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- Panasonic HC-V700
- A powerhouse HD Panasonic with a shockingly-low price tag, the V700 is our Best Mid Range Camcorder for 2012.
Panasonic HC-V700 Review
A powerhouse HD Panasonic with a shockingly-low price tag, the V700 is our Best Mid Range Camcorder for 2012.
Panasonic’s HC-V700 is a powerful HD camcorder with a shockingly-low price tag. The V700 isn’t a flagship model, so you won’t get all the special features you’d see on a top-market model (no viewfinder, no lens ring or control dial). But Panasonic loaded this little guy with plenty of controls, excellent video performance, and a solid auto mode for beginners. With prices ranging from $400 to $600, the V700 is one of the best bargains on the market.
Panasonic offers two versions of the HC-V700: one comes with 16GB of internal memory (the HC-V700M) and one comes without any internal memory (the HC-V700). The model reviewed and scored here is the HC-V700M, but the performance of the two camcorders should be identical.
Design & Usability
The HC-V700 tries to be a simple, sparse camcorder geared primarily towards beginners, but it has enough controls to keep the more advanced crowd satisfied, too.
If you’re a fan of innovative, cutting-edge technology, then it probably won’t be love at first sight between you and the Panasonic HC-V700. The camcorder looks... well... it looks like a camcorder. It has that compact, rectangular shape that is specifically designed with handheld shooting in mind. The body is relatively sparse, with only a few buttons on the back, top, and sides. Lastly, the V700 is available in just one, boring color: black, with a bit of silver on the lens barrel.
Plenty of controls, but no great way to adjust them
Panasonic didn’t skimp on recording options on this model, offering a plethora of high-quality HD options and one standard definition setting. Numerous manual controls are scattered throughout the V700's extensive menu system, including focus, aperture, shutter speed, and white balance adjustment. Despite this large set of controls, the HC-V700 does not have a sophisticated method for adjusting them, abandoning the user to a frustrating touchscreen interface as their only option for making changes.
Other than some issues with low light sensitivity, scores across the board were strong.
In all of our tests, the Panasonic HC-V700M scored low noise values, rendered colors accurately, and captured a good amount of detail. The sharpness levels weren't quite on the same page as Panasonic's high-end model (the HC-X900M), but it was close enough that your eyes probably wouldn't notice a difference.
The Panasonic HC-V700M tops the list of bang-for-buck models.
As a mid-range model, the Panasonic HC-V700M does not have high-end features like a viewfinder or a lens ring, but its solid performance, decent feature set, and budget-friendly price tag more than make up for these absences. Unless you’re obsessed about image quality, or you’re going to be shooting video in a lot of dark places, the HC-V700 will not disappoint. The camcorder’s top video mode produced sharp, high-quality images that went toe-to-toe with Panasonic’s flagship HC-X900M model.
Zoom Lovers, you can start your party now. The lens on the V700 is wide and powerful, with Panasonic offering 21x optical zoom and up to 46x using “intelligent zoom.” Controls, as usual for Panasonic, are plentiful, but the main difference between the V700 and the step-up HC-X900 from Panasonic is the way these controls are adjusted. The V700 relies too much on the touchscreen interface, so adjusting controls is not a smooth or precise experience. If you’re looking for a control dial or lens ring, you’re going to have to upgrade to a flagship model.
Even at launch the Panasonic HC-V700M’s $600 price tag was very competitive. Right now, the model is available for even less. Units have been spotted online for under $400, and it is likely that the camcorder's price will fluctuate in the $350 - $600 range for a few more months. If you can find the V700M for less than $500 bucks, it’s a bargain. Anything lower is an absolute steal.