A close size match for the JVC, and just within budget at £498.99, is the SD90, the flagship of Panasonic’s single CMOS sensor (or 1MOS) camcorder range.
Headline features of this Full HD, MPEG-4 format camcorder include an image-stabilised 40x intelligent zoom. This boosts performance beyond the basic 21x optical range, with a 28mm wide angle, f/1.8 maximum aperture lens that proves useful for not only avoiding judder while pulling distant scenes closer, but also shoehorning landscapes and groups into frame while offering improved low light capability.
The zoom action is smooth and silent, though the sounds of fingers operating the controls are picked up by the stereo microphone in quiet environs. The SD90 is compatible with a 3D conversion lens (the VW-CTL1) via an adaptor ring.
The widescreen touchscreen LCD is a large 3in with 230k dot resolution. Construction is the usual mix of sturdy plastic and metal detailing, and like the JVC the camcorder fits snugly into palm or jacket pocket. A chunky rechargeable battery clicks into place at the back and the lens is protected with an automatic slide-shut cover.
Powering up in just over a second, the SD90 commits footage to removable SD card. Panasonic suggests the quality is beyond that normally defined by 1,920 x 1,080 pixel images thanks to a Crystal Engine processor.
Full HD video shooting and intuitive function selection at your fingertips thanks to the SD90’s flip-out touch-screen LCD
A point-and-shoot iA (intelligent Auto) mode ably identifies what the user is attempting to shoot, using functions including face detection, scene selection and AF tracking, and adjusts the camcorder’s recording parameters to keep the subject sharp. A Smile Shot function prompts the SD90 to automatically fire off a photo when it detects a smiling face as you’re filming.
Alternatively, the device can be set to shoot stills of up to 5 megapixels via a slider switch on its right-hand flank that, as well as video capture, also features the playback option. There’s the option of using a card reader plus AV, HDMI and USB output ports.
In short, here is a device comparable with the semi-enthusiast Canon in terms of quality, yet boasting a smaller form factor more in common with an entry level camcorder.