When you first unpack the Panasonic SDR H101 camcorder, you might be confused. You might think, “Where’s the rest of it?” It is so tiny that you’d think it is meant to be a toy for teenagers. It definitely isn’t. Even when you attach the large battery at its back, it still remains small.

So it boggled us further to find a sticker at the rip that said that this recorder sported a 78X optical zoom. Yes, that’s right. It does have a very powerful zoom, though at its highest, there is a lot of shake — as if you were running from an avalanche — leaving you with very little video that is watchable. But keep it under 10X and you are safe. For anything more than that we recommend you use a tripod.

This camcorder sports an 80 GB hard drive to store your videos on. If you run out of that space, then you can also add an SD card in the camera. The H101 also has 33 mm wide lens that captures bigger angles of view. The videos are recorded at 72Q x 576 resolution. It is not quite comparable with HD camcorder results, but the video is adequately acceptable. The H101 can well be a good first camcorder.

Verdict: Light and compact hard-drive video camera.

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