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Panasonic HC-V720 review

Updated camcorder is big on features

The Panasonic HC-V720 has a good bundle of features that are very appealing, but a lack of sharpness and a little too much noise and colour banding lets its images down. We think this is due to the budget-standard image sensor in the camcorder.

Now, we're not not suggesting that we should be getting full frame DSLR sensors in a camcorder of this price, but with Panasonic's own Micro Four Thirds Lumix G3 selling for £350 / US$350 / AU$450, we feel like a bigger sensor shouldn't be out of the question.

We liked

It would be silly to ignore the things the Panasonic HC-V720 does well. First and foremost is the zoom and image stabilisation, both of which are absolutely outstanding. The Intelligent Zoom really can go all the way to 50x with very little degradation in image quality, despite it only being 21x optical.

Similarly, the stabilisation is near-immaculate, making handheld video look like a full on steadicam most of the time. The only time it's a bit iffy is when you're recording in wind, because then both your body and the camera start to resist any unwanted movement, causing overcompensation. It's minor, though, and just resting your arm on something will take it back to being nigh-on perfect.

And once again, motion is handled really well. There's some smearing when it gets too fast, but that's more or less unavoidable - it's still brilliantly smooth, so is great for sports and nature (especially recorded at 50 frames per second, so you can slow it down later).

We disliked

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As far as still images go, we weren't too impressed, especially in normal indoor light. There was a huge amount of noise in the images, even with the flash on in an already well-lit room.

If you're spending around £500 / US$550 / AU$680 on something to take still images, we're sure it's no surprise that you'll get better results from something like the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS. The Panasonic HC-V720 just isn't a stills camera, and let's not pretend that it is.

The battery life in the camcorder is also no great shakes, but we wouldn't say it's bad either. We got something like an hour of constant use out of it from the provided battery, and the standby did a good job of prolonging it when not in use. For serious outdoors recording sessions, you'll need spare battery packs, but for a day of light sightseeing, you'll get by.

Final verdict

The important thing when considering whether to get the Panasonic HC-V720, then, isn't whether it'll give you vastly improved image quality in your video over what some cameras or the best smartphones will do. Sadly, it often won't.

But what it does is enable you to smoothly record footage that you couldn't get any other way: close-ups in sporting events; perfectly smooth tracking of a bird taking off; video from a boat that doesn't make people too seasick.

The Panasonic HC-V720 won't drastically improve shots of the kind of things you're already recording, but it will enable you to record whole new things.

Is that worth an almost £500 / US$550 / AU$680 outlay? We think the Panasonic camcorder could, and really should, offer stronger image quality for the money. But we couldn't have got the shots in our sample video without it, and for that, we think it'll still be thoroughly worth the investment for some people anyway.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital Camcorder
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
TouchscreenNo
Number of Image Sensors1
Effective Image Resolution4.1 Megapixel
Effective Video Resolution4.1 Megapixel
HDMIYes
Recording MediaMemory Card
Image StabilizationElectronic, Optical
Optical Zoom21x
Digital Zoom1500x
Brand NamePanasonic
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsAVCHD, MP4, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC
Recording FormatsFull HD
Built-in DevicesMicrophone, Speaker, Flashlight, Video Light
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH
Image Sensor Size1/2.33"
Maximum Image Resolution6016 x 3384
Maximum Frame Rate50 fps
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Audio ChannelsStereo
Wireless LANYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeMOS
Total Camcorder Resolution17.5 Megapixel
Recommended Illumination1400 lux
Maximum Video Lines1080
Interlaced ScanYes
Progressive ScanYes
USBYes
Longest Shutter Speed1/25 Second
Shortest Shutter Speed1/8000 Second
Focal Length (35mm Equivalent)28 mm to 729.60 mm
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card
Height69.3 mm
Width60.1 mm
Depth124.4 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-V720
Product NameHC-V720 HD Camcorder
Aperture Rangef/1.8 to 3.5
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberHC-V720EB-K
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

All-Round Camcorder Featuring New High Sensitivity Sensor for Clear Images and Wi-Fi Function for Easy Sharing

The combination of the newly developed High Sensitivity Sensor and the Crystal Engine Pro, with its superb noise reduction performance, records bright, high-quality, and low-noise images in both bright and dim lighting situations. Beautiful images can be recorded under a variety of situations, including indoor shooting and night scenery shooting.

The wide shooting range expands the breadth of photographic expression, extending from 28mm wide angle to Intelligent 50x zooming. This makes it possible to capture everything from panoramic scenery to telephoto images for obtaining dynamic images of subjects at a distance.

The Wi-Fi function enables real-time broadcasting of important events via Ustream to share images worldwide, while recording in Full-HD. There is also a function to send e-mail to notify the start of streaming to preregistered e-mail addresses. The NFC achieves one-touch connection with a smartphone. There is no need for cumbersome settings. Home Monitoring lets users check on pets or family at home from the outside. They can even speak to their pets or family while viewing them on the screen, and record images remotely from a smartphone.

The HC-V720 is also equipped with Level Shot Function, in addition to the 5-Axis HYBRID O.I.S.+ that thoroughly suppresses blurring over the entire shooting range. Level Shot Function automatically detects and corrects the tilting of captured images. It records crisp, clear and more horizontal images with reduced blur even if when shooting in an unstable or awkward position such as low-angle or high-angle shooting.

Horizontal resolution of 1080 TV lines makes it possible to shoot high-resolution Full-HD images that express even extremely small details.

Package Contents
  • HC-V720 HD Camcorder
  • AC Adaptor
  • AC Cable
  • DC Cable
  • Rechargeable Battery Pack
  • HDMI Cable
  • Shoe Adaptor
  • USB Cable
  • Software CD-ROM
Display Resolution460800 Pixel
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)277 g
White Balance Modes
  • Auto
  • Indoor1
  • Indoor2
  • Sunny
  • Cloudy
  • White Set