Panasonic HDC-SX5


Panasonic HDC-SX5

Here’s the most versatile camcorder of the bunch, letting you record 28 minutes of its best-quality video per 3-inch DVD. If you don’t feel like dealing with discs, you can cram 80 minutes of HD footage on an 8GB SDHC flash memory card instead. If you do record to a DVD, you can pop that disc into a compatible Blu-ray player (our Sony BDP S-300 played the disc perfectly) or play the disc back directly from the camera. But the DVD format has its drawbacks—it’s slow to read when you turn on the camera, taking seven seconds from a cold start. And once you’re done shooting, unless you’re using DVD-RAM, you’ll need to finalize the disk before you can read any of the files on the computer or play them back, which takes about five minutes for each minute of footage shot.

We like the three-second preroll function that records the previous three seconds before you push the record button when you’re using an SDHC flash memory card. In bright light, this sucker cranked out images with astonishing clarity, splashing well-saturated colors all over the screen with nary a motion artifact. However, some high-contrast shots proved a challenge for the SX5, blowing out the whites while keeping the darkest objects in the frame hidden in obscurity. In medium-intensity lighting, such as indoors on a cloudy day, some mottling was visible in darker areas. These weaknesses aside, the overall quality of the SX5’s video was outstanding.


Versitility is key here - records to SDHC and DVD; 3-second preroll recording.


Some contrast issues in very bright or medium light.


Video Signal
Recording Format/Medium/Highest Data Rate AVCHD (MPEG-4 H.264) /3" drive or SD/SDHC flash memory card/ 13MBps
Image Sensor
Three 1/6" CCDs
Lens Leica Dicomar f/1.8, 10x optical zoom
Size/Weight w/Battery
3.3" x 3.25" x 5.75"/21oz
2.7" touch panel (211K pixels), tilting viewfinder


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