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Panasonic HC-V700 review

In a world of advanced smartphones, is there a reason to buy a £500 camcorder?

Our Verdict

Stands out thanks to its excellent features, but we wish the image quality matched up.

For

  • Massive zoom
  • Excellent motion
  • Great image stabilisation
  • Useful iA auto mode

Against

  • Pricey
  • Image quality can be quite weak
  • Manual controls restricted to touchscreen

The relentless march of technology inside smartphone cameras means that dedicated camcorders have started to seem less and less necessary as time goes on.

As with so many similar gadget types crushed under the boots of the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy S II and the like, the trick to carving out a useful spot in the market is to offer something the competition can't.

With an RRP of around £500 (though you can get it for less than £450 online), the Panasonic HC-V700 really needs to find a way to stand out to justify its cost.

It strikes you right from the off, though, by offering something a tiny phone never can – an absolutely massive zoom range. The HC-V700 is capable of a 46x zoom in total, with 21x of that being optical zoom, and the rest handled by Panasonic's Intelligent Zoom system.

Panasonic HC V700

The Intelligent Zoom is powered by Panasonic's Crystal Engine PRO imaging technology, and is designed to let you go beyond the range of the optical zoom without seeing the usual degradation associated with digital zooms.

It can't work magic, but if you go slightly over the 21x optical, it should produce something close to a purely optical image.

On top of that, the HC-V700 features Panasonic's iA wizardry, making the camera as foolproof to use as possible. You'll rarely have to worry about white balance or controlling the iris, unless you really want to – it's possible to switch back to manual control, but it's all controlled using the touchscreen, which is a pain for manual focussing.

Movies are recorded in 1080i at 50Hz, or 1080p at 50 frames per second, in AVCHD. There's no 720p option, or 30fps 1080p mode. There is a 540p mode at 25fps, but we recommend sticking with the big guns.

Panasonic HC V700

That said, while the 1080i50 mode is recognised by most editing software, 1080p50 is right on the fringes of what's currently supported by consumer software – Apple's iMovie doesn't support it, for example. The HC-V700 comes with some PC software to make playing the videos back easy for Windows users, but Mac users face more of an uphill challenge (hint: search online for a tool called Rewrap2M4V, which turns it to an iMovie/QuickTime-friendly format).

The good news is that recording at 50 frames per second means that if you're playing back at 25fps be default, you can slow down by 50 per cent without losing quality, which is great for sports.

Panasonic HC V700

Also good for sports is the optical image stabilsation (OIS). Actually, that's good for everyone – the HC-V700 is small and light enough (just 270g) that it's difficult to keep your hand still while using it, so Panasonic has included five-axis correction for your hand movements, and because it's optical, it shouldn't affect the overall image quality.

The lens itself is a 28mm wide-angle unit, and it's paired with a single 1/2.33 High Sensitivity 15.3-megapixel sensor. The 'High Sensitivity' part means it features backside illumination, much like the Panasonic HX-WA10.

Panasonic HC V700

You'll be able to see what you're recording on the three-inch LCD monitor, which can rotate 360 degrees. There's no viewfinder, but there is a removable shoe for attaching an external video light or microphone (there's a mini-jack input for mics).

You can get a 3D lens for the HC-V700, but we didn't have it available for testing. It doesn't feature any memory of its own, but it supports SDHC and SDXC cards.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital Camcorder
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
TouchscreenYes
Number of Image Sensors1
Effective Image Resolution3.6 Megapixel
Effective Video Resolution3.6 Megapixel
HDMIYes
Recording MediaMemory Card
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom21x
Digital Zoom1500x
Brand NamePanasonic
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsH.264/MPEG-4 AVC
Recording FormatsFull HD
Built-in DevicesMicrophone, Speaker, Video Light, Flashlight
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH
Image Sensor Size1/2.33"
Maximum Image Resolution3200 x 1800
Maximum Frame Rate50 fps
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Audio ChannelsStereo
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeMOS
Total Camcorder Resolution15.3 Megapixel
Maximum Video Lines1080
Interlaced ScanYes
Progressive ScanYes
USBYes
Longest Shutter Speed1/2 Second
Shortest Shutter Speed1/8000 Second
Focal Length (35mm Equivalent)28 mm to 717.40 mm
3D Type3D Ready
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card
Height69 mm
Width55 mm
Depth119.5 mm
ColourBlack
Video SystemPAL
Sound SystemDolby Digital
Minimum Illumination1 lux
Focal Length2.82 mm to 59.20 mm
Image FormatsJPEG
Audio FormatsAAC
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerPanasonic
Product ModelHC-V700
Product NameHC-V700 High Definition Digital Camcorder
Aperture Rangef/1.8 to 3.5
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberHC-V700EB-K
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

Panasonic's newly developed High Sensitivity Sensor portrays brightly lit scenes beautifully, and also captures dimly lit scenes with crisp, bright images and minimal noise. It produces stunning images in all kinds of situations, such as shooting indoors and at night. Because the pixels of this sensor are densely aligned, Intelligent Resolution Technology can be used when the Intelligent 46x Zoom exceeds the optical 21x zoom level, while maintaining the HD pixel count for high-powered zoom shots with incredible beauty.

Package Contents
  • HC-V700 High Definition Digital Camcorder
  • AC Adaptor
  • AC Cable
  • DC Cable
  • Rechargeable Battery Pack
  • AV Multi Cable
  • Shoe Adaptor
  • USB Cable
  • HD Writer AE 4.0 Software Media
Display Resolution460800 Pixel
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)270 g
White Balance Modes
  • Auto
  • Indoor1
  • Indoor2
  • Sunny
  • Cloudy
  • White Set