Panasonic HC-V550K Full HD Wi-Fi Enabled 90X Stable Zoom Camcorder with 3-Inch LCD (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
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- Mega zoom range covering 28mm wide to 1400mm
- 5 Axis Hybrid Optical Imaging Stabilization keeps hand held shots steady
- NFC enabled WiFi connects with your mobile and home devices
- Level shot automatically corrects the horizon in your shot
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From the manufacturer
Panasonic V550: Full HD WiFi Enabled 50X Stable Zoom Camcorder
Key features include; Mega zoom range covering 28mm wide to 1400mm, 5 Axis Hybrid Optical Imaging Stabilization keeps hand-held shots steady, NFC enabled WiFi connects with your mobile and home devices, and Level shot automatically corrects the horizon in your shot.
High Sensitivity Sensor
The combination of the newly developed High Sensitivity Sensor and the Crystal Engine PRO, with its superb noise reduction performance, records bright, high-quality, and low-noise images in both bright and dim lighting situations. Beautiful images can be recorded under a variety of situations, including indoor shooting and night scenery shooting.
One-Touch Connection with NFC
Without bothersome initial settings, NFC lets you connect a smartphone or tablet to the camcorder in one touch. Even without NFC, you can use QR code to make Wi-Fi settings quickly and easily.
Intelligent 90x Zoom / Optical 50x Zoom
Equipped with Intelligent 90x Zoom/Optical 50x Zoom. This model lets you easily shoot distant subjects that are too far away to capture clearly with conventional zoom functions.
The wide shooting range expands the breadth of photographic expression, extending. This makes it possible to capture everything from panoramic scenery to telephoto images for obtaining dynamic images of subjects at a distance.
5-Axis HYBRID O.I.S. +
HYBRID O.I.S. + uses five-axis correction to thoroughly suppress blurring all the way from wide-angle to powerful zoom shots. This lets you capture crisp, clear images, without blurring, in almost every shooting situation.
3.0-inch Wide Touch LCD
The easy-to-view 7.5 cm / 3.0' wide LCD screen allows fingertip touch-operation. You get smooth intuitive operation and don't have to take your eyes off of the LCD screen.
Level Shot Function
The Level Shot function automatically detects and corrects the tilting of captured images. 2014 models use hybrid processing based on an acceleration sensor plus a gyro sensor to improve tilt tracking by 30% for more stable shooting. Images are more level even when shooting in an unstable or awkward position, such as low angle or high angle.
10.0-megapixel Still Picture Recording
Still Picture Recording mode lets you shoot with a maximum resolution of 10 megapixels.* * For images recorded with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
|Battery Type||Lithium Ion|
|Item Dimensions||2 x 2 x 3 inches|
|Item Weight||0.51 pounds|
|Lithium Battery Energy Content||1,940 Milliampere Hour (mAh)|
|Lithium Battery Voltage||1 Volt|
|Lithium Battery Weight||45 grams|
|Media Format Digital Video||SD|
|Optical Sensor Technology||CMOS|
|Shipping Weight||1.1 pounds|
|Video Capture Format||avchd|
|Video Capture Resolution||1080p|
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|Shipping||—||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping|
|Sold By||—||DigitalandMore||Amazon.com||Amazon.com||DIRECTDEALS4LESS||Electronic Express|
|Screen Size||3 in||3 in||3 in||2.7 in||3 in||3.5 in|
|Optical Sensor Technology||CMOS||CMOS||CMOS||CMOS||CMOS||CMOS|
|Video Capture Resolution||1080p||—||—||other||—||1080p|
Full HD WiFi 50x Camcorder
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First the zoom. It used to be rare to find a decent camcorder with more than 10x optical zoom. Just recently upper end camcorders started offering bigger optical zoom capability but most still hover around 12x and only a few get to about 30x. But 50x optical wide angle with nice stabilization was unheard of! And with 50x optical you have the advantage of a clearer image already where others have to digitalize to even get close and they are at a disadvantage. You can find lesser quality camcorders with 50x optical zoom with hardly any features and without a decent stabilization, so the extra zoom is useless without good stabilization and a decent lens. This Panasonic has 50x optical with 90x intelligent zoom which it uses the sensor somehow to magnify the image instead of doing it the old digital way where the image degrades. The video quality of the image looked crisp still. I even zoomed passed 90x up to 150x and the image still looked nice. Even zoomed out to 300x where the image got a little grainy where other camcorders can't even come close! Now get this, even up to 500x the image got only a little more grainy and even close to about 900x the image got more grainy, it wasn't great but you can still make out the image. Other camcorders would be lucky to get to 150x and the image barely recognizable. Of course your going to need a tripod at those extreme zooms. The Sony had 30x optical and their clear image zoom was only up 60x and I noticed it started to get a little grainy at the end.
The image quality from what I can tell, was that the Sony didn't seem that nice for a higher priced camcorder and from what I have seen for myself. Comparing the two from Youtube and the LCD screen the Panasonic seemed better. The Sony didn't seem too sharp and there was artifacting here and there. And yes Youtube can't do justice sometimes, but they were both on the same playing field.
In low light I zoomed into dark areas in the stores and the Panasonic was brighter than the Sony. And with the Sony I zoomed out to 60x whereas I zoomed out to 90x with the Panasonic. The Panasonic should of done lousy zoomed way out in a low light situation, but it outperformed the Sony. The image was brighter clearer.
The stabilization on the Sony worked pretty good but it would sometimes wander a bit before it stabilized. The Panasonic stabilization works just as nice if not better because I was able to zoom further out with it than the Sony and still have a stable and clear image.
I videoed my kids stage performance with only stage lightning standing about 60ft back and hand held it. Was at about 3x zoom up to 10x occasionally and it was a little over an hour and a half with a ten minute intermission. The video was bright and steady. I videoed my kids at baseball in the day and at sundown with nice results. I zoomed in on an airliner far away at almost 300x zoom and I could make out the passenger windows and other details. The LCD has 3 brightness levels and I didn't have any problem viewing the screen out in the sun. Only problem might be a reflection because the screen is shiny and not antiglare, you can compensate some by angling the screen at an angle.
The Panasonic does not have built in memory so you have to use regular size SD cards or micro SD with adapter. Sony has built in 32 gigs along with a slot to use various other memory cards but you are paying a premium for built in memory vs buying SD cards. I would recommend a 32 GB card which would get you 2 hr 40 min. of which most of us would need for recording a full event like a sporting event or recital or something. The recorder can take up to a 64 GB card and get you 5 hr 20 min., but that is putting all of your eggs in one basket if the card corrupts or something. Also with two 32 GB cards you would have the versatility of two cards vs one to label and keep separate if someone else wanted to use the camera or to keep your events separate if you didn't get a chance to take the video off of the cards. Now the times I have given are based on the highest setting of 1920x1080/60p. I like the SD route because I don't have to pay more for something I can get cheaper, I don't lose my video if I break or lose the camcorder and I can just pop out the card and plug into my computer instead of having the camcorder plugged. The battery lasted about two hours give or take which is about in line with the record time on a 32 GB card. I used 1080 60p with little pausing. Manual states about 1 to 2 hours battery time depending on continuous recording or pausing and starting.
You can take pictures while recording but it will be a 2 megapixel image. You can switch to camera mode and it will take a 10 megapixel image. As with all camcorders the pictures are not the same quality as using a real camera. It is better than nothing but don't bother enlarging them.
The camcorder is really light and about the same length as a toilet paper roll and a little larger in diameter. If you have large hands then it might be a little awkward to hit the record button. The camcorder does not come with a separate charger. It comes with a thin wall cable that plugs into the camcorder and you charge the battery while it's on the camera. Plus is you travel lighter, minus is you can't have a spare charging. You can buy an external charger if you want. I won't get into the other features of this camera, I just wanted to hit on the things I thought mattered the most. I will update if I find something else worth mentioning.
You will get some people recommending so and so camera because it has better low light, color or video quality or something. But they get off track because the one they recommend has way less zoom, stabilization not as good or something like that. They don't recommend something that fits the criteria you were looking for. I urge you to take a look into the Panasonic HC-V550 as an option for what it can do for the price.
Per recommendation of a comment I bought an Anker external battery instead of purchasing an extra battery because the prices were ridiculous. Granted you will have a cable dangling around if you hold the camera in your hand, but if you have it on a tripod with a hook you can just hang the battery on the tripod. I carry a small hiking/bicycling waist bag that I sling across my body anyways so it isn't an issue to have the Anker connected if needed. If I find a decent price on an extra battery later on I might get one. I went this route also because my kids are in competitions and they last all day long so this external battery will serve multipurpose to keep my camcorder going, phones charged and my other son's tablet charged to keep him occupied.
The 2nd generation Anker chargers have ports that will configure to your devices specific charge requirements whereas others have ports that just put out a certain amp and may not be compatible with your devices so it will either not charge or charge very slowly or they may have one specifically for Apple and one for Androids. Oh and use the USB cable that came with your device because that also can affect compatibility. Anker offers a variety of different sizes. The Panasonic HC-V550 has a 1940 mAh battery so get at least a 2000 mAh capacity external battery with at least a 1.8A output. I got the 2nd Gen Astro3 12000 mAh with up to 4A output and 3 IQ ports to cover all my bases. May be too big for some but it works for what I intend it for. Oh and also I can use it around the house and not be limited by the length of my cable to an outlet, use it as emergency back up power or take it on hikes to power my GPS.
5 star auto focus - It has very rare times where it takes some time to focus. and by some time I mean a second or two. 95% of the times it doesnt take time at all to focus when you are zooming in and out.
5 star zooming - It can go from 1x to 90x in less than 5 seconds, and it is almost always crystal clear the entire time zooming.
3 star audio - if you move your hand while recording the mic will pick up on it
4 star touch screen - it takes some time getting used to, but it is good enough
2 star built in features - very limited features built in, but you can always export into a computer and edit it there
5 star wifi capabilities - very feature-full wifi capabilities
4 star battery life - 2 hours
The camcorder comes bundled with editing software -- Panasonic HD Writer LE 2.1. However, this software does not allow you to create DVD disks of your videos. We have always enjoyed watching our videos via our DVD player and TV, so this was a bummer. I started doing some research on the Panasonic website, and I discovered that they have a different HD Writer software that allows you to burn DVDs of your videos. It is HD Writer AE 5.1. You can download this software from the Panasonic website: http://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/soft/download/f_ae51.html
You can use the HD Writer AE 5.1 software instead of HD Writer LE 2.1.
I spent several hours figuring out how to transfer my videos to my PC and then copying those videos to DVD. To save you a lot of time, here's the procedures that I figured out:
YOU MUST SHOOT YOUR VIDEO IN MP4 IF YOU PLAN TO DUB THE VIDEO TO DVD DISKS!!
***Transfer Video from Camcorder to PC - Instructions***
1. Plug in camcorder via AC power adapter
2. Attach USB cable from camera to PC
3. Select "PC" on camcorder's LCD screen
4. Close AUTOPLAY window on PC desktop (if it appears)
5. Open HD WRITER AE 5.1 program on PC
6. Check for updates: OK
7. Click on COPY TO PC button on upper left corner of HD Writer window
8. On COPY SOURCE DRIVE, move slider to reveal VIDEO CAMERA icon, then click on that icon
9. Click NEXT
10. Select each video segment to be copied to the PC
11. Click NEXT
12. Click EXECUTE
*** Copy Video Segments to DVD Disk - Instructions ***
IMPORTANT: Must use DVD-R blank disk! Do not use DVD+R disk!
1. Restart computer before beginning this process
2. After restart, exit all programs and open windows
3. Insert blank DVD-R disk into DVD burner on PC
4. Open HD Writer AE 5.1 program
5. Click on MP4 button
6. Select "VIDEOS" folder in side menu at left (this will display all videos)
7. Click on SELECT ALL button
8. Click on COPY TO MEDIA button
9. Click on drive that DVD-R blank disk is in
10. Click on DVD VIDEO FORMAT STANDARD QUALITY IMAGES (SP)
11. Select specific video segments that are to be copied (videos will be shaded blue when selected)
[Videos can be dragged & dropped into window at bottom]
12. Check file size of videos to be copied and number of disks that will be required
13. Click NEXT
14. Enter a TITLE for the video disk
15. Click EXECUTE
I kept getting error messages during the transfer-to-DVD disk process on my Windows 8 PC. After trying everything I could think of, and spending hours in the process, I finally decided to try doing the whole process on my Windows 7 PC. It worked on the first try. I don't know if there's a compatibility problem with the HD Writer software with Windows 8, but I'm just going to do the DVD dubbing on my Windows 7 machine in order to maintain my sanity!
The video quality on the copied DVD disks was terrific, by the way. I'm very happy with them.
I recommend this camcorder.