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Panasonic HDC-SD5 AVCHD 3CCD Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder with 10x Optical Image Stabilization

3.5 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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  • Record HD video direct to SDHC cards; up to 1 hour on a 4 GB SDHC card
  • 1920 x 1080 full-HD recording; HD Advanced Pure Color Engine
  • Leica Dicomar lens with 10x optical zoom; built-in Advanced O.I.S.
  • 2.7-inch wide-angle LCD monitor; 170-degree viewing angle
  • Intelligent Contrast Control
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This item: Panasonic HDC-SD5 AVCHD 3CCD Flash Memory High Definition Camcorder with 10x Optical Image Stabilization
Customer Rating 3 out of 5 stars (49) 4 out of 5 stars (357) 4 out of 5 stars (71) 4 out of 5 stars (28)
Price $1,299.95 $236.02 $598.00 $397.99
Shipping FREE Shipping FREE Shipping FREE Shipping FREE Shipping
Sold By Wall Street Photo Tronicmart Amazon.com Amazon.com
Color Information not provided Black Black Black
Optical Zoom 10 x 32 x 20 x 50 x
Display Size 2.7 inches 3 inches 3 inches 3 inches
Item Package Weight 6.1 pounds 1.4 pounds 1.7 pounds 1.65 pounds
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Product Description

Style: Camcorder Only

Product Description

The HDC-SD5 hi-def camcorder can copy recordings from the SD Memory Card to a DVD disc, maintaining the original full-HD format, or use the included software to burn a full-HD recording from an SD Memory Card to a DVD disc on your PC.Images recorded by conventional HD camcorders have only 1,440 horizontal pixels, while full-HD camcorders have 1,920; that's about 30 percent more recording pixels! The result is a level of detail and resolution that goes beyond anything you've ever experienced before. And because full-HD recordings contain a vast amount of picture information, they look beautiful not only on high-definition TVs, but on standard-definition TVs as well.Camera shake happens. Unsteady hands, shooting while in motion: these factors can reduce the quality of your video. But Panasonic has developed its best-ever built-in Optical Image Stabilization, which compensates for hand-shake and helps keep your videos crisp, steady and blur-free.The HDC-SD5 comes with a world-class Leica Dicomar lens, fashioned specifically for high-definition digital camcorders. The superior craftsmanship of Leica's advanced lens system captures stunning images and colors that look magnificent in HD. Combined with Panasonic's advanced 3CCD system, which uses three separate sensors to capture and process light, you can relive your memories in lifelike detail on your HDTV screen.

From the Manufacturer

The new HDC-SD5 camcorder employs cutting-edge imaging technology to capture video recordings that are breathtakingly clear and vibrant, especially when viewed on a high-quality, large screen TV.

The HDC-SD5 uses the AVCHD format to record full-HD video with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. It employs Panasonic's original 3CCD camera system, a professional broadcast feature, which renders vivid, true-to-life colors, outstanding detail and rich gradation. The SD5 also boasts Panasonic’s new Advanced O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), minimizing the effect of hand shake. This technology helps produce crisp, clear images, which is especially important for viewing on large-screen high resolution TVs where image imperfections are easily visible.

The HDC-SD5, which records video onto SDHC/SD Memory Cards, debuts as the world's smallest palm-style 3CCD full-HD camcorder. It is even smaller than its predecessor model, HDC-SD1, giving the SD5 superb portability. The SD5 also features a new USB Host function that significantly improves data storage and playback ease. With an optional newly released DVD burner (model VW-BN1), users can copy or play back video recordings in the original AVCHD format to deliver the ultimate high-definition viewing experience on a large-screen TV.

Panasonic HDC-SD5 Highlights

1920 x 1080 full-HD recording While conventional HD recordings have 1,440 pixels in the horizontal direction, full-HD recordings have 1,920. And while conventional recordings have a total of around 1.55 million pixels, full-HD recordings have around 2.07 million -- about 30 percent more. In fact, full-HD has the most pixels of any HD format, and thus can render images with unmatched detail and resolution.

Panasonic HDC-SD5 HD camcorder highlights
10x optical zoom moves you closer to the action
10x optical zoom Distant subjects can be enlarged so they appear to be right up close. This allows dynamic shots of both motion and still pictures.

Panasonic HDC-SD5 HD camcorder highlights
Advanced O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) The SD5 features Panasonic's new and improved image-stabilization system. The system uses gyro-sensors to detect hand-shake, then shifts a lens and adjusts its optical axis to compensate. Called Advanced O.I.S., this system performs the compensation operation eight times more frequently than Panasonic’s previous system, thus achieving even greater precision and accuracy. Because this is an optical system, there is virtually no loss of quality, resulting in images that are captured in all their original beauty. Advanced O.I.S. reduces the subtle blurring that can be caused by even a slight bit of hand-shake, and it is truly necessary in an age of large-screen, high-resolution TVs, when every image imperfection is easily visible.

Panasonic HDC-SD5 HD camcorder highlights
A 3CCD system results in superior color reproduction
3CCD camera system Panasonic has downsized its professional 3CCD camera system for use in consumer models. In a 3CCD camera system, the light received through the lens is split into its three primary color components (red, green and blue), and the signal from each is processed by one of the three CCDs. This system, in which three separate CCDs capture and process the light information received through the lens, helps reproduce high-resolution HD images with magnificent color.

Panasonic HDC-SD5 HD camcorder highlights
The multi-coated lens (right) delivers clear images with no color bleeding
Leica Dicomar lens Photographers around the world know Leica Camera AG as a maker of superb cameras and lenses. This company's advanced optical technology has been fused with Panasonic's leading-edge digital technology to create the Leica Dicomar lens. The Leica Dicomar lens provided in the HDC-SD5 features 12 lens elements in eight groups, and uses low-dispersion optical glass to reduce the blurring of color. A special multi-coating process is applied to the 14 lens element surfaces to minimize chromatic aberration, so images are crisp, clear, and free of flare and ghosting.

Pre-Rec function With many camcorders it is easy to miss capturing a critical moment, such as a goal being scored. The Pre-Rec function eliminates this problem. When this feature is activated, the camcorder continuously records three seconds of images onto an internal buffer memory. Then when the record button is pressed, the three seconds immediately prior are added at the beginning of the clip recorded.

Intelligent Contrast Control This intelligent new function continually measures the ambient light intensity and adjusts the contrast as it changes. Providing control over a wider range of lighting conditions than previous functions, Intelligent Contrast Control helps prevent a washed-out look in bright parts of an image and black-outs in shadowy areas. Images are captured with natural nuances, contrast and depth, even when shooting toward the light source.

HD Advanced Pure Color Engine To match the newly developed full-HD CCD, Panasonic has further enhanced its acclaimed Advanced Pure Color Engine image processor. A new noise-reduction circuit combines with the new Intelligent Contrast Control circuit to boost image quality while reducing power consumption. Offering superior images and longer battery life, the HD Advanced Pure Color Engine takes camcorder performance to new heights.

Panasonic HDC-SD1 HD camcorder highlights
Wide-angle LCD monitor The SD5 incorporates a new LCD that has 300,000 pixels and a wide 170-degree viewing angle both vertically and horizontally. The wider viewing angle is a big advantage in high-angle and low-angle shooting. It's a big benefit in playback too, allowing several people at the same time to enjoy viewing a video clip.

Power LCD Extra The brightness of the LCD can be set to either of two levels to match the ambient light condition. At the brighter setting, the LCD provides clear, easy viewing even when shooting outdoors on a sunny day.

Playback EZ Sync The SX5 is compatible with Panasonic's EZ Sync. Simply connect it to a Panasonic TV via an HDMI cable and follow on-screen prompts to operate the camcorder using the TV remote control. This adds extra ease and convenience to the fun of viewing the full-HD video.

Panasonic HDC-SD5 HD camcorder highlights
Focus Assist in action
Focus Assist This function enlarges the center of the image, making it easier for you to get a clear, sharp shot when focusing manually.

Direct viewing with SD card slot The SDHC/SD memory card can simply be taken from the SD5 and slipped into the card slot of select Panasonic plasma TVs to view full-HD images recorded in the AVCHD format. Images saved as JPEGs can be viewed using the SD memory card slot in select Panasonic models as well.

Archiving with USB Host function Simply connect the SD5 via USB cable to Panasonic’s optional DVD burner VW-BN1 (released at the same time) and press a single button to copy recorded video clips from an SDHC/SD Memory Card to a DVD disc in the original AVCHD format. The copied DVD can be played by the DVD burner, so it is possible to view exciting, large-screen images in HD quality by simply connecting the DVD burner to the HDC-SD5 and the SD5 to an HDTV.

Editing Software "HD Writer 2.0" Full-HD video clips can be easily edited with the software provided or copied onto a DVD disc. The video data can be saved in either the AVCHD or DVD-VIDEO format, depending on how it will be played back. Recordings saved in the full-HD AVCHD format are suitable for playback with a Blu-ray Disc player, while DVD-Video (standard definition) recordings can be played back with a DVD player.

Product Information

Style:Camcorder Only
Product Dimensions 10.1 x 9.8 x 9.4 inches
Item Weight 7 pounds
Shipping Weight 6.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Batteries 1 Lithium ion batteries required.
Customer Reviews
3.5 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
Best Sellers Rank #34,358 in Camera & Photo
#2,064 in Camera & Photo > Camcorders
Discontinued by manufacturer Yes
Date first available at Amazon.com June 17, 2003

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By Kent on September 16, 2007
Style Name: Camcorder Only
I was thrilled with how small this camera is. It fits in your hand as if it were a half full 12 oz. can of soda. It's very light, but the fortunately the image stabilization makes it shoot like it was a heavier camera.

I ran into an issue with iMovie '07 (part of Apple's iLife '08) that caused the screen to stretch wider, making people look fat. This will likely be resolved soon by Apple, and for now I've taken to using the 1440 X 1080 resolution which imports just fine.

I've also fitted a 37mm mount size aftermarket wide angle lens which really helps for shooting indoors. Some have complained that the video is a bit more grainy while indoors and in darker conditions than the HD1, but I can't complain.

So far, the battery life seems to run an hour and 10 minutes, which is better than the 55 minutes it's rated for.

This camera does not include an SD card, so you'll want to pick up a 4GB (40 minutes) or 8 GB (80 minutes) card. I got the class 6 version of those SDHC cards for a faster transfer. I think I might stick with the 4 GB size in the future so I can easily burn the files to a blank DVD which holds 4.7 GB. Also, make sure you have a card reader that supports SDHC. It also doesn't include an HDMI cable, so pick one of those up if you have a TV capable of HDMI. Belkin makes the least expensive cable at $20.

And finally, if you're a Mac user, you should know that only the Intel Macs (that have been out since January of '06) support the AVCHD editing.

Some have complained about the low light grain that this camera tends to have. I've noticed it as well, and apparently the HD1 is slightly better indoors. But this wasn't a huge issue for me.

The only thing that would make this camera perfect for me would be an external mic input.
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This is the first camcorder I have bought in a while. My last one was a Canon MiniDV that did progressive frame shooting. I've been researching for months on and off and following the progress of HD camcorders.

I personally love this camera, there are only a few, mute things about this camera that I miss.


- It's small and very light weight; almost too light. I *almost* found myself wishing it were a little heavier to make it easier to hold the camera steady. But it's great like it is.
- The picture quality is great. Having had a progressive scan camcorder before, I notice the interlacing, but it's no where near as bad as the MiniDV camcorder I had before that did interlacing. There is a slight grain to the picture in low light, but this is to be expected, and after reading several reviews about how "horrible" the low light was, I thought it was great. It wasn't near as bad for me as people were making it out to be, but that's a subjective thing. (I viewed this on both a 720 and 1080 screen)
- Audio is good, it doesn't make me too loud (since I'm holding the camera and the mic is right next to me) and I can clearly hear thing that are farther out.
- Battery life is great. I can easily get over an hour, and it seems to indicate it can do more than that, though I haven't put that to the test yet and the manual says I can only get a maximum of 1 hour and 25 minutes (55 minutes actual). So we'll see.
- I kind of like that the battery and SD card are tucked away underneath. I don't agree with a previous review that the door and hinge are made cheaply. It seems standard to me.
- I love the SD card recording media. No more tapes! No more mini-DVDs!
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I had been waiting for my SD5 to ship from Amazon, but I saw the camera at Circuit City in stock and $50 less so I decided to just get it there.

The camera feels great in your hands. It is small and light, but even in my large hands it feels stable. I like that the battery is now inside of the camera and not attached to the back. This lets the center of gravity sit right there on your hand.

The LCD screen looks good, though a little pixelated in darker rooms.

I brought the camera out yesterday to go for a walk with my infant son. Even while walking and trying to film my son the image was quite stable.

One piece of warning, if you use this camera with a Mac be sure to have a large internal drive or get an external one. With the new iMovie 08, it works with the AVCHD wonderfully but when it imports it converts it to AIC. The video still looks great and they are easy to work with, but they files are quite big. If you import at the Large setting, you lose very little in image and one hour of video is about 13GB. If you import at full resolution you're looking at 40GB per hour. Wow.

For my own workflow, I import with Large to save the space. I then put the source AVCHD files on a DVD so I have the option of importing them later at the full resolution. This allows me to reuse my SD cards but still have the original footage.

Overall, very nice camera. The Menu options are easy to work with and the final video is just great.
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To summarize my overall thoughts about the Panasonic HDC-SD5, for regular outdoor video shooting, the SD5 is excellent! I will skip discussing its still image cabilities because it simply was not designed with that in mind, trust me.

Now, the first question the HDC-SD5 raised for me was "is it better than the one it replaced, the HDC-SD1?" Half a year ago I used the predecessor HDC-SD1 for a few weeks and loved it, and after a few weeks now with the SD5 I find that it is a slightly better camera under good lighting conditions and slightly worse under lowe lighting conditions. On the plus side it is about $200 cheaper, has the same battery life, is lighter, smaller, and yet no less handy to operate. Now, the "$200 cheaper" might raise a flag, and clearly some of the lower cost comes from certain cheaper features. For starters, the new smaller chasis is endowed with a smaller lens, down from 43 mm to 38 mm, smaller image sensors, down to 1/3 inch from 1/2, and the SD1's amazing 5.1 audio microphones have been replaced with simpler stereo ones in the SD5. In general, I say thanks for translating these changes into the greater affordability of the SD5. The bonus with this camera is the Full HD 1920 (on the new, smaller sensors) vs. former 1440 horizontal resolution (on the older, larger sensors).

Outdoors, the SD5's recordings are marginally sharper than the SD1's, with equally beautifully rendered colors. Basically, it took my 70" 1080i screen to be able to discern the extra resolution, and was the main reason I returned the SD1 and waited for the SD5 to come out. I could not tell the cameras apart when played back on smaller screens.
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