January is always the exciting month for people that didn’t bother buying a new camcorder just because they want to see all the cool stuff companies cooked up to kick start the new year. Most camcorders deliver by having one or two flagship models take the spotlight boasting some key new features while the rest of the refreshed models get minor updates. Panasonic certainly went out with a bang when they launched the Panasonic HC-WX970 and HC-VX870 as they both boast 4K features at an affordable price and come with plenty of nice extras as well. But Panasonic wants to spread some good will to the upper-midrange camcorders too just for those that don’t see the need for 4K video recording yet. This makes the Panasonic HC-V770 the captain of the 1080p recording front and it comes with a few great improvements without jacking up the price too much.
Visually, the HC-V770 doesn’t look like much of an upgrade over the HC-V750 since the improvements are internal but the lack of physical changes should be welcomed by folks that are accustomed to Panasonic consumer camcorders. The Panasonic HC-V770 isn’t very difficult to operate either despite its high-end status. Menus are fully operated by the 3-inch touchscreen so there is no need for physical menu buttons next to the display. The most useful control is the multi manual dial which you can push or spin to adjust a particular manual parameter of your choice. This dial can be assigned to the focus, iris, sharpness, shutter speed, color saturation, brightness or white balance settings.
With the display opened all the way, you can access a number of other dedicated functions such as the common playback and power buttons along with the Level Shot and Wi-Fi shortcuts. Like the higher-end models, the HC-V770 has both an A/V and mic jack as well as a micro HDMI and USB port. It is also the cheapest Panasonic 2015 camcorder with a shoe adapter for extra expandability. Overall, the Panasonic HC-V770 is just as light and as professionally solid as the HC-V750.
Moving on to the innards, the feature that has received the biggest improvement is the Wi-Fi functionality. Like the other models with Wi-Fi, you need to install the free Panasonic Image App on your iOS or Android smartphone to get started. Android devices with built-in NFC have the extra incentive of being able to tap the device on the NFC-enabled HC-V770 for instant pairing. Once linked, you can see the camcorder’s live view on the mobile device and perform remote operations such as starting the recording session or adjusting various settings. The ability to do real-time broadcasting to the Ustream service is still supported.
Again, these are things that the HC-V750 can do, but the Panasonic HC-V770 has a new trick called Wireless Twin Camera. It takes the same concept of the Twin Camera system that the HC-W850 has and makes the secondary camera your smartphone camera. This clever functionality means that you can record another angle of a scene and contain it in a picture-in-picture box without the need of a mounted second camera. This setup also gives you a bit more flexibility as you can have someone else hold your phone, record a scene in a remote area and show it off along with your main recording. Selfie recordings might be a little bit more difficult since you have to hold both your smartphone and your camcorder steadily on each hand.
Another nice feature that the HC-V770 and its other high-end 2015 siblings exclusively brings is HDR. HDR is common amongst newer smartphones and smartphone apps as it helps create better pictures by combining multiple exposures. The Panasonic HC-V770 mimics that functionality by simultaneously recording two different streams at different exposures and combining them to create a more balanced look with more detailed shadows and more natural highlights.
The rest of the specs are identical to the HC-V750 and that’s fine because it is a great performer. The HC-V770 still uses the 4-drive lens system which combines a high-quality lens with a 20x optical zoom in a compact package. Entry-level camcorders still have superior zoom but you can turn on the Intelligent zoom feature so you can go up to 50x without sacrificing too many details.
The 5-Axis HYBRID Optical Image Stabilization keeps the footage steady even if you are walking or cannot keep Panasonic HC-V770 still. The 5-Axis correction significantly reduces blurring and works across all optical and intelligent zoom levels. If you have difficulty aligning your shot, you can correct it instantly by using one of the two options in the Level Shot function.
The BSI sensor and Crystal Engine Image Processor work together in helping the HC-V770 capture fantastic visuals. The processor also enables extra features like the ability to record slow-motion video. At 1080p, you can record up to 120 fps while 720p opens up the 240 fps option. Finally, the Panasonic HC-V770 keeps the entry-level appeal by offering a number of creative effects that you can apply to your videos. Common filters include 8mm movie, miniature effect and silent movie. The Panasonic HC-V770 has an advanced microphone too as it can better reduce wind noise and other forms of sound distortion.
The HC-V770 is really equipped like a flagship camcorder now as it sports some highly advanced hardware and a great manual control dial that should impress the professionals. It certainly helps to own a smartphone or tablet to take advantage of the plentiful and innovative Wi-Fi features. The main reason the Panasonic HC-V770 isn’t considered a flagship camcorder is because of its lack of 4K recording capabilities. That shouldn’t be a big deal if you don’t have a 4K TV or don’t plan on getting one next year. Besides, you don’t have to worry about its flagship status because the HC-V770 is attractively priced at $599. That is at least $300 savings compared to getting a 4K camcorder and is only slightly more expensive than the older HC-V750 which lacks HDR and Twin Camera.