Panasonic HDC-SDT750 3D camera review

We have had a Panasonic 3D video camera for a week now, so it's time to give a mini-review.

We don't usually review cameras, but now and then something big comes along. The Panasonic HDC-SDT750 is something big.

First Impressions

We fired up our Parrot AR Drone for another filming and got the camera ready to go. Out to the car park on a sunny morning and we managed to get a few good clips before Craig crashed the Parrot. Again.

Back into the shed, fire up the Panasonic 3D TV, pull out the SD Card and stick it in the side of the TV.

One word - WOW!

Watching this 3D footage was like watching HD video for the first time. HD video made you feel like you were looking out the window, rather than looking at a video. 3D makes you feel like you are there. The experience of watching your own movies in 3D is truly amazing.

The depth of the video is remarkable. The images appear to come out of the screen a little but the depth behind the subject area is huge. It looks like the TV is a box 10 meters deep.

3D Shooting

The instruction manual tells you to keep your subject between 1.4 and 4 meters from the camera. This is because there is no zoom in 3D mode, so you have to be careful what you shoot.

You also lose all of the manual video controls, but really, who ever uses that stuff?

3D Editing

We didn't do any editing of our footage because there isn't a 3D editor for the Mac. We're going to fix that. The camera came with some PC software but that wasn't much use to us at Shedworx. We will be updating all of our products to work with 3D.

How does it work?

So how does all this 3D stuff work? It all starts with the twin lenses on the 3D module. These two lenses are focused about 2 meters out and record a dual video image.

The video is recorded on a regular 1920x1080 size at 25 frames a second, but each side of the video is squashed horizontally so that two channels fit on the video.

Back on the TV, it knows that it's a 3D video and takes each side by side frame and displays them in turn on the screen.

The final part of the experience is the 3D glasses. These glasses switch each eye on and off 25 times a second so that your left eye only ever sees the left recording and vice versa for the right eye.

2D Shooting

Apart from the wow factor of the 3D video, the Panasonic 3D video camera is really just a top of the line Panasonic HD video camera with a bolt-on 3D lens. This means that without the 3D lens attached you get all of the top-of-the-line video goodness from Panasonic.

The key features of Panasonic's finest consumer video camera include:

  • 1080/50p shooting. That's 50 full video frames per second at Full HD resolution. Fantastic for sports and slo-mo footage;
  • Full manual control via the focus ring. In manual mode you can adjust shutter speed, aperture and focus very easily. This works as easily as our GH-1 DSLR and is by far the best manual control system we have seen on a video camera, and we have seen a few;
  • It's simple. Panasonic have clearly spent a lot of time pulling out all the controls and features that no one ever used. There are now less buttons and less menu items to worry about;
  • It's fast. A new one second startup is very welcome. Push the power button and you are running in one second; and
  • It's light. Anyone who has had to take long clips by hand will know how quickly a camera gets heavy. This camera is around 500g, quite a bit lighter than it's predecessors.

In summary, the regular 2D recording mode of this camera is outstanding and a pleasure to use. It's faster, simpler and lighter than it's predecessors, making it an outstanding consumer-level HD video camera.

It should be noted though that the best quality HD footage we have is from the Panasonic GH-1. While the SDT750 is great for a camcorder, it can't compete with the massive SLR lens and the much bigger sensor of the GH-1.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for a new HD video camera and you have a 3D capable TV, then this camera is a must-have. In Australia you pay a premium of about $500 for the 3D capability, which isn't cheap, but you're worth it.

The 2D capabilities of the camera are top class, so you won't go wrong there. Throw in the amazing 3D ability of this camera and I'm sure you will have as much fun with it as we have.

Samples

Please visit our AVCHD Samples page if you would like some sample 3D footage. We have individual clips and a complete (but small) camera disk image of 3D footage available for download.