In an effort to improve upon the light sensitivity characteristics of its prosumer AVCHD camcorders, Panasonic has switched to a new three-chip MOS system dubbed "3MOS" for its newly announced HDC-SD100 and HDC-HS100 models. The company claims the new sensors provide about twice the photo-sensitive area as the CCDs used by its last-generation model, the HDC-SD9.
However, Panasonic did not indicate the resolution of the chips; it's likely relatively low, as most three-chip solutions tend to be. As I guessed, the chips are fairly low resolution--520,000 pixels for 16:9 video--and they're tiny, 1/6-inch versions. The new models also have a new 12x zoom lens, extended over the 10x zoom in the SD9. (Since most of our complaints about the SD9 revolved around the lack of sharpness and poor low-light quality, I'm quite curious to see how the new models fare.)
As its name implies, the HDC-SD100 writes to SDHC flash-memory cards, while the HS100 can record to its 60GB hard disk as well as SDHC. They both provide a broad range of manual shooting capabilities, as well as Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode, which incorporates face detection and Panasonic's Intelligent Contrast Control and Intelligent Scene Selection to optimize exposure and focus. And, as always, the units incorporate Panasonic's Advanced OIS optical image stabilization.
The two camcorders lie at the upper end of the price range for consumer HD models: $1,099.95 for the HDC-SD100 (which includes an 8GB SD card) and $1,299.95 for the HDC-HS100. (note: the original press release had the prices swapped; these are now correct.) Both are slated to ship in September; we expect to get our grubby little paws on one sooner than that, so stay tuned.