Panasonic has announced the AG-HMC81 professional AVCCAM HD shoulder-mount camcorder, the first in the company’s series of low-cost AVCHD camcorders to feature solid state DV as well as HD recording capabilities.
With a high-resolution 3-megapixel imager, multiple AVCCAM recording formats, DV support, and enhanced professional functions, the HMC81 delivers the full benefits of AVCCAM for schools, event videographers, government facilities, web designers and corporate users who prefer to work with a shoulder-mount camera and need flexible connectivity and format support. The camera, utilising a professional 3-chip imager, can also take 10.6-megapixel still images and store them as standard JPEGs on the solid state card. AVCHD recordings and stills can be directly played back from the SD card on a wide range of low-cost players including Panasonic Blu-ray players, laptop PCs and game consoles. The camcorder’s full HD resolution 3-megapixel 3MOS imager produces stunning 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720 AVCHD video with high sensitivity.
Because the AVCHD format-based camcorder uses MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 high profile encoding – which provides a doubling of bandwidth efficiency and improved video performance over the older MPEG-2 compression based formats (e.g. HDV) – recordings look clean and crisp, even during fast motion, without image degradation or dropouts. The HMC81 records video in all four professional AVCCAM HD recording modes, including the highest-quality PH mode (average 21 Mbps/Max 24Mbps), the HA mode (approx.17 Mbps), the HG mode (approx.13 Mbps) and the extended recording HE mode (approx. 6 Mbps). At 60Hz, the camcorder supports the following HD formats in PH mode: 1080/60i, 1080/30p, 1080/24pN, 720/60p, 720/30p, 720/24pN; in HA, HG and HE modes, it records in 1080/60i. In standard definition DV, the camcorder records 480/60i, 480/30p, 480/24p.
The HMC81 records standard-definition DV directly onto SD cards in the AVI Type 2 file format and offers squeeze, letter box and side crop options. Using just one 32GB SDHC memory card, a user can record three hours of full resolution 1920x1080 video and audio in PH mode, four hours at HA mode and 5.3 hours at HG mode. In the HE mode, the camera can record up to 12 hours of 1440 x 1080 HD content on a 32GB SDHC card. Up to 2 hours of DV content can be recorded on a single 32GB SDHC card.
For the first time in an AVCCAM shoulder-mount, the HMC81 includes such high-end professional features as a user-assignable manual focus ring functions (Focus/Iris/Zoom) for added control; time code/UB recording; time/date stamp; and two wired remote control terminals (for zoom, focus, iris, REC start/stop controls). The camcorder’s lens system captures super sharp images at up to 12X optical zoom and features a 40.8mm (35mm lens equivalent) wide-angle setting. It also offers users useful functions including Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) for smooth stable shooting, Dynamic Range Stretch (DRS), which helps compensate for wide variations in lighting, and a Cine-Like Gamma mode that gives recordings a more film-like look. The HMC81 comes standard with HDMI output (AVCHD only), USB 2.0 (mini B-type devices), composite output (BNC x 1), analog component (BNC x 3), IEEE 1394 output (DV only), and a built-in stereo microphone as well as a 3.5 mm external mic-in jack. The camcorder features two locking XLR inputs with switches for mic/line, and +48V Phantom Power capability.
The camera offers useful solid-state recording functions including pre-record, interval recording, shot marker and metadata capture. Additional features include waveform monitor display, focus assists such as focus bar display and enlarged display, auto focus with face detection, white balance, mode display, zebra display, colour bar, tally lamps, slow smooth zoom and soft landing, slow shutter and synchro-scan shutter functions, and three programmable user buttons. A wireless remote is also included. For editing or playback, professionals can transfer content by inserting the SD Card into Mac or PC computers or by connecting the camera directly via its USB 2.0 interface. The HMC81 will be available in September and Panasonic will support the HMC81 with a three-year limited warranty (one year plus two extra years upon registration).