We didn't have sufficient time with the SD9 to perform our usual array of video quality tests in set lighting conditions, but we did get to try it out in a range of environments, both indoors and out. As we have come to expect from Panasonic camcorders, performance in daylight was exceptional, with vibrant but naturalistic colour thanks to the trio of CCDs - and it was uncharacteristically overcast in Spain at the time. Even more impressive was how well the SD9 coped indoors. Its colour performance scarcely dropped at all in artificial lighting, and in the dark conditions of the Panasonic trade show it still managed to maintain a decent picture. This is in large part because the progressive shooting mode allows a 1/25th of a second shutter speed, letting twice as much light in as 1/50th.
Being an AVCHD camcorder, the SD9 won't pose many problems when it comes to editing these days. Although Windows Movie Maker and Adobe Premiere Elements still don't support the format, most consumer editing apps now do, including Ulead VideoStudio 11 Plus and Pinnacle Studio 11 Plus. If you want to watch your footage on an HD TV, there is a mini HDMI socket, but it's located underneath the battery, as is the DC power input. The USB, analogue component and AV connectivity are on the side of the camcorder, however.
Now that 32GB SDHC cards are imminent, in particular from Panasonic itself, the SD memory camcorder format is starting to look even more tantalising. The HDC-SD9 showcases what the format can do, packing great image quality and some really powerful features for the non-expert camcorder user into a tiny package. If you've been putting off your purchase until High Definition has bedded in and the recording format wars have reached a conclusion, you might not need to wait any longer. We will be getting our hands on the HDC-SD9 again for a full review shortly to make our final conclusion.