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Panasonic HDC-TM80 image samples

Unless you're shooting cropped into a subject in bright sunlight, the video quality of the Panasonic HDC-SD80, TM80 and HS80 will probably disappoint.

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LoriGruninNewHeadshot.jpg
Lori Grunin
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Lori Grunin
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1 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Best results

The TM80 delivers its best results in bright sunlight, zoomed in on the subject. When playing, the video looks pretty clean, though somewhat soft with edge artifacts. (frame grab)
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2 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

General image detail

In this wide shot you can see that the lower-resolution sensor can't resolve enough detail to produce HD video. It's particularly noticeable when displayed on a big-screen TV. (frame grab)
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3 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Artifacts

This type of highly detailed shot isn't as bad as I've seen in other low-resolution models--I don't see any pixel blocks--but you can see the color noise on the dark surfaces. (frame grab)
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4 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Color

While the colors aren't that accurate, they're certainly pleasing and saturated under bright conditions. (Frame grabs)
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5 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Low light with video light

Unlike its low-cost competitors, the TM80 and company have an on-board LED video light. While it can help in scenes like this, you really don't want to point it toward people; they'll be seeing spots for a very long time. It also results in a not-very-attractive white balance, and you still lose a lot of detail in the scene. (Frame grab)
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6 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Low-light video quality

The camcorder's low-light quality isn't very good; there's quite a bit of color noise and it's very soft. (Frame grab)
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7 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Distortion

There's a bit of distortion on the left side of the scene, more than I like given how narrow the lens is at its widest. (Frame grab)
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8 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Edge artifacts

There's quite a bit of aliasing (jaggies) on edges. (Frame grab)
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9 of 9 Lori Grunin/CNET

Photo quality

You generally don't want to use this camcorder as a still camera; the photo quality doesn't even match that of a camera phone unless it's scaled down. (Still photo)

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