Panasonic HC-V700 Camcorder Review
Lens & Imaging System
Much has been said about Panasonic's new image sensor on the HC-V700. It's a 1/2.33-inch CMOS chip, which may be the largest imager Panasonic has ever put in a consumer camcorder. It's almost twice as large as the CMOS chip in last year's HDC-TM90 camcorder (1/4.1-inch), and the V700 has a single large chip instead of a three-chip system that is found on Panaosnic's flagship camcorders (like the HC-X900). Additionally, the V700's image sensor is loaded with 15.3 megapixels, although only 3.55 of those megapixels are effective for video recording.
The lens on the camcorder is also impressive, although it is the same lens found on the Panasonic HDC-TM90 from last year. It is a 21x zoom lens with an f/1.8 aperture and a 68.5-degree viewing angle. That field of view is much wider than what you get on the Canon HF M52, which is something you definitely have to keep in mind if you like to record in tight spaces.
Just like the previous HDC-TM90, the Panasonic V700 comes with a 3-inch LCD screen that uses touchscreen technology. Panasonic did, however, double the pixel count on the V700 up to 460,800 pixels (as opposed to 230k pixels on the TM90). These extra pixels make for a sharper image when you use the camcorder, and it should help people who like to use manual focus to fine-tune their videos.
The camcorder does not have a viewfinder, so you need to be aware that the LCD is the only way to frame and record your videos on the HC-V700. If you want a viewfinder you have to upgrade to Panasonic's flagship HC-X900 camcorder (or pick a flagship model from Canon or Sony).
The LCD is 3-inches in size, but it got an increase in pixel density over the screen on the TM90.
Panasonic does a few things different than other manufacturers when it comes to ports and inputs, but it's also got your basic connectivity features. Opening the LCD cavity you will find the mini HDMI terminal, an AV-multi port, and a mic input in a row near the base of the camcorder. The AV-multi port is proprietary, but it works as an AV and Component-out port with Panasonic's provided cable.
In the same vicinity, but closer to the top of the camcorder, there is a USB port next to a "shoe adapter release" switch. This shoe adapter idea is something that is unique to Panasonic camcorders, and it's the way Panasonic chose to include accessory shoes on its compact consumer models. This switch works in conjunction with the rectangular slot on the back of the V700. That's where you can fit the shoe adapter unit that comes with the HC-V700. When inserted, the camcorder is outfitted with a regular cold accessory shoe that can be used to mount mics, lights, or whatever you have that fits in a regular accessory shoe. Obviously, to remove the shoe adapter you press the release switch and then pull the adapter from its enclave. It's good to see Panasonic include a feature like this, but we have to admit that it's not something we'd use often (if ever). The shoe adapter is easy to lose, and you have to remember to bring it with you whenever you want to attach it to the camcorder—two things that you wouldn't be able to say about a built-in accessory shoe.
Flipping over to the right side of the V700 and you'll find the DC-input connector for charging the camcorder's battery or running the camcorder off of wall power. The bottom of the camcorder is where you can find the memory card slot, which fits SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory cards.
The HC-V700's rechargeable battery pack is the same kind of battery you're likely to find on most mid-range or high-end consumer models. The pack is removable and rechargeable, although we hate that you need to open the LCD panel to get access to the battery release switch. At least the battery compartment isn't enclosed, so you can use larger battery packs with the V700 if you so choose (and if you pay extra for them). Like most camcorders, the V700's battery must be inserted into the camcorder in order for it to charge. The camcorder does not come with a separate battery charging station. Find out how the performed in our battery life test./r:link_to_content
There are two ways to store your video content using the Panasonic V700. First, there's the camcorder's 16GB of internal flash memory. This memory is built-in, so it's not removable, but it is always there wherever you take the camcorder. Of course, it still fills up pretty quickly, and if that's the case then you have to either delete content or move onto the V700's second media option: memory cards. On the bottom of the camcorder is card slot that works with regular-sized SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards. Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of various media types.