Review Price £169.95
Switch to manual mode, however, and this quick menu includes quite a few more options. There’s manual focusing, although this is a little fiddly to adjust with a D-pad. You can choose between four white balance presets, two for outdoors and two for indoors, as well as auto and manual modes. The iris can be configured between F8 and F1.8, with up to 18dB of video gain available on top of a fully open aperture. Meanwhile the shutter can be varied between 1/50th and 1/8000th of a second. Best of all, shutter and iris can be configured separately. There are also intelligent contrast, soft skin and colour night view settings available via the quick menu. So the manual settings are very comprehensive, and similar to what is available in Panasonic's higher-end models.
This is still a budget consumer camcorder, though, so there is no accessory shoe, and no minijacks for attaching an external microphone. The V100 sports a mini HDMI port and proprietary AV port for outputing analogue video. The latter provides both composite and component analog video output, alongside stereo audio via a pair of RCA plugs, using a multi-cable that is included in the box. But there's no headphone option for the AV port, and no way to go beyond the built-in stereo microphone. The V100 does have a solid build, though, and belies its price by not feeling like a cheap camcorder.
Image quality is very reasonable for a sub-£200 camcorder as well. In the best lighting conditions, the picture is bright and colourful. Saturation is quite rich, but not as popping as most Sony camcorders produce. Panasonic tends to err on the side of realism here, which we prefer. Detail is also good, although if you look closely you can see a very slight lack of sharpness compared to premium models. We weren't sure what to expect in low light, as the V100 doesn't explicitly sport a back-side illuminated sensor and the CMOS is quite small. But the camcorder acquits itself surprisingly well as illumination drops, with an image that is at least as bright as JVC's Everio GZ-E15. Colours are actually richer, too, and grain only appears in really dark conditions.
So the V100 is another budget camcorder that doesn't fall foul of what used to be the curse of budget models, where they were particularly poor at shooting in the gloomy indoor conditions home videomakers often want to record in. The V100's Power OIS image stabilisation is also very effective (and unlike JVC's Advanced Image Stabilisation (AIS) doesn't reduce image quality by cropping into the frame, although AIS is pretty effective too) so you can safely leave it on most of the time, unless it is causing issues with your camera moves.
If you're on a tight budget, Panasonic's HC-V100 is a very tempting proposition, with a street price of around £170. Although the JVC GZ-E15's £150 price wins out for sheer cost-conscious value, the HC-V100 gives you a greater range of manual settings, which are easier to access, as well as digital photography and optical image stabilisation. So if you can afford the extra £20, it's worth the additional outlay, and if you were considering a pocket Internet model in this price range, we would recommend you save up for the V100 instead. You will get much better results.
Trusted Reviews is part of the Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Technology Network