Panasonic HC-X900M Camcorder and 3D Conversion Lens Review

Panasonic HC-X900M Camcorder and 3D Conversion Lens   Review


I heartily concur with th

artsmith's picture
I heartily concur with the author of this article, since I have built up considerable experience using its immediate predecessor, the HDC-SD900 over our last (southern) summer. I obtain images of commendable crispness, excellent colour and as good as those of any 'prosumer' camcorder I have yet come across. New Zealand, for some reason I have never been able to understand, (expecially having travelled extensively in the tropical portion of Northern Australia), has some of the the harshest lighting on-earth, due, I would suppose, to its exceptionally clear atmosphere. The downside of that is that any camcorder is severely tested by images which are frequently 'soot and whitewash'. That severely tests any camcorder, and I am pleased to say, that mine seems to deliver as well as most and a great deal better than the majority. One solution to that problem, is to shoot material in winter, when we have much softer, mellow light. Versatility, no problem either. A few days ago I successfully took some shots of the 'Transit of Venus' across the face of the early afternoon sun, using, for filtration of the light, a pair of polarising filters with their axes oriented a right-angles to each other, thus constituting a super-powerful 'neutral-density-filter'. (Kiddies, as they say in the TV commercials 'Don't try this at-home'). One tiny niggle about my machine, and I would suppose the one under review, is that there is no lock on the flip-out LCD screen to keep it securely retracted. In the field, I frequently carry my camcorder on the tripod head, (tripod over left shoulder with legs partly extended to give a 'balance'), up to a few hundred metres between setting-up shots. When walking through scrub, bush, forest, or whatever, I am always apprehensive about the retracted, but only lightly spring-loaded LCD screen snagging in something. I know that $2 bought me a lifetime supply of rubber-bands of a suitable size to keep the screen securely tucked up against the camcorder's side, but really feel that a positive latch should have been incorporated at the design stage. It doesn't detract all that much from the pleasure of using it, however. Ian Smith - Dunedin, New Zealand

A word of WARNING : I have

Roy's picture
A word of WARNING : I have a Panasonic TM700 ( Not sold in Australia ) It is a magnificent camcorder but its durability is very poor. My cam is now 18 months old and I have had 3 problems with it. 1.. After 2 months the "Mode Dial" ( the switch on the side to change from playback to Video / still recording ) seized up ( stopped working ) Australia Panasonic fixed this but not under warranty. 2.. After 12 months the "Grip Strap" broke away from the camera. I did not bother having this fixed. 3.. After 18 months the Camera will not switch off after recording in Video mode. A big battery depleter. Australian Panasonic are not even interested in helping me on this one all because I purchased the camera from B&H in New York. So I have concerns about Panasonic Camcorders durability and back up service.

Missing Info in Review

cinemapete's picture

Come on VideoMaker... yeah, this is a 2D cam but it also does 3D and that's the exciting part, so you should have reviewed this cam's 3D image quaity other than just commenting on the LCD screen allowing you to see 3D without glasses. Now, knowing what Panasonic is capable of with 3D, I suspect that the cam produces excellent 3D.  Also, missing from the review:  The review mentions "optional 3D conversion lens", with the "optional" being a tip-off of the additional cost.  Also left out is that the 3D lens actually has a separate Panasonic product/model number which is: VW-CLT2, and is known as the Panasonic VW-CLT2 3D Conversion Lens, available separately.  Further, not mentioned is whether the external stereo input for the mics has an AGC (Automatic Gain Control) that can be defeated so that dynamic levels are not automatically clipped and whether the stereo mic inputs have separate left/right level adjustments, too.  It would have been nice to know the audio frequency response of the stereo mic imputs because many portable cams have lousy built-in mics even though the audio electronics are much better with good frequency response allowing users to connect higher-quality mics instead.  No doubt this additional info can be obtained from Panasonic.  Aside from the missing info in the review, this cam looks to be a real winner, especially if you're on a budget and are looking to get into 3D.

Is lack of Field-Depth the problem, 'Ojler'?

artsmith's picture

Depth of field is the outcome of two different aspects of lens performance, eg the size of the f-stop, (the focal length divided by the effective iris opening), and the focal length of the lens used, or with a zoom, 'as-set'. Almost universal focus, that is sharpness at all lens-to-subject distances is virtually guaranteed by using a lens of very short focal length. On the other hand, telephoto settings are subject to considerably reduced depths of field, which is why I always focus manually. It is, sadly, a case of 'not being able to have it both ways' as the lenses conform to properties due to some fundamental laws of physics, as they apply to optics.


Because most camcorder lenses respond negatively to low-lighting conditions by automatically opening up to close to, or actually reaching, 'full-aperture', shallow depth of field is to be expected. That is not indicative of anything necessarily wrong with lens or camcorder; it is an inescapable consequence of the way optics work. Consumer-level lenses are generally computed to deliver their best performances in a well-stopped-down state. As a general rule what causes prices of lenses to skyrocket, is a requirement to achieve maximum sharpness at near full aperture. The Leica M3, the favourite photojournalists' camera for many years, used to guarantee resolving power of 200-lines-per-millimetre at full aperture, and maximum sharpness by stopping down only by two 'stops'. In the case of a 'Leica' that was what professional users paid-for.Those, like me, who were basically amateur users, had to pay the same prices, sadly, with no concessions made for our lowly status.


 I had, until some years ago, an old friend, Mr Arthur Richardson, who made a unique and internationally recognised art-form out of growing crystals of various substances under polarised light, and recording the fantastic colour-patterns as the crystals grew, by means of stop-motion animation with an ancient standard-8mm 'Pathe' cine-camera, bought just after WW2. To him, maintaining focus was so critical, that on many occasions he fitted a microscope objective in a special custom-made holder, to benefit from its depth-of-field, as both that, and focus, were so hyper-critical.


 And, you think you've got problems........


Ian Smith

Dunedin, New Zealand.