Acclaimed for its three-CCD sensor set-up, Panasonic's HDC-SD9 is half the size of competing camcorders – due in part to its favouring of SD storage.

Indeed, Panasonic recently launched a 32GB SDHC card. The Panasonic HDC-SD9 is also fast to respond. Slot the lozenge-shaped battery pack into the opening at its rear, flip open the LCD screen, slide your fingers under the side strap and you're ready to shoot in an instant.

To avoid image judder at the extremities of the Panasonic HDC-SD9's 10x optical zoom range, the 25 frames per second (fps) progressive recording Panasonic handily boasts built-in optical image stabilisation that counterbalances hand wobble.

An Intelligent Shooting Guide also warns new users when light is too low or if they're panning through a shot too quickly. For home-cinema buffs, the Panasonic HDC-SD9 also has a 5.1 Surround Sound via a directional microphone that zooms in on your subject and cuts out background noise, plus an HDMI output.

When taking stills on the Panasonic HDC-SD9, you'll notice its helpful built-in face detection. Its high-quality Leica lens is also noteworthy.

The Panasonic HDC-SD9's exclusive Digital Cinema colour function claims to ape Hollywood's lush cinematic hues. When played back on xv colour-compatible TVs (Panasonic's own Viera range) this provides access
to a wider colour range than conventionally recorded images. Flip out the LCD and you're ready to shoot immediately (0.6 seconds).

The Panasonic HDC-SD9's performance in low light isn't as good as other cameras in this range, while overall picture quality's not as sharp. Auto white balance performance is also variable, and its audio is not quite as 'full' sounding as we'd like.


While you must sacrifice a little quality to get a camcorder as diminutive as the Panasonic HDC-SD9, given the ease of use and responsiveness, many will may feel it's a sacrifice worth making.