Panasonic HC-V500 - Manual Controls and Settings

Score

Sections

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.

Score in detail

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

Image Processor

Image Sensor 1/5.8in back-illuminated CMOS with 1.5Mpixels
Image Sensor Quantity 1

Lens Features

Optical Zoom (Times) 42x
Digital Zoom (Times) 2500x

Video Recording

Recording Media SD card
Video Capture Format AVCHD
Max Video Res 1920 x 1080 / 50p
Minimum Lux Rating (Lux) 4lx
Image Stabilisation Hybrid OIS+

General Features

LCD Screen Size (Inch) 3in
On-board Storage (Gigabyte) 0GB
On-board Microphone Stereo

A/V ports

HDMI Yes
USB 2.0 Yes
Audio / Video Out Yes
Audio / Video In No
External Microphone No

Physical Specifications

Weight (Gram) 227g
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