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Old March 12th, 2011, 05:25 PM   #1
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TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

I have been following the thread on the TM900, but I am wondering if anyone has done a side by side comparison with the TM700. Is the TM900 really 45% better in low light (like the Panasonic ad states)? If so, I wonder if it's comparable to the HMC150 in low light. Is the LCD on the 900 really a great improvement over the 700? I guess I'm asking if the improvements on the 900 make it worth the extra $350 over the price of the 700? I'd love to see a (real world) user's review. Anyone?
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Old March 13th, 2011, 04:30 PM   #2
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Re: TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

I am very curious about those two things as well! If someone can also tell me this: Is the adjustment (focus/shutter/zoom etc) ring on the 900 exactly the same physical dimensions as the 700? Same diameter? Thanks!
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Old March 13th, 2011, 04:50 PM   #3
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Re: TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

Hi

The focus ring is the same as far as I can tell.

Apart from an improved image stabiliser and larger LCD, the only main difference with the newer models is optional support for the 3D lens.

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Old March 13th, 2011, 05:04 PM   #4
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Re: TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

I have not done an in depth comparison of the two cameras, however I was happy to to pay more for the better screen on the TM900.

A quick measurement of the front rotating ring diameter on my TM900 gives 2.147" or 54.53 mm.
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Old March 13th, 2011, 05:52 PM   #5
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Re: TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

As I'm sure many of you know by now I have the TM900 (but did not have the TM700).

As far as I'm aware my list below covers most of the main DIFFERENCES (and bear in mind some of it is from hours of studying the Panasonic blurb/marketing material!). It's also from stuff I've read about all over the web from users of one or both units on many forums etc. Some are much more important points than others!

1. Improved low light due to refined image processing (the so called 45% claim) - well I put up a TM900 Extreme Low Light test last night so you can judge what you think of that but I'm certainly impressed what the've squeezed out of three 1/4 chips.
2. Improved (now Hybrid) Optical Image Stabilisation.
3. Improved battery technology allowing longer run time (but note the older TM700 batteries do not fit the TM900 or indeed all the latest new Panny cams).**
4. Changed battery charging arrangements so that the TM900 batteries can only be charged in the cam - with the cam OFF (unless you buy a separate charger and/or many batteries extended shooting will be difficult).**
5. New position for the DC power in plug on the camera (no longer behind the battery).
6. Changed Media/Camera/Photo switch (now a slider on the TM900)
7. Doubling of the pixel density of the LCD in the TM900, and also increasing its size from 3 to 3.5 inches - the LCD is EXCELLENT (even if it's half the res of the Canon and Sony competition in this sector). Also repositioning of the buttons on the LCD from below to the side.
8. Very slight (few mm) changes in body dimensions and a textured handle side surface to aid grip.
9. Changes in the "colour set up" - no more cyan skies (the so called "Bondi Blue" effect) - certainly I'm very happy with how my unit sees the world in colour.
10. Improved cooling fan producing less noise - I honestly can't think of any instance this has been an issue for me on the TM900 at all - and I've used it for extended periods now. The on-board camera sound is pretty bad anyway for picking up handling noise and wind (anything more than a light breeze when outside is very noticeable). I'd never rely on the camera mics anyway (for anything more than family stuff).
11. I can't remember if the mic and headphone sockets had a cover on the TM700 but they certainly do on the TM900.
12. 3D lens capable...excuse me whilst I yawn....
13. I think the "Intelligent Zoom" (at 20x) on the TM900 might be further than on the TM700 but may have remembered that wrong. My recent video tests show it to be pretty effective at producing good HD images.

I may have missed a few things but that's what the key differences are...oh, and at the moment quite a lot of money!

** Cynics would say this is a marketing ploy to stop us "Pros" using them instead of higher end Panny cams...well that failed!
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Old March 15th, 2011, 08:41 AM   #6
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Re: TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

I just returned from 9 days shooting in rural Haiti with an EX1R and the TM-700 as a b-cam/POV camera.

The battery life of the TM-700 is stellar, I'd pick it up and go all day on the one large battery and a 32GB SD card. I never had to use the stock battery which was a backup.

The resolution of the screen was insignificant in this environment which, for me, was hanging out the window or back of a truck in the blazing sun trying to compose and adjust iris through dust and at odd angles plus the finger smears from a camera that requires use of the touch screen to operate it.

In the end, I'm not sure any consumer camera could satisfy my manual control needs. The way that the TM-700 lens ring mode is activated takes two hands and the heads up display that consumes the lower half inch of the display must remain on screen when it's active. Furthermore, the TM-700 doesn't remember the setting when you sleep or power off which means you have to leave it on and "ready" or suffer a good 15 second startup requiring two hands free which, was dangerous at times.

Another glitch I found that cost me losing 5 or 10 minutes of shooting a live event was the headphone volume control is the zoom control. This assumes you only want to adjust the volume when playing back a video. This design means you can't adjust the volume to monitor audio when recording.

On the good side, the ring and zoom controls were such that I was able to hold the unit in one hand and ride the iris with my fore finger and zoom with my thumb (think riding in the back of a 4wd pickup on mountain paths where not holding on with at least one hand means certain injury or worse). Again, the screen resolution was irrelevant. All I used the screen for was basic composition and the histogram. But the poor design requiring two hands to get the ring into iris or, for that matter, focus, mode was always a risky manuever that put me and/or the camera at risk.

I can't speak for the 900 but the low-light "mode" is well, a mode. You have to drill into the menus to activate it. It's not a capability available across the board. As you'd expect, the TM-700's 60p mode needs more light than it's 24p mode and as I recall, it's "low-light" mode is well, just that, another recording mode. The only thing important to me would be better low light performance in normal shooting modes. YMMV
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TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?-screen-shot-2011-03-15-9.05.53-am.png  

Last edited by Les Wilson; March 15th, 2011 at 06:02 PM.
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Old March 15th, 2011, 04:36 PM   #7
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Re: TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

Andy...thanks for your info - it helps. But it would still be great for a side by side comparison. I'm really interested in the low light improvement of the 900 over the 700. I see that B&H just raised the price to $849 on the 700 - a $100 increase. That makes the price difference now only $250 between the 700 and 900. I have the 700, but would like to add another camera (or two) and if the real life difference between the two is minimal, I wouldn't mind saving $500 on two cameras.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 07:55 PM   #8
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Re: TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

I have used both. I own the 700.

From my experience the new higher screen res is a mute point. Nice, sure, necessary, not at all. Both are too congested when shooting in manual.

Differences in low light performance are debatable. I don't think either of them are stellar in this area. But all the reviews said the SONY was better than the 700. Voilá, new model claims better low light capability.

Yes they moved the jack for the AC adapter, but they made it worse not better. Now you have to buy an external charger or charge the batteries on-camera. Who's dumb idea was that ? I guess it was the guy who was making the checklist from the reviews again. Common complaint, they fixed it.

Stabilization on the 700 is so good I don't know where I'd see the improvement. A non-issue.

Mode switch. A non-issue.

Greater zoom. A non-issue.

Battery life is great on the 700. A lot of products are going to the new lithium ion batteries. Great, I'll get them when I upgrade. A non-issue.

I shoot the California sky and Pacific ocean all the time. No color issues with the 700 for me. Maybe they fixed that at some point in the production of the 700. A simple firmware update would handle it.

I paid $800 for the 700. They're up to $850 because there is still demand for them but they're no longer made. The 900 is $1100, but will drop in price in a couple of months and in less than a year it'll be replaced with a new model.

I could use another camera but I'm not running out the door for one.

I'm also sticking with my lowly iPad 1 and reading the articles about how few, if any, apps are written to use actually use the faster processor of the iPad 2. So they're not faster, that'll take months. Shortly before the iPad 3 is announced you'll enjoy what you're paying for now.

Same story with both devices. If you don't have one the newer one is the way to go. Both are throw away technology, quickly obsolete in today's world. That is, if you live by the marketing as opposed the looking at what they actually deliver.

Just my opinion.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 01:33 AM   #9
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Re: TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
I have used both. I own the 700.
Ditto.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
From my experience the new higher screen res is a mute point. Nice, sure, necessary, not at all. Both are too congested when shooting in manual.
I'll take all the screen resolution I can get when focusing manually... the very low rez of my TM700 and HMC40 is among the most annoying features. Not a deal killer, but one you start to get used to a megapixel screen, as on my Canon 60D, you want for more pixels. So this is a definite move in the right direction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
Differences in low light performance are debatable. I don't think either of them are stellar in this area.
They're both very good, for a consumer camera. From what I read, the low-light improvements are all based on additional image processing... they're using the same sensors. However, don't necessarily assume that can't matter. When you have a noisy image, the AVC encoding is basically wasting a great deal of bandwidth trying hard to preserve that higher frequency video noise. If they can effectively remove more of it, you'll get a better recording than you could on the TM700 plus some noise reduction done in post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
Yes they moved the jack for the AC adapter, but they made it worse not better. Now you have to buy an external charger or charge the batteries on-camera. Who's dumb idea was that ? I guess it was the guy who was making the checklist from the reviews again. Common complaint, they fixed it.
This might have been a deal killer for me, if I was shopping this year for a "B" cam to my HMC40. The great thing about Panasonic, at least until this year, was that they didn't play "battery of the month" like Sony and Canon do. Yeah, they rob you blind on prices... most expensive batteries in the industry. But my TM700 batteries fit my HMC40, and they also fit my daughter's SD9 from way back. I have the cable kit which allows the big HMC40 battery to hook up to the TM700 and run for like 7 hours. And basically, I have some real cash invested in those batteries... I don't want to have to buy a different set for a new model.

Now sure, people complained about Panasonic's power-jack-behind-the-battery for years. The point of that was simple: it let them make a cheaper power supply, since they didn't have to power the camera and charge the battery at the same time. But once you have that second battery, you probably charge off-camera anyway, so the fact they included the charger just saved me $50 or whatever... loved it. So now they're making the camera the charger, but still no charge-while-run, so all they really did here was cheat you out of the separate charger.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
Stabilization on the 700 is so good I don't know where I'd see the improvement. A non-issue.
I'll tell you.. they did the same thing Sony did last year. The "hybrid" in hybrid stabilization is that it does both optical and digital. Now, I know what you're thinking, optical is great, digital sucks, so why bother? Well, that's not quite true. Optical stabilization works by shifting lens elements, digital works by essentially moving a window across a larger sensor area than you're using for video. Optical works better largely because it has substantially more range than any digital out there.

But actually, that's for X and Y axis displacement... but what about Z axis. That's the camera rolling either way around the axis of the lens itself... and there's nothing OIS can do about that. That's what these "hybrid" systems do, they use optical for X,Y stabilization and digital for Z. And of course, digital is ideally suited to do roll correction, because you don't need a huge number of extra pixels, it's just a rotation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
Mode switch. A non-issue.
While I don't care about that, I do which they'd "stop the insanity" on these cameras. On my HMC40, there's a video mode menu. This lets me pick any video mode: 1080/60i, 720/60p, either at 24p, etc. On the TM700, that menu is there... only, it just allows settings of the different 1080/60i models. You have to hunt deep to find "Cinema" mode for 24p operation. And go to yet another mechanism, the external button, to get 1080/60p. This is crazy.. and why make a consumer model even more confusing to use than a pro model?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
Battery life is great on the 700. A lot of products are going to the new lithium ion batteries. Great, I'll get them when I upgrade. A non-issue.
The TM700 batteries are already Li-ion. I don't know what the TM900 is adding here, other than a new battery handshake protocol that no one's worked around yet. And in fact, they actually dropped capacity a little. The standard "big" cell for the TM700 is the VW-VBG260, which is 7.2V (two Li-ion cells) and 2640mAh. The "big" cell for the TM900 is the VW--VBN260, which, despite the similar name, seems to he a 7.2V cell at 2500mAh.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk Candlish View Post
I'm also sticking with my lowly iPad 1 and reading the articles about how few, if any, apps are written to use actually use the faster processor of the iPad 2. So they're not faster, that'll take months. Shortly before the iPad 3 is announced you'll enjoy what you're paying for now.
I won't be buying a tablet computer until I can find one with a built-in USB port that can load and play video from my AVC cameras. And lets me read eBooks on the beach.

But yeah, lots of these devices today are fairly incremental upgrades. The iPad 2 doubles the CPU core, drops the clock speed a bit, and ups the GPU considerably, but that's about it. Sure, it's thinner and a couple of ounces lighter, but everything in that package seems designed to attract more fence-sitters, not generate upgrades from existing users. Same with the TM900, or the Canon HDSLRs. I bought my 60D as an upgrade from my Xt... that's over five years difference, big changes. But since they have to revise the models these days every year or so, there's no huge jump from model to model. And I actually thank them for that... I don't want that gear envy all the time; it's nice to see that what I bought in 2009 and 2010 doesn't have a super compelling replacement. Yet.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 10:50 AM   #10
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Re: TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

Dave - changing the subject for a moment...I see you have the HMC-40 and TM 700...I asked this question before and got a few answers, but I'll ask again - which provides a better image in low light - the 40 or the 700?
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Old March 25th, 2011, 12:01 PM   #11
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Re: TM-700 v. TM-900...anyone compare these side by side yet?

I think it's kind of a dead heat. Since I wouldn't run 60p on the TM700 in low light, there's a very small trade-off here. I don't think there's much difference in the sensors, but I might give the edge to the HMC40 on usable gain. The TM700 comes back with an f1.5 lens vs. the HMC40's f1.8 lens.

But the HMC40 offers the advantage of higher bitrate recording for whatever rate you're using (probably 24p at 1/24th second). That doesn't actually affect the quality of the video from the sensor, of course. But what it does do is reduce the effects of any noise on the overall image. MPEG algorithms themselves can't differentiate between a noisy image and a busy image -- it's all higher frequency data. So the camera's AVC encoder will work hard to preserve that noise. If you have a higher bitrate available, the video suffers less for the same levels of noise.

So overall, I give the edge to the HMC40, but it's not a gigantic advantage. You're not talking VX2100 or even HMC150 here, but either one handles low light much better than my previous cameras, including my Sony HVR-A1.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 12:18 PM   #12
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TM-900 and Sony HC1

Interesting stuff Dave. I have a Sony HC1 and the TM900 that I have recently got is like night and day to that. Things have moved a long way in just a few short years. I'd say the TM900 is better than the Sony V1 that my mates got that I used to use a lot too (regarding noise in low light) - albeit both were HDV.
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