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6 Reviews
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quality, rugged camera which performs well for all outdoor use, 5 July 2009
By 
K. L. Wren "K L Wren" (Herefordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Panasonic SDR-SW21 Flash Memory Underwater & Sports Camcorder With SD Card Slot - Orange (Electronics)
Typical of Panasonic, this camcorder had a good, solid build with a quality feel and secure battery/SD card compartment. Start-up from standby mode is fast by simply opening the monitor which tilts smoothly through 180 degrees enabling it to be used at eye or waist level.

A risk with waterproof cameras is they are more likely to be dropped into rivers or the sea and once on the river/sea bed they are likely to be lost and exceed their 1.5-2m waterproof range. Ingeniously, Panasonic has thought of this and supplies a detatchable float which fits onto the wrist strap so, if it should be dropped into water, it will float on the surface and can be retrieved. It it should be knocked in the process it should survive this too thanks to being shockproof to withstand a 1.2m drop.

Back to the design.... It has a handy additional record button on the front although, both surprisingly and very disappointingly, the monitor doesn't rotate through 360 degrees - essential if you wish to film yourself in videos or monitor filming from the front of the camera. I hope this is an oversight and something Panasonic will address in their next model, particularly as I feel the rotating monitors are the weakness in the competing Sanyo camcorders (both of my VPC-CA65 camcorder monitors failed within a very short time) and a good, reliable rotating monitor could give Panasonic the edge.

I was pleased with the results using the video mode although the still images were nothing special and low resolution at just 0.8 megapixels so it's still necessary to carry both a camcorder and camera - or buy a Sanyo camera which can take 2 megapixel still photos without interrrupting video recording. Like most camcorders in this class it performs best outdoors in good natural light. Indoors, in dull light, images are typically less sharp and grainy but this is where Panasonic strides ahead of its competitors by providing a manual mode with iris gain which allows some tweaking and a low-light performance not matched by the competition.

As it films in MPEG-2 format, files tend to be quite large when using the highest resolution and the 'MOD' output files produced are not compatible with all editing software (but can be converted). I use CyberLink DVD Suite 7 Pro (PC CD) which handled the files well. In contrast, the competing Sanyo models use MPEG-4 format which produces much smaller files.

Pros
Good solid build with quality feel
Fast start-up from standby mode
Easy and comfortable to hold.
Waterproof - can be used in all weather, underwater and in dusty environments
Shockproof: the rugged build - will withstand a 1.2m drop (but I haven't tried this!)
Exceptionally smooth 10X optical zoom
Good image quality, especially in bright outdoor conditions
Monitor has three horizontal lines to aid picture composition using rule of thirds and straight horizons
Stereo zoom mic gives good sound
Options to film in widescreen 16:9 or 4:3
Three resolution modes to choose from
Manual focus facility
Manual mode boosts low light performance
Feels reliable
SDHC compatible up to 32GB

Cons
Monitor does not rotate 360 degrees
Occasionally struggles slightly with white balance
Records in MPEG-2 format so files are large (MPEG-4 generates much smaller files)
Effects are limited to a fade to black/white
No lens cap leaves lens vulnerable to scratches and damage
Still images are poor (0.8mpx)
Electronic image stabiliser (I would prefer optical)
Poor battery life (supplied 940mAh lasts about an hour but I've sourced 1400mAh generic replacements very cheaply)

This isn't a snazzy, gimmicky camera crammed with lots of effect you'll never need but is a solid, reliable, quality camcorder which can be depended upon to fulfill its promises.

It's not the cheapest camcorder and it's almost in the HD camcorder price bracket. However, this is not necessarily a negative point. As a regular user of both standard and high definition camcorders, I feel camcorder technology has progressed faster than PC's which often don't have the capability to handle the huge files unless you have invested in a top-notch model and it's all to easy to splash out on a HD camcorder and then find you're unable to use or edit the files they produce!

I am pleased with my purchase, have every confidence in Panasonic products and would recommend it to anyone looking for a rugged and reliable camcorder which performs well.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Little Camcorder, 21 Oct 2009
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This review is from: Panasonic SDR-SW21 Flash Memory Underwater & Sports Camcorder With SD Card Slot - Orange (Electronics)
I bought this dinky little camcorder to support my fine art practice. It's great to have such a versatile, easy to use piece of kit that you can do the most outrageous things to and not have to worry about. It's a perfect companion for my Olympus mu 8000 tough compact camera.
My only reservations are over the lack of lens protection and the screen only rotating 180 degrees.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for holidays!, 11 Sep 2009
By 
Keith Richards "Keith" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Panasonic SDR-SW21 Flash Memory Underwater & Sports Camcorder With SD Card Slot - Orange (Electronics)
This camcorder really is amazing!

It can quite happily go with you on a trip to the beach, without you worrying about sand, water, etc breaking it.

The picture quality is very good (both in and out of water) and the controls are really easy to use. It focuses quickly even when underwater, and the screen is very easy to see, so you know what you're filming.

My only disappointment was the size of the pictures (yes, you can use it as a camera too!) - they are only a measly 0.3mp which means they are only about 5" by 3" on your computer screen. That being said, they are of good quality and we got some great close-ups of fish, etc.

When underwater there is a special setting which alters the colour balance to give more realistic colours, and it even records sound!!

When you've used it in the sea, you must rinse it in fresh water before it dries, which usually isn't a problem. The instruction manual says 30mins underwater maximum but I have to say I've used it for about an hour with no ill effects.

Overall a great buy!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Camcorder, 8 Sep 2009
This review is from: Panasonic SDR-SW21 Flash Memory Underwater & Sports Camcorder With SD Card Slot - Orange (Electronics)
I bought this for my husbands birthday and he takes it everywhere. It is not the best ie no HD but the size and durability means that we do actually use it rather than being too worried to take it out. We have used it on the beach and by the pool with no worries and even let our kids run around filming which we wouldn't do with something more fragile.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Snazzy camcorder, 13 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Panasonic SDR-SW21 Flash Memory Underwater & Sports Camcorder With SD Card Slot - Orange (Electronics)
I baught this camcorder from Amazon,last year,and i have no regrets,i'm very happy with it,so handy for outdoor events & you don't have to worry about it getting wet,as it's waterproof.Video quality is very good too (DVD quality,very handy,you can pop it in your shirt pocket,then just whip it out to capture that special moment.However there's only one thing very dissapointing about this camcorder,is that the stills photos are very poor,not even 1 mp,but all in all a very good buy,i'd recomend it that is if your into video,but it's a pity the s
stills are rubbish,otherwise no other faults.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Camera, 8 Jan 2010
By 
Mr. RD Everist (Bedfordshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Panasonic SDR-SW21 Flash Memory Underwater & Sports Camcorder With SD Card Slot - Orange (Electronics)
Brilliant light weight camera which has many features and competitively priced. Paying a little more than some other cameras out there does pay off.
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