Verdict

Panasonic hdc-sd900

As much as it is easy to gush about the SD900, this camcorder is not going to meet everyone's tastes. It is both a sizeable product and a sizeable investment, and it also lacks the cutesy element of fast YouTube upload that's to be found on pocket-friendly models.

However, as a movie-making device for enthusiasts, semi-pros, film students and low-budget producers, it is exceptional.

We liked

Superlative video recording is matched by digital photography functions, but what really seal the deal for the SD900 are its advanced features. Accessed through the exemplary 3.5-inch touchscreen LCD, there is such a rich, treasure trove of modes that it's hard to think what else you could possibly have wanted to include.

The Digital Cinema mode genuinely provides a different style of footage, while the Zebra warning provokes your creativity and nudges you towards using the manual features. The manual control ring is smooth and resistant where it needs to be, and while it can lead to fingers occasionally appearing in front of the lens, eradicating this involves practice rather than a design rethink.

Simultaneous recording of photographs while in movie mode may have limited wow factor but since those stills are 13.3MP it becomes a brilliant addition.

The Leica Dicomar lens and 3MOS sensors might be behind the superior movie recording but what we particularly enjoyed was the wide-angle nature of the lens. No more edging backwards and backwards until everything's in the frame (or the cameraperson falls into the hotel pool).

And, as Panasonic Viera TV owners will find, if you do get the chance to use Viera Link, the timesaving nature of controlling the SD900 camcorder using your TV remote is fantastic.

Ultimately, what we most liked about the SD900 is that it pushes you towards being a better filmmaker, but in doing so doesn't forget to give you the tools you need to do the job.

We disliked

It may be more productive or entertaining to insert your own top tip or amusing anecdote here, because there is so little you can criticise this Panasonic model on.

Perhaps the viewfinder does feel like an unnecessary throwback – if you're going to include one why not design it to be properly large and make a feature of it? The audio quality from the built-in microphone is only adequate, but then we do also recommend you buy/use an external microphone. You don't need to save on space – this is a chunky camcorder after all.

Verdict

If you have the money, and also the need, for this level of Full HD camcorder then the Panasonic HDC-SD900 has to be near the top of your shopping list. The SD900 is as essential as camcorders can get.