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Customer Review

34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Completely disappointed and underwhelmed., November 11, 2013
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This review is from: Panasonic HC-V520 HD Digital Camcorder with 80x Zoom and Wi-fi (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Camera)
I was completely disappointed in this camera. All the reviews said it was the best way to go in my price range including Consumer Reports. However, I am completely underwhelmed. Here's my take:

1) Sharpness - Terrible. In the brightest light, it is average at best. For comparison, my Galaxy S3 is a sharper in bright light which is crazy. This was the #1 complaint in all the reviews out there and they are right. It just isn't sharp.

2) Low light - Bad. When the light goes down, the sensor struggles and you get a blurry and noisy video. I did a side by side with the Galaxy S3 and the S3 was MUCH, MUCH sharper in indoor lighting scenarios around the house.

3) Auto-Focus - Average? The reason I can't be sure of the quality of the auto-focus is because with it being so weak in terms of sharpness, how can I say how well it hit focus. It would hit focus if a face was in the frame and took up a good 25+% of the frame, but otherwise, it was just vague.

4) Image Stabilization - Decent. The feature definitely appeared to work pretty well. Hand shake is one of the main reasons I get annoyed shooting with a cell phone and this camera did a decent job handling this.

5) Sound - Decent. I'm not a sound expert, so I can't say how good it is compared to other cameras, but it seemed decent enough.

6) User Interface - Terrible. This touch interface infuriated me non-stop. If you want something more than the absolute bare bones minimum, this isn't the camera for you. It was just annoying to use in almost every way. It allowed me to pick my video type and review it, but everything was just a bit more annoying than it could have been.

7) Zoom - Great. This has a nice wide angle lens with plenty of zoom on the telephoto side. But why do I need a blurry 50x zoom? It will look awful.

Overall if you have a modern smartphone, this camera won't be an upgrade for you. I'm just so disappointed in what this camera brought to the table. Maybe I got a defective unit. For Panasonic's sake, I hope so as I just can't accept what I am seeing as what all these other people are considering to be "good."

Update: I also tried a Canon R400 for comparison. So far, I can say that the R400 has the Panasonic beat in every category except zoom. Canon is sharper in good light and is much better at autofocusing. The image stabilization seems to be a touch better than Panasonic although both were decent. The User Interface on the Canon is better for sure. The R400's wide angle is a bit lacking sadly. If Canon would get it closer to 32mm on the wide side instead of 38mm, it would be a great camera. There are some nice things about the Panasonic that you don't get in the Canon R400, but for the price gap, you would expect that.

To the manufacturers: Please stop shrinking the pixel size. We as consumers don't need 20MP stills from our video camera and 80x zoom. I know marketing loves to have the biggest numbers, but what we need and want is less noisy and sharper HD Video. Increase those sensor sizes!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 22, 2014 9:09:18 AM PST
Overall an accurate review, except about the sharpness. I've been using this camera to shoot green-screen elements for compositing, and I'm getting razor-sharp shots that key beautifully, even with fine edges such as hair. Thoughtful use of the manual features and careful post-production would allow this camera to be used to create impressive-looking short subjects or even a feature - although that's true of dozens of cheap cameras these days.
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