Japanese consumer electronics companies have been struggling in recent years due to increased competition by other companies boasting better supply chains. But you really can’t count veterans like Panasonic out just yet because it can do certain products very well. The Japanese-giant may not be fully riding the smartphone bandwagon but it has been making great camcorders for the past couple of years. Their flagship models in particular stand out the most and the company wants to raise the bar even higher with the Panasonic HC-X1000. It launched back in September 2014 with a $3,500 price tag that was over the top for some prosumers but it still undercuts the competition without trimming the essential features.
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About the Panasonic HC-X1000
The HC-X1000 is Panasonic’s flagship consumer camcorder and it is purely made for 4K aficionados. It is a massive step up from the 4K-enabled HC-WX970 in terms of size but it still weighs a bit light at 3.5 pounds due to the mostly plastic but premium exterior. It falls under the mid-sized camcorder category so some professionals might find the Panasonic HC-X1000 a bit compact.
If there is a recording function or option you wish to activate on the HC-X1000, it is likely there is a dedicated button for it. Some of the controls like the audio controls are concealed behind plastic doors. There are also dedicated rings for adjusting the zoom, focus and iris control. These rings also illuminate, which makes nighttime operation pretty cool. Even though there is a ton of dedicated buttons, the fairly large 3.5-inch screen offers its own touch-driven menu, although you have to press a little firm to get it to register. You aren’t forced to use the touchscreen either as there is a dial on the side for selecting items. You can get the most out of this camcorder without too much menu crawling if you get to know the onscreen interface and assign all of the four user programmable buttons to your favorite or most frequently used functions. A fifth user programmable button is available too if you don’t need the focus assist button. The wide 0.45-inch electronic viewfinder can be used too.
While the Panasonic HC-X1000 doesn’t have any internal flash memory, it does have two SD card slots. The best thing is that you don’t have to buy any SD cards because the package includes a pair of 64 GB SD cards. The HC-X1000 can combine the capacities of both SD cards so when one memory card runs out of storage space, the other is used without interrupting the recording. The SD cards are hot swappable too so owning a third SD card helps, especially if you need to record a very long 4K video.
The Panasonic HC-X1000 can connect to your mobile devices through Wi-Fi. It is compatible with the free Panasonic Image App for iOS and Android so you can perform the same remote control operations you could with ordinary consumer Panasonic camcorders. It also has NFC to make it easier for certain Android devices to establish a pairing with the camcorder. Non-Android devices can alternatively scan the camcorder’s unique QR code for quick pairing.
With a not-so-ridiculously-high price tag, making the right compromises to get good overall image quality was Panasonic’s toughest challenge. Panasonic succeeded in a lot of ways with the HC-X1000 by bringing 4K resolution support complete with 60 frames per second in glorious 150 Mbps. There is also a 2K mode that gives way to 200 Mbps. You would normally have to pay about $1,000 more if you want that kind of 4K performance. You are only limited to the MP4 format in this mode and editing these types of video is difficult but the image quality is very sharp. In fact, some of the more critical prosumers might find it too sharp for their tastes. Cinema 4K is supported on the Panasonic HC-X1000 too if you plan to do some Ultra HD filmmaking. Even if you find 4K an excessive resolution to work with, you can still use the format and enjoy the extra composition privileges. You get access to more image stabilization options and you can crop or zoom the footage resulting to a better 1080p output.
Black levels and color accuracy are more on the average side because of the small 1/2.3-inch BSI sensor. This is really where Panasonic compromised with the HC-X1000but it isn’t all that bad. The Leica Lens more than makes up for this shortcoming. It has a great 20x optical zoom with a reliable Power Optical Image Stabilization that uses gyro sensors to correct handshakes far better than ordinary methods. You can use the optical zoom and this image stabilization technology when recording 4K. For 1080p, a 5-axis hybrid system is used instead and it works by combining the use of both optical and software stabilization. Autofocus performance is very good as well. The Neutral Density filters provide even more video shooting possibilities as there are three different settings to try that alter the depth of field.
• 4K Ultra HD 60p recording capabilities at a more than reasonable price.
• Plenty of manual controls to play around with.
• Considerably lighter than other camcorders of its class.
• Leica lens with 20x optical zoom and good image stabilization options help with the image quality.
• Two 64 GB SD cards and a phantom power supply included in the package.
• More expensive 4K camcorders have noticeably better image quality
• Touchscreen is a bit finicky.
• Average build quality.
The Panasonic HC-X1000 has been on the market for several months now so it is possible to find this camcorder for under $3,000. If sharp 4K Ultra HD video recording is an important feature, the HC-X1000 serves its purpose very well considering the low price. The small sensor might be a deal breaker for some people that plan to do very professional work but you’d have to spend more than $5,000 anyway. The Panasonic HC-X1000 is an excellent midrange 4K camcorder and the included SD cards sweetens the deal significantly.