Review Price £548.99
While Panasonic's new flagship consumer camcorder the Panasonic HC-X920 looks like a
solid upgrade to last year's 10/10 model, it's the Panasonic HC-V720 that will
probably be the more realistic purchase for those not looking to become
the next kathryn bigelow.
Adding Wi-Fi, NFC, an inbuilt level gauge, 5.1 surround sound recording and external an microphone input the V720 packs in plenty of upgrades over its predecessor the HC-V700, which should mean it's a very desirable camera assuming Panasonic keeps the price right.
Panasonic HC-V720 - Design
Like with the X920, the V720 has little that immediately leaps out about its design. Its exterior is largely plastic but despite this, and its surprisingly low weight, it feels sturdy and easy to handle. It does sport a few cosmetic differences compared to its predecessor - which we think make it look a bit smarter - but essentially it's a typical camcorder shape and size, with a good control layout.
At 277g and with dimensions of 60.1 x 69.3 x 124.4mm it's a light and compact camera that although not quite pocketable will easily go relatively unnoticed in a day bag or when slung over a shoulder. It's actually 7g heavier and a bit shorter and fatter than the V700 but essentially offers the same kind of ergonomics. Meanwhile, for comparison, the X920 is 417g and 67 x 72 x 150mm.
Panasonic HC-V720 - Features
So the V720 isn't exactly a revolution in video camera design, but it does pack in a host of features that coupled with what should be excellent image quality, should make this a top-pick for its price.
Starting with the most headline grabbing features, the V720 has both inbuilt Wi-Fi and NFC. The latter is used for quickly setting up the former with the user able to tap an NFC enabled phone or tablet against the camcorder's NFC tag to quickly share connection settings. Once paired mobile devices can then be used to view what the camera is seeing as well as control functions such as zoom and record.
We gave this new feature a go and sure enough it works quickly and easily, with remote control being surprisingly lag-free.
Perhaps the two biggest boons for those torn between a feature-cut mid-range camcorder (like the previous V700) and an enthusiast-grade model (like the previous X900), the V720 includes both built in 5.1 surround sound and an external microphone input. There isn't a headphone socket too, for real time audio monitoring, but visual mic level feedback is given onscreen. The mic input in particular greatly increases the versatility of this camera, making it easy to use lapel or handheld mics for interviews, or high-grade mics for recording gigs.
another enthuiast feature is the hot shot mount which can be used for lights, external mics and such like.
Also newly added is an electronic level guage which when filming shows a line onscreen to indicate whether you're holding the camera level.
The Panasonic V720 has a pretty decent zoom range.
All these features are added to what should be a solid image-capturing set of components. Inside this camcorder is a single 1/2.3in CMOS sensor, which is larger than that of your average camcorder and now uses back-side illumination technology for a 20% boost in light sensitivity. It houses 17.52megapixels which means it can shoot up to 20megapixel stills (by using interpolation) and uses a huge amount of pixel oversampling to ensure high-quality footage - after all, Full HD recording only requires 2 megapixels.
Alternatively, all those extra pixels can be used to zoom into the sensor without loosing overall resolution. By using this so called 'intelligent zoom' the camera's 21x optical zoom range can be extended to 50x without loss of resolution. With a maximum aperture range of f/1.8-3.5 this camera also has a reasonably fast lens, which also incorporates Panasonic's excellent Hybrid OIS optical stabilisation technology for wobble free shooting.
Ultimately the proof of the pudding will be in how the V720 actually performs but given the excellent foundation it's building upon, namely the Panasonic V700, we've high hopes for its core picture quality. Plus, the extra features on offer here mean even owners of the V700 may have a few excuses to upgrade. All that remains to be seen is just how much this model will cost - if it's a similar price to the V700, Panasonic's surely onto a winner.
Latest Deals From Ebay