As noted I purchased a Canon HF-S100 camcorder and returned it immediately. In fact the camera was repackaged and shipped back to B&H on the same day it was delivered. Besides my careless research (see the previous post), the camera felt like a $1K toy. B&H provided a full refund.
I moved forward and purchased the solid state Panasonic AG-HMC150 (AVCHD) Hi Definition AVCCAM. The camera is in short supply due to it’s enormous popularity. It debuted at NAB 2008 and hit the street in October. After a few months in circulation shooters embraced it and the rest is history.
The camera records to inexpensive SDHC memory cards. Footage is easily ingested into Final Cut Pro using the Log and Transfer mode. Due to the high efficiency of the AVCHD format you can record approximately 100 minutes of the highest quality (1080/24p) video on a 16 gig card that sells for about 70 bucks. AVCHD is essentially high definition H.264 (MPEG-4) video. The tapeless workflow is a major plus.
Additional features worth noting:
• 28 mm Wide Angle lens
• Full manual control. Large manual focusing ring with focus assist
• Recording Formats: PH (high quality) mode: 1080/60i, 1080/30p (over 60i), 1080/24p (native), 720/60p, 720/30p (over 60p) and 720/24p (native). Lower quality settings are limited to 1080/60i.
• Waveform monitor for accurate exposure control
• Dual XLR audio inputs (mic or line) with 48v phantom power
• Extensive support for operational presets. Panasonic refers to presets as “Scene Files.” The default scene files can be edited/backed up and saved on to the camera’s SDHC card and transfered to a computer for future use (the files are standard .txt files).
• A host of professional picture control and operational settings
Let me also mention that iMovie ’09 supports AVCHD video with one caveat relative to this camera: no support for 24p footage. You’re limited to 30p (29.97 fps). The full 1920×1080 resolution is supported.
A few minor issues:
For serious extended shooting the stock battery is insufficient. The optional 3 hr. battery runs about $150.00. The on-board stereo mic is of low quality. Not a surprise. A logical choice is the Audio Technica AT875R ($199.00).
So far the camera is impressive. I’ll be posting additional information about the camera in the coming weeks …