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Manual Controls and Settings

By James Morris

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

There are a few useful options to be found in the quick menu on the left of the LCD as well. Software buttons are available for operating the zoom and triggering record, ideally positioned for two-handed camcorder operation. You can toggle the Pre-Rec function and video light, enable the stabilisation lock and AF tracking, and operate a touch-controlled zoom. We would like to see tele macro and backlight compensation added to the list (of which more later), but overall there's some pretty useful options here.

Switch to manual mode and an even more comprehensive range of settings becomes available. An additional quick menu page gives access to manual focusing, white balance settings, shutter speed and iris. The manual focusing is a little fiddly with the touchscreen, despite the assist mode that fringes areas in focus with blue, but white balancing options include two indoor and two outdoor presets, plus fully manual as well as automatic modes. You can adjust the shutter from 1/50th to 1/8000th, and the iris from F16 to F1.8, with up to 18dB of video gain available on top of a fully open aperture. These are not features you normally expect in a sub-£300 camcorder.

Particularly surprising to see are the picture adjustments, which let you set sharpness, colour, exposure and white balance offset. There's a Digital Cinema Colour mode, which enables high dynamic range x.v.Colour for use with Panasonic VIERA TVs. You can even adjust the microphone levels manually, despite the lack of connecitivity for attaching an external source. There's a zoom mic facility, and a reasonably effective wind noise cancellation system. However, although essentials like backlight compensation and tele macro are present and correct, they are only available in the full menu. These should really be located in the quick menu as well, as mentioned earlier.

Image quality is pretty decent for a camcorder this price. In good lighting, colour fidelity is very good and contrast is particularly impressive, with detail visible in shadows and with highlights not blowing out. The V500 can't quite compete with its premium siblings such as the HC-X900 for detail, but it's not bad for a third of the price. The High Sensitivity sensor proves its worth in low light, too. Performance isn't significantly better than our favourite budget models, but it's far better than sub-£300 camcorders of a few years ago. The HC-V500 should be more than up to grabbing family moments in dimly lit houses.

Verdict

The HC-V500 is another camcorder from Panasonic that doesn't quite hit the price mark for a true budget model. If you're really tight on cash, we would still recommend a more keenly priced alternative such as JVC's HD Everio GZ-E205. But if you have a little more to spend, the HC-V500 has a more generous array of configuration options and superior image stabilisation, making it worth the extra money.

Overall Score

8

Scores In Detail

  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Image Quality 8
  • Perfomance 8
  • Value 9

Brian ONeill

June 18, 2012, 4:24 pm

I have a canon ixus 230is that shoots hd video.

I am curious is there any benefit to having a dedicated video camera like this over using the video function in a stills camera?

cliche

June 18, 2012, 9:17 pm

I've been wanting to know this for a while now. TR folks, please opine !

Ed

June 19, 2012, 12:44 am

Very much so, yes. Dedicated camcorders such as this one offer vastly greater optical zoom ranges (the key thing really), optical image stabilisation, easier handling for video shooting, smooth zooming, better audio recording. If you're doing anything more than just a few short clips, they're infinitely easier to use. That said, if you go to the really low end - the sort of cheaper camcorders referred to in this review - then the lack of manual controls and optical stabilisation and lower image quality may mean that for many casual users it's not worth the outlay (though you'll still get a much larger zoom range).

cliche

June 19, 2012, 7:56 pm

Thanks for that Ed. I feel better purchasing my Panasonic SD60 back in 2010 after reading this review http://www.trustedreviews.com/... just before my purchase

Geoffrey Brown

September 27, 2012, 9:50 am

One thing I am interested in knowing is that in the Panasonic FHD (Full High Definition = 1920x1080) lineup this camera is in the odd situation of having insufficient pixels to support 1080p. My understanding is that for 1080i you are supplying half the lines in each frame so only need 0.5 of FHD = 1.05 megapixels approx. Given this camera boasts FHD @ 1080p it would seem to have insufficient motion pixels for this. It needs 2.1 megapixels but really has 1.3 - 1.12 megapixels. Is this therefore FHD ? It would seem not to me.

Geoffrey.

Geoffrey Brown

September 27, 2012, 9:52 am

The review above in relation to the camera FHD capabilities appears to skirt around the issue of whether it is really FHD. The mention that the sensor has high sensitivity is really a separate matter to the native resolution and support for FHD.

Geoffrey.

Dave

December 23, 2012, 1:33 am

I just bought this camera to replace a larger network quality camera and I was SURPRISED with the picture quality.Simply amazing.I bumped it to 1080p right out of the box and definitely will be enjoying this camera for all my video needs.The stabilization of the picture is worth it alone.Take video while walking or running and it's smoooooth as silk.The 1080p HD videos from this camera are shown in 1080p on my 55 inch Samsung flat screen so defects will show at that size,but there are few,if any.This camera is priced too low for what you get and if you are smart you will grab one before they are gone.You can argue specs but it all comes down to the actual picture when viewed by the naked eye. Panasonic has hit a home run with this one.

Alistair Lumb

January 12, 2013, 9:39 am

Im just contemplating trading in my HV40 for this or similar hoping that time will have made image quality better or at least equal. Whats your take

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