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Panasonic brings HDR and 4K resolution to consumer camcorders

Richard Easton
5 Jan 2015
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Panasonic has announced updates to its consumer camcorder range including world's first HDR video recording mode

Panasonic has announced three new high-end consumer camcorders, the HC-WX970, HC-VX870 and HC-V770. All threem models includes High Dynamic Range (HDR) video for better exposed scenes. Anyone who has shot stills with a camera might already be familiar with HDR, whereby two or more images are combined in order to capture mode detail across shadows and highlights. This mode will particularly help in scenes with high contrast between foreground and background, for example a scene with strong backlighting. Commonly this sort of scene might result in the background being correctly exposed, leaving the foreground subjects underexposed. Panasonic's camcorders will capture two exposures simultaneously to combine.

We were given an advanced look at HDR in action and were relieved to see that there were different levels of HDR that can be applied. Even at the highest setting the camcorder managed to avoid the artificial look that can sometimes occur with HDR. Scenes remained natural but had good exposure across the shadows and highlight detail. The HC-WX970 and HC-VX870 will also allow for 4K video capture. However, it's only possible to shoot in HDR mode up to Full HD (1080p) resolution and not in 4K, which is a shame. While 2015 might be the year that 4K becomes more prevalent, for those without a 4K display to playback their footage, Panasonic's cameras will also allow 4K photo capture. Grabbing stills from 4K footage will also provide more pleasing results than from 1080p content. 

The high-end HC-WX970 sees the inclusion of an advanced twin camera function, where a second lens is embedded into the side of the LCD display allowing you to capture picture-in-picture reactions. A Narration mode also allows you to capture the camcorder operator's voice, which will be useful for providing commentary to those special family occasions or for any citizen journalism. If you don't want to splash out for the top-end model, all models allow you to use your smartphone as a secondary sub camera allowing you to record from two sources at the same time. You get a number of options for how the secondary video is embedded, including different sizes and frames. 

A number of other features are included across all the models including using the camcorder as a baby monitor controlled from your smartphone and streaming direct to UStream. A breakdown of the differences between models is below.

Feature

HC-WX970

HC-VX870

HC-V770

4K Video Recording and 4K Photo Mode

X

X

-

LEICA Dicomar Lens

X

X

-

4K High Precision AF Technology

X

X

-

HDR (High Dynamic Range) Movie Functionality

X

X

X

Advanced Twin Camera

X

-

-

Wireless Twin Camera

X

X

X

Optical Zoom

20x

20x

20x

Level Shot Function and 5-Axis Hand-Shake Detection

X

X

X

Sensor

8M BSI

8M BSI

6M BSI

Alongside these models, Panasonic also announced three other models for the European market - the HC-W570, HC-V270 and HC-V160. These lack the HDR or 4K capabilities but include far greater zooms and the same level of image stabilisation. Pricing is expected to be set at HC-WX970 (£899), HC-VX870 (£699), HC-V770 (£529) and HC-W570 (£349) providing a number of worthy options.

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