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Old January 22nd, 2014, 11:10 AM   #1
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Panasonic x920 or x900?

Hello all,

This is the first time I write in the forum, although I've been reading for some time now. I'm in the process of buying my first camcorder and I've limited my options to Panasonic x900 and x920. I want it for casual video shooting, family/friends/vacations (I don't plan on shooting a short film for example). Actually I would consider any 2014 successor as well but - so far at least - there doesn't seem to be any. All the Panasonic camcorders announced in CES 2014 don't have 3MOS. Do you have any information about an x920 successor within 2014?

In any case, between x900 and x920: if money is not the issue, which model would you buy? The obvious answer is "the latest one", especially given the BSI sensors, Wifi etc. However, I've been reading various comments about both camcorders and it seems that x900 might be better in a couple of areas compared to x920. Don't know if it's true but some say that the image is sharper in x900. On the other hand x920 seems to be better in low light but the point is under which conditions the device will mostly be used. I intend to use it at night mostly for in-house videos with normal indoor illumination, i.e. I don't plan to have videos taken under the light of a single candle just for the sake of it. Of course low light capabilities are anyway useful because you never know which conditions you'll bump into, when the camera is needed.

Something else that concerns me a bit is that x920 doesn't have a remote control. I know, it can be handled remotely via Wifi but I suspect that the simplicity of a remote control (of x900) will be far superior for everyday usage. Not to mention that Wifi is a battery-killer, so it's not like you can have it on all the time. On the other hand, not having owned a camcorder so far I don't know if I am overestimate the importance of the remote. From your experience, how often do you use it? Do you consider it necessary?

As for build quality, I have read some not so flattering reviews of x900 but I assume x920 has the same body so it's not something to differentiate them - right?

Furthermore, what are the areas where x920 is superior to x900? One is Wifi and the other is low light capabilities - or not? I've also seen the level gauge feature (which doesn't really interest me). From the functionality available in both models, is there some part improved in x920? E.g. what about the image stabilization, the audio etc? I've seen the manuals and there's a lot of functionality, modes etc. - is there something enhanced in x920 or added compared to x900?

In general, what would you choose between x900 and x920 if budget was not an issue? Or, to put it otherwise, how would you compare the video quality between these two camcorders both in day and low-light conditions?

Thank you in advance.
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Old January 22nd, 2014, 11:15 AM   #2
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

Hi Manos. Interesting a well structured questions. I will let those that have these cameras answer as I only have the older TM900 - still going strong too!

Welcome to DVinfo too.
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 12:24 AM   #3
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

Hello Andy and thanks for the welcome. As far as I know the TM900 has a remote control. How useful has it turned out to be and under which circumstances do you use it (if you use it...)? Do you think it's a must-have or nice-to-have?
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 03:04 AM   #4
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

To be honest I have never used the remote - but that does not mean its not an important feature for you. Good luck with your decision and hopefully others will chyme in to offer you advice.
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 04:25 AM   #5
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

Hi Manos - here is a side-by-side of the €706 X900 and the €719 X929 (European version of the X920) in low light, from Panasonic Imaging:




I have the TM900 as well, and never use the remote - but I do use wi-fi quite often with my GH3. I especially like the wireless file transfer.

Hope this is helpful!

Bill
Hybrid Camera Revolution

Hope this is helpful!

Bill
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 05:10 AM   #6
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

Thanks a lot for the info. Can I ask something additional regarding these camcorders? I know they can use up to 64 SDXC cards. These cards are by default formatted to extFAT, while the 32 SDXC ones are FAT32 (again by default). This imposes a size limit on the recorded videos (up to 4GB). If I format a 32 GB card to extFAT, will it be usable by the camcorder (without the 4GB limit)?
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 07:48 AM   #7
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

Hi Manos,
I have found the IR remote to be very useful but unfortunately it is setup to be used from in front of the camera. If you want to use it from behind the camera you will need some sort of reflector to direct the beam from the remote towards the sensor. For longer distances e.g. 10 m, I use an infrared extender in addition to a reflector. My application is for natural history subjects that are otherwise easy to disturb. It is also useful when using ‘Pre Record.’ In prerecord, if the camera is knocked when the record button is pressed the camera movement appears 3 seconds into the shot.

I might add that I would prefer LANC to IR but that choice was not available.
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 09:33 AM   #8
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manos Spirou View Post
Thanks a lot for the info. Can I ask something additional regarding these camcorders? I know they can use up to 64 SDXC cards. These cards are by default formatted to extFAT, while the 32 SDXC ones are FAT32 (again by default). This imposes a size limit on the recorded videos (up to 4GB). If I format a 32 GB card to extFAT, will it be usable by the camcorder (without the 4GB limit)?
Good question. Camcorders span the 4GB EXFAT file limit, creating continous recordings by "linking" 4GB files together. This process is, in most cases, transparent to the user. The file system on your computer and your editing software will interpret your video clips as single files.

Again, hope this is helpful,

Bill
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Old January 23rd, 2014, 10:08 AM   #9
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

Hmmmm... the 4GB file limit is on FAT32, not extFAT (as far as I know at least.). I would assume that most people are using up to 32GB SD cards, having as default FAT32. So this file-system limitation exists. The question is:

- Does the same thing happen in 64GB cards (and above), having extFAT file system, where the 4GB limitation doesn't exist? Or does the camera itself keeps cutting 4GB chunks (can't imagine why)? Indeed this is transparent to the user; nevertheless it introduces some additional processing where errors might happen (I've seen a few people complaining that during transition from one part to the other there are some frames lost, problematic sound etc.).

- If we format a FAT32 card to extFAT and use it in a camcorder suppoting extFAT, will we keep having split files of 4GB?
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Old January 24th, 2014, 12:04 AM   #10
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

I always format my SDHC/SDXC cards in my camcorder/camera. The camcorder manuals states to do that. I never ever format my SD cards by using my computer. Regardless if the card is 8gb to 64gb. Yes the AVCHD camcorder will create 4gb sized chunks, but editing software that I use (Premiere Pro & Premiere Elements) have no problem with editing AVCHD files. A robust computer is usually best to use for editing 1080 60p footage, which I usually record. I just bought the X920, and really am impressed with it. I also have the Panny AC-90.
When I complete shooting, I simply remove the SD card from the camcorder, and use a USB card reader to transfer the files to my external hard drives and use my iMac for editing with no issues. Easy-peezy! Once I transfer the files from the SD cards to my external hard drives, I insert the cards back in my camcorder and format the cards. Just be sure that all of your video footage has been transferred to your hard drive(s)!!!
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Old January 24th, 2014, 12:55 AM   #11
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

Thank you for your detaied answer Tom. Indeed, I was also reading the x900/920 manuals and they both recommend formatting the card in the camcorder - I doubt they will be formatted as extFAT, even the SDXC ones. So, no problems with your 4GB chunks - that's good to know.

Since you have the x920, how do you find its sharpness and outdoor shooting quality? This is the only small "drawback" compared to the x900, according to some reviews. Of course I understand that such things are barely noticable to the average user (I couldn't even tell from side by side videos), especially if you don't have both devices for comparison, nevertheless I'd like to know your opinion, in case you notice something you don't like.

For example, in all videos I've watched, the low light capabilities of x920 are noticeably better than x900 - only slashcam says otherwise, not sure why. So this is an x920 advantage. If it's also great outdoors (even if slightly lacking x900 sharpness, where you can't tell), maybe that's the best model to acquire.
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Old January 24th, 2014, 09:16 AM   #12
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x920

Well, I'm pleased with it so far. Only had my X920 for a week and I captured some indoor basketball games of a youth league, using iA+ mode! and I was pleased with the clarity and the sound using the internal mic at the 5.1 setting. I shot a few outdoor scenes testing the zoom & OIS. Again, I'm pleased with this cam. If I wasn't pleased, I would return it ASAP for a refund or to purchase a different camcorder.

I always shoot in 1080 60p for the best quality. I already have plenty of 32gb & 64gb Class 10 SDHC/SDXC cards. Also, be sure to purchase extra batteries! I purchased one of the higher priced ($120) longer lasting Panasonic battery, the VW-VBN260PPK. And I bought from Amazon, the two-pack of the longer lasting VW-VBN260 type batteries for $58, which includes a wall/car charger by Wasabi. China batteries, but they work just fine so far, and hold a 2hour 15min charge. All of the batteries do take several hours to charge fully, so be aware of that. Also, the X920 does not come with a wall/car charger. You charge the battery by placing the battery in the camcorder and use the AC adapter which plugs into the camera. At least you don't have to remove the battery on this camcorder in order to use the AC power.

Keep in the mind that the X920 does have manual settings to adjust for filming in the manual mode: sharpness, color, exposure, and white balance. The settings that I've felt good to use for manual filming is: sharpness +3, color +3, exposure -3, white balance 0. I may tweak the settings according to what and where I'm shooting.

Keep in mind that no camcorder is perfect. Read reviews and make your determination. Also, I use the wireless remote control app which I installed on my iPhone and iPad. The wireless function to setup this functionality was easy to do.

I would suggest that if there is a store near you for you to test and look over all the settings of this camcorder, do so. If they will allow you to shoot video using your own SD card, do that too, and bring your SD card home to view what you filmed.
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Old January 24th, 2014, 09:28 AM   #13
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

I have several of the TM900 and TM700 models - so not quite the same but I have a few observations.

For me superior performance in low light would trump marginally better image quality in natural daylight; but I shoot a lot of weddings where these cams act as B-cams and weddings are always dark or very dark :- )

I wouldn't worry about battery consumption - they last a very long time and extra batteries from many third parties are cheap and reliable.

The supplied infrared remote is very limited because of the need for line of sight. Wi-fi would be better but that also involves scanning and setting up each time on your smartphone. If you have more than one wifi cam you wish to control life can get complicated. But wifi control is valuable for checking composition etc as well as double checking you are actually recording. I use it from time to time with a GoPro.

You will get very short audio gaps between the 4gb file segments if you simply drag and drop the files to download. If you download via your NLE such as Vegas Pro it will ensure there are no gaps. In practice 4gb is around 20 minutes and that is quite a long take for most subjects other than continuous wedding coverage so the gaps issue may not arise for you.

The supplied Panasonic software is great for chopping out unwanted portions of takes e.g. you may have 3 x 4gb files that run continuously. You might cut off the start and the end plus a few bits in the middle and end up with one much smaller continuous gapless file ..... if you see what I mean.

Pete
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Old January 24th, 2014, 12:40 PM   #14
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

Pete...how is the low light performance comparing the 700 to the 900?
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Old January 24th, 2014, 02:34 PM   #15
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Re: Panasonic x920 or x900?

I've never actually pixel peeped it - I always seem to be in a rush to get the editing up to date.

But a general observation would be that there is very little difference in it in shooting real world subjects rather than test targets. However the TM900 had significant improvements in physical handling over the TM700. The screen is larger and its more of a touch screen functionality.Both have the SD card slot in the side so it is easier to access if you need to change it mid shoot whilst the cam is fastened to a head or suchlike - I think the later models have the slot underneath.

I couldn't find any worthwhile advantage in me switching to the later models - though I did get an AC90. But that is a much larger beast altogether.

In really challenging low light I may pull out Canon dSLRs if there is no way to increase the ambient light.

Pete
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