Panasonic’s AG-HMC70 falls short

Panasonic AG-HMC70
Image from Panasonic Press Release
I’m excited about this announcement from Panasonic. Or more accurately, I’m excited that the camera has finally launched. This shoulder-mounted camera, clearly targeting event videographers, offers quite a sweet spot of price and features:

  • 3×1/4″ CCDs
  • 12x Leica Dicomar Lens
  • 1440x1080i AVCHD (a.k.a. H.264 or MPEG 4 Part 10)
  • Records to cheap SD/SDHC cards
  • XLR inputs
  • BNC and HDMI outputs
  • Headphone jack (OK, this should really be standard, but still worth noting)
  • Street Price of around $2100

What more do you need, right? Then I get to the sticking point: 13Mbps bitrate for the AVCHD. That’s significantly lower than the limit for the spec (24Mbps) and is disappointing in a camera that is otherwise very promising.

ZDNet has a good description of the problems with low bitrate “HD” as well as an at-a-glance comparison of 13Mbps AVCHD and 24Mbps HDV (MPEG-2).

As you can see, there’s “HD” and there’s HD. This camera still has some utility, but mostly to institutional videographers. Handy for a school or church, but filmmakers looking for quality HD can probably find a better match for their needs.