Panasonic HDC-SDT750 3D Camcorder Review
As a regular camcorder, the HDC-SDT750 handles in an identical manner to the Panasonic HDC-TM700. The two camcorders have the same dimensions and nearly the same weight (the TM700 is five grams heavier because of its internal memory). They have the same hand straps, the same 3-inch LCD, and the same touchscreen interface. So, if you want to read about how the SDT750 handles as a regular 2D camcorder, check out the handling section of our HDC-TM700 review here.
Attaching the 3D conversion lens to the HDC-SDT750 turns the camcorder into a completely different device. It nearly doubles in size and its weight increases drastically. We also found the camcorder to be a bit heavier up front with the lens attached, which can lead to dipping if your hand gets tired. This is where a better hand strap would come in...err...handy.
Using the 3D conversion lens is the most difficult thing you can do with the HDC-ST750. That doesn't mean it is a huge challenge to figure out, it is just a lot more confusing and awkward than anything else on the camcorder. Screwing in the conversion lens can be annoying (it is difficult to match the screw threads), calibrating the lens is a pain, and using the camcorder to shoot 3D content hand-held is definitely a nuisance. The camcorder has no manual controls when the 3D conversion lens is attached (except white balance), and you cannot even zoom when you shoot 3D content. In short, you are extremely limited as to how you can shoot with the 3D conversion lens attached.
We recommend using a tripod to shoot 3D video with the HDC-SDT750 when possible. The camcorder is easier to use this way, you'll have less trouble calibrating the conversion lens, and your 3D videos will look better. In our testing, we found that 3D content looked incredibly disorienting when we moved the camcorder around a lot and the 3D effect looked far less impressive. The HDC-SDT750 was at its best when we held the camcorder still (or mounted it on a tripod) and shot subjects in 3D that were 4 to 10 feet away from the lens.
Without its 3D conversion lens, the HDC-SDT750 has the same dimensions and is only 5g lighter than the Panasonic HDC-TM700. This makes it one of the most compact high-end camcorders on the market. Of course, this comes at the cost of having a smaller LCD than the competition.
Then there's the case of the 3D conversion lens, which increases the weight of the HDC-SDT750 by roughly 50% and makes the camcorder a whole lot longer. The conversion lens itself has dimensions of 78 x 59 x 97, which is larger than most ultracompact camcorders on their own. Our point is, if you're going to be shooting 3D with the HDC-SDT750 don't expect the camcorder to be all that portable. The conversion lens morphs the camcorder from one of the most compact high-end options, to one of the bulkiest and unbalanced models we've seen.
The HDC-SDT750 lasted for 107 minutes in our battery life test, which is identical to the amount of time the Sony HDR-CX550V and Panasonic HDC-TM700 lasted in this same test. The Canon HF S21 was the big loser in this test, lasting close to 30 minutes less than the other three camcorders in this set. More on how we test battery life.
All of these models, the HDC-SDT750 included, have open battery compartments. So, if you'd like to purchase a larger battery that will allow for longer record times, you can easily do so (but those extra batteries can be pricey).
LCD & Viewfinder
The HDC-SDT750 has the same 3-inch LCD as the Panasonic HDC-TM700 and the HDC-HS700 that came before it. While the 3-inch screen is an improvement over last year's Panasonic camcorders, it is still a good half-inch smaller than what you'll find on the Canon HF S21 and Sony HDR-CX550V (as well as the flagship model from Samsung, the HMX-S16). We'd like to see Panasonic bump up the size of its LCD to 3.5 or 4 inches on its next high-end model.
The SDT750 does have a viewfinder, which is a feature that is often found on flagship models, but is rare to see anywhere else. The viewfinder is small, uncomfortable, and does not angle upwards. It does extend, however, which helps the viewfinder accommodate for larger battery packs that may be loaded beneath it, and it has a diopter adjustment dial.
Panasonic camcorders have done a very good job in our stabilization test for the past few years and the HDC-SDT750 kicks things up a notch with its improved Hybrid OIS feature. The camcorder employs an optical image stabilization system with three settings: regular, hybrid, and a powered IS feature that requires you to hold down a button on the LCD to activate. The camcorder did an excellent job in our test with all three settings. More on how we test stabilization.
Before you look at the numbers from our test, keep in mind that the powered IS feature requires you to hold down a button on the LCD during the duration of your recording. For this reason we didn't use the numbers we got from that test because the mere fact that our hands were touching the camcorder while it was on our stabilization rig skewed our results. Still, the numbers do provide you with some good information (and it does more or less reflect real-world use).
In our low shake test, we found the SDT750 to reduce shake by 77% with the camcorder's regular stabilization, 76% with Hybrid OIS, and 85% with the powered IS feature. These numbers are very similar to how the Panasonic HDC-TM700 performed in this test.
With our high shake test we saw a strong improvement on the HDC-SDT750 (compared to previous Panasonic models). The camcorder's regular OIS reduced 85% of the shake, while the Hybrid OIS and powered IS reduced 82% and 83% respectively. What these numbers tell us is that in high shake it really doesn't matter what stabilization feature you use—they are all equally effective (and are all extremely good at reducing shake).
You can use the stabilization feature on the HDC-SDT750 when shooting 3D content with the camcorder. Unfortunately, our testing showed the stabilization system didn't function very well in this setting. It still reduced the shakiness of the image, but it was nothing like what we saw in our test results shown above. Of course, the camcorder is much heavier and weighted far differently when its 3D conversion lens is attached, so those variables had a strong impact on our test.
The clip above shows the HDC-SDT750's stabilization system in action. Watch the video to get a better idea as to how much the camcorder reduced shake during recording.