Panasonic HC-V720 review
1/2.33in CMOS sensor, PAL, 1,920x1,080, 21.0x zoom
The PanasonicHC-V720 is the 2013 update to 2012’s Panasonic HC-V700 , and it doesn’t seem that much has changed. It has a 1/2.33in CMOS sensor, 21x optical zoom and 3in colour touchscreen display, but it does have a larger pixel count of 4.14-megapixels. The HC-V720 also benefits from 5.1-channel surround sound recording rather than the 2-channel stereo recording of the outgoing HC-V700. It also retains Panasonic’s excellent hybrid optical image stabilisation technology, which provides five axes of stabilisation.
The HC-V720’s 3in colour touchscreen monitor is also unchanged from last year’s model. The resistive touchscreen is responsive, and the default icons and details on the monitor are clearly displayed and informative. Grid lines and the level-gauge are thin enough not to obscure your scene but apparent enough to be of use.
The HC-V720’s menu is typical of the range, being a drab combination of grey backgrounds and white text. The HC-V720 responds to your commands quickly, but what little animation there is in its menus is performed jerkily, giving the HC-V720 a slightly cheap, budget feel. As with other Panasonic camcorder menus, the menu options are well organised and you quickly learn where to find the option you want to use.
Sadly, The HC-V720 feels physically cheap, too. The zoom lever, in particular, feels very flimsy. You can push it from one side to the other very quickly and, even if you exercise full care and control, there’s little subtlety in zoom speed. It’s either slow and steady or fast and frantic. The port covers also feel cheap and snap open and shut in an ungraceful manner. This is a shame, because otherwise the HC-V720 feels nicely weighted and well balanced.
WI-FI AND NFC
One feature that separates the HC-V720 from the outgoing HC-V700 is Wi-Fi. As with the top-end Panasonic HC-X920, you can either connect the HC-V720 to an existing network using a wireless access point or connect to it directly. Direct connection is the easiest way of connecting, as you simply have to select the HC-V720’s SSID and enter a passcode that the HC-V720 provides.
Once connected, you can use Panasonic’s Image app to control and monitor the HC-V720 remotely. We used the Image app with a third-generation iPad and an iPhone 4S, and performance was similar on both devices, with around a second elapsing before the Image app updated itself to reflect the scene captured by the HC-V720.
Much of the Image app’s screen is consumed by the monitor window, with the zoom slider and record, photo and mode buttons being located to the right. At the bottom of the screen is a meter that shows the level of magnification graphically and numerically when you use the app’s zoom lever. Conveniently, the Image app also displays the remaining battery life graphically and numerically. We think the zoom slider is too close to the record, photo and mode buttons, and would be better located at the base of the app, just below the magnification meter.
You can also stream footage to your mobile device, which is incredibly handy if you’re shooting on location and want to review footage quickly on a larger tablet screen, or if you simply want to play home movies to show your friends or family.