Decent image quality; large LCD; huge storage
Too expensive; clunky touchscreen
The world of 3D is infecting our cinemas, televisions and digital cameras as well as our camcorders, with the appearance of Panasonic’s latest range. In truth the ability to shoot 3D images (not using a dual lens approach as seen on other devices, but rather a mirrored attachment) is nothing new in the moving image department, but the HS900 may have found a convenient way of producing the effect.
The fact that the adapter is optional and expensive, means the likelihood of anyone shooting in this format is considerably reduced, but don’t let that deter you from this impressive camcorder. Being very similar to the TM900, which simply utilises flash memory as a basis instead of a hard drive, the Panasonic HDC-HS900 is a robust camcorder with a huge 3.5inch LCD screen and 12x optical zoom, complete with Optical Image Stabilization which works wonders when making use of the full magnification.
Like a number of feature-packed camcorders which strive to fit into a large pocket or small camera bag, the HS900 isn’t without it’s flaws. Having an over-reliance on the touch screen leads to smeared fingerprints and the responsiveness isn’t quite on a par with the likes of an iPhone. After a few minutes of ‘hunt the port’ eventually they were found under the LCD, meaning the screen had to remain active during playback onto a TV. This virtually rules out doing so without the AC adapter, making it necessary to take along on a day out.
In terms of image quality colours were punchy, if a little warm, the detail was superb and low light quality only soured slightly by the presence of over-aggressive processing resulting in occasional loss of detail. The white balance could be a touch unpredictable, especially under fluorescent light, but a quick switch to manual solved this issue.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice.
With a gigantic hard drive, full manual controls and the ability to shoot in 3D (should you ever need it) the HS900 isn’t a bad purchase, but the similar, flash-sporting TM900 is probably the better investment at a few hundred pounds less. Both are virtually identical, with reduced storage the only penance.