SD and HD video camera reviews

Compare test results, features and functions to find the best SD or HD camcorder
 
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  • Updated:25 Jul 2009
 

02.Results

What to buy

Standard definition

  • Panasonic NV-GS330 - $989
  • Canon FS10 - $699
  • Canon FS100 - $699

High definition

  • Sony HDR-HC9 - $1599
  • Canon HF10 - $1699
  • Canon HF100 - $1499
 

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Results tables - standard definiton

Performance
Cost
MakeModel Overall Score (%) Picture quality score (%) Ease of use score (%) Audio Score (%) Versatility score (%) Still photo score (%) Battery score (%) Recording time (minutes) Price $
Panasonic NV-GS330
www.panasonic.com.au
53 57 56 47 43 62 37 77 989
Canon FS10
www.canon.com.au
51 46 59 46 38 45 100 163 699
Canon FS100
www.canon.com.au
50 46 59 46 35 45 100 149 699
JVC GZ-MG680
www.jvc.com.au
48 39 53 49 50 44 91 131 949
JVC GZ-MG630
www.jvc.com.au
47 39 52 49 41 44 91 131 849
JVC GZ-MS120
www.jvc.com.au
46 37 58 45 38 38 100 167 579
Panasonic SDR-S26
www.panasonic.com.au
34 25 57 37 32 27 31 71 549
Flip video Ultra series
www.edsoft.com.au
27 20 53 22 4 0 100 201 237
 


 
Features
MakeModel Remote control External battery charger Video lamp/Photo flash StillImage primary memory type Image resolution (megapixel) Dolby digital/surround sound HDMI Microphone input
Panasonic NV-GS330
www.panasonic.com.au
-/- SDHC 3.1 -/-
Canon FS10
www.canon.com.au
•/- SDHC 1 •/-
Canon FS100
www.canon.com.au
•/- SDHC 1 •/-
JVC GZ-MG680
www.jvc.com.au
•/• microSD 0.8 •/- mini-socket
JVC GZ-MG630
www.jvc.com.au
-/- microSD 0.8 •/-
JVC GZ-MS120
www.jvc.com.au
-/- SDHC 0.8 •/-
Panasonic SDR-S26
www.panasonic.com.au
-/- SDHC 0.8 -/-
Flip video Ultra series
www.edsoft.com.au
-/- n/a -/-
 


 
Specifications
MakeModel Optical zoom range LCD monitor, screen diagonal size (mm) System Aspect ratio Optical image stabilizer Weight (grams) Dimensions (W x H x D cm)
Panasonic NV-GS330
www.panasonic.com.au
10 68 Mini-DV 16 : 9 510 9 x 8 x 15
Canon FS10
www.canon.com.au
37 67 Memory card / flash 8 MB 16 : 9 310 6.5 x 6 x 12.5
Canon FS100
www.canon.com.au
37 68 MemoryCard 16 : 9 310 5.8 x 6 x 12.4
JVC GZ-MG680
www.jvc.com.au
35 67 HDD 120 GB / memory card 16 : 9 346 5.5 x 7 x 12
JVC GZ-MG630
www.jvc.com.au
35 67 HDD 60 GB / memory card 16 : 9 346 5.5 x 7 x 12
JVC GZ-MS120
www.jvc.com.au
35 67 MemoryCard 16 : 9 288 6 x 6.5 x 12
Panasonic SDR-S26
www.panasonic.com.au
70 68 MemoryCard 16 : 9 257 6.5 x 6.5 x 10.5
Flip video Ultra series
www.edsoft.com.au
1 37 flash 2 GB 16:03 150 5.5 x 11 x 3.5
 

Results tables - high definition

 
Peformance
Cost
MakeModel Overall Score (%) Picture quality score (%) Ease of use score (%) Audio Score (%) Versatility score (%) Still photo score (%) Battery score (%) Recording time (minutes) Price
Sony HDR-HC9
www.sony.com.au
67 79 57 51 66 61 64 104 1599
Canon HF10
www.canon.com.au
66 76 61 52 58 73 52 92 1699
Canon HF100
www.canon.com.au
65 76 61 52 56 72 49 89 1499
Panasonic HDC-SD20
www.panasonic.com.au
62 70 61 54 59 62 36 76 1099
Sony HDR-XR200
www.sony.com.au
55 66 60 35 63 60 74 114 1999
Canon HV30
www.canon.com.au
53 65 58 33 60 61 28 68 1449


 
Features
MakeModel Remote control External battery charger Video lamp/Photo flash StillImage primary memory type Image resolution (megapixel) Dolby digital/surround sound HDMI Accesory shoe Microphone input
Sony HDR-HC9
www.sony.com.au
/• MS Pro Duo 6.1 -/-
Canon HF10
www.canon.com.au
•/• SDHC 3.1 •/- mini-socket
Canon HF100
www.canon.com.au
•/• SDHC 3.1 •/- mini-socket
Panasonic HDC-SD20
www.panasonic.com.au
•/• SDHC 1.2 •/• mini-socket
Sony HDR-XR200
www.sony.com.au
-/- MS Pro Duo 2.4 •/- mini-socket
Canon HV30
www.canon.com.au
•/• miniSD 3.1 -/-
 


 
Specifications
MakeModel Optical zoom range LCD monitor, screen diagonal size (mm) System Aspect ratio Optical image stabilizer Weight (grams) Dimensions (W x H x D cm)
Sony HDR-HC9
www.sony.com.au
10 68 Mini-DV 16 : 9 650 9.5 x 8.5 x 14
Canon HF10
www.canon.com.au
12 67 Memory card 16 : 9 430 8 x 6.5 x 13
Canon HF100
www.canon.com.au
12 67 Memory card / flash 16 MB 16 : 9 430 8 x 6.5 x 13
Panasonic HDC-SD20
www.panasonic.com.au
16 68 MemoryCard 16 : 9 319 7 x 7 x 13.5
Sony HDR-XR200
www.sony.com.au
15 67 HDD 120 GB / memory card 16 : 9 473 8.5 x 7 x 13.5
Canon HV30
www.canon.com.au
10 67 HDV / Mini-DV 16 : 9 610 10 x 8.5 x 14
 

Table notes

Recommended retail, as provided by manufacturers or on websites in June 2009.

1 Overall score
The overall score is a combination of the following:

  • Picture quality: 40%
  • Ease of use: 25%
  • Sound quality: 15%
  • Versatility: 10%
  • Photo recording: 5%
  • Battery: 5%

2 Picture quality score
The main picture quality assessments were:

  • A viewing panel assessed the sharpness, colour and overall image quality of recordings in daylight and artificial light
  • A panel assessed macro recordings, recordings made in low-light conditions and — where applicable — at night
  • Resolution (picture sharpness)
  • On all the tested models you can activate a function that stabilises the picture in situations where you’d otherwise be likely to produce a shaky recording (such as during telephoto recordings and slow pans). We checked how well the function works, and whether the stabilising effect has any negative impact on picture quality
  • The standard-definition camcorders were judged against a good-quality consumer camcorder, while the high-definition camcorders were judged against a broadcast-quality camcorder.

3 Ease of use score
A user panel assessed the instructions, the ease of various recording and playback functions, the quality and functionality of the viewfinder, LCD monitor and remote control, the portability of the camcorder, and data transfer to a computer. We also measured the time delay between switching the recorder on and being able to use it.

4 Sound quality score
A panel assessed the quality of speech and music recorded with the built-in and an external microphone (on models that have a standard connection for one). We also looked at the recorders’ sensitivity to wind noise.

5 Versatility score
We assessed the cameras against a list of about 50 features and functions.

6 Photo recording score
We assessed the quality of photos taken in daylight, the shutter delay, and the transfer speed of still pictures via firewire and/or USB.

7 Battery score
We measured how long the camcorders’ batteries lasted using a recording and playback test cycle simulating typical user behaviour.

8 Recording time
The camcorders were set to full-auto recording mode, with the monitor, autofocus and image stabiliser switched on. Every five minutes the zoom was operated three times across the whole range and back, until the battery was empty and the camcorder switched off. Most batteries only lasted for 1–1.5 hours of recording, so you may want to buy a second one.