They say the best ideas come to us in the shower, in which case the designers of the water-loving S10 didn't have to look far to find their inspiration. The diddy shooter is barely bigger than a bar of Cusson's finest yet crams in a generous 10x optical zoom and a proper Leica lens.

The S10 is the smallest fully fledged camcorder this side of Tokyo but that hasn't been an excuse for cutting corners. It feels solid and its simple lines and smooth curves look the part too.

To have and to hold

With dust, shock and water resistance, the S10 is one tough cookie but, like all tough-guys, it has a vulnerable underbelly - or, in this case, lens. With no protective cap, either internally or externally, it's seriously exposed. A decent camera case is a must if you don't want your Leica investment to end up a smudged and scratched mess.

The soap bar shape is a tricky one to grip. There's no hand strap so holding it like a conventional camcorder feels awkward. There are two record buttons so you can shift your grip easily – we found holding it like a torch worked best.

The 10x zoom is surprisingly smooth and stealthier than a cat in sneakers. We didn't pick up any unwanted whirrings on our footage. Treat the lens well and it'll deliver in spades, especially outdoors where we were able to get some great footage.

Take it indoors and it's pretty murky. Noise is clearly evident. Not a problem if you're shrinking the clips down for YouTube use but stick it on your 52in plasma and it'll look decidedly ropey.

25 minutes to go

In top quality, the bundled 2GB card is good for a modest 25 minutes recording. The battery doesn't have much staying power either – giving up the ghost after less than an hour.

The 2.7in screen is generous for a cam this small but the playback and menu controls are awkwardly sited on the side of the camera, in the screen cavity, making the menus something of a mental challenge.

Given the size of this thing, it's crying out to be used as a hybrid compact camera but the best it can muster is a measly 0.3MP – positively prehistoric. This makes it useless for anything more than web-based blog fodder and certainly no replacement for a dedicated compact camera on your hols.

Thankfully, the S10 is small enough that carrying a second camera isn't a problem, and it's rugged enough to be tossed in a bag and forgotten about when it's not needed. It won't take the best video but it's impressive for its size and for convenience it wins hands down.



Stuff says... 

Panasonic SDR-S10 review

It's a mini adventure with the S10. A go anywhere, shoot anything cam that won't break the bank and delivers well for its size