Panasonic has decided to give pocket-sized camcorders a hard time. Its HDC-SD60 keeps things small and simple but adds a sackful of features that its more dinky competitors from Kodak, Flip and Sanyo don’t always include.

The HDC-SD60 is part of a trio of mid-range camcorders from Panasonic, which includes the HS60 (120GB HDD + SD card recording) and TM60 (16GB memory + SD card recording). The SD60 drops all this built-in memory stuff for the simplicity of SD card recording – it’s even compatible with the latest media card developments and will record to SDXC too.

Closer to the action

This is a 1920x1080 Full HD model, and one that comes with a super-smooth and controllable 25x optical zoom. The compact dimensions are still practical but what helps to underline its cred is its 35.7mm wideangle lens.

As with Sony’s high-end HDR-XR550, this type of lens makes it easier to fit more into the picture without having to move further away from what you’re shooting. It’s ace for shooting in tight spaces.Menu selections are made using a mixture of the 2.7in touchscreen and a small array of buttons housed on the rim of the LCD. The touchscreen can be unresponsive at times, though persistence does pay off.

Photo credentials

Videomakers are served a plateful of auto and manual functions including iA (Intelligent Auto), which automatically optimises settings for the best images, face-recognition tech and an optical image stabiliser that works just as well at both extremes of the zoom.

What further enhances the SD60’s cause is its photo performance. The 5MP stills are creditable in their own right: sharp and colourful, but the cam has a three-mode flash, red-eye reduction and self-timer, along with three flash-level settings: less bright, normal, more bright. They’re not snappily named but they do make the SD60 more versatile.

Review continues after the break…


Solidly reassuring

Okay, so the SD60 doesn’t have the sparkle of one-touch YouTube upload that you’ll find on cams like the Sony ‘bloggie’ or JVC Picsio but it does have solid editing software (that even supports iMovie 09) and both HDMI (mini) and USB connections.

Even more, it has a fantastic video performance, especially so when you combine that with its price tag. True, it doesn’t exude charisma in the looks and design department but it’s well put together and does what it says on the tin – and does it pretty darn well.

Stuff says... 

Panasonic HDC-SD60 review

Great movies and surprisingly good still shots at a very attractive price