There is almost a full complement of physical features for the serious video enthusiast, too. No accessory shoe is built into the unit itself, but a slot hidden behind a flap at the rear allows you to attach a bracket that's included in the box. This bracket hosts a standard-sized cold accessory shoe, so you can attach a third-party video light, microphone or other peripheral. A mini-jack input is included for external microphones, and manual audio level controls are available, although these are buried in the main menu. There's also no headphone mini-jack, which is a curious omission when all the other necessary audio-related features are included. The viewfinder found in the X900 is absent, too, but this won't be so sorely missed by most users.
With its large, High Sensitivity sensor, the V700 manages to produce video that's not far off Panasonic's three-chip models. Colour and detail are both excellent, and the great image stabilisation keeps the picture clear when shooting handheld. The image in low light is just as bright, too. Our 100W ceiling light test is no match for the latest top premium camcorders. Although the V700's footage in poor illumination doesn't quite match the X900 for detail if you examine clips up close, it's still very bright and colours are faithful. Overall, this is a top class performer.
Panasonic's HC-V700 takes a different strategy to its very top-end models, with one larger sensor rather than three slightly smaller ones. But it still produces excellent image quality. It's lacking a couple of features compared to Panasonic's top-end models, in particular a lens ring and heaphone jack. But plenty remains for the enthusiast, with a full set of manual controls, a microphone input and standard-sized accessory shoe. This is primarily a premium point-and-shoot camcorder, but it's high on quality.