Top positive review
7 people found this helpful
Very Pleased with my investment
on 17 March 2012
This camera was really bought as a treat to my self and because I wanted to be able to film in HD and watch playback on my Plasma TV in 1080/50p.
I have had Panasonic camcorders for a good few years. I like to make video diaries and film outings and the occasional camping trip or family event.
With the advent of HDTV and the possibility of SD card recording, the resultant quality, small form factor and convenience of use provided by the HDC-SD900 does not disappoint. Indeed the fact that this camera records in better than broadcast quality HD video almost seems like the icing on the cake. Sky channels broadcast HD at 5 to 10 Mbps.. this camera produces a better picture than Sky. BBC 1 HD is not even 'proper' HD it's a lower resolution ! Keep the camera still and avoid low light and you will produce astonishing results.
In the first week I had the camera, I filmed a pig in a farm yard ( I live near the New Forest ) and I was amazed at the quality of the play back. I braced myself using the top of the gate and the camera did the rest. With the camera directly connected to my Panasonic G20 Plasma the results are very good indeed . Playing back 1080/50p video on my PC is not as good.. it's alway slightly jerky. It is possible to save AVCHD to DVD though, which yields excellent results albeit with a slightly lower maximum bit rate and only if you own a Bluray player. Unfortunately I have so far found that DL DVD are simply too unreliable to write to, ( I am going to try some Verbatim disks soon ).
The stabilised lens on my GS400 from years ago was always considered pretty good.. however the SD900 is truly next-gen. It combines Electronic and optical stabilisation technologies to produce amazing results. Just try turning it off at 20X zoom and you will see what I mean.
This camera also performed pretty well at my Nieces Birthday party, in an indoor setting. I've also had pretty pleasing results filming my self rowing on my indoor rower (to help improve my technique !) SD cards are now pretty affordably and the EX - Pro large battery is affordably priced and works perfectly.
The supplied software is good enough to allow the transfer of video to your PC and burning to disk, however to use it, don't try and copy Video directly from the card on to you PC. The HD Writer software has no option to read from any thing but the camera itself or an SD card reader. When you make a recording to DVD or Bluray disk, the software uses the camera hardware to speed up any Video re-encoding, which is actually pretty cool. According to the manual it could take many hours to recode 1 hour of HD video with out the hardware on the camera .
The LCD monitor is very bright and clear and viewable from a wide angle. At first I thought I missed the feature of my GS 400 that allowed the monitor to open a few degrees beyond 90. Upon use I discovered that this feature simply is no longer necessary since the viewing angle, colours and contrast of the SD900's LCD are now so much improved.
Other features which are pretty neat are the touch to focus and face recognition.. all very space age. Ohh and the manual focus has a great feature where it colours sharp items in blue in the display. This lets you see what part of the picture you have in focus.. quite clever.
it's not all great though.. I would like better protection from wind noise and I do perhaps slightly miss the tilt able view finder from my GS400.The white balance can take some getting used to . In the manual for my old GS400 it mentions that the 3CCD ( 3MOS on the SD900) is special in that it uses the 3 chips to set the white balance at power up, so remove the lens cap first ! This may relate to the SD900 and perhaps explains why sometimes the white balance can be off for a moment or two if you move say from indoors to outdoors.. Stopping / starting or power cycling fixes it sooner. I am making an assumption here.. I have not seem any relevant note in the SD900's manual and there is an automatic lens cover ! The only other thing that I can think of that seems odd, are the use of separate buttons for still pictures ( which are pretty good ) and filming. Having two buttons just seems a bit redundant since you have to select the appropriate mode to start with.. however I can see why they would do this in order to avoid confusion.
I could definiatly think of a few other good things to say about this camcorder and I have not even tried some of these out myself.. but I would rather go watch my rowing technique again :-) So let me say that if you are hankering for 3CCD colours and amazing lens stabilisation.. ohh and remarkable 5.1 surround sound recording in a pocketable package then you will not be disappointed with this little beauty !
I spent two weeks in the Lakes with the SD900 and have been watching my video back. Discovered that my old IBM Thinkpad can in fact play back AVCHD.. but only when PLUGGED INTO THE MAINS !
Anyhow, the reason for the update.. the record button on the LCD has started playing up, so I called Amazon. They say they will send me out a replacement (subject to confirmation )! Hows that for service ? I took a faulty Blu Ray player back to Comet recently and they had it for over 2 weeks to repair it !