Panasonic HDC-SD100 vs. Canon HF100

Panasonic HDC-SD100
This is a short story about my experience with these two cams. The Panasonic HDC-SD100 and the Canon HF100.
I had them two weeks for a thorough comparison. Well – I’m talking about a comparison for me, not the full blown comparisons and reviews like this one. I’ve studied the Internet article coming those days, but they all have been not really satisfying to my. I’m not that much of a pro regarding camcorders. But I know what I wanted. The camcorder should

  • record on SDHC
  • record in 1080i or 1080p
  • be small and light
  • be fast when powering on.
  • be not too expensive.

The time Panasonic announced the HDC-SD100 I knew this is it. What I didn’t know those days was, that I was wrong. But lets start at the beginning.

In comparison to the predecessors, the HDC100 offers the following advantages:

  • accumulator position outside of the body
  • manual focus ring
  • built-in .44″ electronic viewfinder
  • CMOS (3×1/6″) sensors
  • 12x focus

I finally bought this camcorder, and instantly started to love this little marvelous piece of technique. The first impression of this camcorder war very very good. “The cam looks like cheap plastic” some said. Well – in addition with its very light weight it really made the impression of being cheap plastic, but if you take the cam into your hand, you feel how solid and precise it is build. That’s why I never had the impression of holding something cheap in my hand. Light yes – cheap no!

The camcorder is fast. Point and shoot – no problem. You really don’t have to wait for the camcorder. If you’ve got little kids, you sometimes just don’t have the time to wait for the cam.
The intelligent auto (IA) is made for idiots. I instantly loved this feature. The cam recognizes faces. Faces – plural.
video outtakeIf you’ve got many faces, the camcorder focuses on them, and turns on backlight compensation if necessary. Gorgeous. I never want to miss this again (Unfortunately I have to). Just imagine the situation where you’re shooting two persons. The one is on the left side and the other person is on the other side. In the middle of the screen is the window. Usually a cam would focus on the window, and adjust the exposure accordingly to the given light. The result would be two too dark faces to the left and to the right. Not with this brilliant face recognition. The camcorder not only focuses onto the both faces, it also actives the backlight compensation! You can see the faces crispy and clearly, and in the background you can see a blurry and overexposed window – who cares!

The display has a really high resolution and can be used even if the sun is coming directly at it (almost 😉 ). Should you all of a sudden suffer from a really extreme moment of clarity and the enlightenment outshines the display, then – well then you can use the built-in view-finder 🙂
Things I didn’t need, but nice to have:
The manual focus ring is hard to use, and made really no sense to me. I’ve tried hard to imagine in which situation this would make sense, but I won’t bother you with the ideas came to my mind.
The fully-fledged sliding carriage is nice, but I don’t have anything to put on it, although you don’t have to search long for a situation where an extra light would be a really nice feature, since the cam it not good at low light at all.
Video Quality
Now it’s getting ugly. The video quality is really bad. Imagine: I’ve never had a FullHD camcorder in my life, and I saw just a few non-representative samples from other cams in a resolution comparable to this one (1920×1080), and I had instantly the impression the picture is blurry somehow. After taking out the over-saturated colors, the image remains somehow diffuse or somehow out of focus. Well – one must admit, that I was studying the video quality with my nose almost touching the screen. Anyhow – the video quality is bad and the integrated photo functionality also produces, sorry the language, just crap.

4 thoughts on “Panasonic HDC-SD100 vs. Canon HF100

  1. This review is exactly what I was looking for.

    So I have to choose between a beautiful easy-to-use poor quality cam and an ugly clumsy great-performance cam. Pretty tough job! Since my mom will like to use it too. She may not like the difficulties Canon gives.


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