Panasonic Cams Tackle 3D, Pocket Consumers

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Secaucus, N.J. - Panasonic introduced a number of camcorders on Tuesday, including a 3D camcorder and a pair of FullHD models.

The company also announced a digital interchangeable twin lens that makes it possible to shoot 3D with an interchangeable-lens-system camera

The HDC-SDT750 3D camcorder comes with a 3D-conversion lens that needs to be attached to shoot 3D video. According to Panasonic, the 3D-conversion lens records right-eye and left-eye images simultaneously through its two lenses, thus resulting in video that can be viewed in 3D. The right and left images (each with 960 by 1080 pixels) that enter through the lenses are recorded using the side-by-side method.

The HDC-3DT750 can also record full 1080p HD in AVCHD and boasts a 3MOS system, a Leica Dicomar lens and a 12x optical zoom.

Other features include a Time Lapse Recording feature; a 5.1-channel audio-recording sound system that uses five microphones; a manual ring that enables fingertip control of the focus, zoom, exposure, shutter speed and white-balance settings; and the company's Intelligent Auto function that's designed to automatically select the most suitable shooting mode.

It also has a 3-inch touchscreen LCD. Suggested retail is $1,399. The HDC-SDT750 will be available in October.

As part of Panasonic's compact camcorder offerings, the HDC-SDX1 ($500 suggested retail) features horizontal design styling with a side-mounted flip-out 2.7-inch (230,400-dot) widescreen LCD monitor, up to 1080/30fps FullHD video recording in AVCHD format, and up to 2.9-megapixel still resolution. It also has an SD card slot with support for SDXC expanded capacity cards, 3.32-megapixel MOS sensor, 16.8x optical zoom lens (35.8-716mm 35mm film equivalent), up to 23x digital zoom, and a hybrid optical image stabilization system.

It offers simultaneous shooting of video and still images and the ability to grab still frames out of recorded video sequences.

Addressing the fastest-growing segment of the low-end camcorder market, Panasonic introduced the HM-TA1 pocket camcorder. The company bills the unit as a "Shoot & Share" camcorder, playing up the product's ability to easily shoot stills and video and quickly upload the results to friends and family via email and various social-networking sites, including Facebook and YouTube.


The camcorder was also designed to work as a webcam for use with Skype video conferencing, and comes pre-installed with supporting software for that function. It will support Pansonic's new Skype TVs, but only with SD resolution.

The TA1 has a candy-bar-design style, a built-in 2-inch 153,600-dot LCD monitor, a 4x digital zoom and a MOS sensor. It will produce up to FullHD 1080p/30 fps video resolution and 8-megapixel stills (plus up to 5-megapixel still-frame grabs out of video sequences).

In addition, the camcorder supports the Apple iFrame standard, which is a constraint of the H.264 codec developed to ensure ease of consumer video editing.

iFrame specifies a 540p/30 parameter that is one-half the spatial resolution of 1080p in each direction, one-quarter the total number of pixels. However, the progressive scanning allows for a higher-quality image than conventional standard-definition sources.

The reduced file size of the iFrame system is said to make it easier and quicker to share videos, particularly with Mac users. The iFrame format is supported by iMovie software on Apple computers.

To play up the expanded Apple compatibility of the camcorder, Apple will be demonstrating the camcorder in Apple stores, said Christopher Rice, Panasonic camcorders senior product manager. The TA1 will also be sold through as well as Amazon and other online e-commerce sites.

For enhanced indoor or night-time shooting, the TA1 includes a built-in LED light to capture images in the camera's field of view under dimly lit conditions.

Also included is a built-in USB connector and A/V output, however no HDMI port is included.

In explaining the omission, Panasonic cited research showing that only about 5 percent of pocket-style camcorder users connect their cameras to TVs for playback, opting instead to view images on PCs, from DVDs and on the camcorder screen itself.

Finally, the digital interchangeable twin-lens announced by Panasonic is engineered to lets users shoot 3D with an interchangeable-lens-system camera. According to a company spokesperson, a model number has not yet been determined, but an announcement from Panasonic indicated it would be part of the Lumix G Micro System lineup.

The lens has two optical systems installed within the diameter of the lens mount, creating stereo images from the left and right lenses that are then processed with a 3D image processing system, Panasonic said, adding that they compact lens will "allow instant 3D shooting, without distortion or time lag between left and right images -- even when shooting moving objects."

Pricing and availability weren't given, although the spokesperson said the lens would be available this year.


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