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Photos and image samples: Panasonic SDR-S150

A discussion of the SDR-S150's design plus comments on the camcorder's video and photo quality with examples.

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Lori Grunin
1 of 7 CNET Networks
A latch prevents you from accidentally opening the SD card cover, since the slot is located on the bottom of the camcorder.
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2 of 7 Lori Grunin
The SDR-S150 has no manual metering, and its scheme--which seems to be some form of matrix metering--makes it impossible to properly expose for the people in this scene. There is a backlight compensation option, but it's not available in manual mode, and it doesn't seem to do much, anyway.
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3 of 7 Lori Grunin
The flash can be unpredictable. I was standing roughly the same distance from the subjects in each of the shots (no-flash versions below), but the flash completely blew out the photo in one while performing quite well in the other.
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4 of 7 Lori Grunin
If you're planning to keep 'em small, the SDR-S150's still photos look pretty good. When viewed or printed at actual size, however, you can see the serious overprocessing that blurs most of the details.
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5 of 7 Lori Grunin
This frame from the SDR-S150's video displays two of the camcorders most serious problems. First, it has poor automatic white balance and tends to produce extremely cool video. Second, edges of objects in motion--check out the flag on the left side of the pole--tend to display severe comb artifacts. They're more noticeable in individual frames, such as this one, but they're pretty bad and easy to see in regular video playback.
6 of 7 CNET Networks
It's a bit annoying that there are separate modes for each state: movie recording, movie playback, still-photo recording, still-photo playback, and one to tell it there's a computer on the other end of the USB cable.
7 of 7 CNET Networks
The body of the SDR-S150 is pretty well designed, with easy-to-operate controls that fall under your thumb, while shooting controls and other less frequently needed ones require a hand reposition to operate. When in manual mode, the center button on the navigation switch pulls up the various selections you can make, such as shutter speed and white balance preset.

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