Review Price £229.99
Panasonic HX-WA2 - Recording Formats and Manual Settings
The image stabilisation system isn't quite so superior to pocket Internet camcorders, however. Not every example of the latter has any image stabilisation at all, so the WA2 is an improvement on these. But it still only offers the electronic variety, which is not as effective as the optical image stabilisation found on better mainstream camcorder models. This does at least have two modes - standard and Active - with the second of these using more of the sensor to provide smoothing of wilder vibrations, and is primarily optimised for shooting whilst walking, the downside being that the maximum iZoom is reduced in this mode.
Footage is recorded to SD memory card, with only a very small amount of memory on board. Format options range from 640 x 480 at 30 progressive frames per second, to 60i interlaced and 30p progressive Full HD. You can also grab 720p at 60 frames per second, if smooth motion is more important than resolution. Still image sizes range from 640 x 480 to 4,352 x 3,264.
Another camcorder trend, particularly for pocket models, is ruggedisation. After all, a product designed to be carried with you everywhere can follow you to even more locations if it can take a knock or two and survive the odd rainstorm. The WA2 is rated to function to a depth of 3m underwater, so you could safely use it in most swimming pools or in shallow seawater without fear of submersion. The only door on the camera body is secured by two switches that you must operate in sequence to open, making this very difficult to do accidentally. The WA2 is also solidly constructed, but it doesn’t have any particular standard for resilience or drop height.
When it comes to configuration options, the WA2 sits somewhere in between the very limited features of the Flip and its kin, and regular-format camcorders. There is a healthy range of scene modes, including an Underwater option which is intended to counteract the image discolouration caused when shooting through water. Alongside the fully automated white balance, there are four presets plus the ability to set white balance manually. The colour modes include digital effects like black and white and sepia, but also vivid and soft saturation settings, plus soft skin and HDR, although the latter is primarily aimed at the photography function. There's even manual focusing, although it's so fiddly and slow to operate, you will only want to use it when absolutely necessary, which will probably be never.
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