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Panasonic HDC-HS250

120GB high-definition hard drive/SD™ memory card camcorder

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Item #: 133HS250
 
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Our take on the Panasonic HDC-HS250

by Kristen Schaub
Panasonic

Shoot videos for posterity — or posting online

From birthday parties to YouTube™ antics, camcorders let you capture moments you can share with friends and family, or the world at large. Most newer camcorders save your videos to built-in digital memory or a removable memory card. Some models come with a built-in hard disk drive that gives you much more storage. For maximum portability, check out our smaller cams that fit into a pocket or purse. For high-def videos that look awesome on your HDTV, go for a slightly larger model with a better lens and image sensor.

The Panasonic HDC-HS250 combines superb color reproduction with high-definition detail for home movies that'll really look gorgeous on your HDTV. A built-in 120-gigabyte hard drive stores up to 50 hours of high-def video and digital photos. A host of automatic controls makes filming easy, and produces splendid videos you'll enjoy for years.

Three image sensors for vibrant home movies
Most cams use a single image sensor, but this Panasonic employs one for each of the three primary colors. Your movies will glow with rich colors that'll bring your high-def videos to life. A precise Leica Dicomar lens gives you detailed widescreen video and still photos that'll perfectly match the shape of your HDTV's screen without stretching or distorting the picture. Optical image stabilization helps keep your videos and photos steady by moving the lens elements to correct for camera shake caused by an unsteady hand. And a built-in zoom microphone with Dolby® Digital surround sound recording adds even more realism to your videos.

Read more

Helpful extras and convenient controls
The touchpanel LCD makes it easy to search through the menus and activate the 'HS250's controls. Let Panasonic's intelligent auto mode adjust the settings — like activating the face detection function or adjusting the contrast control — to help you get the best video or still photos in any situation. You can also use the AF Tracking feature, which "locks" on and follows a moving subject to ensure optimal focusing and exposure.

Use an optional mini-HDMI cable to connect this camcorder to your HDTV, and view your home movies in crystal-clear high definition.

Highlights:

    Storage and Formats:
    • holds at least 15 hours of HD video at maximum quality
    • holds up to 50 hours of standard quality video
    • records high-definition AVCHD video to built-in 120GB hard disk drive or optional SD/SDHC™ memory cards
    • maximum video resolution: 1920 x 1080
    Features:
    • 3MOS System has separate image sensors for red, green, and blue
    • 9.15-megapixels total (6.21 effective total for video)
    • digital photo mode takes 6.96-megapixel (effective) still images
    • high-quality Leica Dicomar lens
    • 12X optical zoom (digital zoom to 700X)
    • widescreen 16:9 recording mode for videos and still photos
    • simultaneous video and photo modes
    • built-in zoom microphone records in Dolby Digital® 5.1-channel surround sound
    • 2-11/16" widescreen touchpanel LCD
    • built-in flash
    • advanced optical image stabilization
    • face detection
    • intelligent contrast control
    • AF Tracking "locks" on and follows a moving subject to ensure optimal focusing and exposure
    • burst mode takes 60 shots per second
    • 5 scene modes: Sports, Portrait, Spotlight, Low Light, and Surf & Snow
    Connections and Dimensions:
    • high-speed USB interface
    • mini HDMI, component video, and audio/video outputs
    • 3-1/8"W x 2-7/8"H x 5-1/4"D
    • weight: 14.8 oz (without battery or SD card)
    • warranty: 1 year parts, 90 days labor (6 months parts for image sensor)
    • Our 60-day money-back guarantee
    Supplied Accessories:
    • AC adapter/charger
    • rechargeable battery
    • wireless remote
    • stylus pen
    • audio/video, component, and USB cables
    • HD Writer AE 1.0 editing software

    Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

    Features and Specs
    General
    LCD Screen Size (inches) 2.7
    Viewfinder None
    Total Pixel Count 9,150,000
    Effective Pixel Count for Video 6,210,000
    High-Definition Yes
    Aspect Ratio 16:9, 4:3
    Manual Focusing Yes
    Filter Diameter 43
    Optical Zoom 12 x
    Digital Zoom 58.33 x
    Night Imaging Yes
    Image Stabilization Optical
    Built-in Video Light No
    Built-in Memory ---
    Max Recording Time w/ Included Battery 95
    Digital Still Camera Features
    Effective Pixel Count for Stills ---
    Built-in Photo Flash Yes
    Still Image Aspect Ratios 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
    Inputs and Outputs
    USB Port USB 2.0 High Speed
    HDMI Output ---
    Mic Input No
    Dimensions
    Weight With Battery (ounces) 16.96
    Width (inches) 3-1/8
    Height (inches) 2-7/8
    Depth (inches) 5-1/4
    Warranty
    Parts Warranty 1 Year (6 months CCD)
    Labor Warranty 90 Days
    Image Sensor Warranty ---
    Product Research
    What's in the box?

    Download owner's manual

    • Black HDD/SD camcorder
    • VW-VBG130 Lithium-Ion battery pack (7.2V/1250mAh)
    • Wireless remote control (N2QAEC000024)
    • CR2025 Lithium battery (installed in remote)
    • Stylus
    • AC adapter (DC output: 8.4V/0.65A)
    • 64" AC cord
    • 80" DC output cord (proprietary camcorder plug on one end and a DC power plug on the other end)
    • 40" USB cable (Type A USB on one end and Mini USB 2.0 on the other end)
    • 58" A/V cable (3.5mm miniplug on one end and RCA composite video and stereo audio on the other end)
    • 62" Component video cable (RCA component video plugs on one end and a proprietary connector on the other end)
    • HD Writer AE 1.0 for HDC CD-ROM software
    • Operating Instructions
    • Product Registration card
    • Digital Video Camcorder Accessories sheet
    • Manual correction sheet
    • Information about iMovie sheet

    Our Product Research Team

    At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

    General Features
    Video Camcorder Features
    Digital Still Camera Features
    Battery Information
    Inputs and Outputs Notes
    Software And Computer Information

    General Features

    Hard Drive Camcorder: The Panasonic HDC-HS250P has an internal 120GB hard drive which will allow you to record video and still images. In addition, you can record video and still images on an optional SD or SDHC card. The unit is compatible with 1GB and 2GB SD cards (FAT 12 and 16 compatible) and SDHC cards from 4GB to 32GB (FAT 32 compatible). Smaller capacity SD cards can be used for recording still images, but not for video recording.

    LCD Screen: The 2.7" (16:9) LCD screen provides excellent viewing clarity with improved resolution. The high resolution (230,400 pixels) LCD screen rotates up to 270 degrees for multiple viewing angles providing sharp and detailed images for monitoring or playback. Mirror mode allows you to view a mirror-image of the subject you are shooting in the LCD screen when the screen is rotated 180 degrees, but the image will be normal when recorded. In addition, the touchscreen LCD allows you to navigate through the menu system using your fingertip or the included stylus pen.

    Recording Formats: This camcorder captures high definition video in the AVCHD format. The AVCHD format is a high definition video camcorder format used to record a 1080i HD signal on the unit's internal hard disk drive using efficient data compression coding technology. The MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec is used to compress the video data while Dolby Digital 5.1 or Linear PCM (2.0) is used to compress the audio data. The result is image resolution of approximately 4.5 times that of standard definition image quality. Using the enclosed PC software, high definition video can be copied onto DVD media through your computer. DVD media containing AVCHD video may be played on a compatible Blu-ray Disc player/recorder or other compatible devices, but not on standard DVD players.

    3MOS Image Sensor: Panasonic's 3MOS system consists of three 1/4.1" MOS sensors, each with 3.05 million pixels, for a total of 9.15 megapixels. The camcorder features 6.21 million effective pixels for shooting 16:9 video. For still images, the camera has 7.95MP for 3:2, 7.53MP for 16:9, and 6.96MP for 4:3 still images. The 3MOS system combines several optical technologies to enhance the quality of full-HD images, and produce extremely accurate images with superb contrast and rich color.

    Leica Dicomar Lens: This camcorder features an f/1.8-2.8 Leica Dicomar lens with a 12x optical zoom. Leica Dicomar lenses preserve videos and stills with a high level of detail to produce truly moving images. The lens has a 35mm film camera equivalent figure of 44.9-539mm for 16:9 movies, 41.3-496mm for 3:2 still images, 40.8-490mm for 16:9 still images, and 45.0-540mm for 4:3 still images.

    Optical/Digital Zoom: The camcorder has a 12x Optical Zoom for bringing your subject up close. It also features a selectable 30x or 700x (total) digital zoom. Because the picture is processed digitally, the picture quality deteriorates the more you zoom in. The power zoom lever can be moved slightly for a slow zoom, or moved further for a faster zoom.

    Advanced Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.): Panasonic's Advanced O.I.S. helps suppress the effects of hand-shake as you shoot movies and still images. The system uses gyrosensors to detect even tiny amounts of hand-shake, then shifts the lens and adjusts the optical axis to compensate--all at 4000 times per second. O.I.S. Mode 1 works all of the time, while O.I.S. Mode 2 works when the shutter button is pressed halfway. You can also turn off the Advanced O.I.S.

    Intelligent Auto Mode: The Intelligent Auto (iA) mode automatically sets the shooting mode that is appropriate for the condition when you simply point the unit to what you want to record. Intelligent Auto includes AF tracking which locks the focus onto and follows the subject as it moves. Other iA modes that are used include:

    • Portrait: the unit detects faces and focuses on them automatically, and adjusts the brightness
    • Night Portrait: subject and background are recorded with near real-life brightness (still images only)
    • Scenery: the whole landscape is recorded vividly without whiting out the background sky
    • Night Scenery: records the night scene by slowing down the shutter speed (still images only)
    • Spotlight: clearly records a very bright subject in a dark background (movies only)
    • Low Light: records clearly in a dark room or in twilight (movies only)
    • Macro: allows recording at very close proximity of subject (still images only)
    • Normal: normal recording

    Exposure Modes: The HS250P features the following Manual, Auto, and Scene Exposure Modes:

    • Manual: Manual exposure allows you to fix the brightness of your picture manually You can adjust the brightness when the subject is much brighter or darker than the background. You can manually set the white balance, shutter speed, or the aperture adjustment.
    • Auto: Automatically records pictures effectively without the preset scene modes
    • Scene Modes: The following Scene modes are available to suit your specific shooting requirements:
      • Sports: to make fast moving scenes less shaky with slow playback and pause of playback
      • Portrait: to make people stand out against the background
      • Spotlight: improved quality when subject is brightly illuminated
      • Snow: improved image quality when shooting in snowy locations
      • Beach: to make the sea and sky a vibrant blue
      • Sunset: to make the sunrise or sunset a vibrant red
      • Fireworks: to capture fireworks in the night sky
      • Scenery: for spatial scenery
      • Low Light: for dark scenes, such as at dusk
      • Night Scenery: to capture evening or night scenery beautifully (Still images only)
      • Night Portrait: to capture a person and the background brightly (Still images only)

    Illumination Requirements: The camcorder records video and photos in normal mode at a standard illumination of 1400 lx. You can record at 1.6 minimum lx. in the Low Light mode. In the MagicPix mode you can record color images in very low light situations (approximately 1 lx.).

    PRE-REC: The PRE-REC mode allows recording of pictures and sound to start approximately 3 seconds before the start/stop button is pressed. This helps prevent you from missing a shot.

    White Balance Adjustment: You can set the color balance to the brightness of the recording environment using the following methods:

    • Auto: The white balance is adjusted automatically.
    • Preset: Depending upon the lighting, you can choose Sunny, Cloudy, Indoor Mode 1, and Indoor Mode 2
    • Manual: With a white card or paper on the screen, you can manually set the white balance.

    Optional Video Light: You can mount an optional video light (VW-LDC103PP) on the top of the camcorder. The VW-SK12 Shoe adapter must first be installed before the video light can be mounted.

    Video Camcorder Features

    Video Recording: The HS250P records high definition, full 1080 video onto the 120GB HDD or an inserted SD/SDHC memory card. The camcorder records audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio using the built-in microphone. You can choose from any of the following video recording modes:

    • HA: 1920 x 1080 (60i) at approximately 17 Mbps
    • HG: 1920 x 1080 (60i) at approximately 13 Mbps
    • HX: 1920 x 1080 (60i) at approximately 9 Mbps
    • HE: 1440 x 1080 (60i) at approximately 6 Mbps

    Recording Capacity: The built-in HDD and optional SD/SDHC cards have the following capacity at each recording mode:

    Memory Type Capacity HA
    Highest
    HG
    High
    HX
    Normal
    HE
    Longer
    SD/SDHC Card 4 GB 30 min 40 min 1 hour 1 hour 30 min
    8 GB 1 hour 1 hour 20 min 2 hours 3 hours
    16 GB 2 hours 2 hours 40 min 4 hours 6 hours
    32 GB 4 hours 5 hours 20 min 8 hours 12 hours
    Built-in HDD 120 GB 15 hours 50 min 20 hours 20 min 31 hours 50 hours

    Fader: When you start recording, the image and audio will gradually appear, and when you pause or stop recording, the image/audio gradually disappear. You can select a black or white fader, or turn off the fade mode altogether.

    Thumbnail Display: You can view a thumbnail of a video when you are in the playback mode. The number of thumbnails on the screen can be set to 1, 9, or 20 scenes.

    Playback Modes: During playback, you can choose the following operations: Play/pause, rewind, fast forward, stop, skip forward, skip backward, slow-motion, and frame-by-frame. Audio will only be heard during normal playback.

    Still Images While Recording Movies: You can record still images at the same time you are recording movies. You can choose from two picture sizes: 8.3M (3840 x 2160) or 2.1M (1920 x 1080).

    Still Images From Recorded Movies: A single frame from a recorded movie can be saved as a still picture. The size of the still image will be 2.1M (1920 x 1080).

    Digital Still Camera Features

    Digital Still Image Recording: The HS250P can record still images on either the unit's built-in 120GB hard disk drive or on an optional SD/SDHC memory card (sold separately). You can select between high and normal quality settings for each picture size. You can record still images in the following aspect ratios and resolutions:

    • 4:3 Aspect Ratio:
      • 9M (3520 x 2640)
      • 8M (3264 x 2448)
      • 5M (2560 x 1920)
      • 0.3M (640 x 480)
    • 3:2 Aspect Ratio:
      • 10.5M (3984 x 2656)
      • 7M (3264 x 2176)
      • 4.5M (2592 x 1728)
    • 16:9 Aspect Ratio:
      • 10M (4224 x 2376)
      • 6M (3328 x 1872)
      • 3.5M (2560 x 1440)
    • 16:9 Stills in Movie Recording Mode:
      • 8.3M (3840 x 2160)
      • 2.1M (1920 x 1080)

    Flash: The HS250P has a built-in flash for illuminating your subject in dark places. You can set the flash to On (always flashes), Auto (flashes when needed), and Off (doesn't flash). In the Intelligent Auto mode, you can also set the flash level to Less Bright, Normal, or Much Brighter.

    Self Timer: This feature lets you record a still image after a preset amount of time, allowing you to get into the picture or for a steady recording from a tripod. The self-timer can be set to 10 seconds or 2 seconds.

    Burst Shooting: You can record multiple still images continuously in the Hi-Speed Burst Shooting mode. You can record 72 still pictures continuously at the rate of 24 frames per second at a resolution of 2.1M: 1920 x 1080. You can also record 180 still pictures continuously at the rate of 60 per second at 0.9M: 1280 x 720 resolution.

    Slide Show: You can automatically play back images stored on the hard drive of the HS250P or from an optional SD/SDHC card. The interval can be set to short (1 second), normal (5 seconds), or long (15 seconds). Pre recorded music can be selected to play during the slideshow.

    PictBridge: You can print directly from the camcorder to a PictBridge-compliant printer via USB cable, even if you don't have a computer. In the camcorder menu, you can select the number of copies to be printed (up to 9) and choose to print the date and time on each picture. You can also select the paper size and layout of the prints as well.

    Battery Information

    Battery: This unit comes with the VW-VBG130 Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (7.2V/1250 mAh). Optional batteries for this camcorder include the VW-VBG260 (7.2V/2500mAH) and the VW-VBG6 (7.2V/5400mAh). The playback and charging times for each battery is as follows:

    Battery Model Charging Time Media Recording Mode Maximum Continuous Recording Time Actual Recording Time
    Supplied VW-VBG130
    (item # 133VBG130)
    2 hrs 35 min HDD HA, HG, HX, HE 1 hr 35 min 55 min
    SD 1 hr 40 min 1 hour
    Optional VW-VBG260
    (item # 133VBG260)
    4 hrs 40 min HDD HA, HG, HX 3 hrs 1 hr 50 min
    HE 3 hrs 5 min
    SD HA, HG, HX, HE 3 hrs 10 min 2 hrs
    Optional VW-VBG6 9 hrs 25 min HDD HA, HG, HX, HE 7 hrs 35 min 4 hrs 40 min
    SD HA, HG, HX, HE 7 hrs 55 min 4 hrs 55 min

    AC Adapter: The camcorder comes with an AC adapter that allows you to operate the unit on standard household current. The AC adapter also has a slot for charging the battery. The battery cannot be charged in the camcorder when it is connected to the AC adapter because the DC input jack is covered when the battery is mounted on the camcorder.

    Backup Battery: The camcorder has a built-in Lithium battery that will maintain the time and date for approximately 6 months. If the time display is blank (--), you can connect the camcorder to the AC adapter to charge the internal backup battery for approximately 24 hours.

    Inputs and Outputs Notes

    A/V Output: This camcorder features a 3.5mm minijack Audio/Video output for use with the supplied A/V connecting cable (composite video/stereo audio) for displaying the camcorder's contents on your television. A proprietary component video output connector is located next to the A/V output for use with the supplied component video cable. When connecting to a TV via component video, both cables are used (the composite video plug from the A/V cable isn't used). The camcorder will output 1080i and 480i video through the component video output and standard video (480i) through the A/V output.

    HDMI Output: High definition video in 1080i can be output to a connected HDTV using the camcorder's mini-HDMI connector. For a non-HD ready TV, the output through the HDMI port is 480p. In most cases, a mini-HDMI to full-size HDMI cable will be needed to connect the camcorder to your TV.

    USB Port: The camcorder has a mini-USB version 2.0 jack for connecting to a PC via the supplied USB cable. Connecting the hard drive camcorder to a PC via USB allows the computer to access the information on the camcorder's hard drive. You will be able to download still images and video files to your computer. This will also allow you to back up the files recorded on the hard drive onto a DVD. You can edit and save your video files onto your computer, then make DVDs of them using the software that is supplied with the camcorder. The camcorder can also be used as an external storage device, convenient for archiving, storing and transporting your videos and still images.

    Software And Computer Information

    Included Software: The camcorder includes HD Writer AE 1.0 for HDC, which is compatible with Windows operating system only.

    Computer Requirements: HD Writer AE 1.0 for HDC requires the following environment:

    PC IBM PC/AT compatible PC
    Operating System Windows 2000 Professional SP4
    Windows XP Home Edition SP2/SP3
    Windows XP Professional SP2/SP3
    Windows Vista Home Basic SP1
    Windows Vista Home Premium SP1
    Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
    Windows Vista Business SP1
    CPU Intel Pentium III 1.0 GHz or higher
    • Intel Core 2 Duo 2.16 GHz or higher, Intel Pentium D 3.2 GHz or higher or AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 5200+ or higher is recommended
    • Intel Core 2 Quad 2.6 GHz or higher is recommended when using editing or seamless conversion function or Continuous Photo Playback function
    RAM Windows Vista: 1 GB or more
    Windows XP/2000: 512 MB or more (1 GB or more recommended)
    Display High Color (16 bit) or more (32 bit or more recommended)
    Desktop resolution of 1024 x 768 or more (1280 x 1024 pixels or more recommended)
    Windows Vista: DirectX 9.0c compatible video card (DirectX 10 recommended) with DirectDraw overlay
    Windows XP/2000: DirectX 9.0c compatible video card
    Compatible with DirectDraw overlay
    PCI Express X16 compatible recommended

    Free Hard Disk Drive Space

    Ultra DMA--100 or more
    450 MB or more (for installing the application)
    When writing to a DVD/BD/SD, more than double the amount of free space as the disc being created is necessary.
    Necessary Software Windows Vista SP1: DirectX 10.1 (already installed with Vista SP1)
    Windows Vista: DirectX 10 (already installed with Vista)
    Windows XP/2000: DirectX 9.0c (already installed with Windows XP SP2)
    Sound DirectSound support
    Interface USB port [Hi-speed USB USB 2.0)]
    Other Requirements Mouse or equivalent pointing device
    Internet connection

    Operating Environment for the Card Reader Function (mass storage):

      Windows Macintosh
    PC IBM PC/AT compatible PC Mac
    OS Windows 2000 Professional SP4
    Windows XP Home Edition SP2/SP3
    Windows XP Professional SP2/SP3
    Windows Vista Home Basic SP1
    Windows Vista Home Premium SP1
    Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
    Windows Vista Business SP1
    Windows Vista Enterprise SP1
    Mac OS X 10.4
    Mac OS X 10.5
    CPU Vista: 32-bit (x86) Intel Pentium III 1.0 GHz or higher processor
    XP/2000: Intel Pentium III 450 MHz or higher or Intel Celeron 400 MHz or higher
    PowerPC G5 (1.8 GHz or higher)
    Intel Core Duo
    Intel Core Solo
    RAM Vista Home Basic: 512 MB or more
    Vista Home Premium/Ultimate/Business/Enterprise: 1 GB or more
    XP/2000: 128 MB or more (256 MB or more recommended)
    64 MB or more
    Interface USB port USB port
    Other Mouse or equivalent pointing device  
     
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