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Since the X900 sports one of the largest CMOS sensors in any consumer camcorder yet (only Samsung's VP-HMX20 goes larger), we were expecting class-leading image quality. We weren't disappointed. The X900 shoots great-looking video with tons of detail and surprisingly for a consumer camcorder the colour is fairly natural too, without the oversaturation usually applied to wow you with vibrant hues. You really don't expect this level of image quality from such a small camcorder.
However, one area where we had expected slightly superior performance was when shooting in the most taxing low light. In theory, the X900 should compete very well with Canon's flagship LEGRIA HF S10 and Panasonic's HDC-HS300. However, the JVC shoots a much darker image than the Canon, and is slightly darker than the Panasonic as well. On the plus side, it maintains some colour definition and is not beset by as much grain as the Canon. Still, given a little more light the JVC acquits itself well. So in most conditions you will be extremely happy with the results.
The same can be said for the still images the X900 shoots. Quality is certainly on par with a decent sub-compact or ultra-compact camera and shutter response is rapid so you won't miss your shot. The 9-megapixel resolution will be more than enough for printing, with plenty of detail and the same excellent colour fidelity of the video. JVC has finally created a camcorder which crosses over into photography with sufficient ability to be worthwhile.
Being so small, the camcorder itself only incorporates USB for pulling footage off to a computer or other external peripheral, and mini HDMI (although no adapter is supplied in the box). However, a docking station is also supplied, which adds component and composite analogue output, as well as a second USB and power. So you won't need to fiddle with cables if you always hook the X900 up to the same devices.
As with pretty much every camcorder released so far in 2009, our pronouncement on the Everio GZ-X900 falls back to price. If it had been pitched at £700 or less, this would be an absolutely storming buy. But at more like £900, the X900 costs more than last year's Canons, and enters the same league as this year's enthusiast models, such as Panasonic's HDC-HS300. So whilst it really does manage to combine excellent video with credible photography in an inordinately tiny package, the X900 is for the rich gadget lover rather than the serious videomaker.
Scores In Detail
- Image Quality