This is the 69mm (2.7-inch) 16:9 LCD screen, packing 300,252-dot resolution. Many of the connections and controls are in the screen well, including a flat, four-way joystick for navigating menus. Closing the screen puts the camera into stand-by, for quick start-up by flipping it out when you're ready to shoot again.

A sliding cover in the screen well conceals component and AV/audio connections. A flip-open door underneath protects the SD and SDHC card slot.

So where's the HDMI slot if it's not here? Give up? It took us a bit of hunting, too, but we figured it out without recourse to the manual -- which would have resulted in geek seppuku, disembowelling ourselves with our iPhone.

The USB, HDMI and DC in connection are concealed in the battery well, so you have to remove the battery to transfer footage. That makes sense if you assume that people are going to transfer footage to their computers while safely ensconsed at home in dressing gown and slippers, with all the cables at hand and the battery safely whacked in the charger. But it still just feels a bit... daft.

The HS100 also captures JPEG stills, up to 1,920x1,080 pixels, or 2.1-megapixels of 16:9 goodness. Above the screen well, there are handy dedicated buttons for intelligent auto (iA) mode, and pre-record function.

You can switch between the LCD screen and this electronic viewfinder. It includes a dioptre to adjust your view, and first impressions suggest it's reasonably crisp for an EVF.