Panasonic HDC-TM900 review
An incremental improvement to an already excellent product; it takes over as our A List camcorder of choice
Review Date: 8 Feb 2011
Reviewed By: Jonathan Bray
Price when reviewed: £646 (£775 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
We reviewed the TM900’s predecessor, the TM700, a year ago, and it’s remained at the top of the A List ever since. On the face of it, the TM900 has its work cut out to match that success, with very little in the way of major upgrades.
Indeed, scrutinize the specifications and you’ll struggle to tell the difference. The lens offers the same optical zoom range (12x), wide angle of 35mm, and maximum aperture (f1.5) as before. The shooting mode is no different, topping out at 1080/50p for movies and 14.2 megapixels for stills, and motion is captured using three 1/4.1in, 3.05-megapixel CMOS sensors. 5.1 audio is recorded via a top-mounted zoom microphone.
On the right-hand side, under a plastic flap, an accessory shoe allows you to attach accessories, and under another little door lie the 3.5mm microphone and headphone sockets. There’s 32GB of built-in storage for about 2hrs 45mins of footage at the top resolution, plus an SDXC slot for adding up to 64GB more.
Physically, there are some small differences: the TM900 is a few millimetres longer and a fraction more slender; the Mode switch is now a slider instead of a rotary switch (we preferred the old one); and there are subtle touches to make it look a little different.
But when you get to the screen you’ll notice a more significant change. The old 3in touchscreen has been upgraded to a much nicer 3.5in model, with double the resolution at 460.8kpixels. Play a Full HD clip back and it looks simply sumptuous: smooth, crisp and gloriously colourful.
Another headline is compatibility with Panasonic’s new £281 3D conversion lens - the VW-CLT1 - which screws directly onto the front of the camera. Look really closely at the specifications and you’ll also discover that the TM900 now offers hybrid image stabilisation, combining optical and electrical modes for extra smoothness when the moment requires it. It’s a worthwhile upgrade, even though the TM700’s optimisation wasn’t bad in the first place.
In terms of its core features, though, this is exactly the same camera as before. That’s not a bad thing: we love the manual controls on the TM900, which let you adjust focus, iris, shutter speed and white balance with a ring around the front of the lens. You can switch between those settings with the touch of a button that falls nicely under your left thumb.
We really love the quality this camera is capable of producing. Noise is exceptionally well controlled in dimly lit conditions: in PC Pro’s light-starved podcast studio, we noticed barely any grain or colour noise, however hard we looked. Colour accuracy is stupendous, autofocus is quick and reliable, and the automatic exposure works brilliantly in most circumstances, avoiding overblown highlights without losing detail in darker areas of images.
The Panasonic TM900 is a fantastic camcorder. Its quality is unsurpassed, it’s a dream to use and the new screen and 3D capability are the icing on the cake. The TM700 will remain available for a while, and it costs slightly less too, but it’s hard to ignore the appeal of Panasonic’s latest flagship. It does just enough to take over at the top of the A List.
Author: Jonathan Bray
how about vs a DSLR
I am interested in buying a new Camcorder for 1080p video.
However do I buy a dedicated camcorder such as this or say a canon 550d/600d
I was wondering what the image quality difference is like. (I dont mind the manual focus/zoom)
Just interested in raw image quality especially in not so wel lit conditions.
Any thoughts Jon?
By jamieostrich on 9 Feb 2011
So did you like it or not? :)
By flyingbadger on 9 Feb 2011
Review date: 8th Feb (2 days ago)
Price when reviewed: £646 (£775 inc VAT)
Best deals: £959.94
By orfordi on 10 Feb 2011
hola soy de Ecuador y estoy interesado en compra la Panasonic HDC-TM900 con un lente de 3d mi telefono celular es 093558316 no hablo ingles.....
hello I'm from Ecuador and I am interested in buying the Panasonic HDC-TM900 with a 3D lens is my cell phone I do not speak English 093558316
By Eleno on 16 Oct 2011
- Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet sales halted over faulty charger
- Microsoft slashes custom XP support price
- Amazon Phone: does anyone want a 3D handset?
- Virgin email fiasco hits thousands of users
- Chrome Remote Desktop now available on Android
- Google posts "average quarter" with slow growth
- What's on this week's PC Pro podcast?
- BBC iPlayer lets Android devices download shows
- Google's Project Ara modular phone arrives in January
- Hackers harvest LaCie card data for a full year
- Windows 8.1 Update: an abject surrender
- The insane economics of Sky Now TV
- No such thing as a free app... so pay up if you want quality
- Time to outlaw crapware-laden installers
- Windows Phone 8.1 video: hands-on
- Office for iPad: key information
- Why every PC buyer owes Richard Durkin a debt of gratitude
- HTC One M8 vs Samsung Galaxy S5: 2014's big-hitters compared
- Windows XP end of life: key information
- Cut out the broadband jargon? What jargon?
- The great iPhone ripoff and how it works
- Heartbleed: what you need to know and do
- Data recovery: inside the clean room
- Best tablet PCs to buy in 2014
- How much RAM do you really need?
- News of the weird: the strangest ever tech stories
- Five hyped technologies: disruptive or not?
- Piracy's dying: why we're all going straight
- Office: should you buy it, rent it - or dump it?
- Make the most of your mobile data
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?
- The best Android antivirus apps for 2014
- Headings vs headers: how to use both in Word
- Windows Server 2012 R2: how the Datacenter edition could change SMBs