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Panasonic HDC-SD90 Camcorder

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Old Monday 1st August 2011, 19:21   #1
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Mike Powell
 
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Panasonic HDC-SD90 Camcorder

I am thinking of purchasing one of the above. Does anyone use this model for general video work or videoscoping? I would be grateful for any feedback on ease of use, image quality, etc.

Many thanks,

Mike
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Old Monday 1st August 2011, 21:24   #2
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I have its predecessor SD60 - which I use as a pocketable general purpose alternative to my main Video cam (lower financial hit if it gets wrecked). The Sd90 model seems to be have improved on what was a very good camera in the first place. I havn't tried digiscoping as I can shoot most wildlife at close range of under 4 metres - which makes the existing zoom adequate.

Good quality video images - though back to Victorian era photography again as it has no viewfinder - but the screen is better than many (once you have found your reading glasses and can see it).

I don't use video cameras for still work unless truly desperate.

Basically a very nice camera for the price (though I won't be updating as the SD60 still meets my needs).
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Old Tuesday 2nd August 2011, 20:57   #3
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Thanks, iveljay for your reply, much appreciated.

Mike
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Old Saturday 13th August 2011, 19:38   #4
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Panasonic SD90

I've just bought one two weeks ago. Haven't used it much, but first impression is very good - light and small, excellent video quality, easy to use, long battery life, very good software.

The reviews are excellent. I don't think you can go wrong with this camcorder. Plus, relatively inexpensive - bought for 400 USD, not sure about UK prices.

Now trying to find a good microphone for it suitable for birds recording, Capercaillie in particular.
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Old Sunday 14th August 2011, 18:53   #5
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Hi pva,

Thanks for your reply. I bought mine last week from Amazon UK for the equivalent of $620. A case of rip-off Britain!

My first impressions of shooting video and stills of subjects around my garden are very good. Video quality is excellent and the 4.5MP stills are good. I have a Sony HG 2x converter lens which I have attached to a universal bracket and fitted in front of the camcorder lens. Results with this using the Intelligent 40x zoom are very good and all the usual functions work as normal. I am particularly impressed with the AF auto-tracking feature. This will be of great benefit when following moving subjects like birds or butterflies which move amongst vegetation, etc.

I would be interested in knowing if you find a suitable external microphone. A shotgun type seems to be an ideal solution to help cut out extraneous sound from the side and rear of the camcorder.

Attached are two pics of the camcorder showing the 2x converter lens with and without a lenshood.

Mike
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Old Sunday 14th August 2011, 19:12   #6
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Hi Mike,

The only complain I've heard about this camera is that still picture quality is average. But I probably won't use it for this anyway.

I've found the good microphone, Sennheiser ME66/K6, but it costs more than this camcorder. I'd asked a question in this forum, and got a response. Please see this thread:

http://www.birdforum.net/showthread....31#post2217431

This seems to be really great microphone, all reviews are excellent. This is a good professional review:

http://maudiofirewire410.blogspot.co...n-capsule.html

So you need at least a module K6, capsule ME66, wind protector and cable. It's a minimum.

It seems that this is really the best microphone, but it's definitely not cheap. Although, since this is a professional equipment, it's considered to be inexpensive.

Peter
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Old Monday 15th August 2011, 18:02   #7
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Hi Peter,

The Sennheiser ME66 looks good, but is quite expensive. Have you looked at the Azden and Rode ranges of microphones?

Mike
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Old Wednesday 17th August 2011, 19:43   #8
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Sennheiser MKE 400 Compact Video Camera Shotgun Microphone

This is another good, middle of the range, microphone, here in the USA it costs about US$200. The sounds in this video were captured with it and the Panasonic HDC-TM300 camcorder. Some parts of the video are without sounds because there were people talking too loud near me while I was videoing. I removed the sound while editing the video takes. One can find a good comparison of several small microphones for camcorders and DSLRs here.
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Old Wednesday 17th August 2011, 20:33   #9
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Hi Mike,

I ended up buying the Rode VideoMic for $149 plus Wind Jammer for $29 for now:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...a_Mounted.html

There are good reviews about it. Either this one, or Sennheiser MKE 400, as dacol recommended. In this price range they are probably the best.

Peter

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Old Thursday 18th August 2011, 13:20   #10
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Hi Peter,

Thanks for the update. Please let me know how it performs.

Mike
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Old Friday 19th August 2011, 14:04   #11
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Hi Mike,

I won't know much until the end of September after I get back from my vacation.

There is a very good video review and demo on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HODFVP0asz8

Peter
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Old Sunday 21st August 2011, 15:47   #12
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Thanks, Peter. I hope you have an enjoyable vacation.

Mike
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Old Saturday 3rd September 2011, 18:29   #13
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Dalcio,

So sorry, I missed your post above about the MKE 400. Thanks very much for posting the comparison link.

Mike
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Old Saturday 1st October 2011, 02:08   #14
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Hi Mike,

I came back from my vacation last week, and I had a chance to test my camcorder and the microphone.

Everything worked well - the video quality was nearly perfect, and the microphone worked well for me. I'm not a professional, so I don't know how this camcorder and the mic stands among the others, but I was satisfied.

What really kills this camera (and any camera in it's class) is a lack of viewfinder. In the bright sunny day it's almost impossible to take any shots using the LCD screeen. This is especially important if you want to take a video of birds or anything moving. It took me about 10 attempts to take a decent video of a chipmunk, and I managed it only because he was very patient.

I know there are some devices that can protect the LCD screen from the sun. According to the reviews, they don't work very well, but it's better than nothing.

I don't worry too much about this. I bought this camcorder mainly to take a video of the Capercaillie and Black Grouse leks in Sweden next spring, so the sun and glare probably won't be an issue. But in general, to make the good wildlife videos, it is probably necessary to spend more money on a camcorder.

But, again, I was really impressed by the quality of the video this camera produces, and the microphone worked very well for me. It's just important to remember to turn the mic on, it doesn't start automatically.

Peter
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Old Saturday 1st October 2011, 16:34   #15
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Hi Peter,

Thanks for the update. I am pleased that you have had some good results with your SD90. I am delighted with mine. Apart from the mediocre quality of the stills, my only other gripe is Auto White Balance in shady conditions. For example, when videoing waders along a shoreline under overcast skies or in the shade, the footage has a cool, blue cast. At first I thought that there was a fault with the camcorder as it happened on more than one occasion. I have since set the white balance to "Cloudy mode" in these conditions and the results have been much better with the footage having a warmer tone which looks more natural.

I did consider buying a Rode Videomic but eventually decided on a Sony ECM-MSD1 Stereo Mic instead as it was more compact and also would fit neatly in the small waist pouch that already held my SD90 and 2x converter lens. Initial results of sound quality are almost on par with the onboard mic but with a reduction in wind noise. Like you I have to remember to turn on the external mic otherwise no sound is recorded at all. Thankfully the mic input level meter on the monitor acts as a reminder.

Best wishes,

Mike
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Old Saturday 1st October 2011, 18:25   #16
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Hi Mike,

Thanks for the update.

Peter
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