Is my new Full HD Camcorder, really a Full HD Camcorder?

HDC-TM900, HDC-HS900, HDC-SD900, HDC-SD800 (2011). HMC150, HS250, HS300, HS60K, HS700K, SD60, TM700.
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Is my new Full HD Camcorder, really a Full HD Camcorder?

Post by Pedr » 20 Jul 2011 14:34

Can anybody please help, I've been sold a full HD Panasonic Camcorder but is it really Full HD?
I have been searching for a Full HD Camcorder for quite a while, and eventually yesterday I took the plunge and I bought a Panasonic HDC-SD41.
However I then read a review for a JVC Everio OZ - HM445. This camcorder gets fabulous reviews, and also "claims" to be a Full HD Camcorder. But this particular review, does include a rather strange twist, in its otherwise glowing review, and I quote: "Where the HM30 opts for AVCHD Lite, so its maximum resolution is 720p, the HM445 records regular, full-fat AVCHD with a top resolution. However, the sensor is a similarly specified 1/5.8in CMOS with just 1.5Mpixels, which isn't enough for Full HD, as this requires at least 2.07Mpixels".
I find this confusing, as this review seems to be saying that this camcorder is NOT Full HD because the sensor is too small to operate Full HD?
I have now realised, that the Panasonic I bought yesterday, "Full HD camcorder HDC-SD41's" (Is this an exclusive to the Curry's group by the way, i cannot find anybody else selling it?) sensor, is also only: "Sensor (in pixels) 1.50 mega pixels".
So does this mean, that the HDC-SD41 is also being sold as a Full HD camcorder, but has sensors that are too small to cope with Full HD? therefore how can it truly be Full HD?
I have not opened the box yet or broken the seal.. Help! What should I do? as having a camcorder that is Full HD is my first and most important requirement! Should I take it back ?and buy a "real" Full HD Panasonic or other Full HD Camcorder? bearing in mind that the HDC-SD41 is at the top of my "starter" budget! Please help!
I am confused, how can a camera be sold as a Full HD Camera if the lens/sensor is not up to the job? Hopefully someone can explain what 's going on? I did ask both JVC and Panasonic for an explanation, but I didn't get much help, they were so "knowledgeable" that they could not even explain to me the difference between HD and Full HD! So no luck there then!

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Re: Is my new Full HD Camcorder, really a Full HD Camcorder?

Post by acgold7 » 20 Jul 2011 20:27

Here's the problem: Full HD is a meaningless marketing term. There is no real definition for it so different people use the term to mean different things. So far I've seen marketing people apply it to six differing attributes, none of which are any more HD than the others.

Never take that term seriously. Anyone can slap that term on anything they want. Always look at the real specs, including actual resolution and sensor size.

Me, I'd never buy anything with a chip smaller than 1/3" and 1440 or, better, 1920 x 1080 resolution, p or i. If these terms don't make sense to you, return your cam and read up on them on them before ordering a new one.

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Re: Is my new Full HD Camcorder, really a Full HD Camcorder?

Post by Stephan » 21 Jul 2011 22:25

I agree. Sensor and optics are the limiting factor here, you never reach true 1920x1080 Full HD resolution… until you're ready to invest $10K in the lens alone, and $50K in the camera itself ;-)

Which we're not going to do here obviously, so regarding consumer sensor sizes: you really shouldn't expect too much from a 1/6'' sensor, this is an entry-level cam. If you're looking from something nice in Pana land, check the new HDC-TM900 (triple 1/4'' sensor).

It really depends on your expectations and how much you want to pay. The way I see it, it seems you get decent consumer cams at $1000-$1500. But still, their effective resolution still isn't true Full HD, although their recording format is Full HD, but this is really good enough.


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Re: Is my new Full HD Camcorder, really a Full HD Camcorder?

Post by steve » 22 Jul 2011 10:35

It's even worse than that on the SLR scene. SLRs have native sensor resolutions for stills of many megapixels, e.g. the Canon APS sensors are 5184x3456 which is about 18 megapixels. For video, the resolution is claimed to be 1920x1080, i.e. about 2 megapixels. In reality, with the low quality downscaling used for video and the use of a single sensor, the actual video resolution is around 650 lines. That's worse than most HDV 3 sensor cameras and not much better than a good SD DV camera. If you shoot any sharp patterns and want them to be in the finished work, the picture will be festooned with moire patterns and other artifacts caused by the poor downscaling, so once again those who are drawn in by the 'full HD' sales pitch are deluding themselves.

As Adam and Stephan say, 'Full HD' is sales hype. Read the full specification before buying. If a full specification giving native sensor details and lines of resolution of the video output isn't available, it's time to move on to a product that does.


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