Panasonic HDC-HS9 review

£646
Price when reviewed

The Panasonic took the top spot in our Labs this month by a clear margin, but it was a somewhat stealthy contender. Its plain looks do a good job of hiding a great set of features and the ability to record extremely high-quality footage, proving the adage that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Its unusual shape seems to have been dictated entirely by its components, rather than by any attempt at aesthetic design, and the result is a chassis which looks like it has been created as an afterthought. This is barely disguised by the use of several different shades of grey, silver and black in its finish.

If you can look past this, however, this is a camcorder with an awful lot to offer. It emerged near the top of all our quality tests, winning some outright, partly because of the three separate 1/6in CCD sensors, each of which is used to capture one primary colour. This is a distinct advantage in low-light conditions, and the Panasonic’s colour reproduction in dark environments was beaten only by the large single 1/2.7in sensor in the Canon HG10.

No other camera matched the effectiveness of the Panasonic’s image stabilisation feature, however, which eliminated much of the shaking motion in our test without distorting or shrinking the video. This makes it capable of recording at high zoom levels without a tripod, capturing viewable footage when otherwise highly capable cameras, such as the HF10, lose some clarity. Audio quality was also excellent, with the 5.1 microphone capturing voices clearly without the need for an external unit.

The other impressive feature is its cavernous 60GB hard disk – enough space to record more than a day of Full HD video. This, along with the sheer quality of the videos it took, was enough to secure it our overall award, even though it was just £20 shy of the most expensive camera on test.

Its looks may not be a particularly strong point, but it’s what lies inside the HDC-HS9 that makes a lasting impression. It might come in as one of the most expensive cameras in our Labs this month, but its combination of quality, features and storage make it well worth the extra cash.

Specifications

Camcorder HD standard 1080p
Camcorder maximum video resolution 1920 x 1080
Camera megapixel rating 2.1MP
Camcorder recording format AVCHD
Accessory shoe? no
Camera optical zoom range 10.0x
Camera optical image stabilisation yes
Electronic image stabilisation? no
Screen size 2.7in
Touchscreen no
Viewfinder? no
Built-in flash? yes
Light? no
Number of sensors 3

Audio

Internal mic type 5.1
External mic socket? no
Quoted battery life 110mins

Dimensions

Dimensions width 74
Dimensions depth 118
Dimensions height 69
Dimensions 74 x 118 x 69mm (WDH)
Weight 444g

Storage

Integrated memory 60GB
Camcorder internal storage type Hard disk
Memory card support SD/SDHC Card

Outputs

Composite video output? yes
Component video output? yes

Accessories

Remote control? yes
Dock? no

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