Panasonic has announced a new solid-state handheld HD camcorder, the AG-HMC151.

The new camcorder is a tapeless, solid state camcorder that features three native 16:9 progressive 1/3-inch CCD imagers with an optical image stabilisation function to ensure stable shooting and a 28mm Leica Dicomar wide-angle zoom lens (35MM equivalent).

The AG-HMC151 can record hours of high-quality 1080 and 720 HD images onto solid-state SD and SDHC memory cards at lower bit rates than current HDV compression formats. The new model offers an enhanced quality mode, with 21 Mbps average (maximum 24 Mbps) recording that moves quality up even more.

Using AVCHD, the AG-HMC151 camcorder is designed to be used in a variety of budget-conscious production applications, It records HD in four recording modes: PH mode (average 21 Mbps/maximum 24 Mbps), HA mode (approximately 17 Mbps), HG mode (approximately 13 Mbps), and HE mode (approximately 6 Mbps). It captures full horizontal-resolution 1920x1080 images at its PH, HA, and HG recording modes. The camera can also be set to capture 1280x720 images at PH mode. At its 6 Mbps record mode, the camera captures 1440x1080 HD images for extended HD recording at its lowest bit rate. The AG-HMC151 supports a range of HD formats, including 1080/24p, 1080/60i, and 720/60p.

The camera features native 16:9 progressive 1/3-inch 3-CCD imagers, enhanced by a high-performing digital signal processor with 14-bit A/D conversion and 19-bit processing. Its 13X Leica Dicomar zoom lens offers a 28mm (35mm equivalent) wide-angle setting, a 72mm diameter, and a cam-driven manual zoom. The AG-HMC151 provides auto or manual operation of focus and iris, and automatic optical image stabilization (OIS) to ensure stable, smooth, and precise shooting. It also features a range of selectable gamma functions including Cine-like gamma, making it well-suited for cinema-like video production.

Using just a 32-GB SDHC card, users can record three hours of full-pixel 1920x1080 video and audio at PH mode, four hours at HA mode, and nearly five and a half hours at HG mode. In the HE mode, the camera can record up to 12 hours of 1440x1080 HD content — all on a single 32-GB SDHC card. Panasonic also offers a variety of other SD and SDHC card sizes — including 16GB, 8GB, 4GB, 2GB, and 1GB — with Class 6 performance.

The AG-HMC151 will be available later this year at a price to be announced.