Panasonic HC-X900 Camcorder Review$1,199.00
Lens & Imaging System
The HC-X900M has the same setup of three 1/4.1-inch CMOS sensors as last year's HDC-TM900, but Panasonic did make some alterations to the camcorder's effective pixel count. In fact, Panasonic actually lowered the effective pixel count on its new X900 camcorder as compared to its predecessor. Our testing showed that this reduction in pixel count didn't make the X900's videos look any less sharp, but there were some slight changes in noise levels and low light sensitivity compared to the TM900.
The lens on the HC-X900 was also tweaked by Panasonic. The new camcorder's lens has a different focal length range, while retaining the same aperture range as its predecessor. Check out the table below for complete details about the X900's lens and sensor specs.
LCD & Viewfinder
If you were hoping to see an increase in screen size on the HC-X900M, you won't find what you're looking for. The camcorder has the same 3.5-inch LCD as its predecessor (the HDC-TM900), but Panasonic did beef up the resolution of the new screen, as it now tops out with a killer 1,150,000 pixels. This puts it in a similar range with the LCDs on Canon's and Sony's flagship camcorders.
Panasonic also added a glasses-free 3D viewing capability to the X900's screen. This function is only useful if you go out and purchase the VW-CLT2 3D lens converter. With the 3D lens attached (or when viewing 3D content recorded on the camcorder), you can watch your footage in 3D without the aid of 3D glasses. The effect isn't great, and it's the exact same technology we've seen on the Sony HDR-TD10 and JVC GS-TD1 3D camcorders released last year.
Are viewfinders making a comeback on consumer camcorders? Probably not, but Panasonic still chose to include one on the HC-X900M. It's still somewhat common for manufacturers to include a viewfinder on flagship models, so having an EVF on a camcorder like the X900 isn't that unusual. The viewfinder extends out from the camcorder by half an inch or so, but the viewfinder cannot be pivoted upwards or rotated. Overall, the viewfinder isn't all that comfortable to use either, mainly because of its rigid, hard-plastic eyepiece.
Being a high-end camcorder, it isn't surprising that Panasonic loaded the HC-X900M with plenty of connectivity features. Inside the LCD cavity you'll find a suite of ports, including a Mini HDMI output, a USB terminal, and an AV-Multi port. The AV-Multi is a proprietary port that works with provided Component and Composite AV cables.
On the right side of the camcorder you'll find a 3.5mm mic jack and a headphone jack, both behind a tab near the front of the X900M. Just above this port cover, there is a small slot that fits the camcorder's cold shoe adapter. This means the X900M does not have a built-in accessory shoe. You must slip in the adapter before you can mount accessories on the camcorder. Beware: the adapter is also really easy to lose.
The final port on the camcorder is the DC-input that is used to charge the battery pack or run the X900M off of wall power. The camcorder comes with an AC power adapter that connects to this port located near the rear of the X900M.
Panasonic features a slightly awkward battery compartment, only because the battery fits into the camcorder sideways. This isn't a big deal, but it may be confusing the first two or three times you remove or insert the battery pack. We don't like that the battery release switch is inside the LCD cavity, as that requires you to open the LCD panel to remove the battery. Other than those minor issues, the battery on the HC-X900M is essentially normal for a flagship camcorder. The compartment is also open, which means larger battery packs can be used with the camcorder—always a good thing. Find out how the performed in our battery life test./r:link_to_content
The Panasonic HC-X900M comes loaded with 32GB of internal flash memory—that's what the "M" stands for at the end of the camcorder's model name. Panasonic also plans to make a version of the HC-X900 without any internal memory (and it won't have an "M" at the end of the model name either). All versions of the HC-X900 come with an SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card slot as well. Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of various media types.