- 60GB of inbuilt memory, lightweight design, stunning 'full HD' video resolution, solid still images mode
- No 3.5mm microphone or headphone jacks, directional stick requires two-handed operation, occasional noise issues
The HDC-HS9 is arguably the best high-definition camcorder in its price range; with the possible exception of its stablemate; the HDC-SD9. For our money, the HDC-HS9 comes out slightly on top due to its 60GB hard drive. Highly recommended.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
The HDC-HS9 is Panasonic's second flagship high-def camcorder for 2008; launching alongside the nearly identical-sounding HDC-SD9. (A note to store owners: expect some confused customers in your foreseeable future.) Unlike its SDHC-flavoured sibling, the HDC-HS9 comes equipped with its own 60GB hard drive, in addition to an SDHC card slot. This makes it a versatile choice for savvy users who like to mix and match their media, depending on the situation at hand.
With consumers' wallets moving steadily away from disc-based camcorders, the HDC-HS9 can be viewed as a replacement for Panasonic's hybrid HDC-SX5, a similar device that recorded footage to DVD. As you would expect from a top tier consumer-level camcorder, the HDC-SD9 bristles with an assortment of premium bells-and-whistles; not the least of which is its support for 'full' 1080p HD. With three 1/6-inch CCD sensors, a LEICA DICOMAR 10x optical zoom lens and Panasonic's excellent O.I.S image stabiliser; the HS9 is capable of producing incredible looking video, even if you've never picked up a camcorder before. Other noteworthy features include a high-speed burst mode for still photos, Face Detection (which automatically adjusts the exposure to present faces in the best possible light), and Intelligent Shooting Guide.
Intelligent Shooting Guide is a new shooting mode aimed squarely at entry-level users. It's basically a built-in camera coach which lets you know when you're doing something wrong. To make things even easier, the mode also fires up the relevant submenu when it makes a suggestion, saving you the trouble of having to hunt it down yourself. During testing however, we found its advice to be a bit hit and miss. At times it chastised us for panning too quickly, while on other occasions it happily allowed us to vigorously shake the camera like a misbehaving cat. Nevertheless, it remains a unique and interesting selling point that is sure to be 'borrowed' by competing brands in the future.
When it comes to video quality, the HS9 is a difficult camcorder to fault. The ability to record footage in 'full' 1080p HD is its main claim to fame, with most other high-def cameras only offering a maximum resolution of 1080i or 720p. Dubbed '25P Cinema Mode', this advanced recording option offers rich, true-to-life colours that mimic the feel of celluloid; handy if you're an aspiring Tropfest finalist. During our testing, it gave a nigh-on flawless performance, exhibiting ultra-vibrant images enhanced with razor sharp detail. When we moved the camcorder to a darker environment, the spike in noise levels was immediately obvious; though this is a common issue that we have yet to see a consumer-level camcorder overcome. All up, we were hugely impressed with the quality of our output, including still images which were suitable for printing.
In terms of its specifications, the HS9 is almost identical to the SD9, with the exception of its built-in hard drive. This naturally makes for a significantly bulkier unit, yet it is still surprisingly lightweight when compared to other HDD models (such as the Sony HDR-SR7E). Combined with a 16GB memory card, the HDC-HS9 can record up to 30 hours of video in one hit. If you're the type of user who shoots everything that crosses your path, the HS9's huge storage capacity should definitely prove very handy.
Like the rest of Panasonic's new camcorder range, the HS9 sports a directional stick on the inner recess of the LCD (as opposed to a more traditional rear-mounted placement). There are pros and cons to this arrangement. On the one hand, the stick's close proximity to the menu screen feels more intuitive, but on the other hand, you need to make your selections using both, er, hands. This can be especially problematic when adjusting manual settings, such as exposure, focus or aperture, which requires you to constantly nudge the stick around. Otherwise, we found the overall interface to be quite user-friendly, with an intelligent menu arrangement complemented by responsive controls.
For your audio requirements, the HS9 comes equipped with a 5.1 channel sound system which can be downgraded to Dolby Digital 2-channel stereo if your system doesn't support surround sound. Unfortunately, the HS9 lacks an external microphone port or headphone jack, which will limit your abilities to record crystal clear audio. This is a common omission in consumer-level camcorders, yet we still think that it's something Panasonic could have squeezed in. (The Samsung VP-HMX10 (XSA), for example, managed to include this option despite being almost $800 cheaper.) Thankfully, the inbuilt microphone does a good job of capturing quality audio; provided you aren't filming on an excessively windy day.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Huawei Mate 9
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
Acer Swift 7
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Surface Pro 4
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- AT&T will acquire Time Warner for US$85.4b in content play
- Facebook adds Apple TV and Chromecast support as video push ramps up
- Remocam review: This security camera can control your home appliances
- Logitech's C922 webcam is the revered C920's vastly upgraded successor
- Jump the line for the newest Chromecast features with Google's new preview program
GGG Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTJunior Software Developer - SASACT
- FTLinux Systems EngineerQLD
- CCData Analyst - AutoHaulWA
- CCUnix Systems AdministratorNSW
- TPAgile CoachNSW
- CCFinance Analyst/ Project SpecialistVIC
- CCAgile CoachNSW
- CCTest Automation EngineerVIC
- FTSenior Java Developers (Several positions available)QLD
- TPMobile DeveloperWA
- TPBusiness Project ManagerNSW
- TPIT Project Officer - TMRQLD
- CCWicked Front-End DeveloperQLD
- CCService Designer (CX)NSW
- CCFront-End DeveloperQLD
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD
- TPPHP DeveloperVIC
- CCSME in Openstack, AWSNSW
- FTSolutions Software DeveloperVIC
- TPBusiness AnalystVIC
- TPSharePoint AnalystQLD
- TPTechnical Business Analyst - DigitalQLD
- FTDynamics AX Functional Consultant (Sales & Marketing Modules)WA
- FTSenior .Net DeveloperVIC
- FTJava Developer - Fixed Term ContractQLD