Canon HF20 vs. Panasonic HDS-HS250 - For New Baby - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 12-23-2009, 01:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Could you please help me? We have a baby on the way and I'm torn between the Canon HF20 and Panasonic HDS-HS250.

I've searched and read as many forums as I could. The overall sentiment I had was both are very good cameras, Canon is better in well lit areas where the Panasonic is better in low light. That being said, I have some follow up thoughts/questions. First, for "typical" baby video, how often would low light videos be taken (I don't think I'll be one to tape the baby sleeping)? Second, how dark does it need to be before the alleged "low light" inferiority of the Canon be noticeable and how big of a difference can it be? Also, how much of a difference is there in recording in 17Mbit/s (Panasonic) vs. 24 Mbit/s (Canon)?

I would have loved to try them side by side, but there's two problems. The Panasonic is not physically available near me (would need to buy online - unseen, untouched) and even if it were available, I don't think the stores would be able to re-create a "low light" scenario (the Best Buy near my house is very well lit).

I am not concerned about price per se, as the prices I found online were close enough that I would pick the better product.

Lastly, I saw references to an "official" owners thread for the Panasonic HDS-HS250, but couldn't find it - any links would be appreciated.

Thank you all for the previous information posted as well as any help you can provide.

Happy Festivus to All!
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post #2 of 28 Old 12-23-2009, 07:25 PM
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I will be posting a comparison of the that Panasonic and the Canon HF11 as soon as possible. It's a bit hectic atm with the holiday though.

The short of it is that indoor shots will fall under the low light category. The Panasonic performs better indoors than the Canon HF11 so it would whoop the HF20 which is inferior to the HF11 in low light. The HF11 does however maintain better color accuracy (at the cost of more graininess) than the Panasonic. Outdoors, the Canon provides better white balance in auto mode and warmer colors which most people find more favorable. There is not much difference between 17/24mbit except in high motion sequences perhaps or scenes with a lot of intricate detail. I notice a difference for example when shooting out in the woods while surrounded by the bare branches of hundreds of trees. The Panasonic is built far better btw. I have personally not made up my mind yet which I will keep.

Do not buy either camera at Best Buy as you will get ripped off. The Panasonic is $849 at Best Buy and it is $599 at B&H photo. B&H takes returns without restocking fees if you are unhappy and Best Buy will charge you 15%.
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post #3 of 28 Old 12-23-2009, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Ach3r0n-

Thank you so much for your response - it was just what I was looking for... looking forward to your comparison writeup as well.

BTW - B&H Photo is the site I am looking at for the Panasonic. I forget who had the Canon, but they were just about the same price.

Hope you have a very Merry Christmas!
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post #4 of 28 Old 12-23-2009, 09:27 PM
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Saiko,
Looks like you and I are in the same boat! I was really interested in the Canon myself but I've pretty much decided against it due to the reported poor performance in low-light/indoor shooting. Now I've turned my attention to finding a camcorder that performs well in low-light situations.

FWIW, The Sony cx500v gets rave reviews for video quality for indoor shooting with no graininess. However, it's also $900 which is more than I want to spend. That said it's still on my short list despite the software not being compatible on a Mac.

Ach3ron,
I'll be excited to see your review of this Panasonic. Sounds like it may strike a great balance for my budget and overall video quality. I would prefer flash memory, but that's not a huge deal.
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post #5 of 28 Old 12-23-2009, 10:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey Pix3l-

The "joys" of being a new parent, right? Glad to see someone else with the same interest.

I'm with you, $900 is out of my targeted price range... BUT, you have piqued my interest... Let me know what you get, I'd be mighty interested.

BTW, I've looked up the Sony clips on YouTube. Amazing!!! I've also found videos on the Panasonic HDC-HS300/350 (I believe they use the same lens and internals, but have more features than the 250). They looked good to me. Here's the some links to the Panny.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg2gSfD4XN8 (sorry, didn't know how to embed)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeOeWMCpzZo&feature=fvw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-y21...eature=related
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post #6 of 28 Old 12-24-2009, 11:00 AM
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Saiko,
Thanks for the clips. Those are pretty impressive. Only thing I noticed was the blurriness when panning, but not bad. May also be a combination of the fact it's on Youtube and my LCD screen. I noticed some grain in a few of the low-light clips, but again... not too shabby. This Panny may be on me list.

I also found this clip in one of the related videos, that shows a more exaggerated blur when panning during a volleyball match.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2rcw...eature=related
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post #7 of 28 Old 12-24-2009, 05:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the v-ball video. There is some blur, but minimal and acceptable to me. I'm fairly certain I'm going with the Panasonic.
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post #8 of 28 Old 12-24-2009, 09:07 PM
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Here's a video I found that shows some panning with the Sony:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_00SV8eCJk

Again, there is some blur; and very comparable to the Panasonic. Right now I'm on the fence. There are some things I don't like about the Panasonic (hard drive instead of flash memory, no manual focus ring in the lens). The biggest knock I've read is the touch-screen control isn't very responsive and can be very frustrating to use. That said it takes great video, even in low light and is priced very well. Between this and the Sony I'm on the fence.

I'm really looking forward to Ach3r0n's review.

Edit: I wonder what will happen to the price of the Sony after Christmas? Go up or go down?
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post #9 of 28 Old 12-24-2009, 09:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pix3l View Post

Here's a video I found that shows some panning with the Sony:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_00SV8eCJk

Again, there is some blur; and very comparable to the Panasonic. Right now I'm on the fence. There are some things I don't like about the Panasonic (hard drive instead of flash memory, no manual focus ring in the lens). The biggest knock I've read is the touch-screen control isn't very responsive and can be very frustrating to use. That said it takes great video, even in low light and is priced very well. Between this and the Sony I'm on the fence.

I'm really looking forward to Ach3r0n's review.

The touchscreen works fine. I have read the same as you but I don't have any issues at all. I calibrated it the first day I got it using the included stylus and haven't used the stylus since. I can even use it wearing a set of light gloves. My only thought is that the reviewer(s) were comparing it to an Apple product. I know iPhones and the iTouch are extremely sensitive. The Panasonic is plenty responsive but more along the lines of my Garmin Nuvi GPS touchscreen.

The HDD's drop/shock sensor should keep any real issues from occurring and there is an SD slot also so you could use that instead if you want.

The manual focus ring is something I would have liked to have also but I wasn't willing to pay the extra $500 or so for the TM300 or HS300. The touchscreen focus is cool as heck though and works quite well. Activate it and choose focus by touching the object on screen. I shot my soon to be famous "Big Tree, Little Tree" video with this feature. This is a joke between me and my wife. I was testing the cam between 2 trees and repeating "big tree, little tree" as a I switched focus between the two. She heard me playing back the video on our plasma and I found her laughing hysterically in the kitchen. She was convinced I had finally lost it.

I'll get my comparison up after xmas and before New Years. I have more test video than you can imagine. I'll mainly just be explaining the differences but I will be more than happy to toss some vids up on Vimeo/YouTube if they're wanted.
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post #10 of 28 Old 12-24-2009, 09:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ach3r0n View Post

The HDD's drop/shock sensor should keep any real issues from occurring and there is an SD slot also so you could use that instead if you want.

One other thing about this hard drive based cameras is that the power-on is very slow. Though this may just be some people expecting "instant on." Any estimate of how long it takes for this camera to turn on?

Quote:


The manual focus ring is something I would have liked to have also but I wasn't willing to pay the extra $500 or so for the TM300 or HS300. The touchscreen focus is cool as heck though and works quite well. Activate it and choose focus by touching the object on screen.

Yeah the manual focus ring isn't a huge deal to me either. However I really enjoy fireworks displays so good manual options is important; sounds like that is solved by the touch screen focus. I definitely don't see the need to upgrade to the HS300 for the extra $500+. But that Sony is still tempting me! Anyway, thanks for the info. Sounds like a solid camera and I may be leaning towards the Panny.

One item that I wonder about the Panny is the software. From their website:
"About HD Writer AE 1.0 for HDC
This software is not compatible with a multi-boot environment.
Operation is not guaranteed on Microsoft Windows® XP Media Center Edition, Tablet PC Edition and not compatible with 64-bit operation systems."

I'm running a Windows 7 64-bit system. Does this mean I can't use their software? Seems strange.
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post #11 of 28 Old 12-25-2009, 01:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Ach3r0n-

Quick question... How does the "low light" and "night" videos (as previously referenced in this thread) compare to your experiences with the Panasonic?

Thanks for all your help and insight!
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post #12 of 28 Old 12-25-2009, 08:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pix3l View Post

One other thing about this hard drive based cameras is that the power-on is very slow. Though this may just be some people expecting "instant on." Any estimate of how long it takes for this camera to turn on?

2 seconds? Also, the standby battery life is excellent. I kept the cam in standby for 2+ hours the other night and it still had over 30m of recording time remaining according to the indicator at the end of the night.

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Originally Posted by pix3l View Post

Yeah the manual focus ring isn't a huge deal to me either. However I really enjoy fireworks displays so good manual options is important; sounds like that is solved by the touch screen focus.

I am guessing you are concerned that the camera will lose focus under the low light conditions. It won't. The AF ability is quite possibly my favorite thing about the camera. It is smooth, fast and unwavering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pix3l View Post

One item that I wonder about the Panny is the software. From their website:
"About HD Writer AE 1.0 for HDC
This software is not compatible with a multi-boot environment.
Operation is not guaranteed on Microsoft Windows® XP Media Center Edition, Tablet PC Edition and not compatible with 64-bit operation systems."

I'm running a Windows 7 64-bit system. Does this mean I can't use their software? Seems strange.

I haven't even tried it honestly. I think it would work fine especially if you have a version of Win 7 that offers compatibility mode.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaikoSurfer View Post

Hi Ach3r0n-

Quick question... How does the "low light" and "night" videos (as previously referenced in this thread) compare to your experiences with the Panasonic?

Thanks for all your help and insight!

Very low light and night are really where the Panasonic excels, though the day shots are better on the Canon and honestly even the indoor shots are better on the Canon in most cases. Shooting xmas lights at night or some random vids from the car, the Panasonic does quite well. I have found that iA is usually the best option at night and manual or regular auto best during the day. This is because iA tends to over-expose. Conversely, the Canon's Easy mode is best during the day and absolutely a poor choice at night. With that cam, I recommend Cinema mode w/ 30p for best night results.

Between my wife and I, we still can't decide between the 2 cams. If you could combine the best of both, you would have the best $600 camcorder you could imagine and it would likely beat the $1200 cams as well.
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post #13 of 28 Old 12-25-2009, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Ach3r0n-

You're the best! I really appreciate all of your help and insight. I still have quite some time before we're expecting, so hopefully the camera will get even cheaper over the next few months. Unless something major happens (such as a new model by Panasonic or its competition), I'll be getting the Panasonic camcorder.

Hope you had a great Christmas and a wonderful 2010!
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post #14 of 28 Old 12-25-2009, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ach3r0n View Post

I am guessing you are concerned that the camera will lose focus under the low light conditions. It won't. The AF ability is quite possibly my favorite thing about the camera. It is smooth, fast and unwavering.

The trick with shooting fireworks is a good manual control. Sounds like this camera will do just fine with this.


Quote:


Very low light and night are really where the Panasonic excels, though the day shots are better on the Canon and honestly even the indoor shots are better on the Canon in most cases. Shooting xmas lights at night or some random vids from the car, the Panasonic does quite well.

Interesting. The reason I was leaning towards the Panny was because it reportedly performs better indoors. From what I have read and seen the noise/graininess of the Canon indoors is pretty bad. Is this not the case?

As for the compatibility with Windows 7, I found this chart on their site; scroll down to "products." Looks like it's good to go:
http://panasonic.jp/support/global/c.../windows7.html


Again, THANK YOU for the info. I'm still torn between the Panny and the Sony, but I'm much more confident about the Panny now.
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post #15 of 28 Old 12-26-2009, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pix3l View Post

Interesting. The reason I was leaning towards the Panny was because it reportedly performs better indoors. From what I have read and seen the noise/graininess of the Canon indoors is pretty bad. Is this not the case?

As for the compatibility with Windows 7, I found this chart on their site; scroll down to "products." Looks like it's good to go:
http://panasonic.jp/support/global/c.../windows7.html


Again, THANK YOU for the info. I'm still torn between the Panny and the Sony, but I'm much more confident about the Panny now.

Note that I am referring to the Canon HF11 (or HG20/HG21 which use the same optics).

Well I guess I should clarify a bit for the indoors shots.

In my living room with a 300W overhead incandescent, the Panasonic shoots clearer shots but the color reproduction is better on the Canon, though it's image is grainier. Shooting from the darkened room next to it, into the living room, the Panasonic struggles heavily with fine details like the color differences of the cat's fur. (they take on a watercolor texture when zoomed). Under these conditions, the Canon does better as it can still make out the details. Also note that using Cinema mode with the Canon, you can clear up a lot of graininess. Essentially it darkens the image so you do lose detail but I prefer the clearer image.

I hate to make over-generalized comments but until I get my review up, I will tell you that the auto white balance, iA mode and overly cool colors are my biggest complaints about the Panasonic. iA is useless during the day, AWB often makes things greenish (manual mode fixes this) and in general, a lot of scenes' colors are overly cool. Otherwise, I think it is a great camcorder.

As for the Canon, my 2 biggest complaints are the auto focus (which is complete garbage) and the LCD. The LCD only shows maybe 90% of the image, cropping the left and right sides off. It also takes on a florescent hue in direct sunlight so you have no idea what setting to use for proper color. The Canon's colors are overly warm but if I was going to have some color error, I would prefer it warm as would most people.

I wish I had some feedback for you on the Sony cams but the comparable models simply cost more than I was willing to spend on this type of cam.
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post #16 of 28 Old 12-26-2009, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by pix3l View Post

The trick with shooting fireworks is a good manual control. Sounds like this camera will do just fine with this.




Interesting. The reason I was leaning towards the Panny was because it reportedly performs better indoors. From what I have read and seen the noise/graininess of the Canon indoors is pretty bad. Is this not the case?

As for the compatibility with Windows 7, I found this chart on their site; scroll down to "products." Looks like it's good to go:
http://panasonic.jp/support/global/c.../windows7.html

Great find. However, it appears as though Windows 7 32-bit is only supported. I was hoping to install Win7 64-bit to get optimal performance during video editing as well. Not sure if third party software can help us out here...
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post #17 of 28 Old 12-26-2009, 04:59 PM
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Both Vista 64 and Win 7 64 allow you to run 32-bit programs. I haven't tried this particular problem but I can't imagine why there would be any issues.
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post #18 of 28 Old 12-26-2009, 05:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ach3r0n View Post

Note that I am referring to the Canon HF11 (or HG20/HG21 which use the same optics).

Well I guess I should clarify a bit for the indoors shots.

In my living room with a 300W overhead incandescent, the Panasonic shoots clearer shots but the color reproduction is better on the Canon, though it's image is grainier. Shooting from the darkened room next to it, into the living room, the Panasonic struggles heavily with fine details like the color differences of the cat's fur. (they take on a watercolor texture when zoomed). Under these conditions, the Canon does better as it can still make out the details. Also note that using Cinema mode with the Canon, you can clear up a lot of graininess. Essentially it darkens the image so you do lose detail but I prefer the clearer image.

I hate to make over-generalized comments but until I get my review up, I will tell you that the auto white balance, iA mode and overly cool colors are my biggest complaints about the Panasonic. iA is useless during the day, AWB often makes things greenish (manual mode fixes this) and in general, a lot of scenes' colors are overly cool. Otherwise, I think it is a great camcorder.

As for the Canon, my 2 biggest complaints are the auto focus (which is complete garbage) and the LCD. The LCD only shows maybe 90% of the image, cropping the left and right sides off. It also takes on a florescent hue in direct sunlight so you have no idea what setting to use for proper color. The Canon's colors are overly warm but if I was going to have some color error, I would prefer it warm as would most people.

I wish I had some feedback for you on the Sony cams but the comparable models simply cost more than I was willing to spend on this type of cam.

Very well put. I'm comparing the Can-HG21 and Pan-HS250 very closely at the moment. 3 brief questions if you don't mind:

1. Did you buy the extended battery (VBG260) for the HS250? Just wanted to confirm it will charge on the camcorder and no seperate charger kit is req'd.

2. How do these 2 compare in outdoor conditions under daylight skies?

3. Do you know who makes the hard drives (i.e. Seagate, WD, Hitachi) for these line of Canon and Panny camcorders. Sorry I'm an IT guy and just was curious.
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post #19 of 28 Old 12-26-2009, 05:20 PM
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The Panasonic is built far better btw. I have personally not made up my mind yet which I will keep.

You're probably about the 5th or 6th person I've read somewhere that says the Panny cams are built better than the Canon cam. I've used a Panny Lumix dig. camera with OIS for 3 years and its still rock solid.

What makes it far better built? Is it the type of material? Better conformity to hand? I'm very interested.
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post #20 of 28 Old 12-26-2009, 09:18 PM
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Very well put. I'm comparing the Can-HG21 and Pan-HS250 very closely at the moment. 3 brief questions if you don't mind:

1. Did you buy the extended battery (VBG260) for the HS250? Just wanted to confirm it will charge on the camcorder and no seperate charger kit is req'd.

2. How do these 2 compare in outdoor conditions under daylight skies?

3. Do you know who makes the hard drives (i.e. Seagate, WD, Hitachi) for these line of Canon and Panny camcorders. Sorry I'm an IT guy and just was curious.

1. I did not but it will charge on the camcorder. I confirmed this with B&H prior to even buying the camcorder. The comment in the user manual about the "optional" charger being "necessary" is quite amusing but incorrect.

2. The Canon is superior in these conditions. The image is sharper. The Panasonic still looks good but side-by-side, you can clearly see the Canon looks better.

3. I am an IT guy also. The HF11 does not have a HDD but I know the HDD in the HG21 is a Toshiba. (same optics, HDD model). Ironically, Matshita (Panasonic) most likely makes this HDD as they have entered into a venture with Toshiba to manufacture the small form-factor HDDs for Toshiba. As for the Panasonic, it shows up in my PC as a Matshita (aka Panasonic) HDD. It is quite possibly the same HDD.


Quote:
Originally Posted by amward1980 View Post

You're probably about the 5th or 6th person I've read somewhere that says the Panny cams are built better than the Canon cam. I've used a Panny Lumix dig. camera with OIS for 3 years and its still rock solid.

What makes it far better built? Is it the type of material? Better conformity to hand? I'm very interested.

The plastic on the Canon is cheaper and is the type that is easily cracked. The plugs are all covered with flimsy plastic caps whereas the Panasonic has a solid door and one somewhat flimsy cap. The buttons on the Panasonic are solid and don't wobble. The Canon buttons, especially the zoom toggle, are all wobbly and feel like they would snap if not handled carefully. The LCD on the Canon turns florescent in direct sunlight (though it is visible) whereas the Panasonic's LCD is still completely usable.

Its construction does concern me but if you are gentle with your equipment, as I tend to be, you should be ok.
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post #21 of 28 Old 12-28-2009, 08:49 AM
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+1 for the nifty manual focus setup on the Panasonic HS250. You get into that mode pretty easily and then you "touch" the item on the LCD that you want to focus on.

For me, I was zooming through some trees (no leaves, through the branches) at a house off in the distance. The branch seperation wasn't that large, so the camera was focusing on the bark. Even the bark looked good. But I "touched" the house and viola it was now in focus. Not something I'd use to often, but it's nice to have for still footage.
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post #22 of 28 Old 12-31-2009, 04:33 AM
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Hey Pix3l-

The "joys" of being a new parent, right? Glad to see someone else with the same interest.

I'm with you, $900 is out of my targeted price range... BUT, you have piqued my interest... Let me know what you get, I'd be mighty interested.

I ended up finding a used cx520v (64gb model) and got a tremendous deal; this thing looks brand new. This is a great camera! The price of these Sony's have dropped since Christmas. Keep your eyes peeled there are deals to be had, just something to consider. Who knows? that Panasonic 300 model may drop as well.
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post #23 of 28 Old 01-14-2010, 11:27 PM
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Just got my panny HS250 today... pretty freakin sweet!

No i just need to figure out what settings work best for me. Out of the 30 minutes i had to play with it + playback on my computer, i will say i'm most impressed with the sound so far. Surround on a camcorder this small is awesome
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post #24 of 28 Old 01-17-2010, 07:29 PM
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Enjoy your new HS250. I've had mine for 2 weeks now and I really like it very much. I'm also still figuring out which settings will work for me too. I wish I had more time to play with it but what I have done so far, I'm happy with it and I'm glad I chose it over the Canon.
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post #25 of 28 Old 01-20-2010, 11:11 PM
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What kind of settings or operation tips have you come up with this far?
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post #26 of 28 Old 01-21-2010, 09:20 AM
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What kind of settings or operation tips have you come up with this far?

In the month or so that I spent extensively testing it, the main thing I learned is to avoid using iA. Not only will iA often use the wrong mode, but in certain lighting situations it will switch modes continuously which makes for some nasty looking video. You can expect the same behavior from Sony's and Canon's respective "intelligent" modes. Secondly, the AWB is sketchy at times so be prepared to use manual WB or one of the WB presets. Finally, try out the scene modes. Typically they work quite well for the scenes for which they designed. Combine them with Manual mode to have the exposure and iris automatically set yet have the option to set manual WB or one of the preset WB modes.
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post #27 of 28 Old 01-25-2010, 05:46 AM
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2. The Canon is superior in these conditions. The image is sharper. The Panasonic still looks good but side-by-side, you can clearly see the Canon looks better.

This is all relative thought, right? Even though you see that the Canon looks better for outdoor shots it's not like the Panny has bad image/video quality, correct?
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post #28 of 28 Old 01-25-2010, 10:01 PM
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This is all relative thought, right? Even though you see that the Canon looks better for outdoor shots it's not like the Panny has bad image/video quality, correct?

Answered in PM also but yes, right. It is only in busy shots with very fine details where you can see the difference and may likely be due to the 24mbit vs 17mbit anyway. The Panny has very good quality and is ultimately the cam I chose as well.
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