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on August 7, 2010
Just got back from a vacation (Canada) where we used the Panasonic hs700k in various lighting conditions - even a day of foggy mist. Returning home, I was disappointed that the accessories lacked an HDMI cable. Looks like Panasonic is stealing play book pages from dishonorable printer companies that short change you on toner/ink.

The packaging included low rez patch cables - but this is an HD camcorder and it didn't come with an HDMI cable. Unacceptable!!! This is like buying a car without wheels.

I recently purchased a Droid-X Smartphone - which oddly enough does come with an HDMI cable - but Panasonic picked a strange form factor and it even though I have a "mini" HDMI to "full sized" HDMI from the Droid...it won't fit on the Panasonic's special sized port.

But now that I'm done venting about the bumbling business decisions made by the incompetent Panasonic Management staff; individuals with ACTUAL JOB SKILLS have exceeded my expectations on the build and image quality.

After burning my videos to a Blu-Ray disk, I was mesmerized by the quality of the pictures. Summarizing to one word...Wow!! Crystal clear and simply wondrous on my Plasma TV. All our scenes were shot in 1080P - yes it is a storage hog but the clarity and resolution from the Panasonic is outstanding and I'm glad I did it.

Color saturation was excellent in this raw footage state. I burned the disk in a raw format without massaging the color/hue/contrast etc. Most people aren't aware that Hollywood uses Avid, etc. to color amp the scenes and even out the lighting between takes. Obviously I don't own this type of high end gear/software so those options were not available to me. As such, I detected a slight cold tint to the videos. Even during late evenings where Fuji chrome 35mm-film would have rendered warm colors an hour before sunset; the Panasonic was slightly `blue' (for a lack of a better word). Because the files are so large, editing is a severe problem - but oh well - welcome to Hi def.

The image stabilization was excellent. A few scenes where I purposely left it off made the video jiggle; but once re-enabled - the zero to middle zoom was rock solid. The Zoom button is a tad awkward to manipulate (I have large hands) - but it worked well and was relatively fast. We didn't pickup any zoom "noise" from the onboard mic, but wind did make for a blustery audio recording at times (sounds like a flapping flag with hiss). A camcorder of such outstanding quality really deserves a boom-mic with a fuzzy wind sock - so I won't fault this issue.

Mist and cold temperatures (40F) didn't affect the unit. Battery life was surprisingly good and the portable charger worked well. Still photos are soft, and I recommend bringing a 2nd camera. Overall I highly recommend this unit - it worked flawlessly, the lens is ultra sharp at all physical magnifications (ignore the gimmicky digital zoom) and the cost is in-line with results.
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on February 5, 2011
I won't bore you with the technical aspects because that's been covered by everyone else. Essentially you get the best image quality of any consumer size/price, manual features, powered OIS which is fantastic, and a large HDD that saves you significantly compared to getting high speed SD cards. Having the HDD also keeps you from having to constantly pull the videos off the cam and then to the computer since you have space to spare.

The video quality? Great. In low light it works wonderfully with little noise compared to my old Canon HF200. While the D7000 and other DSLRs can deliver a better quality low light image, in anything else the resolution of this cam is out of this world. Also the optical quality of the lens is quite impressive. Little to no aberrations nor fringing. Sharp image across the field. And best of all, WIDE ANGLE. Finally a cam that doesn't require a gaudy and expensive wide adapter to get to a sane 35mm equivalent field of view. The 60p is a must. You get the higher 28MB/S rate, and it minimizes the jello effect even more. Motion is super smooth, and you can slow it down for beautiful slo-mo. Only caveat there is for super low light 30p will allow for a longer shutter speed and half the noise.

The audio--this has been a point of contention for many. Those that complain about must not have owned a tape-cam before. Those old motorized camcorders had 10x the noise this cam does. And you have to keep in mind that this camera has auto audio gain, meaning in a silent indoor area it will amplify big time. You can turn it off, use an offboard mic in the shoe, or just completely ignore it since it is so quiet anyway. Don't let that stop you from getting this cam.

As for the comments that with a fan it might not last long--that is simply not true. The little fans in these things are precise and will outlast the camera and it's practical usability. By the time the fan goes we will likely have 5 mgpx 3d cams in our phones...

Another thing that is great about this cam is the size. It is not so small as to be very shaky, and fits in an adult sized hand very comfortably. The weight is right on as well; not too light as to shake badly yet not too heavy to hold up for a prolonged period of time.

The only downside? The LCD! Most other manufacturers have triple the resolution this one does. However this is a minor point and I'm glad panasonic put more thought into the optical quality rather than gimmicks.

Lots of folks are having issues with 1080 60p footage. You will need either an advanced blueray player capable of supporting it (not sure which ones). A PS3 can do it if you follow some specific steps, but ultimately the best playback is hooking up the cam to a TV via HDMI. Flawless footage then. A computer can play it as well but you will need one of the newer i5/i7 systems. My OC'd 9450 at 3.2 GHZ with 8gm ram and 2 x 5770 cards cannot do it without skipping frames.
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on August 12, 2010
This review has been written on 08-12-2010. Recorded about 4 hours of movies and 50 or so pictures on the Hdc Hs700k. The movie quality when recorded at 1080 x 1920 at 60 frames/s just blows you away it is better then what you will get from a blueray dvd. Still picture quality is not as good as my canon 7D but still better then most consumer cameras. This camera is way ahead of its time. I use a top of the line HD TV and i suspect the camera actually supplies more then the tv can even handle. The only downside short batt. life. Get 2 extra batt. The other downside : As of this date there are no real choices of editing software. You have to use the software that comes with the camera. That works but is somewhat limited in editing variables. All the other newest type software out there starts getting the hickups when transcoding the m2ts files at 1080 x1920 60 f/s. I know its the software because my computer is an i7 quad-core with 8 gigs of ram.
But its only a matter of time before the software makers catch up and give us more choices. So go ahead and by it. If you been waiting all your life for supersharp homemade video,like me, you going to love this one.
BTW it has a slot for an SD card. If the hard drive fails (dropping it on a concrete floor while its running may do just that) you can still record up to 4 hours of movies on one 64 GB card. They are still expensive as of today but by the time the hard drive goes the will be dirt cheap. Holger
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on July 13, 2010
So far, I love this thing, and I haven't even had a chance to get into all the bells and whistles. I needed it for an event that occurred less than a week after I got the camera, so I just charged the battery, turned it on, and recorded. The automatic features worked for me just fine. As soon as I spend some more time with it, I'm hoping to learn all the manual functions and settings too. The end result of the footage is crisp, clean, and beautiful. It's already gotten me some noteriety from the event I filmed, everyone wants a DVD copy. Transferring the footage is easy with my PC and Adobe Premiere, CS4. I jost copy the files to my hard drive and load them into my program. I bypass the program that came with the camera. I like that with the hard drive, the footage is already broken down into scenes, since it makes a "scene" everytime you record and stop. Great product, light weight, nice to those who don't do a lot of manual touches, worth the money!!
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on May 23, 2011
I've owned this camcorder (purchased from Amazon Warehouse) for about a month now and I'm really impressed. Panasonic has done a great job with this camcorder (and its twin the HDC-TM700). Note: at the time of this writing (Spring 2011) this is now the previous-generation camcorder -- reportedly the newer HDC-TM900/HS900K camcorders are pretty much identical as far as video quality is concerned and offer mostly minor updates; notably a larger higher-resolution LCD and 3D-compatibility. Bottom line, I don't think you can go wrong with any of these.

Some notable pros:

- video image quality is amazing, especially at 60P
- reasonably accurate and quick focus
- good feature set; lots of useful options and manual controls
- great zoom range and focal length support
- decent performance in low light
- includes a viewfinder
- built-in hard drive offers large storage capacity
- good image stabilization

Some cons:

- unimpressive digital picture quality (but I'm used to an SLR; probably ok quality for being a camcorder)
- no HDMI cable included (why do manufacturers do this???)
- files are large and challenging for most computers and current video editing software; expect to spend a bundle on computer hardware and software if you wish to do any serious editing of the videos and don't have a powerful PC on-hand
- somewhat larger and heavier than some of the competing models, could be an issue for folks with smaller hands/pockets
- LCD size and resolution very average compared to competing models
- sensor-size restricts the minimum depth-of-field

All in all what I care about most is the quality of the video and in this regard this camcorder does not disappoint. Note that the cons are mostly minor and things that Panasonic will hopefully improve on in the future. Until then, this is probably the best camcorder out there for the money. Highly recommended!
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on July 8, 2010
Amazing piece of engineering. The picture quality is extraordinary. Easy to use -- and, this is my FIRST video camera. That's saying something because I'm a guy which means I didn't read the instruction booklet to any great degree. My only complaint is in making the camera Mac-compatible. That had to be accomplished with third-party software. The disk enclosed with the camera only sets it up for use with PC's. Memo to Panasonic: there is another operating system and it's called MAC OS! The supplemental software I purchased is called, "Voltaic". It's easy to convert the Panasonic file format to .MOV using Voltaic. However, a five minute video will take a couple of hours to convert so you'll want to bring a good book. Returning to the camera itself, the videos we make are all outdoors -- they're for a gardening web site, PlantersPlace.com. Wind noise is an issue under certain conditions. If anyone has a way to minimize the noise I would be pleased to learn about it.
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on January 12, 2011
This is a fantastic camera. Well worth the price, even if it were not discounted heavily. I love it. Except for one glaring design flaw. It has no shoulder strap. A shoulder strap is a must for any camera. This one does not have one. What were the engineers thinking. Not only does it not have one, there is no provision on the camera body to attach an aftermarket strap. So what I had to do is find a tether that would bolt onto the tripod mounting hole, at a noticeable expense. I still love the camera and thus I want to protect it from inadvertent catastrophic impact with the ground! How can I hang the thing over the railing on the Eiffel Tower without the insurance of a strap on around my shoulder?? Come on Panasonic!!! You excelled with the camera's performance but forgot a simple and time tested feature used by all photographers for decades! You still get five stars though, grudgingly.
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on August 7, 2012
I wish it did better in low light but it works and has great quality overall. I enjoy the ring for rack focus and other features. I have recommended this kind of camera to several friends and they all enjoy it. Some got a simpler version for shooting family stuff but I use it for shooting short films and documentary. I have increased it's capability with the rig that I bought for it. It's stable and great quality in decent lighting.
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on January 4, 2011
i loved this camcorder.
really nice features and quality.
i own a vixia hf-s20 and for the same price you can get this one but with 240Gb of space, manual controls that really work (for a consumer camcorder),much wider lens than my vixia and with a viewfinder.
the not so good part is that in 29.97 fps mode you can get only 17mbits quality. i bought cause it says it is 28 mbits, but this is only for 60fps mode.
in low light situations this is not the best one, i would consider the vixia series from canon.
even so i loved the videos that i am doing. photos are really nice as well. i recomend!!!
i bought it 2 weeks ago for 1065 dollars and now you can find it for 775 here on amazon. damned!!! :) but that is technology!
cheers
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on April 4, 2011
Pros: - 1080p@60fps in MTS format
- versatile light and easy to use and handle in travel conditions
- manual mode very intuitive and descriptive menu
-reliable 240 GB HDD storage space.At 1 hour of full HD@60fps record it took about 12 GB of space divined in 4.4 GB files automatically.
- super fine low light with the manual setting of downgrade 30 fps especially created for this purpose.
Cons: - lack of editing software included for cut and edit MTS files
- it's heating very rapidly on long records,over 1 hour and there for the case fans of the camera becomes very noisy and affects the sound quality if you rely on the 5.1 mic.
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