- Great image quality
- Good range of manual controls
- Effective image stabilisation
- No lens ring
- 3D attachment doesn't allow zooming
- No headphone minijack
Review Price £499.99
Although it's almost business as usual at the top end of Panasonic's 2012 camcorder range with the HC-X900, the next rung down is a little more of a departure. Although Panasonic did already offer plenty of models with a single CMOS, the HC-V700 offers an unusually large one, in a similar fashion to the high-end models from most of its competitors.
The V700 boasts a sizeable 1/2.33in sensor with a whopping 15.3MP, although only 3.55MP of these are used when shooting video. This CMOS is also described as High Sensitivity, which is Panasonic's spin on backside illumination. So on top of the sensor being already large, it also sports this performance-enhancing technology. Curiously, only 3.55MP are used when shooting still images, too, so this won't make a great general-purpose crossover device.
Usually, when camcorders have a large sensor the optical zoom factor is reduced, as there isn't enough room for a long one. But the V700 still manages to offer a 26x telephoto, and there's an iZoom option available which boosts this to 46x. This isn't quite a digital zoom, because it doesn't blow up the video signal and lose resolution, but instead crops into the frame, taking advantage of the excess pixels available.
Video is recorded in the relatively new AVCHD 2.0 format, so data rates now have a maximum of 28Mbits/sec, with Full HD running at 50 progressive frames per second. The V700 doesn't have any built-in memory, instead relying on its single SDXC card slot. At the top data rate, around 5 minutes of footage can be stored per gigabyte. The other benefit of this version of AVCHD is that it has direct support for 3D, although the V700 only offers the side-by-side format, not the MVC format that maintains Full HD resolution rather than halving it.