Panasonic must be missing a kitchen sink judging by the new HDC-TM300. It’s been packed with every feature it could get its hands on, including Full HD video, 10.6MP stills, a 2.7in touchscreen and a not inconsiderable 32GB of flash storage.
In case you didn’t guess from the price tag, this camcorder is very much targeted at moviemakers with serious ambitions. The palmcorder styling and black with red trim design may be eye-catching but more important are the high-quality Leica Dicomar lens and 3MOS sensor system that generate its 1920x1080 images.
Panasonic has made the multi-layered menu system intuitive but there’s still a steep learning curve to getting the most out of its range of manual features, which include focus, white balance, shutter speed, iris control and over-exposure warning.
All are activated from the menu system and it pays to know just where they are and how to get to them quickly. Fortunately, a manual ring around the lens gives swift access to two of these: optical zoom and manual focus.
The manual ring is a clever touch, as it means you can get more precise with focusing and zooming.
More contentious is the 2.7in touchscreen LCD. It ensures plenty of smudges on the display, but also means one less button to press and helps a lot in one of the TM300’s big features: intelligent Auto (iA).
This wraps up five settings in one button: face detection, intelligent scene selector, optical image stabilizer, intelligent contrast control and AF Tracking. In effect it’s a smart Full Auto mode, but AF Tracking is its ace in the hole, letting you pick a subject – via the touchscreen – and to keep that in focus.
It’s a well-connected cam too, with moviemaker essentials like a 3.5mm headphone output and microphone input. It’s also got HDMI, AV and component out as hook-up options – though be warned it’s a mini HDMI connector on the cam, not a full-size one.
Packed with potential
Capacity isn’t a problem with the combination of 32GB flash storage and up to 32GB SDHC card support. And the ability to store stills at 10.6MP, 7MP and 4.5MP gives it a big boost over rivals like Canon’s HF10, Sony’s HDR-SR10 or JVC’s GZ-HD10.
The TM300’s outdoor shooting potential is remarkable, with movies full of vivid colour and exceptional detail. Combine this with the 5.1 channel surround sound audio and you’re holding one powerful piece of tech.
There is just a whiff of disappointment in the (indoor) air, as average low light ability gave some – briefly – out of focus footage.
It’s not a game-ender by any means, though, as there are just so many positives you can take from this cracking addition to Panny’s ranks.