updated 08:40 am EDT, Wed June 18, 2008
Panasonic HS100 SD100
Panasonic on Wednesday broke word of two HD camcorders that use a brand new technology to improve their shooting in low lighting. The hybrid 60GB/SDHC HS100 camera and its SDHC-only SD100 equivalent use a new sensor technology known as 3MOS: effectively substituting CMOS sensors in place of a more typical 3CCD arrangement, the technique allows twice as much light in as a CCD while keeping the color reception that comes with more than one sensor. Either camera can shoot in as little as 2 lux of light, Panasonic says.
The two record at a full 1920x1080 and come with a new Leica-made, stabilized Dicomar lens that both increases the useful contrast while giving the cameras 12X optical zoom in a relatively small frame. A new HD Advanced Pure Color Engine for the image processor both helps drop noise while also doubling the dynamic range, allowing the Panasonic camcorders to point at shadowed areas or at brightly-lit windows without losing as much detail.
Both record video in AVCHD (H.264) and can store as much as 7 hours and 40 minutes of full-quality video on the HS100's 60GB hard drive, or an hour on a typical 8GB SDHC card usable by either camera. For output, either model can output a deep color HDMI 1.3 image to a compatible TV; Windows users can pull in and edit video using presupplied HD Writer software, while iMovie 08 and similar-generation Apple video editing tools can recognize the camcorders' footage without requiring extra software.
Panasonic ships all of the cameras in September but prices the hybrid HS100 the lowest despite its hard drive, selling the device for $1,100; the SD100 comes with an 8GB SDHC card and will sell for $1,300.