"Almost Perfect Consumer HD Camcorder with few flaws"4.5 starson by famu97
Pros: excellent video quality, lightweight & compact, excellent digital stills, capture digital still while recording video, built-in flash for stills & LED light for recording video, face recognition & saved face detection, 25x Optical zoom, Insta
Cons: low-light video quality is still not great but better than models of recent years, over-compensates for color correction when shooting in intelligent auto-mode indoors w/poor lighting, 2-channel stereo audio, no included mini-HDMI to HDMI cable
Summary: In my opinion you really have two options for the best consumer-grade HD camcorders and that's Panasonic or Sony. I've owned a previous Panasonic HD camcorder and the video & digital still image quality on this camera is far superior. Shooting outdoors makes an unbelievable video with no visible flaws in color & clarity.
I love how lightweight this is and how small it is. It almost seems like a toy in the palm of your hands because of how small it is. I believe it would fit in my pocket it's so small. The 25x optical zoom is great but it can go out to 32x zoom with digital enhancements. The battery life is pretty descent but I'd like it longer. You can get 1 hr 41 mins of record time from a fully charged battery. I'd recommend buying an extra battery just to be safe.
Another thing I love about this camcorder is the instant-on feature. As soon as you press the power button it's ready to shoot. there's literally no wait to be able to record.
I have a 16GB SDHC card in mine and it says I can record 2 hrs & 41 mins of video at the highest resolution. I think I'll buy at least another 8GB or 16GB SDHC card just to make sure I always have enough storage to record what I want.
I think my one big knock on this HD camcorder is that when shooting in full intelligent auto-mode, the camcorder seems to try to over-compensate for low-lighting when shooting in doors. It sometimes make skin tones more red or it swings the other way and has a night-vision like effect on the skins tones & picture. I don't know if I can shoot in manual mode and avoid that from happening but the intelligent auto point & shoot is the reason I got the camcorder in the first place. i don't want to have to set manual settings to correct for skin tone color. I noticed it because I've owned a previous Panasonic HD camcorder that was going on 3 years old and the previous models didn't do that. New users won't know the difference.
One small nit-pick I have is that the menu is not that intuitive. Some settings are located in places that were hard for me to find without looking it up in the manual. I do wish the LCD screen was a little larger but the camcorder is so small they can't physically put a larger screen on it.
Basically I love this camcorder. If I had more money to spend, I would get the Panny HDC-TM700K which has 3 CMOS sensors instead of one, 32GB internal flash memory & records in full Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. The 5.1 DD surround sound is what I miss from my last Panny HD camcorder. I do think for the money you're spending they would include an HDMI cable especially since its using a mini-HDMI to HDMI interface. that's not a common HDMI cable to buy.
Bottom line is you won't be disappointed in the video & digital still picture quality at this price. If you have a bigger budget - then I'd recommend the Panasonic HDC-TM700K.