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PANASONIC SDR-H40- DISAPPOINTING EXPERIENCE ! I bought one of these cameras to take on a family holiday.After reading various online reviews, i purchased one and wished i hadn't wasted my time and money.I wanted a more modern camcorder than my trusty Sony DCR-TRV-14 mini dv,which was looking a bit old. First impressions of the SDR-H40 were favourable,with it being light and easy to manage,as well as being easy to operate,even for a beginner to video photography. After 3 days of my holiday in Egypt,i discovered that this camera wasn't as good as my old Sony.The lack of a viewfinder was a problem while filming in bright sunlight,and the lcd screen stopped working properly.It was the wrong way round, so filming was difficult to say the least.Play back quality was very poor.I couldn't tell what i had filmed or hadn't filmed. It wasn't until i returned home,and transferred the data to my pc,that my films had come out ok.The picture quality was fine on the movies,but any still photos were very poor indeed. I returned to camera the the store of purchase,and explained the problem.I recieved a full refund,and have now purchased another Sony.
On paper this camcorder seems ideal, it is reasonably cheap at around £250, it has a built in memory and so you do not have to buy extra memory cards, it is small and light and therefore very portable. However if I were to buy a camcorder again I would never purchase this one. Why? The software viedocam suite that comes with this model is appalling. I was unable to install this on any of my computers, including vista programs. Eventually I was able to get it onto my windows but it wouldnt open and therefore was useless. The camcorder does connect to Macs as it does not have a firewire port and therefore you cant use their brilliant editing facilities. It does connect to vista computers well however when the videocam is not installed and therefore I was eventually able to edit this way. Another problem is that this sdr-h40 creates MOD files which I have found you often need to convert in order to write them onto disk successfully and this too is a problem. I am hoping however that a solution to this will appear as both Sony and Panasonics new HDD cameras are like this and cause problems. To do all this I had to get my cousins, a computer engineer and a film teacher, to help me and both of them were baffled by these unnecessary problems that Panasonic have created. Another slight nusance is that when connecting the AC adaptor there are many cables that you have to connect together which is a but of a fiddle. The actual camera however is quite good and would be ideal for someone who doesnt wish to do any sort of modification to their footage. The picture quality on the screen is good and the camera is very easy and simple to run. Because the camera is small you can easily pop it in your bag for any occasion and the sound quality is reasonable.
The SDR-H40's 42x optical zoom lens has the power you need to take dramatic closeups or get remarkable shots of even distant subjects. But with long-distance zoom shots, even a tiny bit of hand shake has a huge effect on picture quality. That's where Panasonic's Advanced Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) comes in, suppressing the effects of hand shake as you shoot. The system uses gyrosensors to detect hand shake, then shifts a lens and adjusts the optical axis to compensate. This all happens a remarkable 4,000 times per second. And because the system is optical, no image quality is lost. Thanks to Advanced O.I.S., the images you capture look incredibly clear, sharp and blur-free even at high zoom levels.
The SDR-H40's 40 GB internal hard disk drive lets you record continuously for up to 36 hours (in LP mode) without changing a disc, tape or other recording media.
Panasonic's Anti-Shock Shield helps protect recorded video data from damage due to jolts and impact. The Drop Detect function senses if the camera is falling and moves the head away from the hard disk. The Floating Structure protects the hard disk should the camera fall or be dropped. And the Buffer Memory automatically backs up data while the camera is falling.
This hard disk drive camcorder has a USB Host function, which lets you connect directly to a DVD burner via a USB cable. You can then copy recordings from the hard disk to a DVD disc by simply pressing a button.
You can transfer the motion-image data from the SD card or the camcorder's hard drive right to your PC using your PC's USB port. Then with the included VideoCam Suite 1.0 software, you can easily put scenes in a different order and delete the ones you don't want. When you're finished with your video production, you can resave the edited version onto an SD memory card and a DVD disc.