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Panasonic HDC-SD80 review: Panasonic HDC-SD80

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The Good A good range of automatic features. Compact and lightweight. Good video quality.

The Bad Intelligent auto lighting can be blinding. Stills are predictably not a strong point. Battery jutting out makes hitting the record button a little tough.

The Bottom Line Panasonic's SD card-based HD camcorder has exceptional zoom quality and a blinding front LED light.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.3 Overall

Review Sections

Design

The SD80 is, like many SD card-based camcorders of recent years, a light and small camcorder, measuring in at 51.5x59x109mm and weighing a scant 192 grams. If you've used any camcorder in the recent past, the SD80's learning curve shouldn't be too steep; most of the controls are based on the touchscreen, with buttons only for recording, power, image stabilisation and turning the intelligent auto features on or off.

The right side of the camcorder features the AC power in a socket hidden behind a stiff plastic flap. This concerned us slightly; it felt as though, over time, it'd be quite easy to break the flap off entirely. We tested the SD80 concurrently with Panasonic's hard drive-based SDR-H101 and HDC-HS900, both of which use a more robust sliding AC power cover. Next to them, the SD80's pop-out flap felt loose and cheap.

The SD80 comes with no external charger, and the battery sits in a somewhat inelegant way at the back of the camera. The battery slot is just an aesthetic problem, but those with larger hands may find that the battery protrusion makes it hard to hit the record button all the time; we certainly did.

Features

The SD80 is an SD card-based camcorder with a 33.7mm f/1.8-4.0 wide-angle lens and 42x optical zoom, rather more uselessly hyped as being capable of up to 2000x digital zoom. Pixel count is rated at 1.50 megapixels (1.12-1.30 megapixel effective for video shooting).

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