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on 21 April 2013
having had a Panasonic sd60 before I can notice where Panasonic has made improvements with this model. Pic quality is very very good for such a small fit-in-hand camera. Easier to get the SD card out from underneath. Battery is fitted deeper into body. Shutter moves in a semi-sphere not a flat door which could easily scratch the lens before. Obviously the choice of recording formats are better.

One point to make about this camera, that the manual might not tell you, is that Still pictures can be taken while in Video mode, using the button on top, so no need to keep changing mode unless you like to take pictures in 4:3 not 16:9 of course.

Downside is... still pictures are only 3mega pixel. :(

HD video is recorded to MTS files (compressed h264) which need converting to M2TS (mpeg2 transport stream) on a Windows PC or Mac before editing can be done (Panasonic software does this) unles expensive software is used like Sony Vegas. However with Linux the raw MTS can be edited with at least two apps, thus it saves time!

My tips....

Record
o. Touch the screen to get info of battery, recording time remaining on memory card.
o. Zoom easily with touch on panel.

Playback
o. Easy controls for browsing the thumbs, fast-forward etc.

Manual record mode
o. Set manual with button on camera body.
o. Turn on/flip open panel and touch the |< >| button at bottom left.
o. Touch Shutter
o. The Camera adjusts to the light (really it auto-adjusts Aperture, amount of light allowed in the camera, and you can set what shutter speed while aperture is auto-adjusted).
o. Touch Aperture
o. Now adjust with |<| and |>| to close or open the aperture - to allow less light or more light in.
o. Close the panel.
o. Reopen the panel and the same light setting applies still.
o. Touch Shutter and Aperture returns to auto-adjust. Which means that when you've shot a movie in one situation, say in the shade with aperture quite open for more light, and then you go into situation lit by the sun, your setting will be too lighted, even white-out. So o. touch Shutter and the camera adjusts to the new situation. Touch Aperture again to adjust how you'd like the picture.
o. Touch Aperture again after adjusting it to hide the left-hand Shutter-Aperture controls.

Manual focus
o. Open panel and touch Focus then touch MF
o. Touch and hold (or touch once to fine tune) the |-| or |+| to focus further away or closer -objects in focus get outlines in blue.
o. To return to auto focus, touch Focus on controls twice
o. Then touch AF.

Picture setup
|Menu| > |Record Setup| > page up > page up > |Picture Adjust|
o. I set colour +1 and Exposure -2 or -3.
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on 3 June 2013
DV was for so long the standard for home movie-making, and we never realised just how cumbersome capturing tape recordings onto computer was until the required FireWire port began to be omitted from even higher-end PC's, possibly thanks to Apple wielding their marketing muscle as creators of the admittedly good and high-speed IEEE1394 standard for linking a DV camcorder up. USB could never compete in the early days, only playing catch-up in speed terms with USB2.

I then was required to spend £100 obtaining a FireWire-to-USB capture device as part of a complex Pinnacle editing program 'suite'. The capture device part worked but the editing software was a total nightmare, as previous Pinnacle products had also been, crashing at the smallest provocation and consistently failing to capture DV footage. Into the older version of Premier Pro I had no problems whatsoever, but it had been a painful journey. At least I was producing my own home movies again.

I always allow technology to mature, if possible, before leaping into the otherwise unknown, so finally upgrading into the 21st Century from DV tapes, specifically to a Panasonic AVCHD camcorder, was always going to be a well-researched project to be gotten right first time. After agonising for a long time, I settled on two, one a Sony and one a Panasonic. (As ever - I have used both brands over the years in equal shares.) Amazon and other sites' reviews persuaded me that the latter offered more for my style of shooting, and boy were they right.

I do not storyboard - my movies are effectively epic snapshots of my life here and there, holiday movies and specific outings shorts, that kind of thing. That means a point-and-shoot approach, grabbing the scene effectively as it happens or as I pass through it, it's as simple as that. I rely on the editing stage to iron out and tidy up the few sub-standard scenes that cannot be left out, poor lighting conditions or not. Often, you only get one chance to shoot something unique, or just get that shot which beats all others in the mix. So far, this little beauty has done exactly what I need.

PRO's -
3-CCD for good colour and luminance
Powers up fast on opening the LCD screen - there is also a fast-start option as well (whatever that means!)
Allows pre-recording, i.e. will continusly capture 'a number' of seconds of video from BEFORE you press the recrd button
Powers down fast on closing the LCD once a file is written to the SD card (good for battery economy)
Autofocus is keenly accurate as long as you don't wave the camcorder all over the place
Focus can be set to a certain item on the touchscreen LCD screen
Optical Image Stabiliser (OIS) is outstanding for a hand-held on long-zoom-in's and scenes inside vehicles
Oft-used controls on the LED, including recording, stopping, plus one-speed zoom in/out
On-screen tips available for the various settings
Capable of full 1080p progressive
3MP camera available for reference pictures, uses full zoom and can take pix while videoing is in progress(!)

CONS -
The LCD screen is difficult to see in bright sunny conditions (affects many models of course)
No eye-viewer to combat this (not going to get one at this price, he said)
The sound is not bad, but don't wander too far from anyone speaking to/on camera
Full 1080p will eat more SD card and hard drive space, requires special software to capture (on supplied CD)
Few manual controls, but those present are fairly easily available
Low light reduces quality and frame-rates can drop
A few options on the menu are obscure
The camera function is useful, but limited in quality (still quite a bonus I hadn't expected!)

Overall, a bargain for the price of just over £200 when I got it, and there's more features I'm quite unlikely to need. The next model up was twice the price and didn't have enough going for it for my serious consideration, considering my main style of shooting video. Maybe next time...
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on 25 September 2012
I recently purchased a Panasonic V500 Full HD camcorder from Amazon, having researched the various models on line, both from Panasonic's website and Amazon's.
The V500 model came up as the model that offered the most features I required, as a long standing amateur photographer !!
This is the first model in the Panasonic range of camcorders that offers FULL HD video recording, called AVCHD Progressive, which is TRUE 1920 x 1080p (50p) recording.
It also records in 1080/50i, which is the format that the BBC use for their HD programmes. As someone, who uses Apple Mac computers, I was pleased to be able to record video and photos
in iFrame format, and transfer these to my Mac computers. Microsoft computers can transfer their video and photos using the supplied software, included in the camera box.
The other great feature of the camcorder, is the 50 x intelligent zoom, which is optically stabilized, and really does work well up to 50x !!
For a full description of all the camera's features, I suggest buyers check out the technical specification on Amazon's website, which I found very helpful in making a decision on the model to purchase.
Last but not least, is the excellent value for money offered by Amazon on the majority of their products line up !!Panasonic V500 Full HD 1920 x 1080p (50p) 3D Ready Camcorder - Black (1MOS Sensor, 50x Intelligent Zoom, SD Card Recording, 2D/3D Conversion with Face Recognition) 3.0 inch LCDPanasonic V500 Full HD 1920 x 1080p (50p) 3D Ready Camcorder - Black (1MOS Sensor, 50x Intelligent Zoom, SD Card Recording, 2D/3D Conversion with Face Recognition) 3.0 inch LCD
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on 11 January 2013
I've owned around 5 camcorders since the early days. We bought this Panasonic V500 based on good reviews of its image stabilisation system. I had a Panasonic (3xCCD HD) camera before but stabilisation was not up to much so we replaced that with a Canon HV30.

This has served us well but my quest for steady video, especially from cars, continued. Also, we aimed to give up on having to use tapes which are a bit anachronistic these days.

After much research and finding a good price at Jessops(!), with 50pound back voucher from Panasonic, we bought the V500.

Our initial results are excellent. Especially material taken from a moving vehicle. The image stabilisation system intelligently locks on to the moving scenery and keeps it pretty steady. You can see stuff on the windscreen bouncing up and down whilst the road ahead keeps in frame. Comparing it with scenes taken on our old Canon, where we can see the road bouncing up and down and the windscreen steady, this camera is very impressive.

It is also nice to not have to rely on tapes. We bought a 64Gb SD SDXC card on Ebay for around 26GBPounds and this will store over 8hours of the highest quality non-progressive video. I tried filming in the highest quality "progressive" (1920x1080p) mode but saw little point as we have to render it back to interlaced for viewing on our TV anyway.

For a pockatable, light and very usable camcorder with the best image stabiliser I've seen, this is the one to choose.
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on 18 February 2013
I was looking for a camera that I could use for home movies, particualrly capturing precious moments of my little boy growing up. However, I also wanted to have the capability of editing movies and recording in Standard Definition as my laptop would not be able to handle editing HD footage + I would ike to copy to DVD.

This camcorder does not record in Standard Definition, but the software that it came with is able to convert from HD to SD allowing me to edit my footage easily. The software is able to trim footage, divide it, add decorations and graphics such as text or bubbles and balloons floating on the screen, which is a nice touch. The camera itself also has the capability to trim and divide the footage.

Quality: The quality of the picture is second to none when recording in the full HD format, you can also record in an iframe format which is not as crisp. The picture can get a bit grainy when recording in a dimmer light, but the picture is still very clear and the grainy appearnce would only bother you if you was filming the next Avatar movie which we are not.

Battery LIfe: The battery life is fantastic, I can get about 2hrs recording/editing and viewing footage with a single charge and that's good enough for me.

Storage: I got a "SanDisk 32GB 45MB/s Extreme HD Video SDHC Card " to record my footage on and I'm still using it after a mnth of recording. I also got an SD card reader USB to plug into the side of my TV so I don't have to convert everything to DVD just to show others.

Bad point: In really dark light it's not very good, it does come with a LED light, but you couldn't use it to record people as it would blind them and the range of the LED is about 4-5ft.
I had to turn the LED off because in slightly dim light it kept coming on when in auto mode and kept blinding my son, but I didn't need it to be on because the footage was still pretty good.

I done a lot of looking around and research on the camcorders available to me (took me 1 month to choose) and I stand by my decision. I could write a lot more about how good it is but I'm currently at work and jsut trying to get a quick , to the point review down.
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on 17 June 2012
I was looking for a camcorder for 2 reasons - to take videos while on holiday and to record videos to explain my services and upload these to YouTube.

Amazon is not really very well geared up to purchase such items as you cannot select features you are looking for and then, get a filtered list.

Anyway, what I was looking for was a HD camcorder where I could use an External Microphone. And unfortunately Panasonic V500M does not have an External Microphone socket.

The next model up - Panasonic V700M - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-V700-1080p-Ready-Camcorder/dp/B006T9JHZK/ - has an External Microphone socket and apparently, better video although, I have not seen the quality of V700M's output.

V500M is built well and handles well. It picks up sound within 1.5 meters really well in non-zoom mode. The video quality is good too. It is easy to operate. I would definitely recommend an HDMI cable. Something like this would be ideal - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nedis-V1-3a-Cable-Plated-Connectors/dp/B002MSU5BM/

By default, V500M comes with VW-VBK180 battery that gives between an hour to two hours of recording time. I ended up also buying VW-VBK360 battery equivalent from Amazon - http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B006YQQKCQ/ - alongwith, an external charger - http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0042AUVLC/

If I could choose again, I would choose V700M and an external microphone - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Polaroid-Condenser-Shotgun-Microphone-Camcorders/dp/B005S45YX6/

I might go for X900M - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-Camcorder-Built-In-Viewfinder-Built-/dp/B006U98G74/ or if budget was a concern, I might go for X800 - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-X800-1080p-Ready-Camcorder/dp/B006U98G42/

These advanced models not only have an external microphone socket, they also have a socket for an accessory shoe and comes with an accessory shoe - an ideal way to use an external microphone or an additional light.

Given that the price difference between V500M and V700M is not much, I would recommend buying V700M.

I am sure the V500M will prove to be a good camcorder...or at least, I hope so.

My reason for giving a 3-star rating - there is a better product from the same manufacturer at not much extra price.

UPDATE - 16-Nov-2012:

I have done a video for a wedding using this camcorder. Video quality is great. Sound quality is much better than I expected. Hence, upgrading it from 3-star to 4-star.
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on 12 January 2013
Original battery delivered with camcorder will only last about an hour. Apart from that criticism the camera is very easy to use and the video quality is excellent. Camera is very light which could be a problem under some conditions if a tripod not available.
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on 13 November 2012
This camcorder cost me £200 with the £50 cashback !! That is outstanding value for a top brand.
It is so easy to use, so light and effortless. The image stabilizing is awesome, keeping steady
captures through out. The battery last a good amount of time, but well worth buying a spare.
I shot in full hd, and was amazed are sharp it is on my 46 led Samsung screen.
I also bought a sandisk extreme 32mb hd video card, which may be helping on such good image quality.
Unless your a dedicated filmer, this camera is perfect for everyday use, especially the family man !
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on 22 May 2013
My first camcorder and I was lean on budget as well. Hence I was looking around for a good camcorder in a reasonable price. This one I must say is an awesome product considering the price I bought. I went the one with internal memory as that adds some flexibility and increases the capacity. Now I can wit to buy an SD card when I find the right one at right price.
It does a decent job and the image stabilization is superlative. The image quality is also good when there is enough light. But it you are shooting in dark this is probably not the perfect choice. The frontal light do help to some extend and this is why I bought it instead of V520.
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on 26 October 2013
So far, over the last 12 years, I've owned 3 camcorders including this one. Had a Canon Hi8, then the Panasonic NVGS180 with 3CCD technology, finally moved with the times and bought the Panasonic V500m Full HD! OMG, I have to say that the picture quality is absolutely amazing! So easy to use and the software provided (HD Writer 4) which allows you to edit your movies, add titles, music and burn onto Blu Ray/DVD, is brilliant! You cannot go wrong with a Panasonic! Its worth paying the extra compared to other makes, especially if you're like me and love burning your family movies onto DVD!
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