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Panasonic unveiled its AG-HSC1U camcorder, a 3-CCD high-definition shooter that the company is billing as the world's smallest 3-chip professional HD camera. Its specs are nearly the same as its brandmate that uses those 4GB (88-minute) SDHC cards, the HDC-SD1, but it adds a 40GB hard drive on which to store their footage. The camcorder's also equipped with a slightly faster Leica lens, an f/1.6 as opposed to the f/1.8 of that more consumer-oriented HDC-SD1.

Professionals may scoff at Panasonic suggesting they use this tiny camcorder, but some pros may indeed employ it in hazardous or dangerous conditions. Heck, that $2099 price amounts to almost a disposable camcorder in the professional realm. It all depends on what you mean by "professional." But this might be just right for some pro situations.


That 40-gig hard drive that's so nicely portable and stores such a tremendous amount of footage makes this camcorder a lot easier to justify in pro-level field conditions. The remaining question: how good is the quality of that H.264 MPEG-4 footage using the AVCHD format, with its measly 15Mbps bit rate as implemented thus far? Will that be bumped up to the AVCHD format's potential 24Mbps bit rate? Only then can it be more accurately called "professional."

Panasonic Unveils AG-HSC1U First AVCHD Pro Camcorder []