PROS / It packs a lot of features into a small camcorder, including an impressive enhanced optical zoom.
CONS / This camcorder only records in standard definition, and the hard drive capacity is a little small.
VERDICT / The Panasonic SDR-H100K is an affordable SD hard drive camcorder with quality features.
The affordably priced Panasonic SDR-H100K has many features packed into its small and lightweight body, including solid standard-definition (SD) recording, digital stills, Intelligent Auto (iA), an impressive 78x enhanced optical zoom and more. However, this hard drive camcorder doesn’t shoot in HD, the digital photos are low resolution and the hard drive capacity is small compared to similar units.
One of the standout features is the iA (intelligent Auto) function, which will adjust the hard drive camcorder’s exposure and focus automatically, depending on the lighting conditions, such as whether you’re inside or outside, if it’s sunny or cloudy, and so forth. It performs these functions a little faster than the normal automatic settings found on similar camcorders.
The Panasonic SDR-H100K also features a very impressive 78x enhanced optical zoom, allowing it to zoom a little further than the 70x of optical zoom, along with a wide-angle lens at 33 mm. When the camcorder is zoomed all the way out, the wide angle gives more perspective than a normal lens will, and can capture more of the scene and subjects in your shot. Of course, when zoomed all the way in, your video will get shakier if you're holding the camera. That’s where the advanced optical image stabilizer (OIS) comes in, ensuring your video stays nice and smooth. The digital zoom can hit 3500x, at which point all you’re seeing are large, blurry pixels.
The SDR-H100K hard drive camcorder shoots SD video, in addition to capturing digital photos. It records in both MPEG-2, similar to how HDV records high definition, and H.264/AVC, which is the basis for the very popular AVCHD format.
It features an SD card, a USB 2.0 port and an AV-out connection, along with an AC adaptor, AV and USB cables and a rechargeable battery pack. The LCD is bright and the menus are easy to navigate through.
This hard drive camcorder records in standard-definition video, with maximum resolution of 720 x 480. While it can capture digital photos, the resolution is very low, at 0.3 megapixels (MP) for 640 x 480 stills, and 0.2 MP for 640 x 360 widescreen stills.
The video records in three different settings, adding more compression, which leads to lower quality. These include XP (10 Mbps/VBR – megabits per second/variable bit rate), which is the best, followed by SP (5 Mbps/VBR) and LP (2.5 Mbps/VBR), which is the highest compression and the lowest quality.
The hard drive’s capacity is 80GB, which can be considered small when compared to some of the newer hard drive camcorders sporting 220GB hard drives. You can hold up to 30 hours of SD footage on it, depending on the quality setting you choose. Less video will be stored if you shoot at the highest image quality setting.
There are several help and support options with the Panasonic SDR-H100K hard drive camcorder, including a user manual, tutorials, a FAQs page and a one-year warranty. You can contact Panasonic by telephone, email and live chat if you have questions or need technical support.
While the very affordable Panasonic SDR-H100K does shoot quality standard-definition video, it doesn’t support high-definition shooting. The 78x enhanced optical zoom is nice, but the digital photos are of very low resolution at 0.3 megapixels.