Can’t find a good 3D movie to watch on your new 3D HDTV? Make your own—or so say the good folks at Panasonic, Sony and other camcorder makers. The third dimension has hit home video in a major way in 2011 and whether this is a good thing, we’ll soon let you know.
Features and Design
There’s no getting away from it: the Panasonic SDT750 is very strange-looking. Unlike all consumer camcorders which fit neatly in your hand, this baby is rather gangly. Actually it looks like something used by a movie assassin to off his victim. The reason? The SDT750 does not have its 3D technology built into the body like the soon-to-arrive $1,500 Sony HDR-TD10 3D camcorder. This Handycam—which we briefly played with at CES—has two lenses, two imaging sensors and a pair of processors to record 3D 1920 x 1080 Full HD video. It also has a 3.5-inch monitor so you can check out your creations without glasses. By comparison, the Panasonic uses a separate 3D lens (VW-CLT1) that gets attached to the camcorder body, nearly doubling the length. There’s no question you’ll stand out in a crowd with this one. We can’t imagine how TSA security people will react when they see this baby! And unlike January Jones, this one won’t win any beauty contests with its 3D, 3MOS, FullHD logos and icons plastered all over it. Also annoying is the battery warning text which faces outward. Not to go on a rant, but would Apple release anything like this? Isn’t someone at Panasonic looking at a product when it’s complete, who takes a step back and says “hey, let’s move the legalese so it’s not staring our customers in the face?” In an era of iPads and smartphones, this is really not acceptable. As we’ve noted before, Panasonic is better known for its engineering than style and the SDT750 has several very cool technologies beyond 3D that we’ll get into shortly. Let’s continue our exterior tour…
Without the 3D conversion lens, the camcorder has a 12x Leica Dicomar zoom. As part of a new trend we like very much, it has a much wider opening focal length of 35mm in video, 38.8mm in still mode. The 35-420mm range is a good one and more than enough for all-around use. Also on the front are a flash and an AF Assist lamp.
Since it has a 3-inch touchscreen LCD on the left side, there are a minimal amount of buttons (thank goodness). On top is the wide/tele zoom toggle along with a shutter button for shooting stills. Also here is a 5.1-channel surround mic – a real plus for anyone with a home theater audio system. On the right side are an adjustable strap, a mode dial (camera, video, playback) and a compartment for the shoe adaptor for optional lights. On the left side are buttons to switch between Intelligent Auto/Manual, to vary the type of optical image stabilization and Camera Function to also get into manual.
Open the LCD (rated a should-be-better 230K pixels), you’ll find the on/off button and another to get you into 1080/60p (rather than i) recording. More on this in a bit. The lower bezel of the LCD has a number of controls including record, W/T for the zoom, Quick Menu, Menu and Delete. The menu system is straight forward and there’s no need for the supplied stylus as tapping fingertips on the screen work just fine. On the body is a speaker and compartment for the optional SD card and mini HDMI, USB and A/V multi connector outs.
The back is home to a clunky-looking battery with that annoying text, a pull-out EVF with diopter adjustment and a classic record button that rests under your thumb. The battery lasts only an hour so a spare would make a lot of sense if you were to buy this camcorder.
What’s In the Box
We have to give Panasonic credit here—the only thing missing is a Class 6 or greater SDHC/SDXC card. You get the battery, adaptor, remote, plethora of cables including mini HDMI, a stylus pen for the touch screen, a shoe adaptor and a 176-page owner’s manual. The 3D conversion lens has its own carrying case and caps. The software CD-ROM has HD Writer AE 2.6T software for editing and burning discs.