Hands-On With Panasonic’s 70X SDR-S26

img_2914At first glance, Panasonic’s SDR-S26 camcorder ($329) is just another flash camcorder: it records in standard definition. It has a cylindrical black body; sleek, but ordinary. It has a simple smattering of buttons on the backside, and on the inside when you open the LCD. And yet, it’s one of the most memorable camcorders announced at this year’s CES. That’s because inside its tiny body is a monster 70X optical zoom lens. That’s unheard of in a consumer camcorder this size. Even in DVD and miniDV models, which can have 50X or 60x, this would be a milestone. But particularly in a flash model, where the optical zoom often doesn’t exceed 10x or 12X, it’s just baffling. One has to wonder, how’d they fit it all in there? As we got hands on, our biggest concern was the image stabilization. The S26 does have optical image stabilization, similar to what you’ll find in the company’s Lumix cameras, but the fact is, it gets harder to keep the picture steady as you continue extending the zoom. We noticed some additional shakiness on the LCD as we pushed the zoom to its limit, but nothing too distracting. img_2915What really impressed us about the S26– aside from the fact that it even has 70X optical zoom– is how quickly the camcorder regained focus as we continued pushing the zoom. The picture remained sharp as we did this, and by the time we arrived at 70X we could still make out fine details, even on the LCD screen. As for the question of, “What can you do with a 70X lens?” Standing on the CES showroom floor we were able to make out tiny lines in the rafters, high above. The S26 will be available in April for $329. Until then, check out our hands-on video to see just how far the zoom goes, and what kind of details were were able to see from far away. [flq:f25786c8e5a78b431eedc300203dec18]

Best of 2009 CES Winner The SDR-S26 is the Best Camcorder of 2009 CES!
Email* (will not be published)
*Indicates required field
Submit Comments

  1. Mike Says:

    Where’s the hands-on video? Been trying to find it?

  2. Joanna Stern Says:

    We will get the video in there in a few minutes. Thanks!

  3. Robin Says:

    My biggest concern is how its tiny chip would perform under low light condition. Don’t expect too much from OS, at 70x you’v got to be kidding if you are shooting without a tripod.

  4. Mike ball Says:

    I just purchased this and damn it is slick. Yes SD on and SD… This sucker is built for the you tube set. If you’ve got an idea and want to shoot, this beats both the handicam and envirio in it’s class. I’ve got a couple hours of filming with it and the ONLY gripe I’ve got is where they put the battery… Which has decent life to it… You have to open the hatch on the bottom of the body… Not a huge deal, but a little annoying if it’s on a tripod…

    All in all it is solid in it’s niche.

  5. Alan Nicholls Says:

    Well I`d been looking forward to this one (I already a 40x Sony handycam)so when I needed the upgrade I went straight out and bought one 70x optical I thought would be a real leap ,but no. Are you sure Panasonic you`ve made a genuine 70x full optical zoom I dont think so,when my Sony was put onto pc then snapshotted I could print out pictures from any magnification, not the Panasonic anything above 20ish zoom comes out pixelated(that tells me the higher mag is digital)not optical.As a very high end user I require a lot from a camera and this one did`nt deliver.I seriously would`nt recommend this product to any of my contemporaries (bird and wildlife film makers).The second point is the automatic light comes on whenever the surrounding light is low,two things about that,firstly the battery drain is high and shortens you run out time,and wildlife does`nt like being spotlighted.My next point on this camera is dont try filming in good light conditions because you simply wont be able to see the screen,if you cant see the screen how can you see what you`re zooming in on ? and the battery drain again is huge .Lastly anyone looking for a camera for filming distant objects especially wildlife buy one with a viewfinder …. makes life simpler!

  6. Joe Says:

    Thanks to Alan Nicholls for
    that expose and discovery of
    the outright lie by
    Panasonic. If still shots
    are pixelizing after 20X zoom,
    then it is NOT a 70X OPTICAL
    zoom. It’s a 20X optical, 70X
    digital. And Digital xoom, as
    we all know, is about
    useless, regardless how well
    software tries to
    emulate optical.

  7. KENY Says:


  8. Lupe Amaya Says:

    Can anyone help? I just received my camera I wanted to record a football game, after everyplay I would pause it till the next play. When I reviewed it, put everyplay as a separate scene. It didn’t record like a movie. Do I have to keep it on the whole time??? Also battery life sucks I had to buy 3 batteries to record one football game. Am I doing something wrong?

All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options