Converting to 3D
Positioned above the lens barrel is nest of microphones able to record in a 5.1 sound format. The audio quality from this array is impressive. While the surround sound element is a little thin, the stereo staging is expansive. If you’re lucky enough to shoot when wind noise is low, the results are surprisingly good.
The VW-CLT1 3D lens is an optional extra
Out and about, the SD900 handles well. It fits snugly into the hand and is nicely balanced. The battery runs for upwards of an hour on full charge with near constant use.
Of course, the fact that this camcorder can shoot in 3D is a major attraction. The optional converter lens locks onto the barrel of the HDC-SD900, and once attached must be aligned using a simple cross hair system. Convergence takes little more than a minute to achieve, although you will have to do this every time you attach it. The zoom is disabled when the lens is attached.
Fitted with the 3D conversion lens
The camera shoots in a side-by-side, half resolution, 3D mode. While there is clearly a hit to be taken in terms of clarity, the sense of depth you can achieve is reasonable compensation. For the most convincing 3D effect, you need to frame your movies with a dominant foreground object, close to the lens. This is because the limited interaxial distance between the two lenses on the converter makes it difficult for the camcorder to create a convincing sense of depth from mid-distance.
Next page: Sample Video
I just bought one. It's great
I keep it set to 25p. In the camera's menus, 25p is called 'Digital Cinema' mode.
But the camera can also do 50p, which is incredible, if you have a device that can play 50p video. Some computer monitors can do it.
It also does 25i, like most other camcorders, but I personally don't like interlaced video, which was really designed for use on a cathode ray tube (CRT) monitor. Progressive 'P' is better for the computer era.
The US version of the camera does 60p, 30p and 30i. I think there should have only been one model that does all framerates.
Anyway, to sum up, this is the best consumer camera on the market. Its 3 image sensors (one for each colour) give it the best picture quality of any consumer camera. Professional cameras do this, but the Panasonic 900 is the only consumer camera to do it.
Other cameras (eg Sony) have gimmicky features like GPS, but the Sony only has one image sensor, thus lesser picture quality.
The VLC media player (open-source, free download) can play back AVCHD movies on any computer platform, so you don't need to pay for extra software.. Alternatively, you can import your AVCHD movies into Final Cut Pro, which converts to an intermediate format for editing, then you export it to any format.
Anyone thinking about getting this camera should search the model in Google, then click on Videos, and take a look at some of the videos people have made with it. Videos on Vimeo look better, but there are lots on YouTube (but YouTube compresses them a lot, losing a bit of quality).
And is there a version of the 3D adaptor for those people whose eyes are further apart than 20mm?
Focus / Zoom Ring.
The focus and zoom ring use the same ring. You can switch between them with a press of a button.
AC: I believe the SD900 doesn't have the issue of fan noise that some previous models had. Have you actually used a SD900 yet and tested it?
So where is the focus ring?
Looking at that device I don't see where the focus and zoom rings are supposed to be.
Sort it out
The 900 is a great camcorder and a significant improvement over last year's 700, but Panasonic STILL haven't fixed that damned fan noise problem.