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When it comes to the best professional-grade camcorder, there are many things to look for when seeking a high-end model. A general rule to follow is to look for the following: high lens quality, a large lens diameter, large imaging chips, the ability to record in full HD or even 3D, advanced sound, manual controls on the outside of the camcorder, and ability to handle low compression formats.

The quality of the lenses is the most important features that go into making a professional camcorder, and is often overlooked in the manufacture of any other consumer camcorder. A good rule to follow is that in addition to a quality lens, the larger the lens the more light it lets in for the imaging chips to capture. A good figure is 72mm diameter or larger.

As these imaging chips are capturing the image, it is important that you have a big enough chip to capture all the high quality images and video. Popular choices are a 3CCD or 3CMOS (1 chip for each primary color - Red, Green, Blue). For the best camcorders this should be atleast 1/3". An important point to note is that the larger lenses and larger chips directly correlated to better low light behaviour.

Now that you have captured the images on the chips, it is important that you are able to record onto these chips high quality video. It is vital that, in this day in age, you are able to record in full HD if not also in 3D. Also make sure that as you are recording on these formats that they are compatible with newer editing software that will be used in the production phase or your video recording.

Now that you have great video, you need great audio. The best professional camcorders have have a secure/robust dual XLR connection (left and right audio) rather than a 1/8" stereo audio input. XLR mics are also more preferable.

With both a high quality audio and video, it is vital that your camcorder compresses the video to fit on to whatever media you are using. The compression level of the video is the key as a high compression results in reduced video quality and vice-versa. What you really need is a low compression format which will give a good video quality. The best professional camcorders support either of DV/HDV, DVCPro/DVCProHD, XF, XDCAM/HDCAM, Digital Beta and similar pro-grade compression formats.

It is also important that you have manual controls available on the outside of the camera so they are readily accessible and at your fingertips. Most of the leading brands like Panasonic, Canon and Sony include zoom, white balance, exposure, audio gain and neutral density filter selection.

This might seem like a lot but the best professional video camcoders need to have superior image quality, high portability, and competent performance to satisfy the needs of independent film makers and videographers.

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Panasonic HDC-TM900K

Panasonic HDC-TM900K Camcorder


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Panasonic HDC-TM900K
JVC Everio GS-TD1
Sony Handycam NEX-VG20
Panasonic HDC-Z10000
Panasonic AVCCAM AG-AC160
Panasonic HDC-TM900K Camcorder
JVC Everio GS-TD1 High Definition 3D Camcorder
Sony Handycam NEX-VG20 AVC, AVCHD Camcorder
Panasonic HDC-Z10000 3D Camcorder
Panasonic AVCCAM AG-AC160 Camcorder
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Release Date
Jan 2011
Apr 2011
Aug 2011
Nov 2011
Oct 2011
HDD Size
32.0 GB
64.0 GB
32.0 GB
Optical Zoom
12.0 x
10.0 x
11.0 x
10.0 x
22.0 x
Recording Format
Flash Media, High Definition, AVC, H.264, MPEG
Flash Media, High Definition
AVCHD (MPEG-4 AVC (H.264)), MPEG2-PS
Flash Media
AVCHD standard (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264), DV standard (AVI Type2)
Recording System
NTSC
NTSC, PAL
NTSC
NTSC
NTSC
Camcorder Type
Digital
Digital, 3D
Digital
Digital, 3D
Digital
CCD Quantity
3.0
1.0
Memory Still Resolution
14.2 MegaPixels
3.32 MegaPixels
16.0 MegaPixels
7.08 MegaPixels
Recordable Media
Flash Media
High Definition
AVC, AVCHD
Flash Media
Memory Card
Use
Video
Video
Video
Video
Video

  • Panasonic's trio of prosumer camcorders, the hard-disk-based HDC-HS900 and flash-based TM900 and SD800, deliver generally excellent video quality and provide the full set of manual controls and features advanced users want. But you have to be willing to baby the white balance a bit. The TM900 is my top pick of the three for its EVF, but if you're on a tight budget the SD800 should suit just fine.


  • The HDC-TM900 (MSRP $1099) is a great camcorder, that much is clear. It captured excellent video in a variety of record modes, and its performance recording 1080/60p HD video was as good as it gets. It has a ton of controls, a solid body design, and its 3D recording option (with the purchase of an optional conversion lens) makes it a cutting-edge product.

    Despite all this, we are still disappointed with the TM900. Other than adding the 3D capability and increasing the size of the LCD, Panasonic didn't do much to improve on last year's HDC-TM700â??


  • Panasonic's HDC-TM900 offers no revolutionary new features, now that 3D shooting has already started its journey to ubiquity. But like its predecessors it blends excellent enthusiast features, headlined by the lens ring, with supreme image quality. There's also no significant premium being charged for this new model compared to the outgoing TM700, if you can still find it. So the TM900 takes over from its predecessor as our videomaking enthusiast camcorder of choice.


  • If you are in the market for a high-end 3D camcorder you only have three options at the moment: the JVC GS-TD1, the Sony HDR-TD10, and the Panasonic HDC-SDT750 (and other Panasonic models that can use the VW-CLT1 3D conversion lens). There are also a few ultracompact models that shoot 3D, as well as a number of digital cameras, but the three models mentioned above are the only high-end HD camcorders aimed at consumers that allow 3D recording. Of those three models, the GS-TD1 is the second 3D camcorder weâÂ? Â? ve reviewedâÂ?


  • The JVC GS-TD1 is a high-end camcorder, promoted by JVC as the first consumer level camcorder to offer full HD 3D recording. The GS-TD1's full HD 3D capability is owed to the high speed processor that can simultaneously produce two full HD images (1920 x 1080i), recording in both the left and right streams (a process that JVC refers to as LR Independent Format).


  • With the Everio GS-TD1, JVC has produced the first consumer-grade camcorder to shoot two frames of Full HD in 3D mode, using a pair of parallel lenses and CMOS sensors. The resulting MP4 format is proprietary, but JVC’s approach also means better low-light performance even when shooting 3D in AVCHD mode. It’s the first consumer-grade camcorder to offer optical zoom in 3D mode, too. With a range of manual features as well, the GS-TD1 has loads to offer enthusiasts wishing to move into 3D.


  • If you're a videographer who wants to use an arsenal of different lenses when you want to shoot video, then the NEX-VG20 should definitely be on your radar. It's one of the only interchangeable lens camcorders you can get for under $2000, although we expect to see more in the future.


  • Given the price of other large-sensor, interchangeable-lens systems, the NEX-VG20 offers excellent value for anyone who prefers shooting video on a camcorder-style body rather than on a video-enabled SLR. Retailing at a touch under AU$3000 (and even cheaper when shopping online) the VG20 proves that excellent-quality filmmaking is accessible to those who can't quite reach the upper echelons of a RED or Canon C300, or even Sony's own FS100.

  • Rating Unavailable

    In our time with the HDC-Z10000, we were impressed by the camcorder's plethora of manual controls, excellent set of features, and very good performance in 3D record mode. We have not tested the camcorder at this point, but we were able to shoot some video with the Z10000 and watch it on a 3D TV during our hands-on with the product.


  • The HDC-Z10000 has a couple of notable niggles - the touch-operated shutter speed control and laggy zoom ring being at the forefront. It will also seem massively expensive when JVC's Everio GS-TD1 costs half as much and Panasonic's more consumer-focused devices even less. But it should be seen in the light of full professional 3D models costing £7-8,000. These offer bigger sensors for even better image quality, and extra professional studio features like genlock and HD-SDI digital video output.

  • Rating Unavailable

    The Panasonic HDC-Z10000's £3,000 asking price may seem steep, but it's actually pretty cheap when you consider that the company's professional 3D line starts at around £15,000. And, when it comes to image quality and functionality, the HDC-Z10000 is in a league of its own -- at least until Sony's similarly priced but less consumer-friendly PMW-TD300 makes an appearance.