I recently bought a new camera and spent some time writing up a review of it, it broke. Well, that’s a little dramatic, actually the LCD screen started losing pixels at an alarming rate. I returned the camera for a refund because they didn’t have anymore.
Later that same day I got on the internet and found that woot, which is a deal a day website I have patronized in the past, had a Panasonic HM-TA1 camcorder for 85 bucks which is exactly what I paid for the Lumix F3. I went ahead and got it.
My thinking was that these two camers were probably almost the same, one was better at stills and one was better at video, and I thought it’d be fun to do some video.
I was kind of right, except about the cameras being about the same. The Lumix had a larger screen, a better lens, the ability to foucus, optical zoom, better laid out controls, internal memory and a flash. The video camera has a built in light that works for about 2 feet, and uses a .mp4 video codec to save files to the SD card. Both cameras are supposed to have electronic image stabilization, which in my opinion doesn’t do much. The lumix had a wider angle lens that was perfect for my self portrait style. The lumix had a few ways to adjust how the photo was taken, the video camera has almost no controls, other then the cheezy sepia tone control. Weak…
Now don’t get me wrong the video camera takes very good video, especially if the light is good, otherwise its noisy, and with the .mp4 a HD-1080 is roughly about 10 minutes per Gigabyte. The lumix used apple quicktime, which made a smaller video take up way more space, about 4 minutes per gigabyte. I used to have a Mini-DV camera that was in the traditional camcorder shape. It cost about 3 times as much and the video looked about half as good, and it was a big pain getting it off the tapes onto my computer. For the price this little device is amazing.
I don’t like the button layout of the video camera, seems like I’m always hitting the wrong button, they are widely spaced out and get in eachother’s way. On a side note after using the camera a few times some of the labels are almost all worn off the buttons, hope I can remember what they do. Both camera’s do a surprising decent job of recording sound. I’ve never used a flipcam, which this camera was obviously modeled after, but they look like they are made better and have a better interface. Of course they cost more too and have some other drawbacks.
I bought a Gorila pod and wraped it around my handlebars to try a bike cam today. It didn’t work to well. The road was a little rough, but it just wasn’t very stable, I know from experience with a Gopro Hero Helmetcam that any video taken from the handlebars is going to be rough, attaching the camera to a helmet is a way better option, but since the tripod mount is on the bottom and the camera is tall, that may still be jittery, plus it’s going to look real stupid.
Essentially if you want a video camera that you can carry around in your pocket the Panasonic HM-TA1 is a choice, there are probably better options. If you want a helmet cam style camera, then this probably won’t work. If you want to take photos then this probably won’t work. If I could go back in time and not buy it I would.