Reviewer: Byer Gair
World’s smallest and lightest 3CCD full High Def camcorder! You’d better believe it.
Barely a handful, its triple CCD sensor promises optimum picture quality, an optically stabilised Leica Dicomar 10x zoom lens, a stunning 5.1 channel sound recording system and a 6.9 cm swing out/down/around LCD screen.
The review unit was supplied with a tiny 8 GB SDHC card ($199), the camcorder’s recording media; this allows me to shoot an hour of the highest quality 1920x1080p video – or, by selecting the third of four quality levels, four hours.
It’s hard to imagine a more user-friendly and capable picture maker, an ideal companion for any extended travel – provided you pack enough memory cards. Downloading your video efforts on the road would, I admit, be a bit of a challenge – the AVCHD is not yet a globally universal format – but a dedicated burner (VW-BN1E: $329) is available so you could make DVD copies away from home.
Spoilt for choice, you can shoot HD video and 1920×1080 pixel stills simultaneously; a burst function lets you shoot 72 1920×1080 pixel pictures at a rate of 25 fps – an amazing feat.
Newbies to high definition video will be grateful for an ‘intelligent’ shooting guide that offers a viewfinder warning when you pan too quickly, the camera is swinging in the user’s hand, the subject’s out of focus, backlit or light too low.
The SD9 is fast off the mark, letting you record video in 3-4 seconds after you turn on the power. A useful Pre-Rec function records three seconds of vision into the buffer memory even before you actually start shooting – you need never miss any unforseen action!
Critical controls like power, camera/replay modes, record and zoom are tightly grouped at the rear of the SD9, while adjustment tweaks via the menu, choice of auto or manual focus and a useful LCD ‘brightener button’ are built into the camcorder’s side.
The interface panel houses connections for USB, component, HDMI and composite AV outputs, so you can hook up the SD9 to a computer, high definition TV or lowly analog television. There’s no provision to record video from an outside source.
If you own a Panasonic VIERA TV you can operate the camcorder, linked by an HDMI cable, with the set’s remote control, making home viewing a very relaxed operation.
An extremely attractive add-on is Panasonic’s BN1E DVD Burner which makes copies of your shooting, from the SDHC card, direct to DVD in the AVCHD format; these discs can be replayed from the burner and viewed on a high definition television.
I feel sorry for professional camera operators: suddenly a sub-$2,000 camcorder can shoot quality vision near-equal to their kit costing far more. What to do!
With skilful camera work, the SD9 shoots pictures that match the quality of broadcast television; the big surprise is that, to the uneducated eye, even the lower quality levels are startlingly free of artefacts.