By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Panasonic has announced the impending release of two new Full High Definition camcorders, the HDC-SD60 and the HDC-HS60.

As the names would suggest, the SD60 is a memory card model, compatible with SD and SDHC cards. The HS60 comes with an in-built 120GB hard disk drive and is expandable through the SD card slot. The latter is only available black, while the former comes in black, red and silver.

Features of the two models include Panasonic’s 25x optical zoom and 35x intelligent zoom. At the launch event in Melbourne, Panasonic exhibited this 35x zoom capability with positive results. Even at such a high zoom level, the picture is able to retain focus and minimise the blurriness commonly associated with ultra close zooming.

Also features is a new power optical image stabiliser (OIS). This uses gyrosensors to detect hand-shaking, moving a corrective lends to eliminate burning. Panasonic claims to have evolved this feature, meaning the camera image will move slowly to correct shaking, with a five-fold improvement on previous iterations.

Other features include wind noise cancelling, touchscreen operation and an LCD screen with automatic brightness adjustment.

These two camcorder models will be released in March 2010 for RRP $849 (SD60) and RRP $1,199 (HS60).

Also released in Melbourne at Panasonic’s 2010 Optical Seminar were two new compact camcorders. The premium model in this pair is the 80GB/SD card hybrid SDR-H85 (RRP $649). Also in the range is the SDR-S50, which is SD/SDXC/SDHC, and is RRP $449. Both these models will be available in later this month.

The prize feature of these camcorders is 78x optical zoom. When this was demonstrated at the launch press conference, the response from assembled journalists was as close to an Apple sycophant reaction as is possible with a non-skivvy-associated product. Despite moving in on distant objects at such a high rate, the image is remarkable clear.

Retailers could demonstrate this feature in store by setting up a small object across the room, preferably with writing on it, and then display the image on a TV screen through the camcorder at the opposite end. By showing the consumer how they can read what’s written on the text clearly, this could be a key sales trick in a very competitive category.