Written By: Alex Bistrevsky
Missed all those great moments during your last family gathering—the ones where people were actually smiling? Don’t worry, the Panasonic HDC-HS300 camcorder (approximate value: ~$1000) will make sure you capture them as they happen. This high-end consumer camcorder can tackle anything from those simple family get-togethers to your personal professional video projects, and its customizable options help novice and experienced users alike, making it worth your investment regardless of where you stand.
I’ve used the Panasonic HDC-HS300 for my serious video projects and with its 2.7 inch LCD touchscreen I was easily able to navigate through the settings and deselect the “auto” feature, but users less familiar with cameras can keep it on “auto” and watch the camcorder handle everything from light exposure to the focus of your shot. It adjusts to meet you on your level. The optic image stabilization feature takes that potentially earthquake-looking shot and turns it into something the eye can follow. It even tracks people’s faces with an automatic face detector. It shoots in full HD and packs three individual CMOS sensors that all work together to create that rich, and vibrant color you expect to see in a Panasonic product. For more advanced users who aren’t interested in the “auto” feature, the large-aperture Leica Dicomar lens (with 12x optical zoom) also packs its own lens ring and the HS300 comes with a retractable electronic viewfinder, and features 5.1 Dolby surround sound microphone allowing you to take your filmmaking skills to the next level. You’ll also be glad to know that there is both a headphone and a microphone jack included, ensuring you have the option to record cutting edge sound. The camcorder’s internal 120GB hard drive is plenty of space to store your footage, and it offers endless possibilities for expansion with its SD card slot. One thing I’ve found to be problematic is that the touch screen isn’t always responsive, but it has never been a big issue for me.
The HS300 is a step up from older HS100 and SD100 models with its intelligent automatic features and CMOS sensors. Users not ready to trust in a hard drive-based camcorder will be glad to hear that the TM300 is basically the same exact camcorder except that it carries 32GB of internal flash memory in place of the hard drive. Get the Panasonic HDC-HS300 and I guarantee that you won’t miss another slice of life.