The following article is based on the technical review of the very famous Panasonic HC-WX970 model.
The Panasonic HC-WX970 camera can be rightfully termed as the flagship 4K consumer grade camcorder which is also a compact model consisting of a solid and efficient Leica Dicomar Lens offering a 20 x of optical zoom coupled with the critically acclaimed Panasonic 5 axis Hybrid O.I.S + Optical Image Stabilization System. As listed in the key features, the inclusion of the HDR movie option along with the Twin Camera feature is largely welcomed
There are very few 4k camcorders in the market available which make the choice a hell lot more difficult but the benefits are countless as with 4K recording you can also pull off 8MP still images from your footage which allow you to crop close into a scene while editing. That not only retains enough resolution but provides us with a full HD picture.
The GoPro HERO3 + Black Edition and Panasonic HX-A500 along with the action cameras offer fantastic resolution. Although the well renowned Sony’s FDR-AX100E introduced 4K camcorders for consumers, but Panasonic’s latest edition does hold a solid shift on 4K growing more common day by day. This brings the price down to £900, in comparison to the Sony’s made item of £1390 price tag.
Panasonic HC-WX970 – Specs and Features:
Panasonic are thought to have ditched the three chip procedure to design their cameras that had remained for so long for the manufacturers. Panasonic high end customer camcorders that included the likes of the renowned HC-W850 and the HC-WX970 will continue this approach. Similar to the Panasonic’s HC-W850, Panasonic HC-WX970 utilizes a simple mini single 1/2.3 inch which consists of the embellished backside CMOS but with a native 18.91 megapixels sensor board.
The sensor mentioned at the end of the aforementioned paragraph isn’t utilized for shooting videos or clicking still photographs. Only 8.29 megapixels of the 18.91 proposed megapixels are utilized for the 4K format that the Panasonic HC-WX970 incorporates, which is termed by the manufacturers as UHD1 or UHDTV. This is specifically and more importantly four X the resolution of Full HD 3840 x 2160. The highest still photo resolution is 8.28 megapixels.
A pretty heavy knit 72 Mbits per second data throw is put into use when the full shooting strength of 4K resolution is put into use. This will allow just around a 30 minute of footage to be stored in a 16 GB SDXC memory card. So this requires you to need a whole lot of high capacity media card that allows you to record large length of footages.
The Leica Dicomar lens is considerably brisk compared to other lenses present in the market that not only offers a good aperture reading of f/1.8 aperture for artistic, depth of field and low light photographs which rises up to an impressive F3.6 at the highest 20 x optical zoom reading. Along with the Dicomar Lens is present an Intelligent Zoom Lens that utilizes a separate sensor pixel part to produce an astonishing quality while zooming. This also extends the zoom capability to 25 x in 4K camcorder more and 40 x in full high definition. The camera obviously had to offer a digital zoom which extends up to a staggering 1500x.
Talking about features, the twin camera feature is a slightly odd one because the device owners are yet to figure out its true use. The twin camera feature first appeared in the predecessor VX870 also. It exists on the rear end of the flip out LCD screen and is a 5.27 megapixel f/2.2 aperture with fitted focused swiveling. The Twin Camera mode is kick started when you twirl it out of its fixed position so you are able to record with your own hands.
Panasonic HC-WX970 – Design, Controls and Usability:
The camera might not be termed as a pro level camcorder but the Panasonic HC-WX970 ensures a very reasonable set of features that are not just healthy but fills the desires of every enthusiasts in the hunt of more than just a point and shoot device. The camera also incorporates a mini headphone jack socket at the front near of the lens coupled with a mini microphone input jack right underneath the LCD screen. There is no accessory shoe available but an add on slide at the back of the best Panasonic camcorder makes up for it.
Another small drawback about the device is the omission of an electronic viewfinder which is mostly prioritized all over the world over a 3 inch LCD screen. Furthermore the trademark Panasonic lens ring is also been dropped by the manufacturers. But still the world doesn’t here as the camera incorporates a control dial also mentioned in its key features. This allows a brisk access to non-automatic focusing, shutter speed, iris control and modifications in white balance offset. This proves that camera still has to offer numerous adjustments.
Despite of all these manual controls and adjustments the Panasonic HC-WX970 also incorporates the built in HDR video option. This feature cannot be utilized in the 4K mode and the best Panasonic camcorder is supposed to automatically shut down to full high definition mode. The HDR function of the camcorder allows you more quality in highlights and shadows and can also be termed as the improved production of the Intelligent Contrast Control System. However, the testing procedures showed a mild beneficial effect. The quality appeared in the lowlight had a very minute reading of noise, so that’s a plus.
Excluding the manual controls appearing beside the dial near the lens of the camera, the device is thoroughly operated by the touchscreen LCD. A twirling set of options which is located alongside the left hand area of the LCD helps you access the record and zoom buttons coupled with the brisk access to the main settings of the camera. A spare button is present which allows you to utilize the extensive Wi-Fi connectivity. This helps you connect it with the monitor and a smartphone. Home security, playback and the DLNA compatible devices are also accessed through this.
Panasonic HC-WX970 – Image Quality:
Panasonic HC-WX970 has continued its tradition of providing unrivalled image quality and the Panasonic HC-WX970 is no different. The critics have rated Panasonic HC-WX970 as the best camera from the manufacturers in terms of the level of detail in its 4K camcorder among all the cameras below £1000. The test footages have revealed that in order to completely analyze the shoot quality of this camcorder, you will need a connection of a 4K TV set with HDMI 1.4. The Panasonic HC-WX970 supports a 1.4 rated Micro HDMI that consists of a cable present in its box so the raw footages recorded from the camera can be seen.
There are various applications like Cyber Link and Power Director that have always supported the 4K editing for a long while now. However, it’s worth memorizing that even the new versions of the Adobe’s Premier Elements do not support it. After testing it with the help of Cyber Link and Power Director 12, the editing and the output had no real problems just that the performance was a bit weary.
Panasonic HC-WX970 Specifications:
- Main Camera: Image Sensor
- 1/2.3 type (1/2.3″) BSI MOS Sensor
- Main Camera: Total Pixels
- 18.91 megapixels
- Main Camera: Effective Pixels
- Motion Image: 4K: 8.29 megapixels [16:9], Full-HD: 6.10 megapixels [16:9], Level Shot Function OFF or Normal
Still Image: 7.00 megapixels [3:2]/8.29 megapixels [16:9]/6.22 megapixels [4:3]
- Sub Camera: Image Sensor
- 1/4″ MOS Sensor
- Sub Camera: Total Pixels
- 5.27 megapixels
- Main Camera: F Value
- f/1.8 (WIDE) / f/3.6 (TELE)
- Main Camera: Optical Zoom
- Main Camera: Focal Length
- 4.08 – 81.6mm
- Main Camera: 35 mm Film Equivalent
- Motion Image: 4K: 30.8 – 626 mm [16:9], Full-HD: 37.0 – 752 mm [16:9], Level Shot Function OFF or Normal
Still Image: 34.5 – 690.3 mm [3:2]/30.8 – 626 mm [16:9]/37.6 – 752.8 mm [4:3]
- Main Camera: Filter Diameter
- 49mm / 1.93″
- Main Camera: Lens Brand
- Leica Dicomar Lens
- Sub Camera: F Value
- Sub Camera: Focal Length
- 3.54 mm
- Sub Camera: 35 mm Film Equivalent
- Motion Image: 37.2 mm (Motion picture recording mode)
- Standard Illumination
- 1400 lx
- Minimum Illumination
- 2 lx (Scene Mode Low Light 1/25), 1 lx (Night Mode (Color)), 0 lx (Night Mode (IR))
- Auto / Manual
- Intelligent Zoom OFF
- Intelligent Zoom ON
- 4K: 25x, Full-HD: 40x
- Digital Zoom
- 60x / 1500x (The maximum value of zoom magnification can be set in two patterns)
- White Balance
- Auto / White Set / Sunny / Cloudy / Indoor1 / Indoor2
- Shutter Speed: Motion Image
- [50p / 50i]/Auto Slow Shutter ON: 1/25 – 1/8000/Auto Slow Shutter OFF: 1/50 – 1/8000
- Shutter Speed: Still Image
- 1/2 – 1/2000
- Auto / Manual
- Image Stabilizer
- HYBRID O.I.S.+ with Active Mode, O.I.S. Lock, Level Shot Function
- Creative Control
- Miniature Effect, Silent Movie, 8mm Movie, Time Lapse Rec
- Recording Media
- SD/SDHC/SDXC Memory Card
- Recording Format
- [AVCHD] AVCHD Progressive/[iFrame / MP4] MP4
- Compression Method
- MPEG-4 AVC/H.264
- Recording/ Playback Mode
- 1080/50p (28Mbps / VBR), (1920 x 1080/50p)/PH (24Mbps / VBR), (1920 x 1080/50i)/HA (17Mbps / VBR), (1920 x 1080/50i)/HG (13Mbps / VBR), (1920 x 1080/50i)/HE (5Mbps / VBR), (1920 x 1080/50i)/MP4/2160p(72M) (72Mbps / VBR), (3840 x 2160/25p)/MP4/1080p(50M) (50Mbps / VBR), (1920 x 1080/50p)/MP4/1080p(28M) (28Mbps / VBR), (1920 x 1080/50p)/MP4/720p(9M) (9Mbps / VBR), (1280 x 720/25p)/iFrame (28Mbps / VBR), (960 x 540/25p)
- Actual Recordable Time
- Approx. 55 min (50p mode)/Approx. 55 min (PH mode)/Approx. 55 min (HA mode)/Approx. 55 min (HG mode)/Approx. 55 min (HE mode)/Approx. 50 min (MP4 50M)/Approx. 55 min (MP4 28M)/Approx. 1 h 00 min (MP4 720p)/Approx. 1 h 00 min (iFrame)/ Twin Camera OFF
- Thumbnail Display
- 20 thumbnails/page, 9 thumbnails/page, 1 thumbnail/page
- Audio Recording System
- AVCHD: Dolby Digital (5.1ch / 2ch)/iFrame, MP4: AAC (2ch)
- 5.1ch Surround, Zoom, Focus and Stereo Microphone
- Dynamic type
- Still Image Recording Format
- JPEG (DCF/Exif2.2)
- Recording Image Size
- Still Image:[16:9] 25.9megapixels (6784 x 3816), 14 megapixels (4992 x 2808), 2.1 megapixels (1920 x 1080)/[3:2] 20 megapixels (5472 x 3648), 10.6 megapixels (3984 x 2656), 2.0 megapixels (1728 x 1152)/[4:3] 20.4 megapixels (5216 x 3912), 10.9 megapixels (3808 x 2856), 0.3 megapixels (640 x 480)
Simultaneous Recording: 2160p: [16:9] 20.4 megapixels (6016 x 3384), 8.3 megapixels (3840 x 2160)/Other than 2160p: [16:9] 14.0 megapixels (4992 x 2808), 2.1 megapixels (1920 x 1080)
- Power Supply
- 3.6V (Battery) / 5.0V (AC Adaptor)
- Power Consumption
- Max. 7.6W (Recording) / Max. 7.7W (Charging)
- LCD Monitor
- 7.5cm (3″) Wide LCD monitor (460,800 dots)
- Touch Panel
- Manual Ring / Dial
- Yes (Dial)
- Interface: AV
- Interface: HDMI
- Yes (micro)
- Interface: Microphones (stereo mini)
- Interface: Headphone (stereo mini)
- Interface: USB
- 2.0 Hi-Speed
- Interface: USB Charge
- LED Video Light
- Accessory Shoe
- Yes (cold)
- Lens Cover
- Yes (Auto)
- On-Screen Display Language
- English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Netherlandic, Turkish, Swedish
- Wi-Fi: Standard
- IEEE 802.11b/g/n
- Wi-Fi: Frequency
- 2.4GHz band
- Wi-Fi: NFC
- Dimensions (W x H x D)
- Approx. 2.55 x 2.87 x 5.47″ / 64.77 x 72.90 x 138.94mm
- Without Battery and SD Card: Approx. 360g / 12.70oz
Should I buy Panasonic HC-WX970:
If the photographer in you is really craving for a 4K camcorder, this model offers you the daily dose of Panasonic’s excellence and despite of its heft price it has much more on its plate than considered by the norm.
The world still awaits the perfect blend of the camcorder and still camera which might be on its way with the upcoming Canon XC10 but this will be almost doubled the price of Panasonic HC-WX970. So it is wise to say that Panasonic currently holds the most reasonable and capable 4K camcorder in the market.
It wouldn’t be at all wrong to term the well renowned although hefty priced Panasonic HC-WX970 as a wonderful, great and a quality option for the camcorder enthusiasts 4K early adopters. This not only holds the comprehensive set of features/options but a wonderful image quality. It is arguably the best Panasonic camcorder and arguably the best Panasonic camera to buy.
The camera consists of multiple pros and some of them are listed as follows. The camera includes a magnificent facility of the 4K camcorder shooting under the price range of $1500. Furthermore the secondary lens allows you to record yourself while shooting. The camera also inherits a wonderful manual setting control along with a dial.
Just like every other camera, Panasonic HC-WX970 also has its cons which are listed as follows:
Surprisingly the camera doesn’t incorporate a lens ring and only a lens dial is present. The camera doesn’t have a big chip and the 4k crossover is still awaited by the fans. Furthermore Panasonic HC-VX870 offers similar features for the around $300.
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