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Panasonic HDC-SD900 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £705
inc VAT

Amazing video quality and easy to use manual controls. The best high-end camcorder we've seen.


1/4.1in CMOS sensor, 1,920×1,080, 12.0x zoom, 395g

The Panasonic HDC-SD800 impressed us with its superb image quality. The HDC-SD900 has the same sensor and lens, but adds a high-resolution screen, some additional controls and an electronic viewfinder.

It’s £170 more expensive than the SD800, but still a huge £600 cheaper than Canon’s flagship Legria HF G10. While Panasonic’s camcorder is pleasant to hold, thanks to a carbon fibre-effect palm grip, it doesn’t feel professional-grade, like Canon’s model. The screen has a springy action when you open it and the focus ring doesn’t have the same industrially-engineered feel as the HF G10’s.

SD900 focus wheel

The SD900 does have the advantage of being far smaller and lighter, though, and we preferred its manual controls to the Canon’s. Depending on what you select from the touchscreen, the ring around the lens can adjust focus, white balance, shutter speed and aperture. There are also supplementary zoom controls next to the screen, which allow for more subtle adjustments than the top-mounted zoom rocker can provide. While the HF G10 helps you focus by zooming in to a section of the frame, the SD900 highlights in-focus parts in blue. We found both systems equally effective. While it’s not a patch on the HF G10’s display, the SD900’s screen has double the number of pixels of the cheaper SD800’s and makes it very easy to compose shots.

The SD900 has a 35-420mm equivalent lens, which isn’t as wide as the Canon’s, and we’d rather have a wider angle than a slightly longer zoom. Its video quality is far superior to the more expensive HF G10’s, though. Instead of one 1/3in sensor, it has three 1/4.1in chips, one each for red, green and blue light. Each sensor has 3.05 megapixels, compared to 2.37 on the Canon. The multiple sensors and increased pixel count gives the SD900 far superior detail in daylight – everything is sharply defined and lifelike. Canon’s camcorder has the edge in poorly-lit conditions, though – the SD900’s footage isn’t particularly noisy, but it can’t match the HF G10 for low-light clarity.

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Basic Specifications

Rating *****


Optical zoom 12.0x
Digital zoom 700x
Sensor 1/4.1in CMOS
Sensor pixels 9,150,000
Widescreen mode native
LCD screen size 3.5in
Viewfinder type colour
Video lamp Yes
Video recording format AVCHD
Video recording media SD/SDHC/SDXC
Sound 5.1 surround
Video resolutions 1,920×1,080
Maximum image resolution 4,608×3,072
Memory slot SD. SDHC, SDXC
Mermory supplied none
Flash yes


Digital inputs/outputs USB Hi-speed
Analogue inputs/outputs AV out, component out, mini HDMI out
Other connections Charge jack, accessory shoe, headphone jack, microphone jack
Battery type Li-ion
Battery life 1h 46m
Battery charging position charger
Size 72x66x146mm
Weight 395g

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £705

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