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Video Cameras

Photos: The life aquatic with the Panasonic SDR-SW20

We're under full sail on the good ship Crave for a voyage with the Panasonic SDR-SW20 waterproof camcorder. Have a look at our photos to see if everything's shipshape and Bristol-fashion

Stingraaaaayyyyy -- Stingray! D'derderder-derder! Yes, Crave has always been fascinated by the deep, the mysterious deep. Scientists say that there are more species still to be discovered beneath the sea than exist anywhere on Earth*, and if you want to get in on the Troy Tempest action and find yourself a Marina, you could do worse than start with the Panasonic SDR-SW20 waterproof camcorder.

All right, so it won't trouble Jacques Cousteau with its 1.5m maximum depth, but if you do go down that deep you get to see steam valves bursting in the SW20, and pressure needles spinning crazily, like in Das Boot**.

It's also shockproof, so it wouldn't be fazed by that bit in Jaws with the head in the boat. Oh wait, not that kind of shock: it can stand up to being dropped from up to 1.2m. It's also dustproof, so it'll stand up to the beach on your way in and out of the water. It even comes in Baywatch red, or you could choose a silver version.

The Panasonic SDR-SW20 is available now for somewhere in the paddling pool of £280. Click the links to see more of this master and camcorder. -Rich Trenholm

*We made this up.
**We made this up too. It would be cool though.

Update: Read our full Panasonic SDR-SW20 review

The Panasonic SW20 boasts a flip-out 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD screen. Unusually, the screen doesn't flip over for self-portraits. We're not keen on having the controls in the screen well either, as it makes it harder to see both the screen and the buttons you're pressing. Still, at least it keeps the form factor small.

Should you be startled by a passing shoal of fish like those ones out of Finding Nemo, there's a 0.6 sec quick-start feature. A secondary record button at the front of the SW20 also allows you to change your grip on the camcorder.

Batten down the hatches to keep dust and water out. One door covers AV Out and USB connections, while the other conceals the battery and SD/SDHC memory card slot.

The SW20 boasts a 1/6-inch CCD. It includes a stereo zoom microphone that follows the 10x optical zoom. You also get wind-noise reduction, which we'll be testing in our forthcoming in-depth review. Obviously testing a waterproof camcorder can only be seriously done by taking it out for a swim, so we're brushing off our swimming trunks and expensing a holiday in the Bahamas. See what we go through for you, readers?*

*Birkenhead public baths, more like. And we have to bring our own armbands.