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Panasonic Adds 70x Zoom To Camcorders

1/21/2009 01:15:00 PM Eastern

Las Vegas — Panasonic will ship its new camcorder lineup to dealers in April.

Among the new models are the company’s first with a 70x optical zoom lens — the hard-disk-drive-based (HDD) SDR-H80 and H90, and the SD-card-based S26. All three will include optical stabilization and the company’s intelligent auto mode. In intelligent auto, the camcorder automatically activates face detection, an automatic scene selector and image stabilization.

The camcorders will also offer a YouTube upload mode when connected to a PC, a 0.8-second startup time in quick-start mode and direct DVD burning to the optional VW-BN1 DVD burner.

The H90, for $499, features an 80GB HDD and an SDHC card slot. It will be sold in black.

The 60GB H80 will come in silver, red, black and blue for $449.

The S26, for $329, will come in champagne, black, blue and red.

On the high-definition front, the company introduced six new models, all of which will include a new touch-screen LCD.

All the new models will also offer a new highlight playback feature, which can detect zooming, panning, scene changes or sound changes and use those cues as highlights in the menu index. They will also feature auto-power LCDs for adjusting the brightness according to ambient lighting, a 1.9-second quick-power-on mode, and 5.1-channel surround-sound recording from five built-in microphones.

The HDC-HS300, TM300 and HS250 will be targeted at advanced users and incorporate a new 3MOS sensor system for capturing a total pixel count of 9,150,000, Panasonic said. They can snap 10-megapixel stills or 8-megapixel stills while simultaneously recording HD video. Additional share features include a luminance of 1.6 lx and an intelligent auto mode with AF tracking, scene selection, auto shooting mode and optical image stabilization.

The HS300 ($1,399) and HS250 ($999) will offer a 120GB HDD. The TM300 ($1,299) will feature 32GB of internal flash memory and a new “relay recording” function to automatically switch from internal to external memory when capacity is reached. The HS300 and TM300 will include a manual ring, electronic viewfinder and microphone terminal.

For entry-level users, the company will offer three models, all with a 16x optical zoom and AF tracking. The HS20 offers an 80GB HDD with an SDHC card slot for $799.

The $649 TM20 offers 16GB of internal flash memory, an SDHC card slot and the new relay recording mode. It will be sold in black, silver and red. The SD20 records to SDHC cards and will retail for $599.

Finally, the company will add a pair of SD card models for entry users. Both feature a 0.6-second quick-start recording mode and will bundle software for automatically uploading videos to YouTube when the camera is connected to a PC.

The SDR-S15, for $299, features Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto mode and will be sold in black, silver and brown. The SW21 is waterproof to a depth of 6.5 feet and is rugged enough to withstand a fall from 4 feet. It will be sold in lime green, orange and silver for $399.