camcorders

Panasonic HDC-HS300 Camcorder Review

The Panasonic HDC-HS300 (MSRP 1399.99) is a first-class camcorder.

May 06, 2009
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Low Light Sensitivity

We haven't seen many camcorders with excellent low light sensitivity this year. The Panasonic HDC-HS300, however, put up terrific numbers. It needed only 9 lux to peak at 50 IRE on our waveform monitor—this is the same amount of light that was needed by the Sanyo VPC-HD2000, which is the best overall low light performer we've tested this year. No camcorder has scored better than the Panasonic HDC-HS300 or Sanyo VPC-HD2000 on our low light sensitivity test so far this year. More on how we test low light sensitivity.

Shooting in 24p mode will often boost a camcorder's low light performance. The Panasonic HDC-HS300, however, didn't show a significant improvement when using the alternate frame rate. The low light sensitivity of the camcorder improved by only one lux when using the 24p mode and the low light color accuracy and noise levels didn't show any significant improvement either. In contrast, the Canon HF S100 proved to be a much better low light performer when using its 24p or 30p record mode. Its sensitivity improved by a whopping 10 lux in 24p mode (from 16 lux down to 6 lux) and the camcorder showed lower noise levels and more saturated colors when using the slower frame rate.

Low Light Noise

As we saw with low light color, the Panasonic HDC-HS300 is right in the mix with the rest of the high-end camcorders when it comes to low light noise. The camcorder registered 1.42% noise in our low light testing—a good score—but not the best we've seen. The Sony HDR-XR520V posted a significantly lower 0.87% noise, while the Canon HF S100 and Sanyo VPC-HD2000 produced similar numbers to the Panasonic. More on how we test low light noise.

In the crops above, you can see that the level of detail captured by the Sony HDR-XR520V and Canon HF S100 is better than the Panasonic HDC-HS300 and Sony VPC-HD2000. The Panasonic isn't far behind, however, and its image is significantly brighter than both the Sony and Canon. The minuscule amount of noise on the Sony HDR-XR520V probably has something to do with its sharp picture at low light. Notice how crisp the number and lines are on its 100% crop above.

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Low Light Color

The Panasonic HDC-HS300 had good color accuracy in our low light testing, although the results were fairly average compared to the rest of the competition. The camcorder measured a color error of 5.2 in low light, with a saturation of 64.25%. In our low light color test, the HS300's image looked very similar to that of the Sony HDR-XR520V and Canon HF S100. More on how we test low light color.

In the diagram above, you can see that the camcorder had more trouble with certain blues and purples than anything else. Still, a 5.2 color error in low light is quite good. You can see from our test image that the camcorder still has a decently bright image in low light and colors are still vibrant and strong. Below are low light comparisons with the other models in this group.

The Sanyo VPC-HD2000 clearly has the brightest image out of this set. As a result, its colors are also the most accurate. To some, the Sanyo's colors could appear too saturated, but that is entirely a matter of opinion. Both the Sony HDR-XR520V and Canon HF S100 measured a color error roughly on par with the Panasonic HDC-HS300.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Product Tour
  3. Color Performance
  4. Low Light Performance
  5. Motion Performance
  6. Sharpness Performance
  7. Sample Videos
  8. Ease of Use
  9. Handling
  10. Controls
  11. Recording Options
  12. Hardware
  13. Other Features
  14. Sony HDR-XR520V Comparison
  15. Canon Vixia HF S100 Comparison
  16. Sanyo VPC-HD2000 Comparison
  17. Conclusion
  18. Photo Gallery
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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