Panasonic HDC-SD9: The Trouble with Mac OS X

UPDATE (2008.04.11):
I finally get it to work with Final Cut Pro!!! just search for HDC-SD9 on this blog.

Panasonic HDC-SD9 is capable recording video in 1080p and 24 mode. This is one great feature on a compact camcorder. The quality of the video is amazing.

Unfortunately for Mac users, this camcorder is not fully compatible with iMovie ’08, Final Cut Express 4, and Final Cut Pro 6. The three applications crash during playback or import of videos recorded in non-“24p Digital Cinema” mode. When the “24p Digital Cinema” mode is turned on, iMovie ’08, Final Cut Express 4, and Final Cut Pro 6 can playback and import the recorded video. Even though the three applications can play and import the video, some problems persist.

To illustrate the problems, please check-out the following videos. Both videos were recorded at the same time, one is using Panasonic HDC-SD5 and the other is using Panasonic HDC-SD9. You’ll see how the HDC-SD9 video is playing faster than the actual recording.

Both videos are resized to 960×540 resolutions. This is done due to the sheer monstrosity of the 1920×1080 file size. QuickTime 7 is required for proper playback.

Recorded Using Panasonic HDC-SD5
Panasonic HDC-SD5 Recording (H.264 13.2MB)

Recorded using Panasonic HDC-SD9
Panasonic HDC-SD9 Recording (H.264 9.2MB)

The imported video plays faster while the audio plays at normal speed. Somehow the video and audio go out of sync during the import. By default iMovie ’08 transcoded the AVCHD video to Apple Intermediate Codec, while Final Cut Pro transcoded the AVCHD video to Apple ProRes 422. I will try importing the AVCHD video to another format using Final Cut Pro later.


note: I blame Carrie for making me re-learn “Greensleeves

23 Replies to “Panasonic HDC-SD9: The Trouble with Mac OS X”

  1. I was about to buy this cam…
    now wondering. Has anybody
    tried it with iMovie 6?

    iMovie HD 6 does not support AVCHD. Apple is taking notes on this and working on updates to iMovie ’08, FCE4, and FCP6.

  2. I am a Windows user. Stop reading now if you are simply too much of an Apple purist to take any tips from the following. I purchased this HDC-SD9 camera early in February from the Panasonic website for a great price. It captures video excellent in true Hi-Definition. The problems started when trying to work with my footage on my Windows XP laptop. First of all, the default software sucks. I abandoned it within the first 2 hours of reviewing it. AVCHD compressed files are really hard on Centrino Duo processors. Understand that all you really need off of your SDHC card are the stream files. I manually copy those over to a “homeVideo folder”. I use CoreAVC codec to quickly preview my footage and organize it, thereupon burning it off to DVD. I read the major amount of issues Apple users are having trying to use their import tools. Maybe there is a better way to copy those streams directly to your harddrive and then demux them there? Maybe use Bootcamp and convert the files via WinXP? Anyways, I then purchased a QuadCore machine with 8gb RAM and a zippy video card and installed Windows Vista 64, Cyberlink Pro editor, and CoreAVC codec to preview my files. It is like working in a professional studio now! Everything flows, videos synch up great! Output is wonderful!

    Obviously what I am trying to state here is you need a powerful PC to work with these files….The software seems to be working as hard as its processor will allow…

    food for thought.

    Juan, thanks for the comments and suggestions. As you might have been aware of, we’re talking about the problems with Mac OS X when using Panasonic HDC-SD9. I use Sony Vegas on Windows to handle AVCHD video clips. Sure any Intel-Mac users can install Windows on their Macs and import the AVCHD video. But there are a lot more than that. Mac users won’t switch to Windows just for importing the AVCHD video because there are a lot more steps to be had.

    Even if a Mac user can import the AVCHD video in Windows, the intermediate video format wouldn’t be the same. Final Cut Pro imports AVCHD into Apple ProRes 422, and iMovie ’08 imports it to Apple Intermediate Codec.

    We’re not talking about using this camcorder in general, this is about Panasonic HDC-SD9 and Mac OS X. Apple is working on Final Cut and iMovie updates to address the issue.

    There are a lot more issues in working with AVCHD videos on two different platforms. AVCHD was developed by Sony and Panasonic (Matsushita) on Windows and Intel platform. Apple is playing catch-up with this format right now.

  3. yes, the salesman told me no problem with my mac. Eventually, my Macbook does not recognize it. So, i hope Apple will have solution to us soon

    I am looking into this and what Apple is doing regarding this issue. Will let you know through this blog.

  4. Hello..
    Can you please tell me something about the HDC-SD9..

    Can it record slowmotion? And if it does, is it in HD?

    I am not sure if it could record in slow motion. I have to read the manual.

  5. Just purchased the Panasonic HDC-HS9. Great little camera but the same problem with the sound sync being off (importing imovie 08 7.1.1). Im leaving to Japan for a month and would love to know any updates to this problem or any advice somone might have. would hate to shoot video only to have it off.

    Currently, I use Final Cut Pro and Perian 1.1 to get 1080p/24 clip from the camera.
    According to sources, Apple is working on this issue, but who knows when the update will be released.

    You can get VoltaicHD in the meantime to convert the AVCHD files so iMovie ’08 can handle it.

    please stay tuned.

  6. I got the same issues with 1080/24p and with VoltaicHD I got a solution.VoltaicHD also converts 1080/30 and the other formats from the camcorder.
    Thanks for the tips!

    You’re welcome.
    I am waiting for Apple to add 1080p/24 support in iMovie and Final Cut.

  7. sir, you are a hero. i was at my lowest ebb struggling with iMovie, but after stumbling upon your blog I found salvation. VoltaicHD works brilliantly.
    Thanks, and keep up the good work!

  8. voltaic HD is a life saver. I just bought an sd9 and was so upset that I couldn’t get my video to import.

  9. Import all modes into FCP & FCE… and it’s free!

    Firstly you’ll need a windows machine to transcode the AVCHD. Get this from panasonic here:

    2nd you’ll need the P2CMS MXFimporter.component installed in your libraryquicktime so FCP & FCE can see and import the video files.

    Download for Mac here:

    Your only allowed to import 4 channels of audio but this is fine. The video and audio are in perfect sync… which was the previous problem, not any more.

  10. IMovie has just released a new version 7.1.2 and it can now read and convert AVCHD files from the SD9. My copy of VoltaicHD can take some rest now.

    I am doing it with my iMac 24in, Core2Duo at 2.8, rate is quite good, seems much faster than VoltaicHD, about 1:1 rate.

    Glad you can import your movie correctly now.
    It is QuickTime 7.5 that fixes the problems. Of course, iMovie 7.1.2 requires QuickTime 7.5 after all.

    We’ve been discussing this for a little bit, check out the post.

  11. I got the new iMovie and tested. here are the results:
    rate, as mentioned above almost 1:1 what is great because it was really slow with VoltaicHD
    I am still having some time differences, for a 7:30 minutes the iMovie clip was 7:15. I am not sure about the reason. Anyway wathching the movie, it looks great, but there is this small gap.

    To troubleshoot, you need to:
    Make sure you have the latest QuickTime (the current version is 7.5) and the latest iMovie ’08 (7.1.2).

    Remove all third party plugins such as Perian, XViD, etc. from /Library/QuickTime

    That means removing any plugins installed by VoltaicHD.

    Then try importing your AVCHD video using iMovie.

    Let me know.

  12. hello i am thinking to buy this Panasonic HDC-SD9, i´ve been reading all the post over here and the latest one seem to show the problems is almost solve.
    But you are talking about importing in iMovie ´08. what is goning on with Final Cut Pro

    Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express and iMovie ’08 now work with Panasonic HDC-SD9. The most important component is QuickTime 7.5 to support the encoding on newer AVCHD camcorder.

  13. ¡Thanks for your help!

    I also have probems with my Panasonic HDC-SD/PC and my Mac Pro (Leopard). I already updated QuickTime Player to 7.5 but I have iMovie 6.03 and I have not been able to update it in such a way that I could update it to a higher version (7.1, 7.1.1, 7.1.2 or 7.1.4). I have already downloade the aformendioned 7… iMovie versions but when I try ti install 7.1 receive a message that “An eligible iMovie application was not found in the location /Applications.” What should I do? Is there is an update for iMovie 6.03? I hope you could help me.

    iMovie 7.x is a part of iLife ’08 suite. Technically you need to buy iLife ’08. The update will not install unless you have iLife ’08 installed.

  14. For Juan Valdez, March 17, 2008: I, too, have Windows and a Dell laptop. Using the HD Writer 2.5E that came with the camera, it appears that I have downloaded the video onto my laptop. When I try to burn onto DVD, it doesn’t seem to want to recognize my DVD player in my laptop. I don’t dare erase the SD card until I am sure I can get all the video successfully transferred. Any help/suggestions would greatly be appreciated.

  15. Does anyone know if it works with the new HDC-SD100?I couldn’t import my movies on my Mac,,,,

    Which Mac model do you have? What version of Mac OS X, and which iLife?

    Basically you need an Intel Mac, 10.4.x or 10.5.x with iLife ’08.

  16. First of all, thanks a lot for all your help here. Now, what I am wondering is: will there be a quality loss when I import to iMovie and burn to DVD? Does iMovie convert the source material (AVCHD) to MPEG2 or some other format? Really, all I want to do is backup my raw source material from the HDC-SD9 to DVD, in one or two simple steps… without any editing, etc. Basically I’m ready to go (iMovie 7.1.4, QuickTime 7.5.5, Intel Mac), but I’m unsure about the steps, since I haven’t done anything yet. Or should I invest in the Panasonic DVD burner to make things really easy…

  17. the Voltaic program is really slow but it works. You can download it for free from Apple site, then use it to extract the video…

    Am unsure about Perian. Hype looked good but not sure what it does.

  18. PLEASE PLEASE!!!!!!! I have an imac with imovie hd and i have recently brought the panasonic hdc-hs9 BUT i cannot get any of the video footage ive shoot to upload or even be recocognised on my imac Intel Core 2 Duo. What do i do!????!??? I know it works with imovie 09 but id prefer to stick with what i know!


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