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on December 7, 2009
I bought this camcorder primarily to videotape my daughter's gymnastics meets. I have recorded two so far and the video quality for those is excellent. The lighting in both cases was bright flourescent lighting like you would find in a high school gymnasium. I made a brief test video in my kitchen at night with just one light on and it wasn't so great. I don't know if this would be a great camcorder for birthday parties and that sort of thing. For that you would be better off getting a camera with 720 HD like the Panasonic DMC-FZ35 for less than half the price. It takes great video in a variety of lighting, but it cannot handle some of the very fast action of gymnastics without blurring. But that's another review!


- Very large (120gb) built-in hard drive.
- Available SD/SDHC memory card slot.
- Great video in bright indoor or outdoor light - the same video quality as the HDC-HS300 that costs over $1000.
- Very easy to use - my 8-year-old was taking pictures and videos and playing them back with no instructions.
- Video is very easy to import to iMovie '09 on my iMac - I just attach it using the included usb cable and a window comes up allowing me to choose the clips I want to import.
- The image stabilization works well - smooth footage without a tripod.
- Zoom is very smooth and adequate.
- Great price if you can get it for under 600 dollars.
- Display shows how much battery life (in minutes) and how much recording time is remaining.


- Lacks an electronic viewfinder and an external microphone jack - to get those you need the HDC-H300.
- Probably not great for low light indoors.
- The battery charger/AC adapter are a bit strange but you can live with it - you have to remove the battery to put in the AC/Adapter but the battery will not charge while you are using the adapter.
- Battery life is not very long (about 90 minutes) and extra batteries are pricey - this is the case for most HD camcorders.
- Like probably every HD camcorder, the included software is not so great (although I don't need it for my iMac) and you will have to invest in expensive software to edit the video using a Windows PC.

I researched extensively and for my needs this is by far the best camcorder for the price. It would also be great for videotaping any sports, including indoor sports like basketball.

Update: I've been using it for about two months now. When recording indoors (convention centers, gymnasiums, etc.) the video has good resolution, but often a strange color cast, especially at the start of recording. I don't know if other cameras would be better in this kind of light with subjects that are far away.
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on February 3, 2014
This is an awesome HD camera. We used it a lot when we first got it (for weddings and stuff) but admittedly it's been lying around with no use for a while as I just tend to use the camera on my phone now. I did have an issue a few months after purchase where it just stopped working...I had to sent it to Panasonic to be rebuilt but luckily we didn't lose any data. I wish it saved videos in a different format too. I would end up importing/editing videos in Sony Vegas and then rendering them in a different format that's compatible with more video players.
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on January 9, 2010
I bought this camcorder for my father, after some extensive research on camcorders this one seemed to be the best bang for the buck. I was considering some Sonys and Cannons, but in the end this Panasonic beat the rest in terms of price and features. For comparison, my aunt bought the Sony camcorder I was considering, and I am glad I didn't go with Sony. The UI was dreadful compared to the Panasonic, and the video quality was noticeably worse. Overall I am extremely satisfied with my purchase.
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VINE VOICEon November 6, 2010
In one short sentence, this quality of this camcorder's video is the best I have ever seen at this price point. The Leica zoom lens is very clear and sharp.

I prefer hard drive-based camcorder because of its high capacity and speed. These days, many digital cameras can also shoot video, but there are some limitations. First, you may need to buy memory cards that are rated Class 6 or better, which are pretty expensive. Second, there is a limit on the length of each video segment, perhaps just 15 minutes. Third, to get 120 Gb of capacity of this camcorder, you would need to buy four cards of 32 Gb each, which cost $200-$400 in total.

The battery does not last more than 90 minutes, so you should have at least one spare ready. You can save money by buying brand new compatible ones on Ebay. Just type in battery model code shown on the battery itself and you will see lots of prices and choices. Remember you can only charge a compatible battery in its own charger, and not in Panasonic's charger. The original Panasonic battery has a computer chip built-in and can indicate amount of battery power remaining, whereas compatible batteries do not.
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on September 28, 2014
It's good enough I suppose. I'm using it to film dance performances and it indeed has decent sensitivity in low light situations. The only thing I don't like is how the video is interlaced. I'm just picky because in reality I want to get an expensive camera but can't afford one at the moment. Don't let my "good enough" review deter you. You'll probably like this camera. :P
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on March 23, 2010
This was bought for its compatibility with Mac and seemed to be comparable to Sony Handycam I had. Resolution's great, but color's not as good as Sony's. The Panasonic takes too long to start up - often missing moments of what I want to shoot - spontaneous stuff my son does. The picture taking feature as you record sounds great but inteferes with video recording - your video will have long pauses where you snap pictures. It doesn't adjust quickly when entering from bright to dark room (sometimes not at all or really grainy). And no night-time video recording capability that's in the Handycam. Would spend the extra for a Sony if I were to buy again.
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on June 5, 2013
This has been a very reliable camcorder that takes both great video and still pics. Nice to be able to choose either internal hard disk or SD card as sotrage medium.

I do wish I'd opted for the slightly more spendy version that supports an external microphone. The built-in mics work very well, but there have been times I've wanted to fit a subject with a mic or record from a source with dedicated mic to get proper acoustics.
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on March 13, 2012
- Video Quality in well lighted areas is great - my rating 9/10.
- Video Quality in low light is 6/10. It could be better
- Video plays without any lag on VLC player or Windows media player (m2ts files) without any tweaks or software installation. You can copy the videos to any hard dish without the need to use "Import function" in the "HD Camera AE - Panasonic software"
- I am getting Battery life of around 2 hrs.

Minor Irritants or Cons
- The scrolling on the HD camera touch-screen is slow. Thus Once you have lot of videos on Camera's hard disk and you want to goto a particular video to play, you will need patience - I connect my camera to HD TV and then try to play a video and this process is tiring because of scrolling
- The Video Editing software "HD Writer AE 1.0" comes only on DVD and is not available anywhere else.
- The Video Editing software works only on Windows machine ; so if you have a MAC or planning to buy one explore your options on how wil you edit your videos
- If you install the software on 2 different machines you will have to import the videos by directly attaching the HD camera to that machine i.e. if you copied your videos to a External hard disk and go to another machine where you installed the software , u can't import videos for editing from external hard-disk. I could not figure a way out for this.
- Could not find a TRIPOD on Panasonic website for this HD camera
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on May 24, 2017
Battery doesn't keep a charge.
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on January 25, 2016
Love the camcorder. Takes great photos and awesome videos. I tape my son when he plays basketball. Would recommend.
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