The HC-X900M carries a suggested retail price of $1,199 and is the top-of-the line model for Panasonic in 2012 (at least as of this writing). Full specifications for the X900M can be found here.
Panasonic HC-X900M Video Features
The HC-X900M uses the AVCHD Progressive format for 1920 1080/60p high definition recording. This newer AVCHD standard allows the camcorder to shoot progressive, not interlaced, 1080 video which tends to result in a smoother video, particularly when shooting fast-moving subjects. It supports 28Mbps recording. You can also drop the bit rate to 17Mbps, 13Mbps, 9Mbps or 5Mbps to save memory. Recording in the iFrame format (at 960 x 540) is also. The HC-X900M uses Pansonic's 3MOS system of three, 3-megapixel 1/4.1-inch CMOS image sensors. The three sensor system divides incoming colors into three different colors (red, green and blue) and helps the sensor collect more light than single chip systems.
The camcorder uses Panasonic's "Intelligent Auto" mode for automatically matching scene modes such as portrait, sunset, scenery, forest and macro mode, to shooting environments. The mode employs various technologies - including image stabilization, face detection, an intelligent scene-selector and contrast control to optimize your exposure.
The X900M also offers an updated video processing engine, dubbed Crystal Engine PRO. According to Panasonic, the new engine helps reduce the amount of video noise (the grain that pops up when shooting in low light) by up to 40 percent compared to the earlier generation processor. It also uses an "intelligent resolution" technology which helps the camcorder identify edges in a frame to help sharpen the video.
You'll find a 12x optical wide-angle zoom lens on the VC10. Unlike less expensive models, Panasonic uses a Leica Dicomar lens with nano surface coating, which the company claims cuts down on flare which can occur when shooting bright objects. This optical zoom lens is joined by a 23x "intelligent zoom," which can enhance the magnification of your footage by using a smaller portion of the sensor without losing image resolution. Finally, there's a 400xdigital zoom which will degrade resolution when in use.
The lens employs a new Power Optical Image Stabilization Hybrid-plus (O.I.S.) system for keeping your footage relatively shake-free. The image stabilization technology corrects for blur across five axis and also offers a lock button, which is ideal when you're stationary and want to get the sharpest video possible.
It has an automatic lens cover as well, which is very convenient.
The X900M also supports 3D video recording through a 3D conversion lens (sold separately). The lens mounts to the front of the camcorder when you're ready to shoot 3D. According to Panasonic, the conversion lens (model number VW-CLT2) has been slimmed down in 2012, making it lighter.
Memory and Display
The X900M packs 32GB of internal flash memory in addition to a SDHX memory card slot. There is also a relay recording function, which enables you to automatically switch recording formats when one memory fills up.
The HC-X900M offers a 3.5-inch touch screen LCD display with a 1,152,000 dot resolution. It supports touch zoom, which (as you'd expect) lets you use the camcorder's zoom by pressing the LCD display. There's also a touch shutter, which lets you focus and snap a photo of any subject that you touch on screen. There is also an electronic viewfinder for a second video framing option.
Design-wise, the HC-X900M sports a fairly angular shape that (to this eye at least) looks pretty sharp. Thanks to the use of flash memory you'll still enjoy a light weight body at a bit over .6 pounds when battery and SD card are included (slightly heavier than the non-internal memory packing V500). The HC-X900M measures in at 2.5x 2.6 x 5.3 inches and features a zoom lever and photo shutter on the top of the camcorder and a record shutter located on the side, next to the camcorder's battery. Buttons for O.I.S. and switching between manual and intelligent Auto are also available on the top-side of the X900M. Open the display and you'll find buttons video playback, scrolling and info, plus the camcorder's ports: component, HDMI, USB and AV. The display itself is button-free, so the touch-screen will do most of the heavy lifting here.
Aesthetically, the HC-X900M is available in a black with silver accents.
The HC-X900M is outfitted with face detection a pre-record function which records three seconds worth of video before you hit the shutter. The X900M also offers an auto ground-directional standby mode, which detects if the camcorder is being held in an unusual position (say, upside down) and automatically stops recording. A low light/color night recording mode preserves colors even in dim lighting.
As far as scene modes go, you'll find sports, portrait, low light, spot light, snow, beach, sunset, fireworks, night scenery, night portrait and soft skin mode. You can snap 6-megapixel photos while recording video on the X900M. Still photos can also be isolated from video footage played back on the camcorder and saved as a separate file. There is a video light and a flash as well to aid in low-light shooting.
The X900M has plenty of manual controls for those looking to get creative, including manual focus and iris control adjustable through a ring surrounding the lens barrel.
As far as the camcorder's audio recording capabilities go, there is a 5.1 channel surround sound microphone with a zoom microphone feature that focuses audio collection forward on a subject as you use the optical zoom. There is a microphone input and an accessory shoe as well, given you greater flexibility for adding extra mics or flashes as well.
The HC-X900M offers a built-in HDMI output for connecting the camera although the cable is not included. You can also connect to a PC via USB cable.
At $1,199, the HC-X900M is geared for those who take their video-taking seriously. With plenty of manual controls, a high-resolution image sensor, the ability to add a 3D conversion lens and plenty of internal memory it's certainly worth a close look for those with the means.