REVIEW: Panasonic HDC-TM900

Panasonic HDC-TM900

Online corporate videos are the hottest thing for sales and marketing teams right now. Learning to apply video in increasingly creative ways is definitely the biggest challenge, but with technological advancements in both hardware and software, even the smallest companies can afford and benefit.

Businesses can use video for product demonstrations, motivational messages from the CEO, employee training, and communication of corporate messaging―all in entertaining or riveting ways previously unimagined. A professional video is a sure-fire way to leave a lasting impression, and with the right tools―such as the Panasonic HDC-TM900 reviewed here―you can take advantage of video and discover new and different ways to benefit employees at your organisation as well as your customers.

Features

Panasonic’s HDC-TM900 is a pretty intimidating camcorder. Sitting at the top of the Japanese company’s range, the HDC-TM900 is designed for enthusiast videographers looking for a compact but powerful camcorder. At £641.09 (ex. VAT) it’s way over the top for casual YouTubers, but for advanced photographers looking to move into corporate video it’s amazing.

Supporting Full-High Definition (1920 x 1080), 1080/50p recording (or AVCHD) with 5.1-channel surround sound (external mic and headphone jacks are also present), the HDC-TM900 can even shoot 3D videos in AVCHD format when used with Panasonic’s optional 3D Conversion Lens (around £249 ex. VAT). The difference between 1080/50p and AVCHD recording is that the former runs at 28Mbits/s and the latter tops out at 17Mbits/s. As a result, video is marginally better quality running at 1080/50p. Mac users may appreciate the iFrame shooting mode, but this is essentially one quarter of Full HD, so recording quality is reduced to 960 x 540.

Incorporating Panasonic’s 3MOS system―an advanced technology used in professional-level equipment―the HDC-TM900 records bright, colourful and crisp videos. The 3MOS system has 7.59 million effective motion image pixels (2.53-Megapixels x3). This sensor separates the light received through the lens into the three primary colours―red, green and blue―and processes each colour independently to offer images with significantly better colour quality, detail and gradation than 1MOS sensor systems. Even low-light performance is excellent.

Other advanced features include a manual focus ring for increased creativity, a 12x optical zoom, manual white balance, Hybrid Optical Image Stabilisation (Hybrid OIS), and an excellent 3.5-inch widescreen touch-screen LCD that offers touch operation functions including Touch Zoom (zoom in or out by finger movement) and Touch Shutter (automatically focus and take a photo by touching the subject on the screen).

Videos and 14.2-Megapixel still images are recording onto the 32GB of internal flash memory or a 64GB SDXC/SDHC/SD memory card (not supplied). Realistically you can expect to capture around 2.5 hours of 50p Full HD video or 4 hours of top-end AVCHD using the built-in memory, though you’ll likely need to recharge the HDC-TM900 after around 1.5 hours of operation.

The HDC-TM900 really sets itself apart from crowd thanks to its myriad of controls. Sure you can let the camcorder select the most suitable shooting mode at the press of a button by selecting iA (Intelligent Auto) with Face Recognition (finds up to six faces of registered people and optimises the focus and exposure and tracks the subject as it moves anywhere within the LCD frame), but the level of control offered by manual settings―focus, shutter speed, iris and white balance―really allow videographers to spread their wings. Bizarrely, there’s no accessory shoe built in, but there is a bracket on the side for the supplied accessory shoe attachment.

Ultimately it’s image quality that counts and the HDC-TM900 doesn’t disappoint. Panasonic’s 3MOS system and large diameter (46mm) F1.5 Leica Dicomar Lens produces beautifully bright and colourful images with minimal ghosting and flaring. In addition, its 35mm wide-angle capability makes it ideal for many different shooting situations, such as self-portraits and group photos indoors, and landscape shots outdoors.

Summary

The HDC-TM900 is Panasonic’s best Full-HD 3MOS camcorder to date. With image quality that rivals professional video equipment and further advancements on last year’s HDC-TM700, the HDC-TM900 not only has that added wow-factor and future-proofing with its 3D video shooting capability, but its ability to capture amazing 2D videos intuitively with a large touch-screen LCD shouldn’t be underestimated. Overall, Panasonic’s HDC-TM900 is the best sub-£1,000 camcorder available and is sure to help bring your corporate videos to life.

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