Panasonic Full HD Video Camera Camcorder HC-V180K, 50X Optical Zoom, 1/5.8-Inch BSI Sensor
Panasonic Full HD Video Camera Camcorder HC-V770, 20X Optical Zoom, 1/2.3-Inch BSI Sensor, HDR Capture
Panasonic HC-V180K Full HD Camcorder with 50x Stabilized Optical Zoom - Bundle with Video Bag, 16GB SDHC Card
Panasonic 4K Ultra HD Camcorder HC-VX981K (Black), 20x Optical Zoom, Bundle Kit with Video Bag + 32GB SDHC Card + 49mm Filter Kit
Panasonic HC-WXF1 4K Cinema-like Camcorder, 24x Leica Dicomar Lens, 1/2.5" Bsi Sensor
If you are looking for a high-quality camcorder, consider one of the terrific offerings from Panasonic. Panasonic creates handheld camcorders aimed at consumers and professional videographers. As such, you are likely to find something that will fit both your budget and your shooting needs.
Panasonic camcorders allow you to record video at a high level using many of the latest technologies. A few specific features that are unique to the brand may intrigue you. However, it can be overwhelming to wade through all of the offerings and try to differentiate between them, so we have done the hard work for you.
Read on to learn everything you need to know when shopping for a Panasonic camcorder, from optical zoom and frames per second (FPS) to features like special effects and WiFi. To make shopping even easier, check out the Panasonic camcorders we have highlighted as our favorites.
The optical zoom lens is a key part of any camcorder, giving it an advantage over DSLR and mirrorless still-image cameras trying to shoot video. The zoom lens allows you to stand in one place and significantly change the magnification of the scene. The term “optical zoom” refers to the movement of glass elements inside the lens to create magnification. This is superior to digital zoom, which refers to the magnification of images via software (and thus, some loss of image clarity).
Panasonic sometimes combines optical and digital zoom elements and calls it “Intelligent Zoom.” However, when shopping, you should focus on optical zoom numbers. Panasonic denotes optical zoom as a number with an X. Larger numbers equal greater magnification. Anywhere from 10X to 50X optical zoom is possible with Panasonic camcorders.
The image sensor is the chip that measures the light coming through the lens to create the image for the video. Sensors that are larger in size create sharper images.
The majority of image sensors in Panasonic camcorders are 1/2.3 inches in size. However, for a pro-level camcorder from Panasonic, the image sensor could be as large as 1 inch, which greatly improves image quality.
Panasonic uses BSI (back side illumination) technology in its sensor to reduce noise (or incorrectly measured pixels) in the scene, which can be a problem when shooting videos in low light.
The image sensor determines the maximum video resolution at which you can shoot, usually either 4K or HD (high definition). A 4K recording has about four times as many pixels per frame as an HD recording. Some Panasonic cameras shoot at a resolution called Cinema 4K, which is slightly wider and has a few hundred more pixels than standard 4K.
A Panasonic camcorder frame rate, or FPS, refers to the number of frames per second it can record. Rates of 24, 30, 50, and 60 are common.
Lower-priced Panasonic camcorders have a microphone built inside the body of the camcorder. This tiny microphone cannot match the sound quality you’d get from a large microphone that extends outside the camcorder’s body. Some Panasonic models have an attached but rotatable microphone outside the camera body for directional audio pickup.
You also have the option of attaching an external microphone with a cable to a port on the camcorder. Some pro-level Panasonic camcorders ship with two input terminals, allowing for extensive audio control.
LCD screen and EVF
To frame your scene, you should have the option of an EVF (electronic viewfinder) or LCD screen. An LCD screen usually folds into the camcorder body when not in use. Quite a few Panasonic camcorders include a tiltable LCD, which allows you to adjust the angle of the screen so you can see it easily without worrying about sun glare.
To help you shoot photos that are squared up properly rather than tilted, Panasonic camcorders often include an automatic correction for the lens which will counteract the slight tilt you create as you hold the camera.
High-end Panasonic cameras have an anti-shake capability called OIS (optical image stabilization) that steadies the image when you are holding the camcorder in your hands, eliminating blur.
High dynamic range (HDR) recording allows you to capture clear video when shooting in difficult lighting conditions. It helps you pull details out of deep shadows and excessively bright areas.
Panasonic camcorders often include multiple special effect options that you can add via the camcorder’s software, including the following:
- 8mm movie simulation
- Time lapse
- Miniature effect
- Slow motion
If you have a Panasonic camcorder with built-in WiFi, you can automatically copy your videos to a computer as you shoot them. WiFi also gives you the ability to use your camcorder as a baby monitor or webcam, streaming video in real time. You could also use a smartphone or tablet app to remotely control the camcorder over the WiFi connection.