• Price: £850

  • Company: Panasonic

  • Pros: Light yet chunky and easy to use; excellent picture quality by day or in low light.

  • Cons: Wind noise; annoying DC port placement; Digital Cinema mode is all or nothing.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

Place the HDC-TM300 next to its HDC-HS300 sibling and you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart. They have the same manual control ring on the lens, 2.7-inch touchscreen display, F1.8-2.8 Leica lenses and top-mounted 5.1-channel surround sound mics.

Pick them up, though, and you’ll notice the difference – the TM300 is nearly 100g lighter, dispensing with the 120GB hard drive in favour of 32GB built-in flash memory. The case is slimmer, creating room for a wider zoom toggle on top of the camcorder.

The HDC-TM300 has a 3MOS image sensor system, giving it an effective resolution of 6.21 megapixels; top recording quality is pegged at 1,920 x 1,080/17Mbps.

The HDC-TM300 has the familiar touchscreen interface, with goodies such as the Digital Cinema Mode tucked inside its menu system.

The HDC-TM300 is packed with features. Intelligent Auto mode handles white balance, focus and exposure for point-and-shoot operation. You can pick from five scene modes, or use the manual controls.

There is one thing about the HDC-TM300 we don’t like: the DC socket is tucked behind the battery, which you have to remove to get at it. This also means you have to charge the battery in a separate unit.

Digital Cinema mode is all-or-nothing – unlike the Canon HF S10 or Sony camcorders, switching it on gives you 25p progressive shooting and an extended xvYCC colour gamut – but you can’t pick them individually. Nor can you use Digital Cinema mode and take advantage of iA features.

But it’s picture quality that counts, and here the HDC-TM300 measures up. Images are captured with accurate colours and wonderful amounts of detail, when viewed using the built-in mini HDMI or ports on an HDTV.

This review is one of six in a HD Camcorder Group Test.