By Patrick Avenell in Queenstown

QUEENSTOWN, NZ: The focus of Panasonic's new camcorder range is on the two Ds: 3D and SD. This proclamation was made at the launch of Panasonic's 2011 digital imaging range in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Although Panasonic has for a long time been a big supporter of the SD format, it has declared that the market has now moved sufficiently towards card memory storage to virtually render obsolete hard disk recording.

On the 3D side, continuing Panasonic’s commitment not only to 3D reproduction on its plasma TVs, it is now widening the scope for users to generate their own 3D content, with its soon-to-be-released second generation 3D lens now compatible with more models in the range.

At the top of the range are two Full HD video cameras (HS900 and SD900), both featuring the 3MOS system. This system allows the camera to process red, green and blue separately, which Panasonic believes creates more vivid imagery. There’s also a 3.5-inch advanced touchscreen for controlling the camcorder, Intelligent Auto (iA) and 20x telephoto zoom.

The HS900 records to both SD cards and to an on-board 220GB hard disk drive. This model is RRP $2,099 and will be released in March 2011. The SD900 only has SD card memory. This model, released later this month (February 2011) is RRP $1,499.

Both these models are 3D ready, with the new CLT1 3D lens attachment able to sit atop the lens to record 3D video at home. These accessory will be released in March for RRP $449.

This 3D lens will also be compatible with the new SD90 (RRP $849), which sits in Panasonics broad mid-level Full HD camcorder range. Also in this range are the HS80 ($949), the SD80 (RRP $749) and the SD40 (RRP $499). These models all feature SD card memory storage, with the HS80 also incorporating a 120GB hard disk drive.

Finally, in Panasonics low-end SD super zoom range, there are two new models: the H101 (RRP $549) and the S71 (RRP $349). Panasonic isn’t messing around with its super zoom label, with these models both boasting 78x, made up of 70x optical and then enhancements. Both have SD recording, with the H101 also including an 80GB hard disk drive.

Panasonic’s decision to only include one hard disk model in each of its three ranges of camcorders is a response to the market, with product marketing manager Aurelie Hayon saying the convenience of an SD card, which can be inserted straight into a PC or TV, is luring consumers to the format.

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