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Panasonic HC-X1000 4K 24p Cinema/60p Video Camcorder Review (Panasonic HC-X1000, Panasonic x1000)

by on December 11, 2015
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Overview

The options for highly versatile and remarkably powerful 4K video shooting on a relatively moderate to downright modest budget keep growing these days and numerous pro or semi-pro camcorders and cinema cameras for the middle-ground are coming out all the time. The HC-X1000 from Panasonic is one of these and it creates quite a well-designed balance between doing HD video production work and slipping right into 4K UHD and Cinema 4K shooting.

Housing an impressive amount of power in relatively compact body, the HX-X1000 delivers a reliable familiar form factor with great functionality across the board. In addition to this, some excellent processing power with Venus technology and a slightly smallish but still very decent ½.3 inch MOS sensor combine with a very good 20x Leica lens do their joint work to offer you some superbly versatile video at 4K resolution or in HD

In simple terms, despite a small number of defects, the HC-X1000 is a robust, well rounded 4K UHD camcorder that has plenty of power and comes in at a price we can’t complain about too much at all. Panasonic has cut costs on their X1000 but not in ways that do any major damage to overall quality or performance metrics.

The Good

We’ll start with the most basic feature of the X1000 which we find appealing: its ability to shoot 4K UHD video at 60fps. While this is a basic requisite of any serious professional 4K cinema production camera, it’s not nearly so common a feature on such an affordable pro-sumer model like the HC-X1000. Even otherwise excellent and in some ways superior 4K UHD camcorders like Sony’s extremely well designed and pricier PXW-FS5 only manage to pull off 4K UHD video at a max rate of 30fps and here is the more affordable and somewhat older HC-X1000 with the ability to do the same at 60p. What’s more, this camcorder also shoots cinema grade 4K footage with a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels and it can manage even this video resolution at 24fps. Thus, you get both rock solid superior 4K UHD (3840 X 2160) shooting at a remarkably good frame rate and Cinematic DCI 4K shooting at the frame rate most cameras can only manage with 4K UHD.

Next up, there is the sheer versatility of the shooting formats in the X1000. This little powerhouse can manage video capture in MP4, AVCHD and MOV codecs for a wide range of different needs and preferences. Combine this with the above-mentioned high level shooting rate and all the other resolutions in which the camcorder is capable of shooting and you get some great video production flexibility, though with some caveats as well, which we’ll get to in our next section.

Other not so major but very useful features of the X1000 which we really liked included the fact that the camera comes packaged with two 64GB SD cards right in the box. This is a money saver for sure and easily knocks about $200 off the price of getting started with recording. On top of this, the battery life which the X1000 manages with moderate shooting sits at a very respectable 6 hours. Now of course those 6 hours probably won’t be reached if you’re grabbing your video at a constant full blown DCI 4K or 4K UHD resolution , but for HD shooting with some 4K video capture interspaced with it, long battery life is definitely one of the X1000’s stronger points.

Moving back into performance specs, the single most outstanding physical feature of the HX-X1000 definitely has to be its lens. We simply love this built-in piece of technology. For one thing, it offers all-around Leica quality of design and most crucially, it delivers an absolutely superb 20x zoom that’s definitely to be enjoyed and used to the max for its high versatility.

In comparison to the 3X zoom on the included lens which comes with the Sony FS5, the X1000’s is a beast. A 5-axis hybrid image stabilization system which uses both software and hardware-based stabilization techniques creates some fantastically steady shooting results even at very high zoom with high resolution and even the maximal telephoto zoom during handheld shooting comes out looking stable thanks to this camcorders superb stabilization architecture. To top things off in this area, the autofocus of the X1000 is very usable indeed, even if it doesn’t offer perfection or the kind of superior performance we’ve seen in other camcorders.

Finally, to top things off, the X1000 is nicely compact and easy to handle. It’s total body weight of just over 3 lbs has been beaten out by the also highly pro-sumer level FS5 from Sony with its slightly less than 2 lbs of weight but the X1000 is still an easy carry even for prolonged handheld shooting, and its overall physical design and handle make it easy to manipulate even during fairly clumsy positioning or while moving quickly in the field.

Check the Price of the Panasonic HC-X1000 4K Ultra HD 60p/50p Professional Camcorder, 20x Optical Zoom on Amazon:

4.7 - 11 Reviews

The Bad

On the other hand, there are a few moderate to minor notable defects which we can’t say we like about Panasonic’s HC-X1000 camcorder. None of these are deal breakers but they do take a bit away from what could have been a superb 4K UHD camcorder.

For starters, that superb 60fps 4K UHD shooting rate is somewhat offset by the fact that the X1000 only manages a bit over 9 stops of dynamic range and an oddly limited editing flexibility in MP4 during post production. In other words, this seems to be a camcorder that doesn’t deliver quite the most optimal cinematic video shooting experience (especially in 4K) and is more oriented towards commercial footage such as event videos and maybe documentaries and more serious grades of home video making.

Furthermore, we have to complain about the overall low light performance of the HC-X1000. It’s not terrible by any means, but neither is it what we’d call great. Other camcorders like the Sony FS5 we keep comparing this shooter to are much better low light shooters and even some of Black Magic’s cinematic 4K cameras, which sell for a bit more, granted, also do a much better job of recording video in lower lighting. We’ve even seen slightly better low light 4K video recording performance in compact cameras like the Sony A7s II . On top of this low light performance problem and contributing to it in some ways is the small size of the MOS sensor in the X1000. At only ½.3 inch it definitely leaves some room for expansion and we’ve seen better sensor installations in smaller, cheaper 4K UHD shooters.

Finally, one last notable annoying characteristic of the X1000 is the plastic body, which feels a bit too flimsy and even cheap considering the price of this camcorder. This plastic, low-quality feel includes the overall body and also the buttons on the X1000 as well, which don’t feel very well made. Furthermore, the same plastic build on the extendable LCD display and the little flap for the audio controls is just downright annoying and both parts give the impression that they could easily break if not handled with care.

Final Thoughts

On the whole, we absolutely and highly recommend the HC-X1000 4K UHD camcorder for some of its excellent features like DCI cinematic 4K video recording at 24fps, 4K UHD recording at 60fps and its excellent zoom lens with fantastic stability. These are specs worthy of many much pricier cameras. However, if you want this piece of hardware, also keep in mind some of its limitations and video output defects like those mentioned above.

Specs

Camera Type: 4K video Production Camcorder
Video Resolution: 3840 x 2160 pixels at 60fps and DCI 4K (4096 X 2160) at 24fps.
Sensor Type: 1x 18.47 Megapixel 1/2.3" MOS Sensor
Recording Formats: AVCHD and XAVC-L
Recording media: SDHC/SDXC
Zoom: Optical: 20x, Intelligent: 40x (in HD), Digital: 2x, Digital: 5x, Digital: 10x
Display: LCD 3.5” with 270 degree turning angle
Viewfinder: 0.45"
Microphone: built-in mono microphone
Recording formats/frame rates:
DCI 4K
MP4
4096 x 2160p / 24 fps (100 Mbps)
4K Ultra HD
MP4
3840 x 2160p / 59.94 fps (150 Mbps)
3840 x 2160p / 59.94 fps (100 Mbps)
3840 x 2160p / 29.97 fps (100 Mbps)
3840 x 2160p / 25 fps (100 Mbps)
3840 x 2160p / 23.98 fps (100 Mbps)
High Definition
MP4
1920 x 1080p / 59.94 fps (200 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 59.94 fps (100 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 59.94 fps (50 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 29.97 fps (200 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 29.97 fps (50 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 23.98 fps (200 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 23.98 fps (50 Mbps)
High Definition
MOV
1920 x 1080p / 59.94 fps (200 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 59.94 fps (100 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 59.94 fps (50 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 29.97 fps (200 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 29.97 fps (50 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 23.98 fps (200 Mbps)
1920 x 1080p / 23.98 fps (50 Mbps)
High Definition
AVCHD Progressive
1920 x 1080p / 59.94 fps (28 Mbps)
1920 x 1080i / 59.94 fps (24 Mbps)
1920 x 1080i / 59.94 fps (17 Mbps)
1920 x 1080i / 59.94 fps (5 Mbps)
1280 x 720p / 59.94 fps (8 Mbps)
Still Image Resolution:
JPEG: 8.8 Megapixel, 4096 x 2160 (17:9)
JPEG: 8.3 Megapixel, 3840 x 2160 (16:9)
JPEG: 2.1 Megapixel, 1920 x 1080 (16:9)
Connectivity:
WiFi, Microphone Input, Headphone Jack
Inputs: 2x XLR microphone, 1x 1/8" (3.5 mm) Stereo Mini camera remote, 1x LANC Terminal 2.5 mm super mini jack camera remote
Outputs: 1x A/V, 1x HDMI A (Full Size), 1x USB 3.0 Type A (Host), 1x USB Micro-B USB 3.0

Accessories

In the box with the Panasonic HC-X1000 4K camcorder you get a decent package of the usual essentials. Aside from the superb Leica Dicomar 20x Optical Zoom Lens which comes with this camcorder, other included package features consist of an AC adapter, 2 AC cables, a 5,800mAh rechargeable battery, a battery charger, an HDMI cable, a USB cable, a Microphone holder, 2 microphone holder screws a couple of input terminal caps, a shoulder strap, an EVF eyepiece cup and a limited 1 year warranty.

Further accessories can of course include assorted lenses and water protection housings but at least as far as shooting right out of the box goes, the X1000 is good to go and even includes a 64GB SD memory card. What’s also notably important for this particular video shooter is that its lens has enough zoom range to be highly versatile for both telephoto shooting and regular video recording, lowering the need for an immediate purchase of additional lenses.

Check the Price of the Panasonic HC-X1000 4K Ultra HD 60p/50p Professional Camcorder, 20x Optical Zoom on Amazon:

4.7 - 11 Reviews

Highlights

There are a number of interesting highlights to the HC-X1000 which we definitely liked. As we’d already mentioned, this camcorder comes with one very superb piece of lens technology thanks to its Leica Dicomar 20x Optical Zoom Lens, which is remarkably versatile and wonderfully stable thanks to assistance from the camcorders 5-axis image stabilization system and dual Venus image processing engines that indeed work hard at producing great imagery.

Furthermore, we can’t help but love that highly versatile 4K UHD shooting ability which the X1000 comes with. There are few 4K production cameras at anywhere near the price of this shooter which offer not only 4K UHD video recording at 60fps but also DCI 4K (4096 X 2160) pixel recording at a relatively smooth, cinematic 24 frames per second. This dual 4K recording capacity is a definite major highlight of the X1000.

Next up, the camcorder also does a remarkably effective job of compensating for hand shake and other tremors during 4K video recording thanks to a technology called Power O.I.S checking, which compensates for shakes at up to 4,000 times per second. In HD recording mode, the 5-axis image stabilization technology we already covered above kicks in and in both cases, the resulting video, even with high levels of telephoto zoom, is impressively stable looking.

Furthermore, speaking of the zoom once again, the X1000 also features an electronically linked zoom, focus and iris ring collection along its lens. These rings are grooved for easier finder manipulation and also do a solid job of simulating the feel of mechanically connected lenses. In addition to these, there’s also an illuminated ring which lets your subject know that you are actually recording by changing color from blue to red and if you find this particular little feature annoying, you can of course disable it as well.

Furthermore, we also liked the compatibility that the X1000 has with the Panasonic Image App for iOS or Android tablets and smartphones. Through NFC technology, the camcorder can easily be hooked to a mobile device and connectivity between app and camcorder can even be done via QR code and WiFi if no NFC is available. This app allows for some potentially useful real time control and monitoring of the shooter without hands-on effort.

Finally, the plastic build of the HC-X1000 does come with one particular benefit: it results in a very light, easy to handle camcorder that is great for portable shooting. At just over 3.4 lbs, this shooter is excellent for field use under prolonged conditions in which you need some superb documentary-ready 4K video resolution and frame rates.

Overall Performance

In terms of overall field performance, we’d have to call the HC-X1000 fully satisfactory and in some ways great, but of course with some of the flaws we already briefly mentioned. This shooter offers great light-weight usability and very satisfying shooting results in both full telephoto and other lower levels of zoom. The autofocus is nicely responsive to wide angle shooting and while some minor problems with focus happen during panning shots with focus confusion on different objects, these are what we’d call rare glitches, with the overwhelming majority of shooting focus scenarios working very smoothly.

Additionally, as we’d already said, the image stabilization system in the camcorder is great at its job and even full telephoto shots produce just the barest amounts of tremor-induced jitter even in distant moving objects. Shooting from more close-up distances of moving people, objects or animals is even smoother, with very little shake to be noted.

The camcorders onboard microphone consists of a stereo mic that sits above the lens and it too is a very solid performer, with high quality and remarkably detailed audio capture with some great clarity for complex, layered sounds in the surrounding scenery.

The X1000 is also decent for time lapse shooting, being able to go beyond its more standard 24, 30 and 60 frames per second shooting speeds in a sort of roundabout way by coming with five different interval settings which range from one second to two minutes. They don’t come with sound but can create some interesting time lapse effects. Of constantly moving, fluid objects.

Image Quality and Resolution

The image quality of the footage generated in the HC-X1000 is a bit variable and this is where things work slightly against the camcorder –in terms of the final result of some otherwise excellent specs. By no means would we say that the X1000 shoots crappy footage, but we do think it’s rather oddly limited in the quality of its output in certain ways.

4K UHD and DCI 4K (4096 X 2160) footage captured with this shooter is as crystal clear and sharp as you’d imagine or expect from video in either resolution but it does produce a certain level of noise and this graininess is particularly notable with video shot in anything but very bright lighting with full daylight or interior illumination. In other words, as a low light 4K video performer, the X1000 leaves quite a bit to be desired. A part of this effect seems to be caused by Panasonic’s own image processing technology and its tendency to overly sharpen images at UHD resolutions, and the final effect is one that definitely lags behind the beautiful cinematic quality of 4K UHD video we’ve seen in camcorders like the Sony FS5.

Furthermore, as we’d mentioned earlier, the full dynamic range of this camcorder seems to finish up at just 9 stops and as a result, contrast suffers, with muddier than ideal blacks and poorly rendered detail in darker spots. Highlights and bright spots in the camera suffer from some of the same lack of clarity and detail which ruins some of the footage caught with this shooter in highly contrasted lighting scenarios.

Pricing

The Panasonic HC-X1000 4K camcorder is currently retailing on Amazon for a very reasonable price of $2,797.99. While it does have its defects, we would call this a sound price for a camcorder with such great lens and resolution frame rate specs.

Check the Price of the Panasonic HC-X1000 4K Ultra HD 60p/50p Professional Camcorder, 20x Optical Zoom on Amazon:

4.7 - 11 Reviews


The Not So Great

To summarize briefly once more, the HC-X1000 suffers mainly from problems with the overall contrast and richness of its DCI 4K and 4K Ultra HD footage. Furthermore, it has a rather cheap plasticky feel to its build and isn’t the best sort of low light or night shooting camcorder at all. Additionally, the sensor in this shooter could have definitely used some expansion.

Positives

• Excellent DCI 4K and 4K UHD shooting capacity
• Superb Leica Zoom lens
• 4K UHD at 60fps
• Light and easy to handle

Negatives

• Weak at low light performance
• Poor dynamic range
• Flimsy build in some ways
• Video output lacks cinematic quality

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A

 
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A-

 
Price
B+

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A-

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Bottom Line
 

As long as you understand the limitations for low light shooting and dynamic range that the HC-X1000 suffers from we still highly recommend this camcorder for daylight shooting of documentaries and public events. Its zoom lens and very robust 4K video recording versatility are great.

Check the Price of the Panasonic HC-X1000 4K Ultra HD 60p/50p Professional Camcorder, 20x Optical Zoom on Amazon:

4.7 - 11 Reviews

 
1 comments
 
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  • Martin
    April 8, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    I’d love to compare it to my Pana GH4 with the 35-100 F 2.8 lens or the wide angle lens.
    My experience filming with the GH4 in 4K UHD has been very very good, including in dim light.

    Reply

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