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Panasonic pulled back the curtain on their latest flagship camcorder today—the HC-X900M—another evolutionary upgrade to the top end of their consumer lineup.
The HC-X900M replaces last year's HDC-TM900, with which it shares most of its specs. It’s built around three separate 1/4.1-inch backlit CMOS sensors, one for each RGB color channel (the so-called 3MOS system, though as we'd expect, there have been some tweaks to the setup).
It also captures 1080p video at 60 frames per second under the AVCHD 2.0 codec (with an option for 1080i recording as well). A 12x zoom range, 3D conversion lens support, a control ring, 32GB of built-in memory, and the general styling and aesthetics are all carried over from the previous generation.
Of course, it wouldn't be a proper replacement without some noteworthy upgrades. 1080/60p video looks great but a huge hassle to move and especially to edit, so the X900 supports in-camera down-conversion. Users can load out files at 1080/60i or even lower resolutions to speed up the transfer and editing process.
The LCD got a big upgrade as well. It’s an auto-stereoscopic (glasses-free 3D) display with an impressive 1,150,000 pixels of resolution on its 3.5-inch frame. In-camera 2D-to-3D up-conversion is included to make use of the display technology. It’s a gimmick, but won’t hurt the overall 2D video quality.
Optical image stabilization also gets an update. Dubbed Power O.I.S. Hybrid Plus, it now offers five axes of correction, accounting for roll this time around. Wind noise correction and microphone zoom have been reworked as well.
We’re eager to get this into our labs for some testing. The TM900 was a fantastic camcorder by any account, but we were a bit disappointed by its lack of innovation. On paper, the X900 offers a respectable helping of new features, but we’ll have to wait until we get it into our labs to see if Panasonic updated its video capabilities much.
The X900M will be available this spring for $1,099.
Official press release:
**PANASONIC’S NEW FULL HD 3MOS CAMCORDER EXCELS IN LOW-LIGHT SHOOTING AND PRODUCES NEAR PROFESSIONAL VIDEO AND AUDIO RECORD QUALITY WTH STUNNING COLOR REPRODUCTION*
The HC-X900M is Powered by Panasonic’s 3MOS System Pro, Complete with a LEICA Lens and a High-Speed Processor to Capture True-to-Life Videos
LAS VEGAS, NV (January 9, 2012) – Panasonic today announces the new full-High Definition (HD) HC-X900M camcorder, which can record 1920 x 1080, 60 progressive, and builds on the success of last year’s HDC-HS900 by adding the new 3MOS System Pro to help achieve dramatic increases in performance thanks to a re-engineering of all the core imaging components: the lens, sensor and engine. Panasonic’s 3MOS System Pro is a next-generation imaging system that powers the HC-X900M to produce bright, outstanding video even under dim lighting, while also minimizing noise. Plus, with professional-like features such as a manual ring, a 5.1-channel surround sound, an advanced Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S) system called Hybrid O.I.S. +, the HC-X900M is a feature-rich camcorder with endless capabilities.
For those looking to start exploring the third dimension in video, the HC-X900M can also shoot full-HD 3D (in the AVCHD 3D format) with the new optional conversion 3D lens, the VW-CLT2, which is smaller than last year's model (VW-CLT1) and has an increased brightness from F3.2 to F2.0. In addition, the new VW-CLT2 has 1.5x digital zooming.
“The Panasonic HC-X900M is the company’s top-of-the-line camcorder with so many important features that help it produce stunning, true-to-life videos, whether that means color accuracy, correct lighting, and with it’s full-HD 3D capabilities, it can even add a third dimension to truly bring the videos to life,” said Chris Rice, Senior Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Marketing Company of North America. “Panasonic has really improved the core components of the HC-X900M, from its lens to its processor to its engine to ensure that it can power full 1080/60p at a 28-Mbps bit rate, thus resulting in absolutely stunning video, but also capturing rich deep sound.”
Panasonic maximized the advanced technologies that it has accumulated over the years and succeeded in shifting the green MOS sensor of the red, green and blue MOS sensors by half a pixel, thus helping to achieve more life-like colors, detail and gradation. Thanks to the advanced 3MOS sensor’s unique pixel shift technology that runs at high speed and with superb accuracy, the HC-X900M further reduces noise by 40% when compared to last year’s HDC-HS900/TM900. The HC-X900M’s new Crystal Engine Pro II can achieve high-speed processing that is approximately equivalent to four times the pixel count of full-HD pixels, thus producing superb full-HD image quality, even in the most detailed images.
The HC-X900M features a bright F1.5, 12x optical zoom and 29.8mm wide-angle LEICA DICOMAR lens, meaning it allows for a wider-framed shot, which is convenient when shooting wide landscapes and large groups of people. The lens also features a new Nano Surface Coating Technology, which dramatically reduces ghosting and flaring. With an Octagon Iris Diaphragm, the user can apply a defocusing effect, so it is possible to shoot at a close distance from the subject while fitting both the subject and the surrounding area into the frame. This is beneficial so the voice of the subject is clearly recorded, but a full and wide frame is captured.
The HC-X900M features an improved O.I.S. system called, HYBRID O.I.S. +, which uses five-axis correction to help thoroughly suppress blurring all the way from wide-angle shots to powerful zoom shots – allowing for steady images over the entire zoom range. It even achieves superb effects when shooting while walking or otherwise moving, thanks to a function known as Active Mode. This lets the user capture crisp, clear images, without blurring, in nearly every shooting situation. In addition to the HYBRID O.I.S. + system, the HC-X900M provides even more powerful stabilization correction with O.I.S. Lock. By pressing the O.I.S. Lock button on the LCD monitor, the blur detection sensitivity is maximized and camera movements are detected and corrected without image degradation. O.I.S. Lock is ideal for applications like bird watching, which call for zooming at a fixed angle.
The Panasonic HC-HX900M features a manual ring for easy and convenient fingertip-control of commonly-used settings, like focus, zoom, exposure, shutter speed and white balance. Using the ring is now much more intuitive, comfortable, and user-friendly for settings that are often adjusted as opposed to accessing through the menu screen every time one of those features need to be changed. Plus, with manual operation, the HC-HX900M gives the user freedom to craft creative and expressive videos with ease. For those beginner users looking for a more intuitive setting, the HC-X900M also includes the iA function which automatically selects the most suitable shooting mode. Panasonic’s iA consists of six functions: Face Recognition, the new HYBRID O.I.S. +, AF/AE Tracking, Intelligent Scene Selector, Face Detection and
Intelligent Contrast Control.
When the HC-X900M has the optional VW-CLT2 3D Conversion Lens attached, it can record full HD 3D images with the MVC (Multiview Video Coding) recording system of the AVCHD 3D format. During 3D recording, the right-eye and left-eye images are both recorded and played in Full-HD quality, using the Frame Sequential Method to produce FULL HD 3D images, which
results in a lifelike ambience. The HC-X900M is equipped with a 1,150,000-dot 8.8-cm/3.5-inch LCD that allows 3D viewing without the need for special eyewear, so 3D images can be viewed on the spot. Naturally, the display can also be switched between 2D and 3D. And intuitive touch operation enables extremely easy control on the LCD. The Touch Zoom function allows the user to simply touch the LCD to activate slow zooming. The LCD also supports Touch Shutter, which automatically focuses and takes a still photo when the user touches the subject on the screen.
Pricing and 2012 availability will be announced approximately 30 days prior to shipping. The Panasonic HC-X900M will be available in black. For more information, and live coverage on January 10-11 from Panasonic at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show, please visit www.panasonic.com/CES. Plus, follow Panasonic’s CES activities on Twitter @PanasonicEvents and join the conversations.*