Panasonic HC-X900 Camcorder Review$1,199.00
For the most part, the new VW-CLT2 lens converter looks just like its predecessor (the aptly named VW-CLT1). You can find a few adjustments if you look close, however. Panasonic changed the locking mechanism on the new converter, and it does actually make a huge difference when it comes time to attach the conversion lens to the HC-X900M. Instead of a screwy tightening system like Panasonic had on the VW-CLT1, the new converter uses a simply locking switch. So, you just put the lens in place, then flip the lock switch to the other side. Voila! Your lens converter is now attached.
Since shooting 3D video with the X900 requires the optional 3D lens converter, the camcorder does require a bit of calibration before 3D recording may commence. The calibration options for the conversion lens are very similar to the previous VW-CLT1 that could be used with the HDC-TM900 camcorder, but Panasonic did tweak the settings a bit to smooth out the calibration process. The camcorder now will automatically detect when calibration settings are correct, and you no longer have to manually calibrate the image overlay that produces the 3D effect. So, the calibration process is a bit easier than on previous Panasonics, but it's still more of a challenge than 3D camcorders with built-in dual lens systems.
Panasonic added a bunch of new controls and features for 3D recording with the HC-X900M. With the new camcorder you can control white balance, shutter speed, aperture, and gain when shooting 3D video—just like you can for 2D recording. The only area where you are more limited compared to 2D recording is with zoom and focus. There's no manual focus option when the 3D lens is attached and the X900M offers a sad 1.5x digital zoom in 3D mode (and no optical zoom). Additionally, you can use scene modes, pre-record, and the camcorder's iA auto mode for 3D recording as well.
The other big addition is the new AVCHD 3D record mode on the camcorder, which should offer higher-quality 3D video recordings than Panasonic's previous 3D mode (called side-by-side 3D). The new AVCHD 3D method of recording utilizes more pixels than side-by-side 3D, but it still fails to record "double Full HD" 3D video like Sony and JVC can claim on their 3D camcorders (the HDR-TD10 and the GS-TD1). The HC-X900M still has the option of recording side-by-side 3D video, but we wouldn't recommend using it. The AVCHD 3D mode records higher-quality video and it uses a more universal compression system than the side-by-side option.
The HC-X900M is Panasonic's first camcorder with a glasses-free 3D LCD, as last year's TM900 featured a regular 2D screen. What this means is that you can review 3D videos shot with the X900 (using the optional conversion lens) right on the camcorder itself. We should warn you, however, the 3D effect on the LCD is lousy at best—just like the 3D view we've seen on all glasses-free 3D LCDs (the Sony HDR-TD10 and JVC GS-TD1 3D camcorders included). Your 3D videos will look far better when viewed on a regular 3D HDTV, but they're still very expensive.