Panasonic HC-V700 Camcorder Review
If you're looking to get the most bang for your buck on an HD camcorder, the Panasonic HC-V700M should be near the top of your list. It's a mid-range model, so it doesn't have high-end features like a viewfinder or lens ring, but it's got solid performance and enough controls and features to keep most users satisfied.
The new 1/2.33-inch CMOS imager in the V700 gave the camcorder a boost in our noise tests, but it did also limit the low light sensitivity a bit (at least compared to last year's HDC-TM90). Unless you're obsessed about image quality, or you're going to be shooting video in a lot of dark places, the HC-V700 is not going to disappoint. The camcorder's 1080/60p mode produced sharp, high-quality video that went toe-to-toe with Panasonic's flagship HC-X900M.
The lens on the V700 is wide and powerful, with Panasonic offering 21x optical zoom and up to 46x using "intelligent zoom". Zoom Lovers, you can start your party now. Controls, as usual for Panasonic, are plentiful, but the main difference between the V700 and the step-up HC-X900 from Panasonic is the way these controls are adjusted. The V700 relies on the touchscreen LCD far too much, so adjusting controls is not a smooth or precise experience. If you're looking for a control dial or lens ring, you're going to have to upgrade to a flagship model.
Even at launch the Panasonic HC-V700M's $600 price tag was very competitive. Right now, the model is available for even less. We saw a few units online for as low as $400 bucks, and we expect the camcorder's price to fluctuate in the $400 - $600 range until the end of the year. If you can find the V700M for less than $500 bucks it's a bargain. Anything lower is an absolute steal.
Remember, the HC-V700 comes in two versions. One has 16GB of internal memory (the HC-V700M, which is the model we reviewed), and one has no internal memory (the HC-V700). Prices will differ for the two models, but usually by not that much. Compare prices for both models and if you factor in the cost of a 16GB memory card, the HC-V700M with its internal memory may often end up being the better buy.