Panasonic HDC-SD9 review: Panasonic HDC-SD9

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.2
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 7.0
  • Image quality: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Compact and lightweight; saturated colors.

The Bad Moderate to low-light videos look cloudy; some awkward design choices; smallish LCD with terrible color reproduction; awful bundled software.

The Bottom Line Despite its trio of CCDs, the video quality and performance of the Panasonic HDC-SD9 are a bit too inconsistent.

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Editor's note 5/6/08: I've revised the bottom line and software comments after revisiting the issue of video-editing problems. These do not affect the ratings, since I did not factor software problems into the original ratings.

With its eye-catching, compact body and relatively low price, the Panasonic HDC-SD9 seems to be quite an attractive buy for a flash-based AVCHD camcorder. At 11.7 ounces with battery and SD card and only 3.6 inches long, it's certainly one of the smallest and lightest full-size camcorders we've ever tested, and is pretty comfortable to shoot. The zoom switch feels responsive, and all the controls seem logically placed and fluid to operate. Many of the buttons, especially the face detection and Pre-rec (for 3-second pre-recording) are a tad small, but that's to be expected on a device this size.

As with other compact camcorders, only a few controls remain under your right thumb: zoom, photo, capture/playback/power, and recording start/stop.

All the rest of the controls sit in the LCD enclosure. The joystick is in an especially odd place which requires some getting used to; for instance, pressing the joystick towards you produces the same result as moving it to the right in a traditional orientation, while pressing it away will navigate to the left. I was relatively comfortable with this design, but our Lab tech disliked it.

However, Panasonic made a few irritating design choices, especially with regard to the battery. To remove it, you have to open the LCD cover; that's fine, as long as you don't use Quick Start mode, which turns the power on when you open the door. In that circumstance, when you open the LCD to remove the battery--as you must to charge it, since you can't charge the battery in-camera--the camcorder naturally turns on, and removing the battery at that point leaves the electronic lens cover open. Furthermore, to download the files to your computer you must plug in the AC adapter (a pretty common requirement), but since the connector is in the battery compartment you have to remove the battery to do so.

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Where to Buy

Panasonic HDC-SD9

Part Number: HDC-SD9 Released: Jan 9, 2008

MSRP: $899.95

See manufacturer website for availability.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jan 9, 2008
  • Optical Sensor Type 3CCD
  • Type built-in flash