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Panasonic HC-V100M Camcorder Overview

A step-up entry-level camcorder with internal memory

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Panasonic HC-V100M Camcorder Overview

Image courtesy Panasonic

The Panasonic HC-V100M is a high definition camcorder that records 1920 x 1080 video in the AVCHD format.

The HC-V100M carries a suggested retail price of $399. It is a close cousin of the $349 V100 sharing most of the same core technical specs and the exact same ergonomics and design. Full technical specifications for the HC-V100M can be found here.

Panasonic HC-V100M Video Features

The HC-V100M uses the full AVCHD format for 1920 x 1080p high definition recording. It supports 17Mbps recording, not the highest bit-rate available in the AVCHD video format (24Mbps). The HC-V100M features a 1.5-megapixel 1/5.8-inch CMOS image sensor. The HC-V100M can also record in standard definition if you want to save space on your memory card. The camcorder also supports iFrame recording (at 960 x 540) for movies that can be easily edited on most computers.

The camcorder uses Panasonic's "Intelligent Auto" mode for automatically matching scene modes such as portrait, sunset, scenery, forest and macro mode, to shooting environments. The mode employs various technologies - including image stabilization, face detection, an intelligent scene-selector and contrast control to optimize your exposure.

Optical Features

You'll find a 34x optical zoom lens on the VC100. This optical zoom is joined by a 42x Intelligent zoom (iZoom), which can enhance the magnification of your footage by using a smaller portion of the sensor without losing image resolution. Finally, there's a 2000xdigital zoom which will degrade resolution when in use.

The lens employs Panasonic's Power Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) for keeping your footage relatively shake-free. The image stabilization technology has an active mode which can be enabled when walking or when you're otherwise in an unstable position to provide extra shake reduction. You'll have the option for both automatic and manual focusing.

The V100M lens is protected by a manual lens cover. It's not as convenient as the automatic covers found on higher-end Panasonic models.

Memory and Display

Unlike the direct-to-card V100, the V100M packs 16GB of internal memory and a single SDHX memory card slot. Using just internal memory, the HC-V100M can store approximately three hours and 45 minutes worth of the highest quality HD footage. You can also record to SDXC cards, although there is no relay recording.

The HC-V100M offers a 2.7-inch LCD display. There is no optical or electronic viewfinder.

Design

Design-wise, the HC-V100M cuts a fairly conventional, if somewhat boxy, figure. Thanks to the use of flash memory you'll still enjoy a light weight body at .4 pounds. The HC-V100M measures in at 2 x 2.3 x 4.4 inches, roughly the same form factor as the entry-level series of Panasonic camcorders, and features a zoom lever on the top of the camcorder and a record shutter located on the side, next to the camcorder's battery. Open the display and you'll find buttons video playback, scrolling and info, plus the camcorder's ports: component, HDMI, USB and AV.

Aesthetically, the HC-V100M is available in a black.

Shooting Features

The HC-V100M is outfitted with a fairly minimalistic feature set. It offers face detection a pre-record function which records three seconds worth of video before you hit the shutter. The V100M also offers an auto ground-directional standby mode, which detects if the camcorder is being held in an unusual position (say, upside down) and automatically stops recording. A low light/color night recording mode preserves colors even in dim lighting.

As far as scene modes go, you'll find sports, portrait, low light, spot light, snow, beach, sunset, fireworks, night scenery, night portrait and soft skin mode. You can snap 2-megapixel photos while recording video on the V100M. Still photos can also be isolated from video footage played back on the camcorder and saved as a separate file. There is a two channel stereo microphone.

Connectivity

The HC-V100M offers a built-in HDMI output for connecting the camera although the cable is not included. You can also connect to a PC via USB cable.

Impression

At $399, the HC-V100M is $50 more than the nearly identical V100. The extra $50 buys you 16GB of memory out of the box, so you won't need to spend extra for a card. Since the price of flash memory cards tend to head in one direction (down), we don't think it makes sense to pay extra for built-in storage unless you're a prolific user. Given the features line up evenly, the V100 makes more sense if you're torn between the two.

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