Panasonic hdc-hs60

One of the HS60's many positive elements is its ability to make you feel comfortable straightaway.

Despite a bulging feature list that mixes manual modes with face recognition technology, it's amazingly simple to shoot with.

Menus can be navigated quickly thanks to the combination of buttons and the touchscreen 2.7" LCD display. It's not quite as responsive as the iPhone or HTC's interfaces but it's a neat way to move around the menu.

Panasonic hdc-hs60

Panasonic's decision to include a 35.7mm wide-angle lens on the HS60 really pays dividends as you can shoot at close distances while still fitting plenty into the frame.

Often with camcorders this compact you can find yourself constantly moving backwards to get what you need into the shot, but not here.

The footage produced is of the kind that got people excited about HD in the first place. It's crisp, sharp and packed with fine detail that shows up the subtle nuances of shots, whether that's a weave in fabric or ripples on a pool of water.

Panasonic hdc-hs60

Admittedly there is jitter on complicated scenes (for example on fences, railings or grilles) but it only detracts a little from the impressive overall performance.

Colours are accurate – the red of a London bus is perfect on our test footage, when it can so often be reproduced too vibrantly or with too much orange on other models.

What the HS60 does lack – and in doing so highlights its difference from pocket-sized shooters – is the immediacy of a one-touch YouTube upload function.

These are common on the Flip, Vado and Kodak-type cams and enable you to share footage, via the net, incredibly quickly. The HS60 does, however, come with (PC only) software for copying, transferring and editing clips, and iMovie 09 is supported so Mac users are able to edit movies too.

There are also a couple of notable absentees from a connections list that does include a (mini) HDMI port, USB out and composite/component output.

Panasonic hdc-hs60

Those 'lost in action' include a microphone input and headphone socket but these are often seen as the preserve of enthusiast/semi-pro models The HS60 does offer an excellent mic level adjustment though that gives you a little more control over audio.

Minus marks are chalked up for a video light that covers no real distance, but this is nit-picking stuff for a camcorder that can be marked excellent most of the time.

Even the 5MP stills performance, though hardly an exceptional resolution, is creditable and there's enough flexibility with flash, flash level, self-timer and red-eye reduction modes to get properly creative.