Panasonic's HS700, TM700 Camcorders: Low-Light Specialists

Panasonic announced three HD camcorders back at CES, and now the HDC-HS700 and HDC-TM700 round out the family. With 3MOS sensors that offer high-quality HD image in low-light situations, they won't be cheap but you'll get what you pay for.

Back in December, we deemed the HDC-TM300, the predecessor to the TM700, the best camcorder you could buy over $US1000. The TM700 retains the 32GB solid state drive, the 3-inch touchscreen LCD, the SD card capability, and the full 1080/60p recording HD recording of the TM300 while including some distinct improvements: increased zoom (12x optical and 18x Intelligent Zoom); wider-angle recording with 33mm capability; and more advanced image stabilisation.

The HDC-HS700 largely sports the same specs, except it boasts a beefy 240GB HDD and adds a little extra bulk in which to house it.

Both the HS700 and TM700 can take 14.2 MP still images and have 46mm Leica Dicomor lenses. The prices for the camcorders will be announced a month before their release, and while they won't be cheap, we expect them to maintain the high quality of last year's models. Check the release for full details.


New 35mm Wide-Angle Leica Lenses, 18x Intelligent Zoom and Manual Controls Make HS700 and TM700 Perfect for Professional-Quality Video Shooting

SECAUCUS, NJ (February 9, 2010) – Panasonic today introduces two additions to its 2010 line of camcorders, the Panasonic HDC-HS700 and HDC-TM700, both Full High Definition (HD) 3MOS camcorders with 1920 x 1080 resolution. The new Panasonic HD camcorders combine 1080/60p recording – allowing them to capture expressive video without detail loss or Moiré pattern – with an advanced 3MOS system that produces vivid, true-to-life colours and excels in darkly-lit environments. The new HDC-HS700, records both to its large 240 GB* Hard Disk Drive or to an SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card. The HDC-TM700 has 32 GB of built-in memory as well as capability to record to SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Cards, and is the successor to last year's popular and award-winning HDC-TM300. Both models have a 35mm wide-angle Leica lens and a manual ring for creative flexibility.

"For video enthusiasts looking for a feature-rich, high-performing, yet affordable High Definition Camcorder, Panasonic's new TM700 and HS700 3MOS models will be a hit this year," said Chris Rice, Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. "Last year's TM300 was extremely popular and won several honors and awards for its video quality and performance, so with the improvements we have made with the TM700/HS700, including extended zoom, wider-angles and a more advanced image stabilisation system, we are excited to give consumers the ideal tool they need to capture their memories with superb quality."

The high-sensitivity 3MOS system provides an effective video image pixel count of 7,590,000 pixels (2,530,000 pixels x 3) and separates the light received through the lens into the three primary colours – red, green and blue – processing each independently. The sensor shoots 14.2-megapixel still images (in Still Image mode) and 13.3-megapixel still images from recorded video. Even with this high pixel count, newly developed technology increases sensitivity and reduces noise by one-half to achieve vivid images with minimal noise. As a result, Panasonic's 3MOS system enables excellent colour reproduction, high resolution, rich gradation, and lets the user capture vividly coloured images in bright or darkly-lit places.

The Panasonic HDC-TM700 and HDC-HS700 HD camcorders feature the newly designed, large-diameter F1.5 (46mm) Leica Dicomor lens, which provides the superb image rendering and not only suppresses ghosts and flare, but also minimizes the distortion and degradation of contrast and resolution. In addition, its 35mm** wide-angle capability makes it ideal for many different shooting situations, such as self-portraits, group photos, and landscape shots.

Both models feature a 12x optical zoom lens, which is further enhanced by Intelligent Resolution Technology to extend the zoom to an 18x Intelligent Zoom. The Intelligent Zoom corrects image degradation in ordinary digital zooming, extending the camera's zoom ration to approximately 1.3x, while maintaining the image quality, thus delivering stunningly clear full-HD images***.

Both models feature a 3.0" touch-screen LCD that allows users to navigate by selecting icons on the display. These models also have a manual ring allowing creative flexibility, so users have intuitive control of the zoom, focus, aperture, shutter speed and white balance. An Electronic View Finder, earphone terminal and microphone terminal allow for even more control. The HDC-HS700 records to its 240 GB HDD, which can store 102 hours of recording (in HE mode). When combined with Panasonic's new 64 GB SDXC Memory Card, the camcorder provides an additional recording time of 27 hours and 30 minutes. The HDC-TM700 has a 32 GB built-in memory for 13 hours and 40 minutes of recording (in HE mode).

Other features of the Panasonic HDC-HS700 and HDC-TM700 include:

* Power O.I.S. (Optical Image stabilisation) – Uses gyro sensors to detect hand-shake to reduce blurring. When the camcorder is held, it moves at low frequency due to the breathing of the operator or other slight movement. POWER O.I.S. corrects even the slightest movement approximately five times more effectively than the previous version.

* iA (Intelligent Auto) – Function that automatically selects the most suitable shooting mode at the press of a button, and this year iA adds Face Recognition, which finds the faces of registered people and automatically optimizes the focus and exposure for them. In addition, the camcorder continues to track this subject as the person moves anywhere within the LCD frame. Up to six faces can be registered.

* Smile Shot – Feature that automatically takes a still photo during video recording when it detects a smiling face.

* 5.1-Channel Surround Sound System with Zoom Microphone – Uses five microphones so when voices/sounds recorded from front, right, left and back are played back on a 5.1-channel home theatre system, viewers are surrounded by clear, detailed sound. The Zoom Microphone lets users zoom the sound only to hear the subject while continuing to record a wide-angle shot.

* Wind Noise Canceller – An evolution from the previous wind noise reduction system, this advanced function automatically detects and suppresses wind noise only, to ensure only the natural sounds of the shooting environment remain.

* Auto Power LCD – Automatically adjusts the brightness of the LCD screen according to the shooting environment. In dark places, the screen brightness is reduced to 1/3 the normal level to minimize the possibility of disturbing nearby people. In bright outdoor places, the screen brightness is increased to twice the normal level.

Pricing and availability for the Panasonic HDC-HS700 and HDC-TM700 will be announced 30 days prior to shipping date. Both will be available in black.

* GB = 1,073,741,824 bytes. Usable capacity will be less.

** 35mm-lens equivalent.

*** Approximately 810 TV lines. 1920 horizontal pixels x 1080 vertical pixels.

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