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Panasonic SDR-H80 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £310
inc VAT


1/8in CCD sensor, PAL, 70.0x zoom, 360g

For capturing events such as weddings, we’d recommend an HD camcorder such as the HDC-SD9.

Even if you don’t have an HD TV now, you probably will in the future. However, lots of video is shot purely for YouTube. Panasonic has designed its SDR-H80 camcorder specifically for this purpose and includes YouTube-friendly features.

A small button activates the Web Mode. You get a 10-minute countdown to remind you of YouTube’s maximum running time. Connect the SDR-H80 to your PC and the provided software launches automatically, showing thumbnails of any clips shot in Web Mode. These can then be uploaded directly to YouTube.

Dissapointingly, there are no basic editing tools for setting in and out points. We also see no reason why the software can’t include all clips of less than 10 minutes in length. Finally, the software must be installed on your PC before you can use this feature. We’d rather see it run directly from the camcorder’s built-in storage, as on Flip’s Mino (What’s New, Shopper 250).

The SDR-H80 has a built-in 60GB hard disk. This will hold around 15 hours of MPEG2 video at the highest quality setting of 10Mbit/s, which makes it a good choice if you’re going on a long holiday. It also has an SDHC card slot should you need yet more space.

The 70x optical zoom is the biggest we’ve seen, making it ideal for wildlife shooting. Optical image stabilisation helps reduce camera shake on handheld shots. However, even with stabilisation, we struggled to get a steady handheld shot beyond a factor of around 50x. Despite this, the huge zoom makes it a very flexible camcorder.

The 1/8in CCD sensor is among the smallest you’ll find on any camcorder. In good lighting conditions, the SDR-H80 performs admirably, with accurate colours and reasonable detail. However, the results start to suffer when viewed on a large TV, as there isn’t enough detail to fill a big display. In less favourable lighting, it really struggles. We’ve seen worse results from camcorders with small sensors in dark conditions, but there’s still a lot of noise here.

The SDR-H80 is compact, comfortable to hold and easy to operate and its battery is capable of almost two hours of continuous recording. However, you have to run it off mains power to access files via USB. This means that to upload a video while on the move, you’ll need to carry a power adaptor with you.

The SDR-H80 isn’t a bad camcorder, but memory card storage makes better financial sense for most users. At £16 for a 16GB SDHC card, it’s no more expensive than hard disk storage, and you need only buy the amount you require. Thankfully, Panasonic makes a more compact, memory-card only version of this camcorder. The SDR-S26 has an otherwise identical specification, and is available for £256 including VAT from the same supplier. However, if you’re looking to shoot a lot of standard-definition footage, then the SDR-H80 is a decent choice.

Basic Specifications

Rating ***


Optical zoom 70.0x
Sensor 1/8in CCD
Sensor pixels 800,000
Widescreen mode anamorphic
LCD screen size 2.7in
Viewfinder type none
Video lamp No
Video recording format MPEG2
Video recording media 60GB hard disk, SDHC
Sound Dolby Digital Stereo
Video resolutions PAL
Maximum image resolution 640×480
Memory slot SDHC
Mermory supplied none
Flash no


Digital inputs/outputs USB
Analogue inputs/outputs A/V out
Other connections charge jack
Battery type 7.2V 725mAh Li-ion
Battery life 1h 57m
Battery charging position charger
Size 66x53x107mm
Weight 360g

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £310