Panasonic HC-V500M Camcorder Review
The Panasonic HC-V500M is a good entry-level camcorder, and it has plenty of updates over the previous HDC-TM40. But Panasonic failed to improve the V500M's low light capabilities, which ends up being the camcorder's biggest weakness. Still, if you're looking for a sub-$500 camcorder with a lot of controls and decent image quality, then you've come to the right place. The HC-V500M has more full-fledged manual settings than the competition from Canon, Sony, and JVC in this price range.
Of course, the HC-V500M isn't dirt cheap. You still have to spend between $400 - $500 to own this model, which is a lot when you consider last year's HDC-TM40 from Panasonic is still available online for less than $200. The new V500M does have many design improvements, though, including a 3-inch touchscreen and a 1080/60p record mode. This new record mode helps the V500M capture a sharper image and better motion than its predecessor.
But if performance is of utmost importance to you, then the V500M is not a good option. Sony and Canon's entry-level models are better, and for just a bit more cash you can upgrade to a mid-range camcorder that will surely outdo the HC-V500M in terms of image quality. The real benefit of the HC-V500M is its controls—few other entry-level models give you full access to shutter speed, aperture, gain, focus, and white balance like Panasonic does. We were also very impressed with the camcorder's optical image stabilization mode, which was one of the best we've ever tested.