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Review: Panasonic HC-MDH2

By David Hague

The shoulder mounted consumer camcorder lives still! Panasonic has released the HC-MDH2

At a time when shoulder mounted cameras seem to be on a wane except in the high end of the market, Panasonic has surprised with the release of the $1599 HC-MDH2. Obviously its market research has shown there is still a demand in this area.

Weighing in at only 2.2Kg, the HC-MDH2 is 479mm from the front of the lens to the rear of the shoulder mount and 187mm at its widest point (with the LCD open). It has two SD cards that can either be recorded to simultaneously, or in relay seamlessly.

The HC-MDH2 is powered by a ½.33” MOS sensor giving a total pixel count of 17.5 megapixels. The standard fixed lens has a focal length of 2.82 – 59.2mm width an F value of F1.8 to F3.5 and the optical zoom is good for 21x. For stability there is a a 5 axis Hybrid optical system and level shot function. An “intelligent zoom” function allows 50x zooming and focus is auto or manual as is iris control.

Of course, this camera shoots full HD.

The built in white balance has 6 settings – auto, white set, sunny, cloudy indoor 1 and indoor 2. Creative control is limited to a time lapse function.

The flip up LCD monitor is a 3.0” wide (diagonally) with a pixel count of 460,000. There is also a separate electronic viewfinder and a manual multi-function ring on the lens barrel.

Connections include AV, HDMI. Stereo microphone (mini) stereo headphone (mini), USB, AV multi and video component.

There is no supplied video light but one is available as an accessory as is an external stereo microphone, however the mic mount is a standard fitting so any third party mic from RØDE, Sennheiser etc will fit. There is an internal stereo mic mounted on the front. A USB and AV cable are supplied, but an HDMI is not.

Physical controls on the HC-MD2 are limited to a three way video / still / play button, an optical system on/off, a two way “intelligent auto”, manual focus switch a menu button and a 4 way circular button with a central “set” button. These are on the left hand side of the camera on the shoulder mount.

A camera function button is mounted on the side of the lens barrel. On the right hand side of the main body are the ports for charging the MDH2, a charging lamp and headphone port in one cluster and a USB ports (2.0 ) and HDMI port in a second. There is also  32GB main memory.

On the rear below the EVYF are the video out and audio out ports, the composite terminal and the battery mount. A front mounted handgrip is fitted, 

Panny MDH2

and the fingers fall naturally to the power switch and recording on / off button.

The menu system of the HC-MDH2 is broken into 7 main sections for ease of navigation. These sections are Setup, Recording Setup, Switch and Display Settings, Other Functions, Video Setup. Picture Setup and Copy. Documentation is supplied in two separate manuals, the first covering basic setup operation and the 135 page second, using the camera in more depth.

The Panasonic HC-MDH2 is a no-frills shoulder mounted camcorder designed for a specific market. There is some truth in “size is might” when it comes to commercial videography. Even with small handhelds as good as they are, a certain percentage refuses to believe these are “proper” video  cameras and disdain their quality before they even see any output.

And there is another percentage that feel a shoulder mounted unit makes them “more professional”. These two segments of the market will love the HC—MDH2 I suspect and at the price of $1599, it will sell in droves.

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