Panasonic HDC-TM300 Video Review / Sample Footage by TV Smith
The KL Bird Park is a great place to try out a new camera. It is one of the world's largest free-flight walk-in aviaries. The colourful and finely textured inhabitants test a camera's resolving power and dynamic range to the fullest. Their sudden and rapid movement is also extra challenging for any auto-focus system.
Having used various Panasonic broadcast and prosumer video cameras in the past, I had full confidence in the (then) upcoming 2009 models. Wanting something much lighter and smaller than their excellent HMC 152, I ordered two units of the TM-300 from my favourite dealer without even seeing the full specs.
Several exciting Full-HD AVCHD cameras were unveiled during the last CES and Panasonic was the first brand off the block. The silver version (used in the Honda Civic Video) arrived first with a serial number of 0001. The black version (used for this video) arrived a week later.
This model HDC-TM300 (as opposed to the hard-disk HDC-HS300) is built with an internal 32g solid state flash memory. I fitted it with a 32g SD card for a total of 64g storage. The camera can be set to relay recording mode where one media switches to another seamlessly.
My Panny in ENG/EFP configuration:
Litepanels Micro Wireless LED Light
Sennheiser Evolution G2 Wireless Audio System
Century Optics .5X Wide Angle HD Lens
Azden SMX-10 Stereo Microphone
Manfrotto 501 Fluid Head
What I like:
Has a Viewfinder (EVF) in addition to the LCD. Turns out indispensable for this shoot. Under the very bright sun it would have been very difficult to monitor with the LCD.
Equipped with external microphone input with full manual mic level control. Microphone and earphone sockets are placed in a sensible position.
Standard size cold-shoe unlike similar models from Sony and Canon.
Can be operated via a wireless remote.
3-chip sensor with 10.6-Megapixel photo (still) capture capability
True time lapse mode. Very important for me.
Great onboard 5.1 surround sound recording.
Fantastic playback quality when connected to TV via HDMI or component.
High speed shutter goes up to 1/8000 sec for great slow motion
The big manual focusing ring also functions as zoom and other manual controls. I can roll and set the shutter speed in a jiffy with the ring.
Under 'lowly' 1440 x 1080 mode, it can record up to 12 hours in a single inexpensive 32g SD card. Full HD 1920 x 1080 in highest quality HA setting will run out in around 4 hours.
Long reach tele end at 539 mm.
What I don't like:
Wide angle is not wide enough. Almost equivalent to 50mm.
Have to add a Century Optics 0.5 wide angle adapter lens. With that and the Panasonic 1.4x tele zoom-through tele converter, I have at my disposal a focal range of about 22mm to 750mm. BUT the set of quality lenses cost half the camera!
Touch screen controls on the LCD can be challenging if you have big fingers and short nails.
A not so easy camera for the casual user unless one reads the manual thoroughly. It requires tweaking to get the best picture. The full auto mode works but the white balance is not very accurate most of the time.
Battery must be swap out to attach AC power cord.
While the quick menu is useful, it is not assignable to other frequently used functions buried deep in the menu.
Check back for more videos with the TM300.
See also: Info, Pic, Directions & Map Of KL Bird Park
Panasonic Malaysia's HD camcorder website
Watch also: Panasonic HDC-TM300 Time Lapse Sequence
Panasonic HDC TM300 at The Aquaria