Features (4 out of 5)
Panasonic’s newest standard-definition camcorder is the SDR-H80. It comes with a 60GB hard drive and stores close to 14 hours of video when set to the highest standard. The SDR-H80 is quite compact and can be easily held and maneuvered. It weighs 12.8 ounces, and its dimensions are pretty small at 2.1x2.6x4.2 inches with a standard 2.7 inch LCD screen.
The best feature of this new model (besides the price tag, $399.95) is the 70X zoom lens. This is amazing for a camcorder in this price range. And, the camcorder comes with optical image stabilization to help you keep your hand steady when filming at the higher zoom settings.
One of the major pitfalls of the 70x zoom lens is that, no matter how steady your hand is and no matter how much the optical stabilization may help you, your picture is still going to be fuzzy if you don’t use a tripod. So, be sure to invest in one before you start shooting video. Another issue is that the video quality isn’t the best, and the color can be grainy, especially in low-light. The low-light pitfalls may have a lot to do with the fact that it’s not a high-definition camcorder.
Usability (5 out of 5)
But, if you’re just planning on uploading video to YouTube, this may be the model that you should go with. It has a one-click uploading to YouTube via the Web mode and comes with a 10-minute countdown (the maximum length a video can be on the site) so that you won’t go over.
The body of this camcorder is well done with the Power/Mode button at the top, which lets you either record video or take still pictures. A joystick and the Menu button is inside the LCD screen for easier access. There are plenty of buttons all around the camcorder that allows you to switch between shooting options, including using Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto mode.
One issue with the design is that the USB port and power plus are in back of the battery. This could make for awkward movements if you need to transfer files to your computer. You may have to remove the battery to do so and could easily run out of power fast.
Bang for Your Buck (5 out of 5)
Overall, this is a nice introductory camcorder and would be great for amateurs and YouTubers. Just remember to grab a tripod if you’re going to be zooming way out.