Panasonic HDC-SD9 First Impressions Camcorder Review

The HDC-SD9 is Panasonic’s third generation of memory card-based AVCHD camcorders, even though the first generation HDC-SD1 was announced only 13 months ago. In the interim, the form factor has changed little – these things are tiny. In fact, the HDC-SD9 is currently the world’s smallest “full HD” (1920 x 1080) camcorder. Under the hood, Panasonic has made some improvements and some deletions. In addition to “full HD” status, the HDC-SD9 can shoot in 24P mode. It also has a new face detection system and an “Intelligent Shooting Guide” that points out problematic shots. And it’s small. Very, very, small. Unfortunately, it lost the mic and headphone jack that kept the HDC-SD1 and SD5 off of our “naughty” list. Does the HDC-SD9 measure up?

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Audio / Playback / Connectivity

 

Audio

The Panasonic HDC-SD9 has a 5.1-channel Dolby digital microphone, the same as Sony’s camcorders and an upgrade over its predecessor, the HDC-SD5. It’s also significantly better than the stereo microphones found on the Canon HF10. Unfortunately the Panasonic HDC-SD9 has lost the microphone and headphone jacks compared to the HDC-SD1, which will be a major issue for some. This is further exarcebated by the fact that the Panasonic HDC-SD9 also lacks a hot Shoe for adding accessories like a Mic. The Panasonic HDC-SD9 does retain the audio level controls found on the HDC-SD5 and there’s also a wind cut setting for the built in microphone and the Zoom Mic feature that allows you to focus the microphone on a certain audio source.

Playback

Playback mode can be entered by moving the mode switch on the back of the Panasonic HDC-SD9 to Playback. You are shown a series of thumbnails representing your clips. To play one simply navigate to it using the joystick and press in. Pressing in again will give you playback controls like pause/play, stop, fast forward and rewind. You can adjust audio using the zoom slider. There’s a separate tab for viewing your photos with a similar interface of thumbnails that can be navigated using the joystick.

Your menu options in Playback mode differ slightly from video record. The Play menu allows you to play, repeat play, resume play, scene protect and guidelines. Edit scene will allow you to divide and delete clips while Disc Copy allows you to burn recorded video directly onto a DVD using a connect burner. The Setup menu will let you format the memory card, adjust the display and other housekeeping adjustments like date/time, TV aspect settings and HDMI resolution.

Connectivity

The Panasonic HDC-SD9 doesn’t provide you with as many connectivity options as the Sony HDR-SR12. We’ve mentioned the missing mic input, headphone jack, and accessory shoe. Those ports the HDC-SD9 does have aren’t as conveniently placed either. The HDMI and DC-in are located under the battery, which means if you want to connect your camcorder to a TV you better hope you also have the A/C adaptor with your or you’re just out of luck. Also, if the battery is running low and you’re doing a long, uniterruptable shot, like a school play, there’s no way to plug in the power without stopping and removing the battery. All the other ports are located in the LCD cavity and consist of an A/V-out port, component-out, and USB port. We don’t find these to be as conveniently placed as the same ports on the Sony HDR-SR12, which were on the right or the back and were better placed to deal with cable clutter. The SDHC Memory card slot is located on the bottom of the back, with a plastic cover that has a switch to open the slot.

{{article.attachments['Panasonic_HDC_SD9_sd_slot.jpg']}}  *The ports on the HDC-SD9: SDHC card slot on the back (upper left); AV-out, component-out, USB (lower left); DC-in, HDMI (lower right)*
{{article.attachments['Panasonic_HDC_SD9_ports_left.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Panasonic_HDC_SD9_ports_back.jpg']}}

 

 

 

 

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Sections

  1. Performance
  2. Format
  3. Auto / Manual Controls
  4. Still Features
  5. Handling and Use
  6. Audio / Playback / Connectivity
  7. Other Features/Conclusion

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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