"Panasonic SDR-H200"on by ctime
Pros Ultra Convenient Memory Maker
Cons USB Port is Behind the Battery!!
Summary I took the plunge and bought two of them (One for my brother). My reason for this is:
1. the predominance of editing software available for MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, etc. as well as the ability to play on practically any regular DVD player. My Aunts, Uncles, relatives and friends do not care for, nor ever will buy a BluRay Player and a 42"+ Panny, although I do (more about that in a sec). Thus sharing compatibility is more important to me than obtaining the latest AVCHD, although I may for other reasons in the future. I know I can down convert but the extra steps, increased price, limited industry supported software (for unconverted .mt2s files), the new h.264 compression standard and the increased horsepower required for PC use are all compelling reasons to stick with SD in the home and for sharing - not only the finished product but also raw footage with others and having zero complications.
I have a 2GB RAM, P4, 3.0 Ghz, etc. laptop but 8 out of every 10 others I know use centrino technology, 1.8 Ghz, 256-512 RAM, etc. which just isn't gonna drive h.264 footage nicely is it. Same goes for desktop setups. Try downloading and watching 720p video from the Windows Media HD Video website if your computer leans more towards the latter to see what I mean. SD footage won't encounter these snags. Once again, I am speaking from the point of view of sharing with the people I know who for the most part will never upgrade to the latest PC / Home theatre (or at least not in the next 5-10 years).
2. USB 2.0 Hi Speed Transferring, i.e. 100 MB files transferred from card/ HDD in about 15 seconds. Editing, Rendering, Authoring is a breeze.
3. I wanted a MEMORY MAKER, not a home movie studio. This unit fits in the palm of your hand (almost bordering on too small) and easily slips into a LowePro camera bag.
4. I have a 32-bit PCMCIA SD/SDHC card reader (not 16) that I bought to replace my laptop 4-in-1 media reader. Standard readers that most people have today on their desk or built in to their laptop will not read the new SDHC cards available at 4GB+ capacities. More mention of this should be made in my opinion. Also, these new cards will not work in older devices that do not support SDHC. The SDR-H200 does support SDHC.
I experimented recording to the card and then transferring footage to my laptop. The 32bit cardBus adapter is 10-16X faster than USB 2.0. It is just awesome. The reason I mention this is because of the 1 major gripe I encountered, Namely...
...Transferring HDD footage requires disconnecting the battery from the unit and connecting a DC cable to it from the AC power adapter. Then USB 2.0 cable out to computer. Sooooooo, this means always needing to be around power instead of just turning on the camera and transferring the HDD footage randomly anywhere. It's not that big of a deal but I like having Zero restrictions So using SDHC cards frees me from that restriction, hence the mention of the 32bit cardBus reader (YES they exist - interfirm - http://www.synchrotech.com/products/media-adapters_01.html)! ***If you follow suit and get this adapter make sure you download and install the correct driver from the website because there's no Windows XP/ Vista substitute that will do it for you like we're used to!!
Another Note - if you transfer files directly from the card they show up as .mod files. Windows media player 11 recognizes them and plays. Other players don't, so you simply change them to .mpg. Sektionschef created a great program that automatically converts multiple .mod files (i.e. all of your stored clips) to the .mpg extension all at once! Very cool. It's called <sdcopy197beta.zip>
5. 3CCD over single chip, this unit uses 3CCD RGB, nice. A handy F1.8 for dimly lit environments works pretty good. The 10x optical zoom is very smooth, speed contollable by the amount of pressure used on the toggle switch and there was no focus hunting in Auto mode. The O.I.S. doesn't help much when zoomed in on a subject and you're moving around so staying wider helps unless you're into using tripods. But zooming in fully on a WestJet airplane taking off produced good results.
Another nice feature is the auto fade in and fade out when you start and stop recording. It effectively smooths over those slight but noticeable camera movements that sometimes occur when the record button is pressed non-gently, awkwardly, haphazardly or whatever. This setting can be switched on or off. I like it, but you may not want to use it if you're into utilizing post-editing software because you can't remove an already recorded fade.
Here is a few clips I uploaded you can check out. I recommend downloading and playing the clips on your computer video player over using the website streaming player because the web player compresses the video resolution...
Indoor, Available Light, Auto, Setting = XP (higest SD quality) - Outdoor light is completely overcast.
Outdoor - Auto, Zoom in on airplane, XP, Completely overcast sky
Low Light, Indoor, Coffee Shop, XP Mode, Auto
Finally, does the footage measure up? YES. There is no comparison to watching footage on the laptop as compared to a monitor, TV or Plasma. When I watched it on my laptop I was like hmmmm, oh yeah, that's pretty good. But when I ran my footage from the camera through a Yamaha RX-V2700 Receiver with 1080i/1080p upsacling to a 42" Panasonic Plasma via HDMI I was blown away! You will be extremely PLEASED if you run your footage through a home theatre HDMI setup. The same goes for a DVD disc.
I also tried S-Video out directly to TV with included AV cables (no HDMI/ no receiver) and I would still rate the footage as GREAT. Fortunately, you can do this running on straight battery power and a remote control is included! I also ran it through my 23" Samsung LCD HDTV computer monitor and... you guessed it, great. In all cases the picture turns out to be very crisp, clean and vibrant.
So although I love the new HiDef footage, etc. I took my chances in sticking with SD for home video purposes and am more than pleased. No regrets. The unit shoots in 16:9 or 4:3 and has no problem saturating my entire 42" screen. Even my mother who is expecting plenty of baby footage from my brother was more than impressed and could tell that it was a quality pic.
So, if you are looking for a memory maker and anticipate bringing it along on trips or to the ball game or whatever you'll be happy to own this unit.
The menu is simple and clean, and you can easily switch from recording to HDD/ SD/ SDHC card at the push of a button. There is plenty of manual settings you can tinker with but auto mode does the trick nicely.
It is simple, handy and fun which is exactly what I wanted. This unit delivered that. 9 out of 10 for not being able to transfer HDD footage to computer without power adapter (but to its credit, the adapter is conveniently small). Since it also holds 7 hours of highest quality footage this shouldn't be too much of a bother unless you're a frequent downloader. I peronally will buy an 8GB SDHC card (110 minutes) off of eBay and leave it in the unit so that I'll have options baby
The unit comes with ImageMixer editing software and is very easy to use and import your video with directly from the camera - it's a good added value piece of software.
I hope my taking the plunge this time helps prospectives. Enjoy!
One more thing... READ the manual you lazies, there are things you should and need to know.
P.S. It takes decent one push 2MP still photographs too in a pinch (not outstanding but not too bad - it's nice knowing that it's there if necessary)! You can find a still I posted here...
"Excellent Over All."on by RASYJ
Pros 3 CCD, optical image stablization, dual storage
Cons pictures taken indoors at night are a little bit grainy.
Summary Very easy to use and very light. The optical image stabilization is much much better than the electronic stabilization. The 3 CCDs produces excellent videos. Videos and still pictures can be stored into the hard disk drive or SD card. The still pictures are fine provided there is ample lighting. This would be perfect camcorder if it had an electonic flash for night still pictures.
This camcorder is highly recommended. I chose it over comparative Sony, Hitachi and JVC models.
"Great camera."on by rmsmith1977
Pros No tapes or discs. Battery lasts a looooong time. 3ccd, optical stabilization instead of ccd stabilization
Cons Wish it had an automatic lens cover.
Summary Great camera, actually bought it the day my wife went into labor. Battery lasted the entire hospital stay(3 days), about 10 hr usage. good recording in low light. built in light is great.
Pros size,hard drive, sd card, zoom, colors(3cced),battery life,general ease of use
Cons no viewfinder,price high unless you shop wisely
Summary This a great camcorder after owning 5 others which were all good(Canon Optura XI,my last)but htis Panasonic takes ALL the fuse out of usage on all occasions travel and family! Sweet color and ease of use make it very practical. Being able to shoot onto the built in hard drive or onto SD card up to 4GB make this cmcorder a snap!!
Pros image stabalizer, movie maker software, easy menu, lots of recording options. Standard or widescreen options. Date/Time stamp.
Cons battery life minimal, no flash for still pics.
Summary I've had it for 5 months now. No problems. Bought it to record our newborn son growing up. I made several DVD copies so far, and my family loved it. It's easy to hook up to my lap top and make DVD movies. Picture quality is great, and it has lots of options. It's easy to operate overall. It was highly recommended in Consumer reports magazine.