Panasonic HDC-SD5 and Panasonic HDC-SX5

'World's smallest' High Definition camcorders announced by Panasonic - full details here!

We've parachuted Best4Reviews' Doug Harman into Berlin to bring us back hot technology news from the IFA trade show. First out of his kit bag are detils of Panasonic's two new High Definition camcorders. Read on for more...

From the press release:

High Definition Camcorder
HDC-SD5
HDC-SX5

Panasonic introduces two full-HD camcorders:
The world's smallest and lightest* SDHC/SD Memory Card model, and a hybrid model that can record motion images onto both SDHC/SD Memory Cards and DVD discs.

The consumer trend toward large-screen, high-image-quality TVs is still growing, and broadcasters are increasingly switching to high
definition. Video products are evolving along with this trend, moving toward high-definition. As a manufacturer of industry-leading video equipment, Panasonic is responding to emerging demand in the HD video era by introducing two new 3CCD full-HD camcorders, the HDC-SD5 and HDC-SX5.

Both the HDC-SD5 and HDC-SX5 can record full-HD video with 1920 x 1080 pixels.** Both feature Panasonic's original 3CCD camera system and Advanced O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), which let users record clear, beautiful, blur-free images with vibrant colour. Especially when viewed on a high-quality big-screen TV, the video captured by both the SD5 and SX5 is simply breathtaking in quality.

The HDC-SD5, which records on SDHC/SD Memory Cards, is even smaller than its predecessor model, Panasonic's SD1. In fact, the SD5 debuts as the world's smallest and lightest 3CCD full-HD camcorder. Because there is no mechanical drive mechanism, the SD5 offers outstanding resistance to impact. This combines with the compact body to give the SD5 superb portability. The SD5 also introduces a new USB Host function that significantly improves data storage and playback ease. Using a DVD burner VW-BN1 (released at the same time), you can copy or play back video recordings in the original AVCHD format, and enjoy easy high-definition viewing on a large-screen TV.

The HDC-SX5 can record full-HD motion images onto both SDHC/SD Memory Cards and DVD discs. The SX5 can record up to 180 minutes*** of video on an 8GB SDHC Memory Card (available from September 2007), and up to 60 minutes*** on a DVD-R dual-layer disc. Using both media, you can capture up to 240 minutes of full-HD recording. The SX5 can copy recorded video from an SDHC/SD Memory Card to an 8 cm DVD disc internally with the touch of a single button; there's no need to use a PC. The recording format can be selected everytime you start recording. You can also record the video on DVD disc in the standard definition (MPEG2) to play it back with your DVD recorder/player.

Both the HDC-SD5 and HDC-SX5 employ the high-image-quality AVCHD format. Both feature the 3CCD camera system that has earned high acclaim in professional broadcast camcorders, and both offer Panasonic's newly developed Advanced O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer). With these leading-edge imaging technologies and full 1920 x 1080-pixel definition, the SD5 and SX5 make it easy to capture video recordings that are simply stunning when viewed on a large-screen HD TV.

* For palm-style full-HD-quality 3CCD camcorders, as of July 30, 2007
** In HG mode. 'Full-HD video with 1920 x 1080 pixels' in Panasonic home-use camcorders refers to video recordings with 1,920 pixels in the horizontal direction and 1,080 pixels in the vertical direction.
*** In HE mode.

New Features and Functions

1920 x 1080 Full-HD Recording (New) An increasing number of consumers are choosing large-screen, high-image-quality TVs, and broadcasting companies are shifting to high definition. Full high-definition – with 1920 x 1080 pixels – will soon be a standard video recording format. While conventional 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% more. In fact, full-HD has the most pixels of any HD format, and thus can render images with unmatched detail and resolution. With the huge amount of image data they contain, full-HD recordings provide exceptional viewing on both high-definition TVs and conventional (standard-definition) TVs.

Advanced O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) (New) Both the SD5 and SX5 feature Panasonic's new image-stabilization system. Called Advanced O.I.S., this system performs the compensation operation eight times more frequently than our previous system, thus achieving greater precision and accuracy. The system uses gyro-sensors to detect hand-shake, then shifts a lens and adjusts its optical axis to compensate. And while previous system checked and compensated for hand-shake around 500 times per second, the new Advanced O.I.S. works around 4,000 times per second. Because this is an optical system, there is no loss of quality resulting in images that are captured in all of their original beauty. Advanced O.I.S. prevents 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.

3CCD Camera System
Most professional broadcast equipment uses the 3CCD camera system. This includes Panasonic's professional video cameras, which have brought breathtaking images to viewers around the world since 1992, when they were first selected as the broadcast equipment for the Olympic Games. 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 colour components (red, green and blue), and the signal from each is processed by one of the three CCDs. Compared with conventional 1CCD camera systems, Panasonic's 3CCD system provides more vivid, true-to-life colours, greater detail and richer gradation.

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/HDC-SX5 features 12 lens elements in eight groups and uses low-dispersion optical glass to reduce the blurring of colour. 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.

* Leica is a registered trademark of Leica Microsystems IR GmbH, and Dicomar is a registered trademark of Leica Camera AG.

HD Crystal Engine (New)
To match the newly developed full-HD CCD, Panasonic has further enhanced its acclaimed Crystal 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 Crystal Engine takes camcorder performance to new heights.

Pre-Rec (New)
With many camcorders it is easy to miss capturing a critical moment, even when you think you've pressed the record button at the right time. For example, if you want to capture a goal being scored in a football match, you have to press the record button every time a player attempts to shoot. The problem, of course, is that very few shots actually result in goals, but you have to record every one just in case. The Pre-Rec function eliminates this problem. When the Pre-Rec function is on, the camcorder continuously records three seconds of images into an internal buffer memory. Then, when you actually press the record button, the three seconds immediately prior are added
at the beginning of the clip you record. This lets you capture the player in the act of kicking the ball even if you don't press the record button until after he has made the goal. The Pre-Rec function is especially helpful in capturing a sudden shooting opportunity.

Intelligent Contrast Control (New)
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 part. You capture images with natural nuances and contrast. Even when you're shooting toward the light source, Intelligent Contrast Control lets you capture true-to-life pictures with outstanding depth.

Wide Viewing Angle LCD Monitor (New)
The SD5 and SX5 incorporate 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 advantage in playback too, allowing several people at the same time to enjoy viewing the video clip you just recorded.

Power LCD Extra (New)
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 you're shooting outdoors on a sunny day.

Playback
·VIERA Link
The SD5 and SX5 are compatible with Panasonic's VIERA Link. Connect the SD5 or SX5 to a VIERA TV via an HDMI cable, and you can operate the camcorder using the TV remote control and following on-screen prompts. This adds extra ease and convenience to the fun of viewing the full-HD video you record.

·Direct Viewing with SD Card Slot
The SDHC/SD Memory Card can simply be taken from the SD5 or SX5 and slipped into the card slot of a Panasonic VIERA PZ700 to view full-HD images recorded in the AVCHD format.
*JPEG format still images can be viewed with other SD card slot-equipped VIERA models.

Archiving
·USB Host Function(SD5) (New)
Most people use their camcorders for three main purposes: to shoot, play back, and archive video recordings. They want each of these to be as easy as possible. Panasonic has developed new features and functions that respond to these needs. In the past, copying video recordings from an SDHC/SD Memory Card to a DVD disc was a two-step process that involved transferring the data to a PC, then copying from PC to disc. The SD5 does away with all that, thanks to a USB Host function that makes it easy to play back or store your video recordings on DVD discs. Connect the SD5 via USB cable to a DVD burner VW-BN1 (released at the same time), and pressing a single button is all it takes 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 all you have to do to view exciting, large-screen images in HD quality is have the DVD burner connected to the SD5, and then connect the SD5 to an HDTV.

·One Button Dubbing (SX5) (New)
The SX5 is a hybrid camcorder that can record full-HD motion images onto both SDHC/SD Memory Cards and DVD discs. It can copy data from a memory card to a disc internally, without requiring use of a PC or other equipment. This gives you a quick, easy way to copy recordings onto a DVD disc for storage and archiving. By simply connecting the SX5 to a TV with an HDMI cable*, the SX5 can also play back the images that you copied to the DVD disc all by itself, so you can easily watch them on the TV without having to use a DVD player.
*HDMI cable is optional.

·Editing Software "HD writer 2.0" (SD5/SX5) (New)
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 BD player, while DVD-VIDEO (standard definition) recordings can be played back with a DVD player.


HDC-SD5 Specifications

Power source    DC 7.2 / 9.3 V
Power consumption    6.7 W
Signal system    1080 lines, 50 fields
Weight (w/o Battery)    340g
Dimensions (W x H x D)    65 x 67 x 135 mm
Image sensor    1/6-inch CCD image sensor
Total pixels: 560 k x 3
Effective pixels Motion Picture: 520 k x 3 (16:9)
Still Picture: 520 k x 3 (16:9)
Lens    Auto iris, 10x power zoom
F 1.8 to 2.8 (f = 3.0 to 30.0mm)
35mm equivalent
Motion picture: 42.9 to 429 mm (16:9)
Still picture: 42.9 to 429 mm (16:9)
Filter diameter    37 mm
Zoom    10x optical zoom, 25/700x digital zoom
Monitor    2.7’’ wide LCD monitor (approx. 300 k pixels)
Microphone    Stereo Zoom Microphone
Speaker    Dynamic type
White balance adjustment    Auto / White Set / Outdoor /
Indoor (with IR sensor)
Standard illumination    1,400 lux
Minimum required illumination    5 lux (1/25 low light
mode) (1 lux in Colour Nigh View mode)
High-speed shutter    1/25 – 1/8000 (Motion Picture),
1/25-1/8000 (Still Picture)
Recording media    SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
USB    Card reader / writer function ( No copyright
protection support)
High-Speed USB (USB2.0) (miniAB)
Pict Bridge-compliant
Flash    Available flash range: approx. 1m to 2.5m
Standard accessories    AC Adaptor, Battery Pack, IR
Remote Controller, USB Cable,
component Cable, AV-Cable, CD-ROM (HD Writer Ver2.0)

Motion pictures
Compression    MPEG4-AVC/H.264 (AVCHD standard compliant)
Transfer rate    HG: approx. 13 Mbps (CBR)/ HN: approx. 9
Mbps (VBR)/
HE: approx. 6 Mbps (VBR)
Picture size    HG: 1920 x 1080, HN/HE: 1440 x 1080
Audio compression    Dolby Digital (Dolby AC3)/ 2ch

Still pictures
Compression    JPEG (DCF/Exif2.2 compliant)
Picture size    1920 x 1080 / 2.1MEGA (16:9)


HDC-SX5 Specifications

Power source    DC 7.2 / 9.3V
Power consumption    10.2 W
Signal system    HD: 1080 lines, 50 fields STD: 625
lines, 50 fields
Weight (w/o Battery)    540g
Dimensions (W x H x D)    83.5 x 93.5 x 151.5 mm
Image sensor    1/6-inch CCD image sensor
Total pixels: 560 k x 3
Effective pixels Motion Picture: 520 k x 3 (16:9)
Still Picture: 520 k x 3 (16:9)
Lens    Auto iris, 10x power zoom
F 1.8 to 2.8 (f = 3.0 to 30.0mm)
35mm equivalent
Motion picture: 42.9 to 429 mm (16:9)
Still picture: 42.9 to 429mm (16:9)
Filter diameter    37 mm
Zoom    10x optical zoom, 25/700x digital zoom
Monitor    2.7’’ wide LCD monitor (approx. 300 k pixels)
Microphone    Stereo Zoom Microphone
Speaker    Dynamic type
White balance adjustment    Auto / White Set / Outdoor /
Indoor (with IR sensor)
Standard illumination    1,400 lux
Minimum required illumination    5 lux (1/25 low light
mode) (1 lux in Colour Nigh View mode)
High-speed shutter    1/25 – 1/8000 (Motion Picture),
1/25-1/8000 (Still Picture)
Recording media    8cm DVD-RAM Ver2.1 / DVD-R for General
Ver2.0 / DVD-RW Ver1.1 2x-speed (2x / 1x) / DVD-R for
DL Ver3.0 / SDHC/SD Memory Card
USB    Card reader / writer function ( No copyright
protection support)
High-Speed USB (USB2.0) (miniB)
Pict Bridge-compliant
Flash    Available flash range: approx. 1m to 2.5m
Standard accessories    AC Adaptor, Battery Pack, IR
Remote Controller, USB Cable,
component Cable, AV-Cable, CD-ROM (HD Writer Ver2.0)

Motion pictures
Compression    HD: MPEG4-AVC/H.264 (AVCHD standard
compliant)
STD: MPEG2
Transfer rate    HD HG: approx. 13 Mbps (CBR)/ HN:
approx. 9 Mbps (VBR)/
HE: approx. 6 Mbps (VBR)
STD XP: approx. 10Mbps (VBR)/ SP: approx. 5Mbps
(VBR)/
LP: approx. 2.5Mbps (VBR)
Picture size    HD HG: 1920 x 1080, HN/HE: 1440 x 1080
Audio compression    Dolby Digital (Dolby AC3)/ 2ch

Still pictures
Compression    JPEG (DCF/Exif2.2 compliant)
Picture size    1920 x 1080 / 2.1MEGA (16:9)