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Panasonic HC-X900 Review

Like its predecessor, the Panasonic HDC-SD900, the Panasonic HC-X900 is a full HD camcorder has three separate sensors for red, green and blue light; these help it capture more accurate colours and more detail, while reducing noise, compared to single-chip camcorders. The camera supports 1080/50p video as well as 1080i and PAL. The new model adds updated image stabilisation and an auto-stereoscopic screen for glasses-free 3D viewing with the optional 3D adaptor.


Panasonic HC-X900


It’s a medium-sized camcorder which feels well-balanced in your hand, and all the major controls, such as zoom and record, are within easy reach of your fingers. You can either view the action using the flip-out resistive touchscreen or you can use the electronic viewfinder. Even though we’re now used to super-sensitive capacitive screens, the HC-X900’s resistive model is still responsive and it's easy to select the function you need. The touchscreen makes it easy to preview your footage, as it's uncluttered by too much information. There's also an electronic viewfinder for if you have trouble using the screen in direct sunlight.


The HC-X900's three 1/4.1in sensors deliver fantastic video in daylight, but footage does suffer from noticeable noise in darker environments, as was the case with the HDC-SD900. In good lighting, the three colour sensors capture scenes accurately, and even when surveying a panoramic scene, such as that from our rooftop, objects to the extreme left and right of the screen retain their colour and definition.


Panasonic HC-X900


The camcorder's sensor specifications are identical to those of the previous-generation HDC-SD900, but the camera does add 'pixel shift technology', where the green sensor is slightly offset relative to the red and blue, which helps the sensor to capture four pixels instead of one each frame. This, Panasonic claims, means the camera captures four times the pixel count of Full HD so has more information to use when processing the final video image, leading to greater accuracy. Even so, it isn’t greatly different from that captured by the HDC-SD900. Brighter colours look slightly more natural, but when they’re compared to footage captured by the HDC-SD900 last year, the difference isn’t overwhelming.


The improved five-axis image stabilisation adds a further axis to the HDC-SD900's horizontal, vertical, pitch and yaw stabilisation - roll control, which corrects for your hand rolling from side to side as you walk. The stabilisation is superb; when fitted to our lab’s camera shaker and with the image stabiliser turned on, the only thing you could detect was the faintest murmur of movement. With it off, the footage looked as if the camera had been placed on a bouncy castle.


One of the HC-X900’s main selling points is that it can be used in conjunction with the optional VW-CLT2E 3D conversion lens (price TBC), which splits light entering the camcorder's lens to hit either side of the sensor to create a left/right 3D image. Attaching the adaptor is simple, and it doesn’t adversely affect the balance of the HC-X900. Once attached, you have to perform a minimal amount of configuration (positioning two crosshairs between four lines to calibrate the camcorder) and you’re good to go.


Panasonic HC-X900 with 3D


You can play the 3D footage back directly on the camcorder's glasses-free 3D display, one of the most notable additions to this year's model, but a slightly-puzzling one given that the 3D lens is an optional extra. Still, it's very handy for composing 3D shots, though as usual the viewing angles for the 3D effect are very tight.


To view 3D footage properly, you'll want to plug the camcorder straight into a 3D TV or monitor over HDMI. Viewing your footage in 3D is a pleasant novelty, but the small distance between the adaptor's lenses means the effect isn't very pronounced; you only really get the 3D effect when filming objects pretty close to the lens, such as railings, trees, and opening doors. It's a simple way to experiment with 3D, though. The X900 can also upscale 2D footage to 3D during playback on the camcorder's screen or on your TV, but the effect isn't very convincing.


Filming with the HC-X900 is a pleasure, and it's easy to get great footage with little effort. We've yet to see this year's high-end rivals from Sony and Canon, but they'll certainly have a fight on their hands. Also, it's worth bearing in mind that if you're not worried about the auto-stereoscopic 3D screen, you can get similar video quality from last year's HDC-SD900, which as we went to press was available for a bargain £616.


Original post at: http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/camcorders/1290022/panasonic-hc-x900

Sensor Section


Image Sensor

1/4.1-type MOS Sensor x 3

Total Pixels

9.15 megapixels (3.05 megapixels x 3 )

Effective Pixles

Motion Image

6.57 - 6.21 megapixels (2.19 - 2.07 megapixels x 3) [16:9]

Still Image

7.11 megapixels (2.37 megapixels x 3) [3:2] / 6.57 - 6.21 megapixels (2.19 - 2.07 megapixels x 3) [16:9] / 6.87 megapixels (2.29 megapixels x 3) [4:3]

Recording Section

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Recording Media

SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card

Recording Format

[AVCHD] AVCHD 3D/ Progressive / [iFame] MP4

Signal System

1080/ 50p, 1080/ 50i, 540/ 25p

Compression Method

[2D] MPEG-4 AVC/ H.264 / [3D] MPEG-4 MVC/ H.264

Recording/ Playback Mode

1080/ 50p (28Mbps / VBR) , (1920 x 1080) / HA (17Mbps / VBR) , (1920 x 1080) / HG (13Mbps / VBR) , (1920 x 1080) / HX (9Mbps / VBR) , (1920 x 1080) / HE (5Mbps / VBR) , (1920 x 1080) / iFrame (28Mbps / VBR) , (960 x 540) / AVCHD 3D (28Mbps / VBR) , (1920 x 1080) / SbS (17Mbps / VBR) , (1920 x 1080)

Thumbnail Display

20 thumbnails/page, 9 thumbnails/page, 1 thumbnails/page

Audio Recording System

1080/ 50p, HA, HG, HX, HE : Dolby Digital (5.1ch/ 2ch) / iFrame: AAC (2ch) / MP4: AAC (2ch)

Microphone

5.1ch Surround, Zoom and Focus Microphone

Speaker

Dynamic type

Still Image Section


Recording Format

JPEG (DCF/Exif2.2), MPO

Recording Image Size

Still Image

14.7 megapixels (5120 x 2880), 8.3 megapixels (3840 x 2160), 5.8 megapixels (3200 x 1800) [16:9] / 16 megapixels (4896 x 3264), 8.6 megapixels (3600 x 2400), 6.1 megapixels (3024 x 2016) [3:2] / 15.1 megapixels (4480 x 3360), 8.6 megapixels (3392 x 2544), / 5.8 megapixels (2784 x 2088), 0.3 megapixels (640 x 480) [4:3] / [3D] 2.1 megapixles (1920 x 1080) [16:9]

Simultaneous Recording

14.7 megapixels (5120 x 2880), 8.3 megapixels (3840 x 2160), 2.1 megapixels (1920 x 1080) / [3D] 2.1 megapixles (1920 x 1080) [16:9]

Flash

Yes

 

Lens Section


F Value

F1.5 (WIDE) / F2.8 (TELE)

Optical Zoom

12 x

Focal Length

2.84 - 34.1 mm

35 mm Film Camera Equivalent

Motion Image

29.8 - 368.8 mm [16:9]

Still Image

29.8 - 357.7 mm [3:2], / 29.8 - 368.8 mm [16:9], / 31.0 - 372.0 mm [4:3],

Filter Diameter

49 mm

Lens Brand

Leica Dicomar Lens

Camera Section


Standard Illumination

1400 lx

Minimum Illumination

1.6 lx (1/25, Low Light, Scene Mode), 1 lx (Color Night View)

Focus

Auto/ Manual

Zoom

Intelligent Zoom OFF

12 x

Intelligent Zoom ON

23 x

Digital Zoom

30 x/ 700 x (The maximum value of zoom magnification)

White Balance

Auto / Indoor1 / Indoor2 / Sunny / Cloudy / White set

Shutter Speed

Motion Image

[50i / 50p] / Auto Slow Shutter ON : 1/25-1/8000 / Auto Slow Shutter OFF : 1/50-1/8000 / [25p] / Auto Slow Shutter ON : 1/25 - 1/8000 / Auto Slow Shutter OFF : 1/50 - 1/8000

Still Image

1/2 - 1/2000, (Video Flash On: 1/2 - 1/500)

Iris

Auto/ Manual

Image Stabilizer

Hybrid O.I.S.+ with O.I.S. lock

 

General Section


Power Supply

7.2V (Battery) / 9.3V (AC Adaptor)

Power Consumption

Max. 8.9W (Recording) / Max. 10.3W (Charging)

Dimensions

(W x H x D)Approx. 67 x 72 x 150[mm] (2.64 x 2.83 x 5.90 [inch])

Weight (w/o battery and SD card)

Approx. 425g (0.93 lb)

LCD Monitor

8.83 cm (3.5") Wide 3D LCD monitor (1,152,000 dots)

View Finder

Yes

Manual Ring

Yes

Interface

HDMI

Yes (mini)

Microphones (stereo mini)

Yes

Headphone (stereo mini)

Yes

USB

2.0 Hi-Speed

AV Multi

Yes

Accessory Shoe

Yes (cold)

On-Screen Display Language

English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Netherlandic, Turkish, Swedish

Standard Accessory

AC Adaptor

Yes

AC Cable

Yes

DC Cable

Included AC adopter

Rechargeable Battery Pack

Yes (1,250 mAh)

IR Remote

Yes

AV Multi Cable

Yes

Shoe adaptor

Yes

USB Cable

Yes

Lens Hood

Yes

Bandled Software

HD Writer AE 4.1

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