The key to producing a decent 3D camcorder is to make sure that, first and foremost, it is a great 2D camera. Panasonic managed this admirably with its first 3Dcorder – the high-end HDC-SDT750 – but now it has brought the technology to the mid-range and a more beginner-friendly user base, with the HDC-SD90.
For around £750 (£430 for camcorder, £200 for the lens) you get the SD90 and the WW-CLT1 3D conversion lens. Those not au fait with the lens will find it a chunky bit of kit. Bolt it on to the SD90 and it adds significant length to the camcorder's slimline 50.5x63.0x118.5mm chassis. It also adds some weight to the HDC-SD90's rather light 244g.
Panasonic HDC-SD90: Video
Connecting the 3D lens to the camcorder does take a bit of getting used to. You have to add a lens ring (which comes with the lens), then bolt the 3D lens on to this. The lens is actually a tad heavier than the camcorder it's connected to so, which makes the whole thing top heavy, but you get used to this once you have shot some footage with the device.
For its price, the HDC-SD90 is packed with features. The headline grabber is its 40x zoom, which is achieved through technology called Intelligent Zoom. The results are impressive. Although you will never beat a pure optical zoom experience, there was no haemorrhaging of pixels when we tried it out in bright sunlight and the on-board HYBRID optical image stabiliser (which is spliced with an electronic sensor) made light work of judder.
Panasonic HDC-SD90: Pictures
Ironically, though, it is things like zooming that you can't do when the 3D lens is connected. 3D can only be achieved by slow pans and the like, otherwise the picture is unusable. Don't worry, though, as the there is a prompt system on the camera that tells you if you are moving too fast for the 3D to work.
The HDC-SD90 offers up footage in 1080/50p resolution in 2D and 1080/50i in 3D, both of which have plenty of zing when played back. This is because the SD90 has been given a hefty 1MOS sensor.
If you do want to tweak with the images, then this can be done through the 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD. Everything from Smile detection to shutter speed can be competently jigged from here.
The HDR-SD90 is a solid mid-range camcorder that is given an extra imaging kick courtesy of its 3D lens addition. While this combination alone won't convince you 3D is the future, it is a worthy and very affordable addition to any 3D setup.
Panasonic SD90 launch: Out now, link Panasonic
Panasonic SD90 price: £430