The Panasonic HDC-SD5 is equipped with three 1/6" CCDs, each with a gross pixel count of 560,000 and an effective count of 520,000, processed by Panasonic’s HD Advanced Pure Color Engine processor. Both the HDC-SD5 and HDC-SX5 have been downgraded in the chipset department—the HDC-SD1 and HDC-DX1 both touted three 1/4" CCDs. This means the HDC-SD5’s light gathering abilities will diminish due to the smaller pixels size.
The good news is that Panasonic has increased the resolution on both AVCHD models. The HDC-SD5 and HDC-SX5 both record in 1920 x 1080 "full HD," while the HDC-SD1 and HDC-DX1 top out at 1440 x 1080 anamorphic with a 1920 x 1080 output signal. Though we were not able spend a great deal of time with the HDC-SD5’s image, its playback on Panasonic’s plasma screens looked promising.
The HDC-SD5 should yield a bright light performance similar to the HDC-SD1 and HDC-DX1. 3CCD Panasonics tend to produce a vibrant color palette. Hopefully, the dreadful compression effects of AVCHD will not mar the HDC-SD5’s image to a significant degree.
Though our HDC-SD5 was not an official production model, Panasonic encouraged us to shoot footage onto the supplied 2GB SD cards so we could return to our testing room for an analysis. The real assessment will begin when we get our hands on one next month.
Low Light Performance
According to the specs, the HDC-SD5 is capable of a minimum illumination of 5 lux, though these numbers are always exaggerated by manufacturers. Again, the three smaller 1/6" imagers will most likely decrease the HDC-SD5’s light gathering ability. Those darn AVCHD compression artifacts will pile on in low light, amalgamating into a thick fuzz over the image. Don’t expect an earth-shattering difference in performance from the HDC-SD1 and HDC-DX1.