In this Panasonic AG-HMC40 AVCCAM HD camcorder review, I will share my experience after investing in this camcorder, and how this camcorder saved our wedding video business.
In order to get an idea for why we chose to invest in this camcorder, I want to highlight several benefits that stood out in my mind. Five key areas that I want to highlight include the camcorder design, key features, the manual controls, the extended warranty, and the affordable price.
A Great Design
The design of the HMC40 is one of the first things that really stands out from other camcorders. This AVCCAM camcorder records to SDHC cards, which are based on solid state flash memory, and not digital video tapes or expensive P2 Cards.
Because the camera records solid state media, the camcorder has no moving parts so it will likely last a long time requiring little to no maintenance. Panasonic also stands behind this product and offers an out-of-the box 3-year warranty on the entire camcorder.
If you have an older camcorder, and you’ve had to deal with a broken gear, a worn out rubber seal, or a bad tape deck, I’m sure you can appreciate the engineering that Panasonic put into this camcorder, which also weighs just 2.2 pounds.
If you’re considering going with a SLR Camera to record video, try holding a full 15 pound SLR Rig with handles and a flash for 12 hours in the hot sun, and then tell me if that still sounds like a good idea. The camera can be held from the bottom, or with the side hand strap, or by holding the detachable handle mount, offering many options to produce a steady shot and to impress your clients.
- I have used a variety of camcorders from Sony, Sanyo, JVC, and Panasonic, and I have really come to appreciate how consistent Panasonic Camcorders are from one camcorder to another, which really helps a video producer present a consistent image, even among different Panasonic models.
- Solid State Storage Media – When using digital video or HDV based camcorders it takes 2 hours’ time to import 2 hours of video footage. With solid state media and a fast editing machine, you can import 2 hours of AVCHD footage in 45 minutes – 1 hour.
- The HMC40 has a Full Size Zoom / Focus wheel on the front of the camera, which is handy for making quick work of shots with one object in the foreground in focus, then quickly switching to another object in the background coming into focus.
- Silent Camera Operation – When you’re recording you can silently zoom in to see the action without getting a buzzing or mechanical sound being recorded to the audio of your clip, saving time in post production.
- Full 24 megabit professional bit rate 1080p recording, for professional film making quality, and HE Mode 6 Megabits per second low-action recording, allowing 6 hours of video storage on a single 32 gigabyte SDHC card.
AG-HMC40 Manual Controls
If there’s one feature that distinguishes consumer camcorders from professional camcorders, then it is the availability of manual controls. I mentioned above that I enjoy using the Focus / Zoom Wheel for doing Near / Far shots. This wheel is also very handy for creating very slow artistic zooming shots, to really capture the feeling of the moment.
Another nice feature is the manual iris wheel. This comes in handy if you’re shooting a video in a room with a lot of windows on a partly cloudy day.
Every few minutes the sun can go behind a cloud, and a typical auto focus consumer camcorder will adjust the lighting of the room, causing the loss of the picture of the people you’re filming. With the iris wheel, you can make those adjustments slowly and instantly to keep a consistent look and feel to your video.
I also regularly use the adjustable white balance controls, manual shutter speed settings, and the high gain mode for capturing dark scenes at weddings, such as the bride and groom’s first dance.
Panasonic believes in their products and the features that they put into this camera, and they back it up with a full 3-year warranty out-of-the-box after completing the free registration. The Panasonic HMC40 is also the winner of the Videography Magazine’s Camcorder of the Year.
Panasonic AG-HMC40 Price
We buy all of our hardware there because the prices are low, they include free shipping most of the time, and because they’re one of the biggest retailers on the Internet, and they rarely run out of stock.
I’ve chosen to buy not one, but two of these camcorders for my wedding video business because it has the right balance between professional features and an affordable price.