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Panasonic HDC-SD800 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £556
inc VAT

A superb all-round camcorder - if you want the best video quality currently available, this is the model to buy.


1/4.1in CMOS sensor, 1080i, 1080p, 12.0x zoom, 330g

Panasonic’s single-sensor Panasonic HDC-SD90 impressed us with its detailed outdoor footage. The HDC-SD800 doesn’t have the SD90’s accessory shoe or microphone input – you’ll need to buy the high-end HDC-SD900 for those – but its array three dedicated CMOS sensors (one each for red, green and blue light) promise superior image quality.

The SD800 is significantly larger than the tiny HDC-SD90 – while the SD90 had a can of Red Bull’s proportions, the SD800 is fat as a Fanta. There are few controls; just a zoom rocker, buttons for recording video and taking photos, enabling or disabling image stabilisation and switching from 1080i to 1080p video.

Panasonic HDC-SD800

As on the SD90, if you switch to manual mode you can use the touchscreen to tweak the image’s white balance, the camera’s shutter speed and the lens aperture. You can also focus manually with the touchscreen and, as on the SD90 again, the camcorder helps you by highlighting in-focus parts of the image in blue.

When it comes to image quality, it’s not immediately apparent where the £150 premium over the SD90 goes. Footage taken in daylight only appears slightly more detailed at first. However, once you start to look closer, especially at maximum zoom, the differences become apparent. The level of detail is astounding; when filming buildings in the street, we were amazed by the sharp vertical lines on walls, the bumps and irregularities on paintwork and sharp, black text on road signs. There was almost no noise at all in bright light, lending everything a realistic vibrancy.

Things got even better when we moved inside. Footage shot under indoor lighting had very little noise and none of the oil-painting-esque lack of detail associated with excessive noise reduction. In low light, where the SD90 couldn’t maintain a smooth frame rate, the SD800 gave us jerk-free video. Only when we turned all the lights off did excessive noise creep into the picture.

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Basic Specifications

Rating *****


Optical zoom 12.0x
Digital zoom 700x
Sensor 1/4.1in CMOS
Sensor pixels 9
Widescreen mode native
LCD screen size 3.5in
Viewfinder type none
Video lamp Yes
Video recording format AVCHD
Video recording media SD/SDHC/SDXC
Sound 16-bit stereo
Video resolutions 1080i, 1080p
Maximum image resolution 4,608×3,072
Memory slot SD. SDHC, SDXC
Mermory supplied none
Flash yes


Digital inputs/outputs USB Hi-speed
Analogue inputs/outputs AV out, component out, mini HDMI out
Other connections charge jack
Battery type Li-ion
Battery life 2h 36m
Battery charging position charger
Size 66x63x133mm
Weight 330g

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £556

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