With exactly the same optics and CCDs as the HDC-SD9, we were expecting the HDC-HS9 to perform identically – and it does. In bright daylight, colours are extremely vibrant, although a little more saturated than we have come to expect from Panasonic camcorders. Nevertheless, the HS9 certainly excels in optimal conditions.
With less illumination – equivalent to an adequately lit living room – the HS9 still manages decent colour. Using the manual controls to push the gain to maximum improves this even further. But there is a little grain visible, making the image less sharp than in daylight. This increases dramatically as the light drops, and the colour washes out completely. So although the HDC-HS9 will satisfy in most consumer shooting conditions, it’s not recommended for nocturnal recordings.
As an AVCHD camcorder, the Panasonic’s footage is now quite widely supported by editing software. It can be imported to the editing application of your choice via the camcorder’s USB 2.0 port. A proprietary component video connection and A/V minijack are provided for watching on a TV. An HDMI port is also available, but it’s hidden underneath the battery pack, along with the DC input. Not an ideal solution, as you can only use it when the camcorder’s on mains power, plus it’s the mini-HDMI variety, too, requiring an adapter for use with standard HDMI cables.
We forgave the HDC-SD9’s lack of hobbyist features, because its tiny size and reasonable price will make you much more likely to keep it with you at all times. Although the HDC-HS9 has almost the same features, plus a 60GB hard disk, it’s more normally proportioned and around £200 more expensive. Having Full HD video quality linked to a healthy video storage capacity will also leave many disappointed at the lack of a lens ring and the fact you can’t hook up a third-party microphone. The HDC-HS9 is still a great camcorder, and reportedly selling like hot cakes in Japan. But it would be even better with a few more enthusiast features, particularly for the money.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9