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Panasonic's 3MOS HD camcorders: HDC-SD100 and HDC-HS100

We got our hands on the new high-definition Panasonic HDC-SD100 and HDC-HS100 camcorders with their 3MOS system and handy manual rings

To complete our three-pronged Monte Carlo camera coverage, we sidestep from stills to video with the Panasonic HDC-SD100 and HDC-HS100. Both are full high-definition camcorders, shooting 1,920x1,080-pixel video in AVCHD format. They also pack a world's first: 3MOS.

3MOS involves a type of image sensor. Traditionally, camcorders have used CCD sensors, while upper-end models have improved colour performance by whacking in three CCDs: one each for red, green and blue. 3MOS, unsurprisingly, gives us a troika of MOS chips. During our brief play with the cameras, we were impressed by the colour, but on a boat in Monte Carlo harbour, the only colour we really saw was blue.

Both camcorders also feature five-microphone, 5.1-channel surround sound. You also get features carried over from the Lumix stills camera range, such as advanced image stabilisation, face detection and intelligent auto mode. Face detection can find up to 15 faces in a frame, while iA does all the thinking so you can focus on filming.

The difference between the camcorders is that the SD100 records to SD cards -- clue is in the name -- and the HS100, pictured, is a hybrid model. This means it records to either SD and SDHC card or a built-in 60GB hard disk. Footage can be transferred from one to the other to best suit how you want to watch, edit and generally fiddle about with your footage.

Our favourite feature from a usability point of view is the manual ring at the front of the camera. As well as the traditional application -- adjusting focus -- the manual ring can adjust other settings at the touch of a button. Zoom, aperture, shutter speed and white balance can also be tweaked by this responsive and intuitive method.

The Pansonic HDC-SD100 and HDC-HS100 camcorders will be available in August. The HS100 will retail for £899 and the SD100 for £799. -Rich Trenholm