camcorders

Panasonic SDR-H60 Camcorder Review

Panasonic SDR-H60 Camcorder Review

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Performance

Video Performance* (3.0)*

The Panasonic SDR-H60 comes equipped with a basic standard definition low-end imaging system – a 1/6-inch CCD with a 800,000 gross pixel resolution. The effective pixel count when shooting 16:9 widescreen, the effective pixel count is 380,000; in 4:3 aspect ration, the effective pixel count is 290,000). You shouldn't expect much from specs like these, but specs sheets never tell the full story. A camcorder's processing is a major factor, so let's look at how the SDR-H60 performed.

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Panasonic SDR-H60 at 3000 lux

In our standard lab testing, we shoot a DSC Labs Chroma DuMonde color chart at an even 3000 lux. If you want the sharpest camcorder in this price range, the SDR-H60 is not the one for you. There was a lot of noise, even in this bright light. However, the color performance was quite good, with vivid, even tones that were not too under or over-saturated.

By comparison, the Panasonic SDR-H200, the step-up from the H60, has three CCD sensors, each the same size as the 1/6-inch chip in the H60, but with a higher effective pixel count. The SDR-H200 produced a sharper image with less noise. The colors are slightly muted compared to the H60, but more accurate. The sharpness is important, because the general fuzziness of the H60 caused it to lose a lot of fine detail.

The Canon FS11 and FS100 produced less color saturation and less noise. The Sony DCR-SR85 was the weakest performer in this test, producing an image with uneven color tones and blotches of blue noise – the color accuracy of the SR85 scored poorly in our low light testing.

Out of the lab, the Panasonic produced the least saturated colors. There was also a tendency to warm the image, producing a redder tone than the Sony DCR-SR85 or JVC GZ-MG330. Overall, the biggest thing we noticed was the lack of difference in outdoor shooting. All three of these camcorders produced a decent, standard definition image. In our low light testing, we saw much larger differences, with the JVC GZ-MG330 and Canon FS11 shooting ahead of the pack.

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Panasonic SDR-H60

*...and at 100-percent

*

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*JVC GZ-MG330

*

...and at 100-percent
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*Sony DCR-SR85

*

...and at 100-percent

Overall, the video performance of the Panasonic SDR-H60 is acceptable, but it won't wow anybody.

Video Resolution* (4.47)*

The video resolution of the Panasonic SDR-H60 was tested by shooting a DSC labs video resolution chart at an even, bright light. The footage is then played back on a monitor for analysis. Ultimately, we found the Panasonic SDR-H60 to produce a horizontal resolution of 325 line widths per picture height (lw/ph), and a vertical resolution of 275 lw/ph. This is about average for a camcorder in this price range.

Low Light Performance* (2.18)*

The low light performance of the Panasonic SDR-H60 was tested in three stages: comparative analysis, sensitivity, and noise/color accuracy. First, let's look at how it stacked up against the competition. We shoot a DSC Labs Chroma DuMonde color chart at an even 60 lux and 15 lux. At 60 lux, the SDR-H60 lost a great deal of color information when compared to its bright light performance. The fuzziness that we had a problem with in bright light got a lot worse, and fine detail retention was poor.

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Panasonic SDR-H60 at 60 lux

By comparison, the Panasonic SDR-H200, the step-up model, did not fare much better, indicating that standard definition Panasonics may not be the best choice if you plan on doing a lot of low light shooting. The Canon FS11 and FS100 was a little brighter, and the colors a little stronger. However, the Canons managed to retain a lot more fine detail. The Sony DCR-SR85 produced the muddiest, worst looking colors, but the black/white contrast remained decent. Overall, the Canon is the winner here.

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Panasonic SDR-H60 at 15 lux

At 15 lux, the Panasonic SDR-H60 was very dark; most of the color information was lost. Actually, none of the camcorders did that well. 15 lux is a widow-maker for most in this price range.

The second test measures sensitivity. We slowly lower the light while the camcorder is connected to a waveform monitor (measuring exposure in IREs). The Panasonic SDR-H60 did not do well, requiring 22 lux of light in order to produce an exposure value of 50 IRE. By comparison, the Panasonic SDR-H200 required 24 lux, the Sony DCR-SR85 required 18 lux, and the JVC GZ-MG330 and the Canon FS11 needed only 13 lux, making them the winners in this test.

Finally, we tested the color accuracy, noise, and saturation of the Panasonic SDR-H60 by shooting an X-Rite Color Checker chart at an even 60 lux, then running the stills through Imatest imaging software. According to Imatest, the Panasonic H60 produced a color error of 14.9. The noise measured 1.465%. The saturation measured 57.7%.

These scores were on par with previous Panasonics we've tested in same price range. The Canon FS11 produced a better color accuracy but the same amount of noise. The Sony DCR-SR85 had very slight worse color and the noise percentage. The JVC GZ-MG330 also produced very inaccurate colors, but produced an incredible 99.08% saturation, making vivid (while incorrect) colors.

Overall, the Panasonic SDR-H60 is not a good choice for low light shooting.

Stabilization* (7.5)*

The Panasonic SDR-H60 is equipped with an optical image stabilization. We tested the effectiveness of this system with our exclusive shake simulator, running at two speeds. Speed 1 approximates a typical hand shake, and Speed 2 is stronger and faster, closer to a car on a bumpy road.

At Speed 1, the SDR-H60's optical image stabilization corrected the shake by 75%, which is a strong score – not outstanding, but very good. This is slightly less than score from the Panasonic SDR-H200, and could be accounted for by the difference in weight and weight distribution. At Speed 2, the correction was also 75%, another good score.

Wide Angle* (12.4)*

The Panasonic SDR-60 produces a wide angle of 62 degrees, which is considerably wider than the competition. In a lot of our testing, we noticed how much more could fit in a shot with the SDR-H60.

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Sections

  1. Performance
  2. Format
  3. Auto / Manual Controls
  4. Still Features
  5. Handling and Use
  6. Audio / Playback / Connectivity
  7. Other Features
  8. Conclusion & Comparisons
  9. Photo Gallery