The Panasonic HDC-SD90 is the flagship of Panasonic’s single CMOS sensor (or 1MOS) camcorder range.
Headline features of this full-HD, MPEG-4 format camcorder include an image-stabilised 40x intelligent zoom. This boosts performance beyond the 21x optical range, with a 28mm wide-angle, f/1.8 maximum-aperture lens that proves useful for not only avoiding judder while pulling distant scenes closer, but also shoehorning landscapes and groups into frame while offering improved low-light capability.
The zoom action is smooth and silent, though the sounds of fingers operating the controls are picked up by the stereo microphone in quiet environs. The Panasonic HDC-SD90 is compatible with a 3D conversion lens (the VW-CTL1) via an adaptor ring.
The widescreen touch-screen LCD is large at 3in with 230k-dot resolution. Construction is the usual mix of sturdy plastic and metal detailing, and the Panasonic HDC-SD90 camcorder fits snugly into palm or jacket pocket. A chunky rechargeable battery clicks into place at the back and the lens is protected with an automatic slide-shut cover.
Powering up in just over a second, the Panasonic HDC-SD90 commits footage to removable SD card. Panasonic suggests the quality is beyond that normally defined by 1920x1080 pixel images thanks to a Crystal Engine processor.
A point-and-shoot iA (intelligent Auto) mode ably identifies what the user is attempting to shoot – using functions including face detection, scene selection and AF tracking – and adjusts the Panasonic HDC-SD90 camcorder’s recording parameters to keep the subject sharp.
A Smile Shot function prompts the Panasonic HDC-SD90 to automatically fire off a photo when it detects a smiling face as you’re filming.
Alternatively, the Panasonic HDC-SD90 can be set to shoot stills of up to 5-megapixels via a slider switch on its right-hand flank that, as well as video capture, also features the playback option.
There’s the option of using a card reader plus AV, HDMI and USB output ports. In short, here is a device comparable with the semi-enthusiast Canon in terms of quality, yet boasting a smaller form factor more in common with an entry-level camcorder.
The Panasonic HDC-SD90 is well built and has good ergonomics with an intuitive touchscreen control. It has a bright lens plus decent lens reach and feature set but is relatively expensive and clad in a plastic-y high gloss case.