on 12 September 2011
I bought this camcorder as my wife and I want to record our family growing up, and whilst not planning on over-editing the output I wanted to make sure the quality was good enough to last the test of time.
Much of my time choosing what to buy was based on figuring the level of quality that makes sense. Panasonic offers a range of camcorders in the TM, SD and HS range and it was only by putting them all alongside each other and reviewing the tech specs that I could figure what I wanted:
- Quality - in my view 1080i is plenty sufficient in terms of quality. You can go for 1080p which is a higher quality but put in the context that current TV HD systems (eg. Sky HD) only handle 1080i I feel this is plenty. Also consider the huge step up all of this represents beyond what we were used to before HD camcorders. There's also a point about disk storage - you've got to be able to store the recordings somewhere and HD video is very hungry. On this camcorder you have 4 levels of quality you can use - I use the second-best one (HG) and even that uses up 1Gb in about 10 minutes (dependent on the quality 1Gb will be recorded within anything from 7 to 22 minutes)
- Storage - You can have options of inbuilt hard disk, SD memory cards and internal Flash memory. I chose a combination of memory cards and internal flash so that I could extend my recording capability with multiple cards but more importantly could continue recording onto Flash in the event of the SD card filling without me having to start fiddling about with cards at an inconvenient moment. My understanding is that the HS range is hard-disk and memory card, the TM is memory card + flash and the SD range is memory card only. The HS range is 30% heavier
For these 2 reasons, the TM80 was the one I went for and I'm pleased I did (the tech spec at the time of writing says 6Gb built-in memory but it's actually 16Gb).
In terms of usage, the camcorder is shaped like a small barrel which you hold with single handed operation. I'm not sure it's particularly well-suited to left-handers as it seems very right-handed in its design. Zoom controls are on the top and the start/stop button is controlled by your thumb. The popout screen lets you see what's going on and it also functions as a touch-screen control. It's cleverly designed so that you can rotate it on its hinge axis so that it's facing the same direction as the lens - this is useful if you are recording yourself as you can see where you are pointing the camcorder.
I've been very pleased with the results so far although I would only describe myself as a beginner in terms of using the camcorder itself - I do find the zoom can be a little sudden if I'm not careful (you can get it to zoom in slowly) and I've found the image stabilisation to be superb. Other reviewers have commented on poor battery capacity but I've not seen that problem. You will need to buy a memory card as it doesn't come with much in the way of accessories - a carry case is an option extra you may want to opt for as well. The instruction manuals are great and cover all the functionality - I've generally stuck to the basics of record and zoom and not bothered with much else (notably the photo taking capability as it's nowhere near the quality of an entry-level camera).
This camcorder comes with Panasonic's own video editing software but I chose not to use it and have used Sony Vegas Studio instead. The files created are standard AVCHD files and should therefore work easily with any quality video editing software package.
Compared to the previous version (60) the main improvements are zoomed sound and a lens cover. For general use I found the audio recording to be fine but on one occasion when I was recording something with a lot of background noise, the primary sound got completely drowned out - this is an amateur camera after all though.
on 7 July 2011
excellent product. very easy to use, takes fantastic quality video & still pictures, but my only gripe with it, is that when you have finished filming, you have to remember to manually close the lens cap (it opens automatically) but its easy to forget to close afterwards; otherwise cant fault it.
on 6 May 2011
Great upgrade from the TM-60 and excellent value for money. it is light, compact and delivers the best HD video I have seen.
the photo function works well but only in full light. I would not recommend to use it with the zoom as you loose a lot of quality.
the downsides are first the short-life of the battery. you definitely need two to be safe. second, it does not come with any accessories: be prepared to order a case too!
on 31 May 2012
One of the things that cropped up in buying this product was the complete lack of support online from the manufacturers Panasonic, although on their website there is a response facility but it may take several days for a question to be answered, being a Japanese product direct contact with the manufacturer is not possible, unless you speak Japanese.
The one thing you will have to get used to is that the video program that comes with it is very basic (although very good) and if you buy another more advanced program to edit your videos you will most certainly have conflict problems, unless you delete AE 3.0 completely off your machine, as this program is dedicated to the webcam and responds despite other programs interfering.
AE 3.0 is a very intuitive program i didnt find the instructions for it helpful.
The Webcam itself is very small, I would have liked there to be mic jack, and a remote control but sadly no..... yet they do have a flashlight fitted which is very good for those dark evenings and shadowy places.
On the whole I am very pleased with the camera but next time i will buy a product that has immediate backup, and english speaking advisors.