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on June 17, 2009
As the retired chief technology officer for a Fortune 100 company that developed their own digital cine camera, my fundamental interest was in image quality. This 3-CCD, 1440 x 1080i anamorphic 16:9 format camera produces outstanding image quality -- closer to the theoretical limits of performance of 1/4 inch sensors than anything in its price range.

The complex optics (zoom with a telecentric focal length converter ahead of the prism assembly) should be expected to reduce the available contrast ratio because it has so many glass surfaces. Without the sophisticated equipment to measure MTF (modulation transfer function) at home, I measured effective resolution instead, which was 576 lp/pw vs. the theoretical limit of 719 lp/pw in the horizontal axis. This is an indication that all the glass surfaces are, indeed, causing a significant loss of contrast ratio.

Even so, the camera performs very well in almost all respects. Panchromatic dynamic range excedes 6 stops (I cannot reliably measure more than that) vs. a theoretical limit at room temperature of around 9 f-stops given the 4.4 um pixel size (horizontal axis). Color saturation falls off sharply with non-optimum exposure. It measured out at ASA 100 with 0 dB of gain.

It has two XLR inputs.

So far, it warrants about four stars.

Now for the bad part: User features are poor. Perhaps they are adequate for ENG work and action footage, but nowhere near adequate for professional photography. This is like a kiddie toy wrapped around a very high quality lens + sensor package. This mystifies me: Putting a Trabant or Yugo body around a Mercedes engine. Here are the problems:

* The body is a big, mostly-empty box with mold lines showing, in a medium gray color, with labels for connectors and controls being molded in vs. silk-screened (which makes them totally unreadable in most lighting situations)

* No manual focus ring. Manual focus can be attained, but only by running the focus motor through pushbuttons. THIS MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE TO USE THIS CAMERA FOR FOLLOW-FOCUS SHOTS, and will therefore completely disqualify it for use by anyone that must have this capability.

* No manual iris ring, either. Again, buttons must be used with the menu to set depth of field.

* Gain cannot be set higher than 0 dB when the iris is closed below full-open. This takes away an important variable in depth of field control.

* Iris full-open is not marked. I still don't really know what it is. It's probably around f/1.6 or some odd number like that.

* White balance is available in only one of four pre-select modes.

* There is no optical anti-alias filter, so any pattern with detail approaching half the pixel-limited resolution will generate moire patterns; even weave patterns in clothing.

In summary, this looks like two different design teams were involved. One for the internals and a separate (and thoroughly incompetent one) for the user controls, form factor, and externals.

For my purposes, this is a high-quality hand-held prosumer camera in a kid's toy shell and I cannot really use it for professional work. But, if you need a shoulder-mounted ENG camera for outdoor action photography, this might be just the ticket.
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on February 2, 2009
i am one of those few people who own both hmc70 and hmc150.while my hmc150 is top notch product,i cant criticize my hmc70 if i look at the fact that it cost 1/3 of what hmc150 did to me.
hmc70 is consumer camera fitted into big body,but........this consumer camera will put lots of other professional camera to shame.
if u are looking for hd quality under two grand look no further.i bought this camera when it was on sale 3 weeks ago.price went up since then.
pros: great picture(under good light though),sound is good even with in built mic,very reasonably priced for 3ccd ,2 cold shoe,volume indicator ,decent view finder,great professional look for this price,and above all no more tape(sdhc recording is really a revolution in professional video business)
1.this camera has 3ccd(1/4) which you cant find in other canera at this price range(i always thought panasonic give more value to your money than sony,jvc let alone canon -canon dont have technology to make ccd so it use pana ccds thats why it is always expensive)
2.these 3ccd produce very good and almost clean picture even when u record at full 13mb/sec settings(you need good amount of light though- buy one on camera light , 100 watt at least.)
3.recording on sdhc card has changed equations forever,u will not look back to mini dv sony or jvc cameras.
dumping whole movie in to your computer is similar to dumping photos from still camera.
4.avchd recording can be edited on corel video studio 12,adobe premier element 7,pinnacle 12,power director 7( i would suggest COREl because it does not render avchd after u finish editing,than mean u save time and image keep its quality,although u need to turn on smart proxy for avchd editing,but then u can even edit this on single or dual core,u dont need quad core computer.)
5.if your customer need regular dvd,u can still use this camera and then before u do editing,transcode this avchd to mpeg 2 using any of the above softwares.( trick here is that u should transcode avchd to mpeg with at least 9 mb/sec variable bit rate setting,so in case u need to put 2 hour on single layer dvd ,u will get better quality,but if u have faster computer u can always edit in native avchd then output final file into mpeg2 )
5. best sdhc card is transcend,but you buy pana,kingston,sandisk,never buy adata brand) one extra battery(sad thing is No other generic battery is available so prepare to spend 169 more for decent pana battery)
please note this camera has few cons (because pana sont want to give you everything for this price)
what those thing missing
1. no zoom ring
2. no focus ring(infact there is no ring on this camera)
3. no zoom control jack(so you cant use this camera with tripod remote)
4.nedd lots of light(understandable ,becuase u are paying under 2 grand and ccds are only 1/4 inch)
overall if you are in transition phase from dv to hd ,and dont want to spend lots of money then this camera is number one choice,other wisebuy hmc150
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on April 15, 2009
OK, I am not a professional videographer, but I know what looks good on a nice television or screen. I tried the smaller HD camcorders (Canon HF 10, and Sony HDR-SR11), and they have excellent video quality if you do not move the camera. I mean don't follow your kids around the yard or try to video a bird in flight or pretty much anything moving. What happens is that you get a kind of ghosting in the video, so the High Def picture I was shooting for looked very pixellated and low quality. I decided to try a prosumer type video camera, and this one was the least expensive HD available at the time. Once it arrived at my house I used it to video several different scenes that gave me difficulty with the hand-helds. The quality of the video was astounding. I could get the same quality during moving shots that I could get with the static shots using the hand-helds. Great I thought I solved the problem of pixellated video in HD. However, there was one small problem. This Camera is Ginormous (Gigantic+enormous) Considerably larger than the old VHS style camcorders. I love the video quality, but it is too big to carry to Disney World or a soccer game or pretty much anywhere that you are not set up to shoot video. The flash memory is excellent, and I have not noticed a huge difference in the picture quality of this camera utilizing flash memory and my current Sony HDR-FX7 utilizing tape.
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on February 17, 2009
Decided to look for an inexpensive shoulder mounted high definition camcorder: there are currently, as Feb. 2009 two models available. The Sony HVR-HD1000 and the Pansonic AG-HMC70 (HMC70P, HMC70PJ are NTSC models, PAL models use different numbers). After checking out online reviews by Digital Content Producer and VideoMaker, I decided to go with the Panasonic camcorder.

The shoulder models both use "professional" versions of consumer handheld cameras. So don't think that for 2 grand you are buying a camcorder that can compare to the more expensive models. The Sony records HDV compression to Mini-dv tapes V.S. the Panasonic recording in AVCHD (13Mbps highest option) to SDHC memory cards. While the HD video quality is sharper with the Sony, the Panasonic AVCHD still looks good without the blocky artifacts you sometimes see when recording motion in HDV compression. The biggest reason for me going with the HMC70 was that it had XLR inputs (use external mic instead of camera's mic), while the Sony only had mini-jack for mic input. I also wanted to use memory cards instead of tapes.

Check out online reviews for yourself before buying either camcorder.
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on July 6, 2013
This is the perfect camera for someone looking to get into the world of professional videography without breaking the bank. This is a true professional camcorder, no more, no less. It's decked out with all of the manual controls a professional needs, as well as a very effective full auto function for beginners. The best of both worlds!

As a professional videographer and filmmaker, I have used the HMC70 in the field alongside the Panasonic AG-AC7 and Panasonic HMC40. I can tell you firsthand that the HMC70 is the perfect match for the HMC40 and it is much better than the AG-AC7.

Many people are attracted to the AG-AC7 because of its similar shoulder-mounted design and comparable price point, but the HMC70 is far superior for several reasons:

1. The 3-CCD sensor. This is super important. A 3-CCD sensor has three imaging chips instead of one, giving you far superior color quality. Many amateurs looking to get into videography make the mistake of buying a camcorder with a single-chip sensor because they think there won't be a noticeable difference. They're wrong. 3-CCD sensors like the HMC70's are the standard requirement for almost all HDTV broadcast. Most networks won't even consider content shot on a single-chip sensor. Not only that, but the HMC70's sensor is CCD, so it won't skew the image when you pan or tilt like CMOS sensors do. This makes for much smoother handheld shooting. The AG-AC7 and the HMC40 both have CMOS sensors that pale in comparison to the awesome 3-CCD sensor found on the HMC70.

2. XLR inputs. This is incredibly important. Again, many amateurs completely overlook XLR inputs when considering what camera to purchase. The reality is, if you want to be even slightly professional, you NEED XLR inputs! These professional audio inputs are the best way to get high quality audio recording from an external microphone or sound-board. You can hook up a shotgun mic to mount on-camera or a wireless lavaliere microphone to place on a person speaking during an interview. The possibilities are endless. But these two inputs allow you to record two separate channels of audio so you will always have a backup! And you can set your volume levels manually or automatically. These XLR inputs are the main reason you should buy the HMC70 instead of the AG-AC7. The AG-AC7 lacks XLR inputs - a major design flaw that cripples the camera's ability to be used by a professional. The HMC70, on the other hand, comes fully equipped with the XLR inputs built-in to the back of the camera! That's a lot better than the HMC40, which requires you to buy a separate (and very expensive!) XLR adapter just to get XLR inputs, and even then there is no automatic-level option. Moral of the story: Buy the HMC70. Get the XLR inputs. Be professional.

3. The build quality. When I first unboxed this camera, I literally said to myself, "Wow! This thing is SOLID!!" Coming from an AG-AC7 and HMC40 background, I was super impressed by the build quality of the HMC70. It's in a class of its own. The Panasonic AG-AC7 is made of cheap, hollow plastic and feels like a child's toy. The HMC40 is a little better but not very durable. The HMC70, however, is built like a tank. For one thing, the camera is about twice as heavy as the AG-AC7, due the higher quality materials. This is definitely a good thing because the weight makes it easier to get smooth shots. And because the camera rests comfortably on your shoulder, you hardly notice the weight! I found it much easier to get smooth shoulder-mounted shots on the HMC70 than the AG-AC7, due to the extra weight, better balance and center of gravity, and adjustable eyepiece (the AG-AC7's eyepiece cannot be adjusted). The optical image stabilization works great and enables you to get smooth shots especially when resting the camera on your shoulder.

4. Low-light capability. This really surprised me. With only a 1/4" sensor, I didn't expect great low-light capability, and yet, I was pleasantly surprised! The HMC70 is about one stop brighter than the HMC40, and at least two stops brighter than the AG-AC7. The AG-AC7 is terrible in low-light, but the HMC70 does quite well in comparison. This must be because the 3-CCD sensor is more sensitive than the CMOS sensors on the AG-AC7 and HMC40.

5. This camera is very intuitive and easy to learn - perfect for someone looking to enter the world of videography. The LCD screen and viewfinder are super clear and high resolution. The buttons on the camera are easy to learn. The camera menu is easy to navigate and easy to understand. This camera scores big points for ease-of-use. Everything about this camera takes professional videography and makes it easy! It shoots full HD (1080 resolution) video that is clean and sharp. It records on affordable SD cards in the AVCHD (advanced video codec high definition) format that is compatible with almost any video editing software, whether you are a Mac or PC user. This camera takes several size batteries but even the smallest battery has such a long life (3-4 hours) that I haven't needed to upgrade!

CONCLUSION: If you want to easily shoot true professional quality video and also look professional while doing it, this is the perfect camera for you. There are many lightly USED ones selling on Amazon in "like new" condition. If you buy it used like I did, you can get an awesome camcorder for entry level professional videography or filmmaking at an amazingly good price!
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on February 28, 2014
Panasonic should have never released this camera. Their affordable (sub $3,000) standard definition shoulder-mount offerings were excellent. This one? Not so much. There's a reason it was discontinued.

Even outdoors on a sunny day the images from this 1 chip camera were awful. On top of its lack of neutral density filter which forced me to bump the shutter speed up to 1/2000 (or was it higher)? Either way, that to me is unacceptable.

Low light is a joke with this camera. Even worse and noisier than the outdoor shooting.

Onto the audio. This camera has XLR inputs but the audio quality sounds muddy. The same high end $400+ lavalier microphone (a Sanken COS-11) that sounds crystal clear on other cameras sounds like I put a blanket over the capsule. Oh...on top of the mud the audio signal was quite noisy. The built-in microphone also sounds muddy/noisy.

Get an HMC80 or HMC40 and you'll be happy. Those cameras are nice and their audio signal is clean. They're not perfect either but they are the best bang for buck in the under $3,000 price range. Like I said, there's a reason Panasonic quickly discontinued this model.
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on July 20, 2009
This is the first "prosumer" HD camcorder I've used. For the money I can't see the need for anything else. The video is great (as long as you get the correct lighting kit) and adding external audio via a mic is a snap. Make sure you invest in a larger SD card. The 2Gb card that comes with it only gives you about 20min of video on the highest settings. Other than that the unit is constructed well and is light weight.
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VINE VOICEon November 5, 2010
I shot a music festival using this camcorder, and was impressed. It is well designed, and has a familiar layout to the older Panasonics that used the miniDV tape transport. The HMC70 uses high-speed SD cards, and gives a fairly good quality image, even in lower-light situations.

I shot several bands inside a dark club. The lighting in the facility was not very good, I'm sure it was a pre-packaged 'Disco' package, complete with annoying spinning lights. In any case, the HMC70 gave a pretty good picture overall.

White balance was easy, as it has been with all of the Panasonics I've used, and the menu functions work well and are laid out logically. Inserting and removing the SD card is part of the fun. That said, a 2 gb card will only last about an hour, more or less, so you're going to have to lay out some bucks to get an 8 or 16 gb card if you want to do any lengthy shooting.

I had the camera mounted on a Manfrotto tripod, which only gave me satisfactory service (but that's the subject of another review, I suppose).

My main complaint about the camera was the zoom speed. It's really too fast for most purposes, even when I used a very light touch. I'd really prefer a slower zoom, or one that could be programmed to vary the zoom speed (that would be great).

The LCD screen is what I used almost exclusively when I recorded the bands. The viewfinder works well, but since I had to shoot over the scattered dancers (couldn't they have found a different place to grind away???), I had to tilt the LCD to keep the band members in focus.

Overall, Panasonic has a winner here. I'll bet this camera gets wide use; it's well-built, seems rugged enough, uses the latest SD cards. amd gives an unmistakable appearance of a 'commercial' level camcorder, though it is firmly in the prosumer price and feature range.

Recommended. I'm going to have to play around more with the camera to use all of its features, and to see how it performs in bright sunlight (I anticipate it will work very well indeed, since low-light situations are the most demanding for video recorders). It's a bargain at the seventeen hundred dollar range available in November 2010.

My Canon GL2 has a serious challenger on its hands.
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on March 15, 2010
This is an excellent camera for the money with acceptable quality in low-light conditions, but I would recommend purchasing a long-life battery, a solid microphone, and plenty of storage (two 32 GB SDHC cards or four 16 GB for standard def recording). With these three accessories, there's no limit on what you can capture.
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on April 13, 2009
I really like this camera. Wish I could afford a second to shoot with side-by-side.
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