There are further options available via a touch-controlled quick menu on the edge of the LCD. This provides a further set of touch controls for triggering record and operating the zoom. The remaining facilities can be found by scrolling through the menu pages. These include Pre-Rec buffering and backlight compensation, touch zoom and AF tracking (face tracking is on by default in Intelligent Auto mode). There’s even another layer of quick menu providing rapid access to the various video formats and still image resolutions available, LCD brightness and toggling onscreen gridlines.
To go with its comprehensive manual options, the X900 also provides a standard accessory shoe for adding peripherals. This isn’t located on the camcorder body itself, as the built-in 5.1 surround sound microphone array takes up too much space. Instead, as with Panasonic’s last few generations, there’s a bracket on the side hidden behind a flap, into which you can slide an adapter. This is much more sturdy than the third-party adapters required for current Sony and Canon’s camcorders. With minijacks provided for an external microphone and headphones, plus manual audio level control available, the X900 can be used with standard third-party audio accessories.
However, the recording format has had an incremental upgrade to AVCHD 2.0. So video can be recorded at up to 1080/50p and 28Mbits/sec, without the need for switching to MP4 format. The other benefit of the new AVCHD version is its native support for 3D, in particular MVC. The X900 still offers side-by-side shooting if you want to use it. But this halves image resolution by squashing two frames into one, whereas MVC uses the full frame, so the latter will be preferable in most circumstances.
The X900 isn’t a 3D camcorder as standard, though. Again, as with previous models you need to add an optional lens converter to achieve this. But here the X900 has been updated over its predecessors as well. The lens converter compatible with this model is now the VW-CLT2, which is slightly smaller and lighter. You also don’t need to spend ages screwing it on, as this system has been replaced by a simple sliding clamp that has a bit of a knack to it, but takes a matter of seconds to operate. Nevertheless, the X900’s 3D functionality is still not a patch on that provided by camcorders specifically designed for the job, such as JVC’s Everio GS-TD1.
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