Recording videos isn’t something that is very out of reach these days. A lot of midrange and high-end smartphones now have the ability to record videos. If the lighting conditions are right, the video quality is actually pretty good and the 30 fps is definitely the kind of content that is worth sharing in social networking websites. Even some of the newest tablet systems have cameras that can record videos when there is a sudden need to. The quality may also be boosted through certain smartphone or tablet applications.
However, these continue to be multifunctional devices and all the fun is over when the battery dies out. In addition, recording videos using a smartphone isn’t very comfortable and they lack technologies to compensate shake. Tablet cameras are pretty much low quality in general and using those to record can make you look pretty silly. If you are a lot more serious in recording for long periods of time, you are better off getting a fully-featured digital camcorder like the Panasonic HC-V700M.
Panasonic offers lots of different models with some being cheaper than some smartphones. But if you are expecting a huge leap in quality and usability over a high-end smartphone, the HC-V700M should please you because it is the king of the consumer lineup of Panasonic cameras and it isn’t expensive as the prosumer flagship models that are really reserved for enthusiasts. The Panasonic HC-V700M has some big shoes to fill though because it will be the 2012 replacement of the widely praised Panasonic SD90.
Design and Interface
Since the SD90 did so well, it looks as if Panasonic is playing very safe with their 2012 offerings. The Panasonic HC-V700M may have a different model number but it is very much the same as its predecessor on the outside. Anyone that hasn’t tried the SD90 should like the design because it is comfortable to use and the functions are easily accessible. It takes about a second to power on the device so you can shoot video immediately. Here is also an Eco mode feature to save power so it takes even less time to power the camcorder when you flip out the LCD display.
The 3.0-inch wide LCD touchscreen remains the same but it is still a welcome feature to have since the performance is quite responsive. Don’t expect multitouch technology here but doing simple things like playing back videos, zooming in or taking focused pictures is very easy. The display is also very smart because the brightness can automatically adjust itself depending on the surrounding environment. With its 170-degree viewing angle, showing recorded videos to other people using the small display is possible.
Storage and Connectivity
‘M’ is an important letter of the Panasonic HC-V700M model if you want to do some recording out of the box because this particular model features 16 GB of internal flash memory. But when recording hours of HD video is needed, you can add a memory card. SDXC formats are supported for high capacity in addition to the more commonly sold SD and SDHC memory cards. Adding a 64 GB SDXC card will allow about 5 additional hours of HD video recording on the highest quality. The connectivity options are pretty standard where you can plug an HDMI cable to a TV or a USB cable to computer. There is also an interface for the microphone as well as a proprietary AV multi port for composite or component connections.
The HC-V700M is the most advanced Panasonic camcorder to use the 1MOS Full HD system. While it is a notch below the quality that the 3MOS Full HD system delivers, the Panasonic HC-V700M is still a solid performer for the price that you pay. It features a refined 1/4.1-inch CMOS sensor that is illuminated on the front in order to correct some of the few flaws of the SD90.
The optical zoom range has been extended to 46x allowing more close up possibilities. It functions alongside the clever Zoom Mic function so the sound is more focused towards the direction you are zooming to. Not matter what your zoom level is, the Wind Noise Canceller function kicks in to minimize wind noise. But the more you zoom in, the more difficult it is to keep your hands steady. This is why the other major improvement of the Panasonic HC-V700M is the improved optical image stabilization technology. The Power O.I.S. Hybrid Plus is the name of this refined version and it adds an additional axis for a total of 5 axes to minimize blurring. If handshakes need to be compensated, there is an onscreen control that can activate the optical image stabilizer lock on demand.
The still picture recording performance isn’t as good as standard digital cameras as it is only capable of taking 6.1-megapixel shots but it still has the iA Mode making any images taken look better. The high-speed burst shooting option is also available if you want to make a cool slideshow of frames. It can even detect smiles while you are recording or taking images. While you are recording, you can still take 5.8-megapixel images.
If you are fond of transferring videos to a PC or Mac for editing, the iFrame Mode smoothens the entire experience. As long as this mode is active, file format conversions are needed when you to transfer videos. The time it takes to edit or upload videos should be lessened significantly.
If editing isn’t necessary, it is better to view the videos on a large HDTV. With an HDMI mini cable, that is possible but you can do even more if your HDTV is a Panasonic VIERA model because those models feature VIERA Link so you use the TV remote control to operate the camcorder remotely.
The Panasonic HC-V700M costs $600 dollars which is around the same price as a smartphone or high-end digital camera. The improvements over the SD90 are pretty significant. This is the model to buy if you cannot afford the flagship Panasonic HC-X900M 3MOS camcorder.
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