Saturday, May 16, 2015

Product review: Panasonic SDR-H40 Palmcorder

Anyone looking to buy a video camera can easily become overwhelmed with the seemingly endless choices available.  Many people choose to shop by price, which can narrow down your selection but won't guarantee a good buy.  For a great video camera with a small price tag, check out the Panasonic SDR-H40 Palmcorder.

This Palmcorder weighs less than a pound and is small enough to fit in most camera and camcorder soft cases.  Unlike many hand-held video cameras, the SDR-40 has optical image stabilization, which helps to even out any choppiness or jerky motions when shooting video on the move.  It also has a slot on the bottom where it can be mounted onto a tripod.

The SDR-H40 uses an internal hard drive to store video and pictures, so there are no tapes or DVDs to change.  The 40 GB hard drive will store hours of video and countless photos before filling up.  The Palmcorder also accepts SD cards, and you can choose to record to the card instead of to the hard drive for easy transfer of files.  Videos are saved as MPEG2 files and still images are saved as JPEGs.

Power is also something most users won't need to worry about.  The Palmcorder comes with a long-life rechargeable battery as well as an AC adapter, which can be used to power the unit as well as charge the battery.  The one drawback of how the Palmcorder is powered is that when you want to transfer files from the hard drive to a computer, the camera has to be on AC power, which means you have to remove the battery and set up the AC power cable, in addition to connecting the USB cable to your computer.

The Palmcorder is easy to use.  It has a mini-joystick which operates both the camera's zoom function (up to 42x) as well as the user interface for navigating the menus.  The screen can be flipped and turned in many directions, and displays a clear picture of what the camera is recording.  Switching from video recorder to still camera or playback modes takes just a flick of the dial.

The Palmcorder comes with everything you need to operate it.  It includes one battery, an AC adapter, both AC and DC cables, a USB cable, and an audio/video cable for connecting the unit to a television for playback.  It also comes with software for editing video, called VideoCam Suite 1.0 (included on a CD-ROM).

The SDR-H40 retailed for between $300-$350.  Amazon currently lists a new one for $399.00, and used models for $78.50-$199.99.  Used ones are often sold on eBay, and several are being auctioned off now, with bids starting as low as $30.

(Originally published on, December 2010)

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