Panasonic SDR-S100




I believe the SDR-S100 was Panasonic's first foray into a flash-memory-only camcorder, mine being a North American NTSC unit recording MPEG2, 704x480 interlaced to an SD card (note: this unit can't accept the newer SDHC cards; the SDR-S150 that replaced it can). Note that the 704x480 aspect differs from the most-common NTSC DV format of 720x480. The audio is recorded as MPEG Layer 2, stereo, 48KHz sampling, constant bitrate of 256Kbps (as reported by Avidemux2). The output MPEG2 video is packaged in a ".mod" file container.

The SDR-S100's main claim to fame is its tiny size, 3 CCD imaging (1/6" 640K CCDs) and optical image stabilization. Make no mistake this is a tiny, tiny camera that predates the current crop of consumer-level microcams by a couple of years. However, to keep the size down, Panasonic saw fit to leave off an accessory/hot shoe and external mike and headphone jacks, severely limiting its functionality. That, and the U.S. street price of over $1,100 (over 860 Euros) made this camera very pricey for what you got. However, some review sites have given the SDR-S100 high marks for its image quality and for its pioneering use of the SD memory card as the primary (and only) storage medium.

Despite its limitations, the SDR-S100 is a useful little camera for applications/environments where larger cameras won't work. I can see this camera being modified as a "helmet cam" or perhaps being mounted externally to a race car to obtain those dramatic POV-style shots we all know and love. I personally use mine for nature footage while floating down southwestern U.S. rivers; the unit's small size allows me to handle the boat and shoot video at the same time with a lot less risk of capsizing the boat or dunking the camera.

I have successfully added my SDR-S100 clips into a working timeline, and rendered out usable video, using Kdenlive 0.7.x.

This model was superceded by the almost-identical SDR-S150; then the entire SDR-Sxx line seems to have died out; the nearest equivalent in a standard-def camera in Panasonic's current (Feb. 2009) lineup seems to be the SDR-S10, which has a much different form factor and much lower MSRP. In the same price range, however, you can now get a Hi-Def combo SDHC/HDD unit like the HDC-HS100.