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The HDC-TM900 High Definition PAL Camcorder is a high-end HD offering from Panasonic. Right off the bat a few of the camera's most desirable features include: 1920 x 1080 50p/25p recording, a 32GB internal flash memory, an SD memory card slot, the option to record in 3D, and a quality image sensor system. These features alone give you detailed, beautiful images, generous recording space, and the ability to shoot fun and unique movies in 3D with an optional lens.
Let's take a closer look at the 3MOS system and 1080/50p recording. Panasonic's proprietary '3MOS' is a 3-sensor CMOS chip that adds up to 9.15MP (3 x 3.05MP). These sensors work together with another Panasonic technology, Crystal Engine PRO. This engine is a fast processor which writes those gigantic HD files to the HDD or SD card quickly and efficiently. It also allows for high-res zooming when exceeding the optical range. In addition, the engine works to reduce image noise, rendering beautiful, life-like images. These two work together to produce 1080/50p footage. The "p" means progressive; when recording in a progressive frame rate the footage captured is more vibrant and detailed than even "i" (interlaced) HD recording. In the world of consumer camcorders, 1080p is the gold standard.
Of course the sensor and engine wouldn't be able to do their jobs without a high-quality lens. The TM900 comes with a 35mm Leica Dicomar lens that sports a 3.45-41.4mm focal length, 12x optical zoom range, 46mm filter diameter, and a 1.5-2.8 aperture. The lens can zoom up to 20x using the Intelligent Zoom, and features a manual ring for more control and creativity with your shooting. Another way the camera works to create clean video is with HYBRID O.I.S. (optical image stabilization). This O.I.S. keeps your shots steady when hand-holding the camera. It reduces the effects of hand-shake for an easy-to-view, clean shot.
Other useful tools include a very generous 3.5" touchscreen LCD. This screen provides you with options like "Touch Zoom" and "Touch Shutter." The zoom function allows you to zoom in by dragging your finger across the LCD. The shutter function enables instant touch focus on a particular subject in the frame, with the option to switch to still-image shooting. The camera also features 5.1 channel Dolby Surround Sound recording, and 5 built-in electret condenser microphones. You can capture true Surround Sound that targets your subject, while minimizing wind and extraneous sounds.
In addition to such useful features, the TM900 gives you the option of recording in 3D. Using the optional VW-CLT1 conversion lens from Panasonic, you can capture three-dimensional footage. Your 3D videos can then be played back on any 3D TV compatible with the side-by-side method. Giving the camera a 3rd identity would be its ability to capture up to 14.2MP still images. A dedicated iA mode will automatically switch to one of five scene modes for optimized capture.
The TM900 also features numerous shooting controls, such as Face Detection and Intelligent Auto, which help take the guesswork out of video recording. These controls allow you to make recording simple, so you can focus on the moment and not figuring out the correct settings. Other notable features include microphone and headphone connections, an extendable electronic viewfinder, and a cold shoe for mounting optional accessories. And when it comes time to share all those moments you've captured, the TM900 provides you with such options as editing software that lets you upload to the Web, to a fun in-camera playback feature.
Advanced 3MOS System
The Advanced 3MOS System records beautifully natural images with powerful colors and detailed rendering in both bright and dark scenes. The Noise Reduction technology that goes to work when shooting in dim lighting has evolved even further in 2011 models, allowing them to reduce noise by approximately 45% compared to previous Panasonic models. The Advanced 3MOS System, which is comprised of the 3MOS Sensor that captures images without color loss, the Leica Dicomar Lens that excels with its large, bright aperture, and the Crystal Engine PRO that increases image resolution, produces colorful, bright, beautiful images in Full-HD quality.
The 900 Series and SD800 employ the 3MOS Sensor, with its three-sensor configuration. This provides a resolution of 7.59 million effective motion image pixels (2.53 million x 3). The 3MOS Sensor splits the light information captured by the lens into the three primary colors--red, green and blue--and processes each color with its own individual sensor. This reduces light loss compared to the 1MOS sensor, and renders colors, details and gradation all with intricate detail and natural beauty. This superb color reproduction maximizes the inherent quality of progressive images.
With its transfer rate of 28 Mbps, 1080/50p recording (Full-HD, 1920 x 1080, 50 progressive recording) conveys about twice the information of 1080i (interlace) recording. Whereas interlacing requires two images to produce a complete picture, the progressive method records a single image as a complete picture. Plus, the 50 Progressive Recording of the 900 Series produces 50 images per second. This extremely dense image information creates intricate detail and silky smooth motion. Even when subjects move quickly, afterimages are minimized to create more natural images. The progressive method is most effective when shooting designs where more patterns tend to occur, or when capturing scenes during sports events where the subjects are intensely moving around. Also, the recorded images displayed clearly even when they are made into still images, so it is possible to preserve stunning photos when clipping them from videos.
Leica Dicomar Lens
The 900 Series and SD800 use Leica Dicomar lenses, which are renowned for their ability to render sharp images and excellent shading. They also suppress ghosting, flare, and distortion at the image edges. Even in strong sunlight, these superb lenses maintain high contrast and resolution. A bright new F1.5-2.8 lens with a 46mm filter diameter has been created for the 900 Series and SD800. Efficient light collection allows the new lens to capture bright, clear images even in dim lighting or at high shutter speeds. This high-end lens brings out all the beauty of Full-HD images.
Intelligent 20x Zoom and HYBRID O.I.S.
The 900 Series features an Intelligent Zoom function that goes all the way up to 20x. When using Intelligent Zoom, Intelligent Resolution technology lets you shoot at high zoom rates while preserving the image resolution. You get sharp images of highly detailed objects--without the blurry edges. Plus, the 900 Series and SD800 are equipped with HYBRID O.I.S, an image stabilization system that corrects hand-shake blurring by combining the action of its hybrid optical and electrical image stabilization systems. Even when zooming, where hand-shake often occurs, both optical and electrical hand-shake correction make it possible to record beautiful images with approximately 2 times the hand-shake suppressing effect as conventional models.
O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) Lock
The image-stabilizing effect is increased by pressing and holding the O.I.S. Lock indication on the LCD screen, which maximizes the blur detection sensitivity. This is great for when you want to zoom at a fixed angle, like for bird watching.
Crystal Engine PRO
The Crystal Engine PRO instantly processes the huge amount of data that goes into Full-HD images, and further enhances Full-HD quality. It produces smooth, high-resolution zoom shots even when the range exceeds the limit for optical zooming. Crystal Engine PRO clearly delineates even the tiniest details of your subject, with extremely natural beauty. In addition, its Noise Reduction (NR) technology has been completely redesigned. The low-frequency noise that occurs when recording in dim lighting has been further minimized. Compared to previous Panasonic models, noise has been reduced by approximately 45%. And Intelligent Resolution Technology ensures sharp and crisp pictures, resulting in bright and beautifully colored motion images.
Intelligent Resolution Technology
The Intelligent Resolution Technology incorporated in the new Crystal Engine PRO uses edge detection technology to confirm the edges of objects within the image, then emphasizes the edges for optimal clarity. For example, it brings crisp definition to patterns and the outlines of objects like flowers. Conversely, it reduces noise and enhances the natural smoothness of parts without edges, like the sky. The increased sharpness is especially effective for images with delicate details. This highly advanced technology maximizes the beauty of Full-HD images.
Intelligent 20x Zoom and HYBRID O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer)
The 900 Series and SD800 feature an Intelligent Zoom function that goes all the way up to 20x. When using Intelligent Zoom, Intelligent Resolution technology lets you shoot at high zoom rates while preserving the image resolution. You get sharp images of highly detailed objects - without the blurry edges. Plus, the 900 Series and SD800 are equipped with HYBRID O.I.S, an image stabilization system that corrects hand-shake blurring by combining the action of its hybrid optical and electrical image stabilization systems. Even when zooming, where hand-shake often occurs, both optical and electrical hand-shake correction make it possible to record beautiful images with approximately 2 times the hand-shake suppressing effect as conventional models.
35mm Wide Angle Lens
The 35mm wide-angle lens on the 900 Series and SD800 fit more people and more of the background into the frame than a conventional lens. This is especially handy when you want to take a group photo in a small room.
5.1 Channel Surround Sound System & Zoom Mic
The 900 Series is equipped with five electret condenser microphones. The center mic helps capture the sound source and distance accurately, so you get a more 3-dimensional effect. The Zoom Mic function improves noise-reducing performance and handles higher zooming power, allowing you to clearly capture target sounds. You get a realistic sound space that's a perfect match with the true-to-life HD images.
Wide mode: Picks up audio from all directions to reproduce a natural, life-like sound field
Zoom mode: In Zoom mode the microphones are linked to the lens action. When you zoom in on a subject, the microphones focus on the sound in that same direction.
Focus mode: With the five highly directional microphones, this mode enables the microphones to focus on sounds coming from right in front of you, even when the lens is not zooming.
Wind Noise Canceller: The technology of the previous Wind Cut function has evolved to form the Wind Noise Canceller. The new function automatically detects and suppresses only wind noise, to give you natural sounds with lifelike ambience. Also, unlike the previous Wind Cut function, which switched to monaural recording, the Wind Noise Canceller enables stereo recording. This maintains natural sounds when shooting outdoors.
Bass Setting: You can adjust the level of low-frequency sound that is included in the audio track while shooting.
Digital Cinema Mode (25p)
Progressive 1080/25p PAL
Set the HD camcorder to Digital Cinema mode to shoot in the progressive 1080/25p format. Progressive scanning captures clear, vibrant images with intricate detail. You also get faithful images with an appealing film-like quality.
Digital Cinema Color with VIERA
Selecting the Digital Cinema Color mode makes it possible to shoot film-like images that are ideally suited to the Digital Cinema Color of VIERA plasma TVs. Colors recorded in this mode look richer than those recorded using the conventional Panasonic standard. For example, the subtle shades of red and gold in flowers, and the greens of leafy trees are remarkably true to life.
Still Picture Recording at 14.2MP
The still picture recording mode lets you shoot with a maximum resolution of 14.2MP. You can also simultaneously record still images and video at 13.3MP.
You can shoot macro close-ups while maintaining a distance of 70cm from your subject. In addition, using the zoom at full magnification makes it much easier to capture extreme close-ups without your body or camera casting a shadow on the subject and while keeping the background in soft focus.
Automatically selects the most suitable shutter speed and aperture for the shooting location and situation.
Scene modes: Sports, Portrait, Low Light (motion image only), Spot Light, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Scenery, Night Scenery, Night Portrait (still image only)
Soft Skin Mode
When this function detects skin tones, it softens the focus in that area. This has a skin beautifying effect, which makes wrinkles and lines appear less noticeable. When turned on, this function makes blemishes and moles look less conspicuous, while preserving resolution in areas of the picture outside of the skin.
3D Image Recording
When the optional VW-CLT1 3D Conversion Lens is attached, the 900 Series and SD800 produce an effect called visual disparity. Right and left images are captured simultaneously by the two lenses, and recorded using the side-by-side method. To play back 3D videos, simply insert an SD Memory Card in the slot of a Panasonic VIERA 3DTV. Or you can use an HDMI mini cable to connect the camcorder to a VIERA 3DTV or another 3D TV that is compatible with the side-by-side method.
3.5" Wide LCD with Intuitive Touch Operation
The easy-to-view 8.8cm/3.5" wide LCD screen allows intuitive fingertip touch operation. When shooting, you can use Touch Zoom to instantly zoom in and out by simply touching your fingertips, and Touch Shutter to automatically focus when shooting still images by simply touching the subject on the screen. For playback, you can also change thumbnail pages by sliding a fingertip across the screen. You get smooth, intuitive operation and don't have to take your eyes off of the LCD screen.
iA (Intelligent Auto)
This powerful function senses the shooting conditions and automatically makes the settings and activates functions that will deliver optimal results. iA does the bothersome settings for you and makes it easy to capture beautiful, well-focused images.
The Face Recognition function recognizes the faces of registered subjects, and automatically optimizes the focus and exposure for those special people. It continues to track the subject as he or she moves anywhere within the LCD frame, making it ideal for video shooting. It is extremely useful for capturing someone's face in a group. Names can also be registered and displayed on the LCD while shooting. A total of six people can be registered, and the names of up to three people at a time can be displayed in the shooting frame.
Touch the LCD screen to indicate the subject, such as a person or an animal that you want to focus on, and let AF/AE Tracking do the rest. The camera locks on the subject and follows it around, keeping it in sharp focus and properly exposed. It keeps tracking even if the subject turns to the side. This advanced function makes it easy to get a continually clear, beautiful shot of the subject in the scene you care most about.
Intelligent Scene Selector
The Intelligent Scene Selector function analyzes the shooting situation and automatically switches the camcorder to the suitable scene mode that will give you optimal results.
Portrait: This mode captures faces beautifully. With Soft Skin mode, complexions are automatically enhanced to make faces attractive.
Scenery: This mode is ideal for shooting wide landscapes and sweeping vistas, such as at the ocean or in the mountains. It balances the exposure over the entire frame to prevent brighter parts of the image, such as the sky, from being washed out or having blown highlights.
Spotlight: The camcorder automatically uses this mode for scenes with particularly strong contrast, such as when you're shooting a spot lit area on a darkened stage. It captures the well-lit subject perfectly and prevents washed-out areas.
Low Light: In dim lighting, the camcorder automatically switches to a slower shutter speed so that images across the entire frame are bright and easy to see.
Face Detection automatically senses the ambient lighting and adjusts the exposure accordingly, so faces are bright and easy to see. The focus also prioritizes the faces, and skin tones are smoothed. Faces in the center of the frame serve as the reference for adjustments, but the function can detect up to 15 faces at once.
Intelligent Contrast Control
Intelligent Contrast Control detects the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure accordingly, helping to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. You can capture natural looking, highly nuanced images with proper contrast.
Special iA Mode for Still Images
The iA function is active even when the camera is in still-image mode. When the Intelligent Scene Selector detects the shooting situation, it automatically switches to one of the five Scene modes for still-image shooting, and optimizes the settings for the still image
Sports, Portrait, Spot Light, Snow, Beach, Sunset, Fireworks, Scenery, Night Scenery, Night Portrait, Macro.
Handy Functions and Interfaces
You can enjoy more professional shooting with these handy functions:
Microphone: There is a mic input terminal on the side of the camcorder. Plug in an external mic (optional) if desired.
Accessory Shoe: Optional accessories can be attached here to increase shooting versatility.
The manual ring gives you easy, fingertip control over the focus, zoom and exposure settings. You'll find using the ring a much more intuitive, comfortable, user-friendly process than accessing a menu screen. With the manual ring and manual operation, the TM900 is a pleasure to use and gives you the freedom to craft unusually expressive images.
Zoom: Just rotate the ring to zoom in and out. You have full control of the zooming speed and can zoom in or out to the precise degree you want.
Focus: Just rotate the ring to focus. You can focus on the exact point you want, even if it's not in the center of the frame. You can also change the focus as you shoot, to get the kind of creative shots you sometimes see in movies.
White Balance: Select from Auto, Indoor, Outdoor and White Set according to the location, weather or type of lighting. You'll always get the best possible coloring even if the light source changes.
Shutter Speed: The shutter speed can be adjusted from 1/25 to 1/8,000 of a second. Use a high shutter speed when shooting sports events or fast-moving subjects, and you can get clear, sharp, incredible action shots.
Iris: Use the ring to adjust the aperture to regulate the amount of light let in. You can also use this setting to attain a shallow depth of field, blur the background, or create frames that emphasize the foreground, for creating movie-like expressions.
Ideal for making fine brightness adjustments that are difficult to see in the LCD. A handy guide for correcting the exposure is shown right in the monitor.
Zebra Pattern: A "zebra pattern" is displayed in areas of the frame where the lighting is excessive and the image is over-exposed.
Brightness Level: The light level is metered at the center of the frame and displayed as a percentage (%). This serves as a guide when you're shooting a subject that's backlit, or when you want to keep the light level the same even though the lighting conditions change.
Histogram: The histogram displays in graph form the exposure and contrast conditions over the entire frame. This lets you determine fine gradation details that are difficult to tell by just looking at the screen.
Smile Shot (Still Image)
The Smile Shot function automatically detects subject smiles, and captures the best possible smile while you're shooting movies. It lets you easily catch those fleeting, easy-to-miss stills of a smiling subject. It will also optimize the focus and exposure for your subject's smiling face.
Capture the smiles of only certain subjects - Face Recognition Link: This function detects subjects who are registered in advance and automatically snaps the shutter to catch the subject's best possible smile. It's great for capturing the smiles of certain people in a group.
Capture the smiles of an entire group - Face Detection Linked: This function automatically snaps the people within the LCD frame smiles. It gives you shots of an entire group of people smiling, making it great for group shots.
Capture the smiling face of a moving subject - AF/AE Tracking Linked: Simply touch a subject within the LCD frame. This function will then lock on and start tracking your subject. When the subject smiles, it'll automatically snap the shutter.
Time Lapse Recording
The time lapse function uses longer frame intervals than standard shooting. You can use this function to capture shortened or condensed footage of events that actually take place over a much longer time period. For example, time lapse recording is ideal for shooting a flower in the process of blooming, or a long, slow sunset. With time lapse recording, you have an interesting new video technique to explore.
1.0 Sec Quick Power-On
Switch the power on and the HD camcorders are in standby mode in approx. 1 second, ready to shoot when you are. When the LCD is closed, the power automatically switches off. This fast startup and automatic shutdown also help reduce battery consumption.
0.6 Sec Quick Start
Using Quick Start mode, you simply flip open the LCD and you're ready to shoot in just 0.6 seconds. When Eco mode is also used, the power turns off whenever the camcorder has not been operated for 5 minutes. This reduces wasted power consumption, and enables a longer battery life.
The Relay Recording mode automatically switches from the built-in flash memory (once it's full) to the SDXC/SDHC/SD Memory Card and continues recording. You don't have to worry about missing an important shot while switching media.
This smart function records three seconds of images even before you actually begin shooting. The images are held temporarily in the camcorder's internal memory, before recording begins. This helps ensure that you won't miss the start of a moment you want to record, such as when an event begins all of a sudden. For example, if you're waiting to snap a shot of a jumping dolphin, you can press the REC button after you've made sure that the dolphin has cleared the surface of the water. The camcorder will record the entire scene, from the instant of the dolphin's jump until it disappears again into the sea.
1080/50p Mode, HA / HG / HX / HE Mode
The TM900 is equipped with a built-in 32GB memory, and can be used together with a 64GB SDXC Memory Card to shoot for up to 41 hours 10 minutes. Choose the recording mode that matches your intended use--HE mode for maximum recording time, or 1080/50p mode for optimal image quality.
Auto Power LCD
The LCD brightness can be adjusted manually to suit the surroundings. In Auto Mode, the LCD brightness is adjusted automatically in 16 smooth steps depending on the surroundings. In darker rooms it adjusts to a lower brightness, making it easier to frame the shot. Outside, it adjusts to almost twice the brightness for easy viewing even on sunny days.
Wide Viewing Angle
The LCD has a highly detailed, 230,400 dots display and a viewing angle of 170°, both vertically and horizontally. Images are clear and bright even when viewed from an angle, so everyone can gather around the LCD to enjoy on-the-spot recordings. The wide viewing angle is also great for taking high- or low-angle shots.
AGS (Anti Ground Shooting)
The O.I.S. linear motor system can detect when the camera is in an unusual shooting position--such as when you've inadvertently left it on in recording mode. In these cases, the camera automatically stops recording, saving both battery power and media storage space.
50 Frames/Sec High-Speed Burst Shooting
This function lets the camcorder snap up to 50 consecutive 2.1-megapixel still images per second for a total of 150 continuous images in about 3 seconds. The resolution can also be increased and up to 25 consecutive still images per second can be shot for a total of 75 continuous images in about 3 seconds. You can use it to analyze a golf swing, tennis stroke or other motion. You can also use it to get good shots of subjects in fast motion. Just fire off a number of shots without stopping, then keep the best ones and delete the rest.
This function shows which subjects are in-focus by displaying their outlines in blue. You can easily check the focus on LCD when manually focusing, to ensure consistently clear, sharp images.
Composition Guide Lines
With wide LCD monitors, it's hard to keep images perfectly level. The 900 Series solves this by displaying horizontal and vertical Composition Guide Lines that make it easy to keep the subject straight and level.
Color Night Rec/Color Night View
Leave the light off. Color Night Rec/Color Night View gives you images with color even in dim lighting (1 lux).
Auto Lens Cover
When the power is turned on, the lens cover automatically opens. When the power goes off, the lens cover closes. You don't have to keep removing and replacing a lens cap--or worry about losing it.
Setting the time is as easy as selecting a city from the displayed map. The World Time function lets you set the time for two cities, home and destination. You don't have to figure out the time difference at your destination, and it's easy when you get home.
Advanced Highlight Playback
Select the days of the recordings you want to see, and this innovative function automatically selects the most exciting scenes, arranges them, and plays them, with music. It decides how exciting a scene is, based on zooming, panning, and scene changes, and whether there are faces. The 900 Series has advanced with the addition of playback effects that include slow motion, still image fading, and flash playback. Four new image effect modes--natural, pop, dynamic and classical--have also been added. Set different effects based on the mood of your images, and enjoy memorable scenes just the way you remember them when shooting. The Face Highlight Playback mode places priority on selecting the faces of subjects who are registered in the Face Recognition function, for quick playback of the scenes where they are clearly recorded, together with music.
Face Highlight, Highlight and Time Frame Index
The index function has been enhanced with the addition of a feature that divides each recorded scene into a number of smaller scenes, and displays thumbnails for each. This makes it much easier to find a particular part of a scene without having to fast-forward.
Easy Connecting, Easy Viewing
VIERA Link: Connect your HD camcorder to a VIERA or compatible Blu-ray Disc Player via an HDMI mini cable, and you can control both units in synchronized operation with a single remote control. This kind of simple, easy operation makes it enjoyable to view your recordings.
VIERA Image Viewer: Just slip the SD card from your camcorder into the VIERA Image Viewer card slot on your VIERA TV, and you're ready to view full-HD moving images recorded.
Archiving and Playback
The HD camcorders have a USB Host function that lets you connect directly to a DVD burner via a USB cable. Then just press a button and you can copy the moving images you recorded from the SD card, Built-in Memory, or HDD to a DVD disc.
Easy AVCHD to MPEG2 Conversion: You can make a copy either in the original high-definition AVCHD format, or in the standard-definition DVD-Video (MPEG-2) format. Choose the one that matches your playback equipment.
Saving 1080/50p Data with a PC: Use the included HD Writer AE 3.0 software to save Full-HD 1080/50p data onto a PC or an SD card.
Playback with a DVD burner: To view the disc you just burned, simply connect the HD camcorder to an HDTV via an HDMI mini cable.
Editing, Archiving, and YouTube Uploading
HD Writer AE 3.0 software, included with the camcorder, makes it easy to play or edit videos on your PC and have more fun when the shooting's done. Also, the ordinarily time-consuming task of converting and archiving data from 50p to AVCHD or MPEG-2 format can be easily done at high speed by connecting the 3MOS camcorder to a PC with a USB cable and using the camcorder's Conversion Assist function.
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