Panasonic VDR-D100 Camcorder Review
The Panasonic VDR-D100 produced an unexceptional image at 3000 lux under our standardized conditions. It’s what you’d expect from a camcorder of this caliber. Inside, the D100 has a 1/6" CCD producing 680K gross (340K effective) pixels. What it yields is a balanced but rather flat looking picture. Unlike last year’s Panasonic VDR-M53, the D100 doesn’t tip over into too much blue. The spectrum is even. It does seem to be an exceptionally noisy picture compared to last year, and doesn’t come close to matching the sharpness or vivacity of this year’s top-end VDR-D300.
We compared the Panasonic VDR-D100 to a number of camcorders to evaluate its video performance. The D300 showed much stronger colors overall, evident most in the greens, which are washed out in the D100. The VDR-M53 also had stronger colors, though the D100 produced better whiter whites and blacker blacks. The DC10, Canon’s current low-end (until the DC100 is released in April 2006), yielded a remarkably similar picture, similar in color tones so much that I actually though this might have been a Canon for a moment. The DC10, however, did not have nearly so much noise. Finally, the Sony DVD92 is the only camcorder in this group to have equivalent levels of noise. The color tones are similar, with the overall "cleaner" picture going to the D100.
Video Resolution* (11.0)*
The Panasonic VDR-D100’s video was tested for resolution by shooting a standard ISO 12233 resolution chart and running the results through Imatest. In 4:3 aspect ratio, the D100 produced 338.9 lines of horizontal resolution and 313.3 lines of vertical resolution, yielding an approximate resolution of 106177.37. In 16:9 aspect ratio, the D100 produced 381.3 lines of horizontal resolution and 332.9 lines of vertical resolution, yielding an approximate resolution of 126934.77. Though this number of higher, we use the 4:3 aspect ratio resolution to score as a means of standardization. This is a score on par with other camcorders in its class.
Low Light Performance*(3.25)*
At 60 lux, the Panasonic VDR-D100 shows a dramatic increase in noise. As the picture was fairly noisy to begin with, we could have seen this coming, but it doesn’t make it any more acceptable. The colors are still very strong, and nearly as bright as the 3000 lux image, which seems to indicate a good automatic gain control. The heavy amount of noise of the price you pay.
By comparison, the VDR-M53 had a much darker picture with less noise. The noise that did appear, though, had a blue-greyish tint. The D100’s noise, thankfully, is within a few degrees of the dominant color around it. The VDR-D300 also had a darker image, surprisingly, but the noise was kept under wraps. The whites were also brighter in the D300. The Canon DC10 had similar noise issues, but the noise was darker and more detrimental to the overall picture quality. All in all, this camcorder tied with the D100. The Sony DVD92 had the worst picture of all at 60 lux, producing a dark, noisy mess.
At 15 lux, the VDR-D100 lost a good deal of color information, and noise invades the picture like the Napoleonic armies. We would consider this an unusable picture. By comparison, the D300 had an even darker picture, but with far less noise. The VDR-M53 was worst of all, with a picture virtually absent of information. Even the Sony DVD92 had the M53 beat, with a picture that somehow went the other route, pushing up its auto gain so high that the shapes could be made out easily, but nearly all color was removed. The DC10 had one of the best 15 lux performances, maintaining good brightness and some color information, though there was plenty of noise.
Wide Angle* (9.4)*
The Panasonic VDR-D100 does provide users with a 4:3 or 16:9 option when shooting with this camera although some clarification is needed as to whether this 16:9 Cinema mode is a true widescreen or a mere digital effect. When tested the VDR-D100 displayed an identical width when tested in both 4:3 and 16:9 formats – 47 degrees. The 16:9 format for this camera is achieved by cropping the top and bottom edges of the frame to produce a subtractive 16:9 format that reduces the amount of visual information presented.
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