Unveiled: Five New Panasonic HD Camcorders

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Panasonic is kicking off 2014 by announcing five new HD camcorders. The new models are the HC-W850, HC-V750, HC-V550, HC-V250, and the HC-V130. The flagship HC-W850 features an innovative Twin Camera function which enables users to capture two scenes at once, opening the door to new creative possibilities. The W850 and V750 also introduce all-new lenses, sensors, engines, and the world’s first 4-drive lens system in a Full HD consumer camcorder. For super-slow-motion playback, the two camcorders can also record Full HD 1920 x 1080 video at up to 120 fps. Looking at the other models, the HC-V550 and HC-V250 offer impressive 50x optical and 90x intelligent zoom to bring faraway subjects up close and personal. All the models, with the exception of the HC-V130, feature built-in Wi-Fi with NFC support and a new Baby Monitor feature. The entry-level HC-V130 provides 38x optical and 75x intelligent zoom and Creative Control effects to bring an artistic touch to your videos.

Twin Camera on HD-W850

The most intriguing of the new models is the HC-W850 and its Twin Camera feature. Featuring a rotatable sub-camera on the side of the LCD screen, the camcorder enables you to capture two scenes at once—a close-up shot and a landscape shot in the same direction, front and side shots, or even capturing shots of your subject while capturing yourself filming. The creative possibilities of this feature are endless.

All-New Lenses, Sensors, and Engines

Other than the Twin Camera, the HC-V750 and HC-W850 are nearly identical and stand out due to their new lenses, sensors, and engines. The new Crystal Engine Pro+ is capable of processing about 1.5 times faster than the engine in the previous models and offers enhanced noise reduction for sharper, clear images. In addition, Panasonic has added the first 4-drive lens system in a Full HD consumer camcorder, which uses a 4-group lens system controlled by individual motors. This enables high-resolution and high-magnification 20x optical zoom in a compact body. Further adding to their feature set, the W850 and V750 offer super-slow-motion capture at Full HD resolution at 120 fps, with smooth playback at 240 fps possible, thanks to Intelligent Frame Creation.

Advanced Level Shot and 5-Axis Hybrid O.I.S+

Other notable features of the W850 and V750 include an advanced Level Shot Function and 5-Axis O.I.S+. This feature is also shared with the HC-V550. The tilt correction of the Level Shot Function can be adjusted from Off, Normal, or Strong, based on your preference and shooting conditions. Together with the 5-Axis Hybrid O.I.S+, the camcorders provide powerful correction for unwanted camera movements and tilting.

Powerful Zooming

The HC-V550 and HC-V250 bring faraway subjects to the forefront with a powerful 50x optical zoom and 90x intelligent zoom. Working in conjunction with the 5-Axis Hybrid O.I.S+ of the HC-V550 and the Power O.I.S. of the V250, you can walk and zoom while recording and still enjoy smooth, high-quality images. The entry-level HC-V130 features a slightly less powerful 38x optical zoom and 75x intelligent zoom and doesn’t gain the benefits of any optical image stabilization.


Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC

All of the new models, with the exception of the entry-level HC-V130, feature built-in Wi-Fi and one-touch connection by NFC (Near Field Communication). NFC allows you to quickly and easily connect to your smartphone without any complicated setup and allows remote control of the camcorder using your smartphone. For phones without NFC compatibility, there is also an easy connection featuring a QR code. Once connected to your smartphone, you can use Ustream to deliver live video and photos to your friends and family as they are recorded.

Built-in Wi-Fi also enables you to monitor your baby in another room through your smartphone. You can even speak to the baby via your smartphone or have a notification sent to you when the camera detects that your baby is crying.

BSI Sensor on HC-V250 and HC-V130

A Back Side Illuminated (BSI) sensor is incorporated into the HC-V250 and the entry-level HC-V130 for recording sharp, high-quality, Full HD video with reduced noise, even in dimly lit environments.

Creative Controls Effects

All five models provide built-in Creative Control modes for spicing up your footage and enhancing your creative options. Available modes include Miniature, 8mm Movie, Silent Movie, and Time Lapse Recording.

Remote Pan Tilt Cradle (Sold Separately)

Panasonic has also announced a new Remote Pan and Tilt Cradle. When connected to a camcorder, the cradle detects a moving subject and automatically tracks the subject within a horizontal range of 180 degrees and a vertical range of 15 degrees. When used with the Wi-Fi Home Monitoring function, you can automatically track your pets while you are away from home. Now you can finally find out what your pets do when you’re not around.

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These all look like single-chip cameras.

Looks like Panasonic has abandoned the 3MOS (3-chip) sensor architecture at the consumer level. For me, at least, that was their key differentiator. (Built-in Twixtor I can live without.)

Looks as piece of cr*p for hobbyist. The 900 and the X900 were the best than came the regression to the X920 and now another step down to W850.

The X920 had a host of improvements over the X900. How was it a regression? But certainly now the W850 seems rather pointless. Is this really their new flagship camera? Have they really just given up on the market or are they yet to announce the new flagship?

They've added the pointless twin camera, but lost the vital lens ring and 3-chip sensor. Glad to see them finally adding slo-mo (albeit not slow enough) and infra-red filming (not mentioned in this review), but seems it's too late as they've destroyed the camera in other ways.