For the last year or so I have been using my Nokia N95 as my primary video recording device. As you understand, I am currently more serious about stills photography. But I need to do occasional video recordings and the quality of my N95 is great for a mobile phone, but not very good compared to a proper video camera.
So I wanted something better than the N95, but small and portable. I narrowed my possibilities down to two cameras recording straight to solid state memory. The Sony HDR-CX7 or the Panasonic HDC-SD5. After some googling and a quick test in the store I decided to go for the Panasonic. Mostly because I don’t like Sony’s stupid memory stick and because I read that the AVCHD-compression in the Sony camera had some issues with high motion scenes. According to what I have been reading the Panasonic is not as good as the Sony in low light conditions. But a compression that breaks into artifacts in high motion is worse than a problem with some noise in low light.
I also like the navigation on the Panasonic better. Sony rely on a touch screen that force you to use both hands when operating. The Panasonic lets you operate most of the menus with one hand on the back of the unit. In addition to this the Panasonic has a pretty useful pre recording function and good macro possibilities. So far I have only one issue with the camera. A low volume high frequency noise that is captured by the microphone while recording. A well known problem on tape based and HD based cameras, but I thought that wouldn’t be a problem on a solid state camera. Maybe it’s a problem with my camera only. I’ll have to investigate this further. You can hear the noise in the last test clip. Downloads at the bottom of this article.
Both cameras are recording AVCHD, meaning heavy compression and a native format that is not suitable for editing. For the record, the Sony camera can also record standard definition MPEG2 (not very good for editing either), while the Panasonic is AVCHD only. I am not going to use this camera for making hollywood style movies. I am going to make some quick demonstrations for my presentations and for my blog. And the occasional documentation of some events in my family.
When surfing around looking for reviews of these cameras I was disappointed of sites that claim to have a proper review up, but don’t provide any test clips for download.
So to help people that is about to buy a new camcorder I’ll provide you with some test clips and images here.
Continue reading “Test clips from Panasonic HDC-SD5″