The Panasonic HDC-SD9 has three 1/6-inch CCD sensors. Each has a gross pixel count of 560,000 and an effective pixel count of 520,000, which is the same as the Panasonic HDC-SD5 and smaller than the HDC-SD1, which had three 1/4-inch chips. The newfound ability to record in full 1920 x 1080 will likely increase sharpness as long as the light is adequate, but expect to see a drop off in low light performance. Full 1920 x 1080 recording was also available on the HDC-SD5, but we never got a chance to get one into our labs. It’s just as well, because Panasonic did a great job of yanking them off the shelves after about six months.
Low Light Performance
The low light performance of the Panasonic HDC-SD9 will be very interesting once we get it in the testing lab. The imaging chips shrunk since the first generation HDC-SD1, but the capture and output resolution has increased. Does this just mean that we’ll be able to see the noise more clearly? We’re not sure, but it’s our job to remain skeptical. In the past, Panasonic AVCHD camcorders have done an admirable job at keeping noise to a minimum (comparatively), but even when it was working with 1/4-inch chips, the sensitivity in low light was not very good. Now that the chips are an even smaller 1/6-inch, this can only decrease further.