Meet Panasonic’s two Slim, light and awesome 4K Camcorders, unveiled at CES 2015

by on January 6, 2015

Stephan Jukic – January 6, 2015

As we’ve already covered, Sony has been busy developing a smaller and cheaper than ever new 4K camcorder to outdo its 2014 release, the FDR-AX100. Well, as a major camera market competitor of Sony and a maker of some extremely well reviewed 4K cameras like the GH4, Panasonic has been busy in this area too.

The company has taken advantage of this year’s CES in Las Vegas, Nevada to also unveil two new 4K ultra HD consumer camcorders for the broader public.

These are called the HC-WX970 and the HC-VX870  and they’re both awesome little devices, especially compared to what was available in 2014 as far as 4K UHD camcorders go.

The single most notable feature of the two machines is an ability to record 4K video clips at 50p (50 frames per second). Given that no consumer grade camera or camcorder in 2014 went above 30p and that even many prosumer and professional 4K video cameras could only manage 30 and in some cases 60p recording rates, giving these two a rate of 50 frames per second is very impressive.

Even more impressive is the fact that both models cost less than $1000.

In terms of other neat features, the two HC camcorders come with a “twin camera” design feature that consists of a second little camera built into the flip-out LCD screen, which is useful for shooting picture-in-picture video and some pretty neat video selfies.

Furthermore, both camcorders come with a high dynamic range capability, which is also a complete first for consumer video camcorders, just like the 50p shooting rate at 4K settings.

Other awesome design features that went into Panasonic’s two newest camcorders include the ability to down convert any 4K video from its full 2160p resolution to more manageable 2K and Full HD formats. Additionally, Panasonic has included a very useful 4K Photo Mode that’s very similar to what Sony’s FDR-AX33 offers. With this feature, individual high resolution still shots of 8.3 megapixels can be extracted from any given reel of 4K video that you’ve captured. Given the 50p shooting rate, this means some truly spectacular captures of assorted action sequences in still format.

The Panasonic VX-870 4K camcorder

The Panasonic VX-870 4K camcorder

The sensor on the HC series of camcorders is also an excellent addition to their overall quality. It’s 8 megapixels of back-illuminated sensing ability offer very fast, very accurate autofocusing capacity and the shaking that often comes with using a camcorder is taken down to a bare minimum thanks to a hybrid optical image stabilization system that offers 5-axis correction. Not quite as good as the Sony FDR-AX33’s full lens stabilization system, but perfectly decent nonetheless. On top of this stabilization feature, the sensor, in combination with the Crystal Engine processor inside the camera, offers extremely high-speed signal processing that further works to reduce rolling shutter distortion.

Something that also works for consumers who want to use these cameras in the field is their size: the two HC camcorders are very compact. Despite their 20x zoom capacity, the internal Leica lens has been designed from scratch to offer very precise autofocus while maintaining a highly discreet size.

Finally, the High Dynamic Range feature is worth covering in a bit more detail. The HC-WX970 and HC-VX870 are the first ever consumer model cameras to offer HDR but only do so when filming at Full HD settings.

In simple terms, they can capture two videos at the same time but at different exposures and then combine them to create a final video sequence with a much better overall exposure. This feature works at up to 60p shooting rates and can also be used in slow motion filming.

Retail pricing for the two camcorders is supposed to run at $1000 for the slightly more feature rich WX970 and about $900 for the smaller VX870. The VX870 doesn’t come with the twin camera feature of its slightly more powerful cousin.

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