on June 14, 2012
I ordered this camera for taking videos of our Newborn. We unboxed the camera and took a couple of test videos. The quality was pretty good even in low light. The only thing I noticed was the colors seemed muted or just not vibrant. The zoom worked really well and the camera seemed to do a great job of removing the shaking out of the image even at very high zoom levels. We had a class 6 16GB SDHC card. With the default settings that gave us over 2 hours of recording time. I played with 3 video settings (HX 9Mbps, HG 13Mbps & HA 17Mbps). I could not find much of a difference in the quality but my test videos did not have much motion in them.
After about 30 minutes of playing with the camera we started to have problems. The camera image would jerk side to side while the camera make loud clicking sounds. After 20 seconds of that the camera made one last clicking sound and a black section was displayed on the right side of the camera (It appeared as if I was looking at the internal side of the camera). I called Panasonic and they wanted me to send it in for repair but that would take over 7 business days. Then I contacted Amazon and they sent me a new camera and it arrived the next day (Got to love Amazon's policy). We have been using the new camera for over a week now with no problems and are loving it.
on November 26, 2012
We were considering several cameras, some as costly as $450 but since reviews were so positive we tried this one, expecting we could just return it if it doesn't meet our needs. It seemed like even the cameras that cost $350 or 400 had quirks that people didn't like, just as this one has.
First observation is that the camera is pretty small. Not a bad thing, actually a good thing but the photo doesn't do it justice. It's not a whole lot bigger than the 8mm tape from our old camera (if you stack 3 of them).
It came with a small battery charge, enough to play around a few minutes when unboxing it.
The zoom is extreme, way more than I can imagine using unless you're spying on neighbors or something. You can't use the extreme magnification indoors or close range because the autofocus will seek in and out. At long range, works fine.
The image stabilizer is fantastic. I can take video while walking around carelessly and the playback looks like the camera was just floating along. This also makes it possible to use the powerful zoom without looking like you were having seizure.
Color does seem a little understated but not so much that it's a problem for me.
Really the only things I am not fond of are:
When recording in HD, the image clarity is fantastic, BUT that is only as long as the view does not pan, in which case I see clear striping. It looks kind of like interlacing but it has like 20-30 bands, not 1000. Distracting and for me, and a problem. Because of this I switched to recording in IFrame mode which is a lower resolution (still very good, but not super clear like the HD and that seemed to stop it from striping. If you are shooting a stable subject, something that's not moving around, and the camera is not moving around either, then HD seems ok; the striping is subtle and only visible in the areas of the image where there is movement between frames.
Also, the on/off button is buried in the side panel where you have to open the LCD display and stick your nose right in there so you can see which identical button is the power button. So not only is it a bit of a task to get at, it's a bigger task to find the right button. I can only imagine this being worse when shooting in the dark.
The sliding lens cover is manually operated; you'd think it would open/close when power is turned on but it's completely manual operation.
Overall, the things I don't like are still pretty easy to work around (change mode to iFrame, stick a tape dot on the power button, just don't bother closing the lens cover) and they seem like pretty small inconveniences for a camera that is otherwise very good, and a great value at $240.
My last camera used digital 8mm tapes and cost $800, was 3x the size, you had to rewind/advance tapes like a vcr, had no image stabilization, and couldn't copy video to disk (had to stream it, so it took however long a time as was on the tape).
Given that cameras become obsolete after about 3-4 years, it's hard to justify spending a lot of money on one anymore and this one does everything I need, and way better than any of my previous cameras, at a very reasonable price.
on August 20, 2013
It really amazes me how far video recording has progress in just a few years. We purchased a Panasonic DV (tape) camcorder that recorded SD and we paid over $700 for it around 2003.
We paid $150 (about) for this small palm size camcorder and I'm amazed at the picture quality. NOTHING mechanical; no motors, etc to limit battery life.
It has very easy to use menus, and does a great job.
on April 12, 2013
this is awesome, such good value came quickly. check out blunty3000's you tube video for a real review, that pretty much sold me on this and I love it
on September 24, 2013
I have to keep reminding myself this camera is only 200 dollars. The video quality it produces is well beyond what I expected in a 200 dollar camcorder. Sure, with HD cameras in cell phones, these types of dedicated video camcorders are a dying breed. But those in the know still like them for several reasons. First, there is no 30 minute time limit per clip as there is with DSLR and phone video cameras. Second, these dedicated camcorders have optical zoom lenses that can bring in distant objects that cell cameras can barely capture. Simplicity of operation can't be beat. You don't have to search through menus to get to the camera mode, and it won't stop recording if someone calls you.
The camera is tiny, and a normal size hand almost completely wraps around it. It will easily fit into a jacket pocket, and even some pants pockets, albeit with quite a bulge.
This camcorder produces a sharp, clean image in the AVCHD mode. Not as sharp as their top of the line models, but then you'd expect to gain something extra when you shell out five times the cost of this model. You'll need to select the middle or high quality mode if you have a lot of motion in your subject. The lower quality AVCHD mode will pixelate with high speed motion like someone running. The MP4 mode is next to useless, as the image is so soft and pixelated, and is not HD.
An unexpected benefit to a camcorder this inexpensive is the ability to manually control all aspects of the image from gain, iris, shutter speed, white balance and focus. Most other brands have no such manual control. Audio is a different story. The only audio control is the wind reduction. Still, the sound is pretty good for family and travel use, which is what this camcorder is targeted for.
For most users, this camcorder's image quality will more than satisfy. For the low price and small size, even avid enthusiasts and semi-pros can find some use for this camera.
on December 26, 2012
I have a developing video maker in my house. My daughter grew up on Flip cameras - first the standard version and then the Flip Ultra HD. After working with those for a few years, she started to think hard about what she might like in her next upgrade and this is the one we picked. While it doesn't have everything she was hoping for - namely an external mic plug - it has pretty much everything else she'll need to further explore her craft. After we charged it up, we found we had over 2 hours of camera use time and we added a 32 GB SDHC card to provide over 5 hours of HD recording potential, plus it takes some very nice stills. We have yet to pull any video through her editor or work with the sound, but our initial tests have been very positive. It is small, light and fairly intuitive. You will definitely want to use a tripod with the super zoom as your hand movements will also be greatly amplified.
on August 6, 2012
So far there has been no problems. Camera is small, light and easy to carry.
And the zoom is amazing. Would highly recommend this camera!
on October 10, 2013
When recording in low light in doors does a really good job. Natural environment really looks good. I don't like that when recording something from TV gives u ugly colors. Also when recording It has dark small screen. Not to noticeable. I still Like using this camera even tho it has cons.and pros.
on November 26, 2013
This is a nice high definition camera; what makes it even better is the video editing software. I realize some reviewers have had difficulties with getting it to install; basically the way around this is to take the file folder from the disk and to transfer it to your computer. Then, run the software and install it from there.
The only fault I have with the camera, and it is a frustrating one, is it is so light dependent; even with low light improvement settings, the camera struggles. I have filmed in my apartment, with lights on and blinds open, but the light sensors are so subpar the video still turns out dark.
One plus is how the screen flips, so you can watch yourself and make certain camera angles are accurate as you are recording.
on February 3, 2014
I'll go ahead and list the cons first:
- No audio input (you can't attach an external mic.)
- The built in mic adds quite a bit of white noise
- Because it's 1080i rather than 1080p there's quite a bit of blur and some sluggishness on fast moving objects.
But the Pros:
- It's full HD, the picture quality is pretty darn good for the price
- It's tiny, and very light weight! It's a lot smaller than i thought it was going to be, i haven't bought a camcorder in 14 years though.
- It comes with an 8GB memory card, not enough to film a feature, but it will do out of the box!
- Removable media means you can film as much as you want as long as you have more memory cards
- Decent battery life
- It's plug-and-play with Macintosh computers
- Very nice LCD screen that swivels around for selfies
- It can capture still frames while shooting video
- Good construction, doesn't feel like a toy
- 37x optical zoom
- Easy to use interface
For the price it performs quite well. It's good for family trips, home movies, just messing around. I bought it to film video auditions and improv shows. I've done a test with it and i'm pleased, but not overwhelmed with the results. It'll be good to have this camera in my collection, even when i decide to upgrade.