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PANASONIC SDR-H40- DISAPPOINTING EXPERIENCE !
I bought one of these cameras to take on a family holiday.After reading various online reviews, i purchased one and wished i hadn't wasted my time and money.I wanted a more modern camcorder than my trusty Sony DCR-TRV-14 mini dv,which was looking a bit old.
First impressions of the SDR-H40 were favourable,with it being light and easy to manage,as well as being easy to operate,even for a beginner to video photography.
After 3 days of my holiday in Egypt,i discovered that this camera wasn't as good as my old Sony.The lack of a viewfinder was a problem while filming in bright sunlight,and the lcd screen stopped working properly.It was the wrong way round, so filming was difficult to say the least.Play back quality was very poor.I couldn't tell what i had filmed or hadn't filmed.
It wasn't until i returned home,and transferred the data to my pc,that my films had come out ok.The picture quality was fine on the movies,but any still photos were very poor indeed.
I returned to camera the the store of purchase,and explained the problem.I recieved a full refund,and have now purchased another Sony.
On paper this camcorder seems ideal, it is reasonably cheap at around £250, it has a built in memory and so you do not have to buy extra memory cards, it is small and light and therefore very portable.
However if I were to buy a camcorder again I would never purchase this one. Why? The software viedocam suite that comes with this model is appalling. I was unable to install this on any of my computers, including vista programs. Eventually I was able to get it onto my windows but it wouldnt open and therefore was useless. The camcorder does connect to Macs as it does not have a firewire port and therefore you cant use their brilliant editing facilities. It does connect to vista computers well however when the videocam is not installed and therefore I was eventually able to edit this way.
Another problem is that this sdr-h40 creates MOD files which I have found you often need to convert in order to write them onto disk successfully and this too is a problem. I am hoping however that a solution to this will appear as both Sony and Panasonics new HDD cameras are like this and cause problems. To do all this I had to get my cousins, a computer engineer and a film teacher, to help me and both of them were baffled by these unnecessary problems that Panasonic have created.
Another slight nusance is that when connecting the AC adaptor there are many cables that you have to connect together which is a but of a fiddle.
The actual camera however is quite good and would be ideal for someone who doesnt wish to do any sort of modification to their footage. The picture quality on the screen is good and the camera is very easy and simple to run. Because the camera is small you can easily pop it in your bag for any occasion and the sound quality is reasonable.