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Panasonic SDR-SW21: Dead 'ard hands-on

The Panasonic SDR-SW21 is a tough camcorder that stands up to water, knocks and dust. All in a day's work for your accident-prone Cravers

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Richard Trenholm
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Like Daniel Craig emerging from the waves in Casino Royale, the Panasonic SDR-SW21 is a camcorder that takes the knocks on water or on land, although probably doesn't make ladies come over all previous to quite the same extent.

It's a standard-definition, SD card-based shooter that can be used underwater, as well as being sturdy enough to repel dust and withstand being dropped. Previously the domain of Sanyo, the tough-camcorder market is under attack from Panasonic, as is the tough-camera market previously ruled by Olympus.

The SW21's waterproofiness down to 2m proudly conforms to standard IEC60529 IPX8. The dustbusting meets standard IEC60529IP5X -- we know! amazing -- and 1.2-metres of droppiness meets MIL-STD-810F METHOD 516.5 SHOCK. Well 'ard.

In keeping with the rufty-tufty sturdiness, the SW21 is lean on fancy extras. Video is recorded in DVD-quality MPEG2 format, and stills are a scant 0.8 megapixels. One pleasing inclusion is a stereo zoom microphone, although performance underwater may be a bit, well, wet.

You also get a 0.6-second quick-start feature and 10x optical zoom. To see how the SW21 keeps in shape, click through our pictures.

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The screen well includes a clickpad and mode wheel. The screen measures 69mm (2.7-inches).
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Each of the connections are covered by lockable hatches.
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The USB and power connection are concealed in the side.
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The SDHC card and battery have an equally sturdy cover.
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The front of the camcorder includes a second record button, so you can change your grip or use it left-handed.
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The Panasonic SDR-SW21 is available now for £310.

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