Panasonic HC-V700 Camcorder Review
Low Light Performance
Low Light Sensitivity
We expected better low light sensitivity performance from the Panasonic HC-V700M. Unfortunately, the camcorder managed mediocre sensitivity results, requiring 24 lux of light to illuminate our test chart properly. That result was obtained when we used zoom to frame our test chart. Without zoom, the camcorder still needed 12 lux of light to obtain an image bright enough for broadcast television. Guess what—both of those results are significantly worse than the competition from Canon as well as Panasonic's own HDC-TM90 from last year. More on how we test low light sensitivity.
The TM90 and the V700 both have the same f/1.8 lens with 21x optical zoom capability, and the V700 is loaded with a much larger image sensor than the TM90. Shouldn't that translate into better low light sensitivity? The answer is a complicated one, but our tests show the V700 is not as good as producing a bright image in low light as the older TM90. It must have to do with the construction of the new sensor and the fact that Panasonic loaded the larger CMOS chip with pixels. The chip has a total pixel count of 15.3 megapixels, which is a ton and is far more than what's required to produce an HD video image. Having such a high concentration of pixels means less light is hitting the sensor, which, in turn, makes for a worse low light sensitivity.
Low Light Noise
So the HC-V700 didn't live up to our expectations in low light sensitivity. Panasonic shouldn't pout for long, though, as the camcorder did a heck of a job in our low light noise test instead. The V700 measured just 0.77% noise in low light, which is well below the average 1.0% noise that we consider "good" for this test. It seems that larger sensor and huge pixel count is good for something after all! More on how we test low light noise.
If you look at the crops above you do notice the V700 has a cleaner image than the Panasonic TM90, and its video at 60 lux (which is what we shoot this test at) is brighter than both the Panasonic and Canon models we compared it to. This shows us that Panasonic decided to improve moderate low light performance on the V700, while letting the low light sensitivity drop a bit. So, if you're shooting at a bar or at dusk the V700 should produce decently bright images, but in scenes with very little light it will not be as good as the Canon HF M52 or the Panasonic TM90.
Low Light Color
Color results were also very strong for the HC-V700 in low light. The camcorder kept color error to just below 4.0 and the saturation level was right around 75%. These are good numbers, especially the color accuracy numbers, and it shows improvement for the V700 over last year's Panasonic TM90. Some users may be disappointed by the lack of punch in the V700's colors in low light, but remember, the camcorder does have a manual color depth adjustment option that lets you increase saturation on your own. More on how we test low light color.