The HDC-SD1 was the smallest and lightest camcorder we tested, and the easiest one to use. It offers few buttons to confuse you and no viewfinder, but wait a minute—that’s a frickin’ 3-inch viewscreen, which seems huge compared to the others’ 2.7-inchers. And it’s bright enough to show you its crispy video even on the sunniest of days. The zoom lever gives you just the right amount of speed right when you need it, and the navigational joystick is right there under your thumb. Its optical image stabilization holds those shots rock-solid unless you zoom all the way to 12x.
Less is more with that selector dial in the back and a start/stop button smartly placed in its center.
The most kick-ass characteristic of this cam is its awesome resolution, the sharpest of all the cameras we tested. But its low-light performance was a bit grainy, and its room-lit video revealed a few subtle noisy spots—nothing bad enough to fret over, however. In bright light, its autofocus impressed us with its sprightly response. Its colors were nicely saturated with auto white balance, but the camera seemed to set the video slightly on the blue side. Colors appeared more realistic when we did a manual white balance by digging into the menus.
And to think, 40 minutes of crisp, clean video fits onto that tiny 4GB SDHC flash memory card at the camera’s highest quality setting. The best news of all is the rock-bottom street price—we’ve seen this bauble selling for just north of $800. Remarkable.
Small, light, easy to use. Super-sharp res, kickin' image stabilization.
Low-light a tad grainy; slightly bluish video with auto white balance.