Panasonic is more often than not the company to beat in the consumer digital camcorder category. Panasonic’s lead is so obvious that the company got a little bit lazy this 2015 and made only minor improvements across the board. Still, it is better than not releasing anything at all because consumers always need to know that digital camcorders will continue to evolve every year even if smartphones and DSLRs are becoming replacements that are more popular. Even a cheap Panasonic camcorder like the Panasonic HC-V270 can do so much more than smartphone and still beat many of the pricier DSLR cameras in video quality.
The HC-V270 is one of the two Panasonic camcorders in the 2015 lineup that are priced below the $300 level. The Panasonic HC-V270 closely hits that $300 mark while the HC-V130 is about $70 cheaper. It is best to treat the HC-V130 as an ultra-budget-conscious camcorder leaving as a true entry-level device that is worthy of being an individual’s first camcorder.
Stepping up from the HC-V160
The $70 gap may sound small and significant but the feature gap between the HC-V270 and HC-V160 is much wider. The most important thing that you’ll get with the Panasonic HC-V270 is Wi-Fi. Having such functionality no longer means just being able to share photos with your smartphone like the old days. This basic specification opens up four features – Remote Shooting, Remote View, Baby Monitor and Real-time Broadcasting.
Remote shooting essentially turns your iOS or Android device into a remote viewfinder and controller. The mobile interface resembles a camera app where you can control the recording state and adjust a few settings. With Remote View, you can let the mobile device any videos and photos stored in the camcorder’s memory card. This view also gives you the option to upload to a social media site. The Baby Monitor is a bit like the Remote Shooting mode but it utilizes the camcorder’s built-in audio sensor to detect crying and other baby noises. Once detected, the HC-V270 will send a push notification to the mobile device. The monitor can also act as a 2-way communicator where anything you say on your smartphone comes out on the camcorder’s speaker. Finally, Real-time Broadcasting lets you record video while simultaneously making the live footage available on Ustream for public viewing. It is easy to pair the mobile device with the Panasonic HC-V270 and even easier if your Android phone has NFC.
Another feature exclusive to the HC-V270 and higher-end Panasonic camcorders is the 5-axis handshake detection and level shot function. These two great features allow beginner camcorder users to shoot higher quality videos with virtually zero effort. The Panasonic HC-V270 uses a special technology called HYBRID O.I.S. and it eliminates the blurring problems caused by shaky hands. Beginner users also like to play with the zoom functions and it is nice to see this image stabilization tech work at different zoom levels too. The Level Shot function is another useful feature for beginners as it automatically straightens the view if it detects a slight tilt. You can turn this feature off or set it to a stronger setting if it fails.
The HC-V270 also has a few nice spec bumps over the HC-V160. You get far better optical zoom (50x from 38x) and even better intelligent zoom (90x from 77x). The Panasonic HC-V270 can also take 10-megapixel photos while the HC-V160 is only limited to 8.9-megapixel still images.
The HC-V270 is compatible with the Panasonic’s Remote Pan Tilt Cradle accessory. The accessory is useful if you can stomach the $165 price. You place the Panasonic HC-V270 on top of the cradle and let the camcorder’s Face Recognition functionality and motion sensor do the rest. On its own, the cradle can lock on a face and pan to follow that face while actively recording the scene making it great for parties where nobody is willing to hold the camera. You can actually control the panning and tilting through Wi-Fi using the Panasonic Image App on your mobile device.
The specs and features of the HC-V270 are just the same as last year’s HC-V250. Other than the fact that the Panasonic HC-V270 minimizes the vibrating when zooming in, the camcorder performs just the same as its predecessor.
Although the HC-V270 has the same 2.51-megapixel 1/5.8-inch MOS sensor, the overall video quality is clearly better than the HC-V130 because of that vital image stabilization feature. It also keeps the 28mm wide-angle lens and backside illuminated sensor so the camcorder performs very good outdoors and still noticeably better than a typical smartphone when recording video indoors and other low-light environments.
Understandably, you won’t get any fancy manual controls with the Panasonic HC-V270 but the whole idea of an affordable camcorder is to convince casual users not to care about tinkering with settings. The IA or Intelligent Auto mode proves just that. This beginner-friendly mode does the footwork in determining the proper scene and applying the appropriate settings. You can do some minor white balance and exposure adjustments with the push of a button if you don’t like what you see.
The video quality are enhanced in a creative manner too thanks to the several creative control effects that come with the HC-V270. These effects include 8mm Movie, Miniature Effect, Time Lapse Recording and Silent Movie.
• Great Wi-Fi features.
• Acceptable 1080p video quality
• Wide zoom range.
• Optical image stabilization makes a big difference
• Highly competitive $300 price.
• Basically a rebranded version of the older HC-V250
• No built-in memory
The Panasonic HC-V270 is very much a symbol that Panasonic will continue making entry-level digital camcorders that really outperform most other smartphones at least in terms of video recording quality. Not improving the HC-V250 is a bit of a missed opportunity but the HC-V250 didn’t really have any serious flaws and the HC-V270 fixed the tiny annoyances. Therefore, the Panasonic HC-V270 is the safer purchase since this is a 2015 model.