Panasonic HM-TA1 – Can be used as a Webcam

Camcorders — on October 22, 2010 at 12:05 am | Comment Now

The camcorder market is getting really crowded especially the minicamcorder market because there are plenty of options to choose from. Hence, in order to lure customers, these devices must either have a low price or should come with a few extra features. Unfortunately, the Panasonic HM-TA1 doesn’t have either and hence I find it really hard to recommend this gadget to you. Also, there is no shortage of substitutes in the market with a plethora of smartphones and devices like iPod Touch which can also serve the give purpose well.

Panasonic HM-TA1 records videos at VGA resolution at 1080p and 720p resolution at 30 fps for both. iFrame format of Apple is also available here. It is smaller than HD and records at 960×540/30p at 24Mbps. This format is made for iMovie although you can import standard HD MPEG-4 format in to iMovie.

The TA1 can also be used as a Webcam and you get to choose from three resolutions – 640×480, 160×120 and 320×240 resolutions. Skype is also included as a unique feature here but the application is not preloaded on the device, it has to be downloaded from Skype separately. Also, you will need something to make the camcorder stand especially when it is connected to a computer.

Panasonic HM-TA1

One reason why these camcorders are famous is because they come built-in with sharing and editing software. This makes it really easy to get the clips from the device and then put them on the video sharing Websites. The manufacturer has given a Windows only application called HD Writer PE 1.0 which is an off-the-shelf software. It does all the essentials like simple editing and organizing, sharing and playback. But sharing is limited to just Facebook and YouTube. The link for the uploaded clip can also be sent through e-mail. I found the interface a bit boring, there are words used like ‘Execute’ for the traditional ‘Start Upload’ function. Sharing does seem like a chore.

The overall performance and the video quality of the Panasonic HM-TA1 is quite good for such a device. At 720p and 1080p resolution, the videos looked pretty good on an HDTV. The exposure is quite accurate and the colors too are vivid and bright. The EIS or electronic image stabilization keeps the video smooth with very little visible judder for panning. The subjects have the right amount of sharpness, they are not oversharpened. The video in low light conditions is not as good, there is yellow blotching with plenty of noise. This is quite similar to the dim light processing that we have previously seen in still cameras from this company. The built in LED light illuminates the dim light scenes but you will have to stay close to the camera and it also feels brightness seems too much sometimes. There is a 4x digital zoom but it degrades the video quality. Finally, the camcorder lets you shoot in white and black and sepia and you can also apply some skin softening to get better results.


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