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VINE VOICEon 3 April 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The hand-sized (aimed at right-handed) Panasonic V520 camcorder is a very good camcorder with some very good features for the money. It arrives well packaged with all the bits needed to get you up and running - USB cable, battery etc but no SDHC or SDXC flash card. You can get a decent 64GB SDXC card for not a lot which you might well need given that the V520 does HD 1080p video. It has an adjustable hand strap installed.

It has a 50x optical zoom which means it genuinely zooms there. The extra zoom to 80x is digitally invented. Thing is, it does it very well. The zoom selection is smooth and simple to use. It's 5-axis hybrid image stabiliser works very well too though a tripod will give the best results. IQ is as they claim very good indeed and even in low light where it is relatively noise free. The lens is pretty good too at f1.8 to f4.2 and with lens abberrations well controlled.

The LCD is nice and clear and offers touch sensitive control of the camera. When you open the LCD, it reveals a group of buttons for power on/off, iA, OIS and Wi-Fi and sockets for USB, A/V and HDMI on the side of the camera. On top is the zoom selector and a shutter button for the camera. The record toggle button is on the right side as is the psu socket. Everything else is set via the LCD which is responsive.

LCD menus are logically set out and intuitive. It's easy to work out what they do without constantly 'chimping' the manual.

I did not delve deep into Wi-Fi, but found it very easy to set up the Remote Control access using my Samsung Note 10.1 following the instructions given in the Wi-Fi set up pdf file. The screen update is a bit laggy using the Panasonic Image App but nonetheless usable. You can get the app via Google Play.

I have various modern cameras Sony NEX 5R and Nikon D3200 etc and none as yet replaces a camcorder for the job of video. These stills cameras allow the use of some fine lenses and various aperture techniques etc but they are not camcorders just as a camcorder is not a stills camera. A dedicated tool will usually do the job better.

I have a Canon HG20 camcorder which I have had for a few years. That is a nice camcorder but this Panasonic V520 is better in terms of IQ, size, use and functionality and it costs a lot less.

There are a number of pdf files available on the Panasonic site. Not a bad idea to download them and have a look.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an excellent all-round camcorder for the money that it's really difficult not to sound too gushing about it. As a general purpose mid-price camcorder it is very easy to use with some very impressive image processing and image stabilisation software.

I have to say that for the money this is a really feature packed camcorder. The CMOS sensor is so good it makes the detail you get on the recorded image exceptional and when coupled with a good lens and 50X optical zoom plus an intelligent zoom option that takes this to 80X it is just an unbelievable feature in a camcorder in this price range. The steady shoot and level feature makes walking and shooting video fairly easy without the image bouncing or blurring too much.

In fact if you use the comparison table in the product description above with the other V(x)20 models there are compromises Panasonic appear to have made with each model. From the V5 up you get some high end features: like 5.1 Surround Sound, stereo, 20Mp, etc. but you lose out on the zoom, which as I say above in this price of camcorder is incredible, and to perfectly honest for the average home movie/memory recording I'd rather have an exceptional zoom. Image reproduction and colour saturation is nigh on perfect in HD and I prefer to shoot in 50p and low light shooting maintains this quality and is virtually noise free.

The gimmick with this camcorder, and lots of them have gimmicks these days, is the WiFi option rather than hard wiring it to your laptop/PC. I'm no genius with these things but I'm no slouch nowadays either. However, after a frustrating hour where I was tearing out hair that I can't these days afford to lose, I eventually called my son who works in IT. Next time he came over he connected in about a minute flat to what I laughingly call a home network and downloaded the video I'd shot and then showed me how to do it. I've a Sony camcorder that has a USB cable built in to the hand strap which to be honest is just as easy (for me anyway, easier and less problematic than using the WiFi option) when connecting to another device for either playback or editing; or simply removing the SD card! So for me the WiFi is just a gimmick. You do get all the relevant cables as part of the bundle and that's what I use.

All the buttons for controlling the camcorder are in good positions and easy to access and use. The LCD screen is a good size and the touch screen controls are responsive in menu mode. Battery life isn't great if you filming in Full HD and using the zoom a lot, best I managed on a recent trip to EuroDisney was 80 minutes before it died and the average over the week was just under 70 mins.

Apart from the WiFi issues there isn't a great deal wrong with this camcorder. It has a phenomenal optical zoom for the price and image stabilization software that keep the image sharp whatever activity (within reason) you're doing. If you want double the MP's, 5.1 SS the Panasonic V720 Full HD Camcorder - Black (20.4MP, 1920 x 1080P, New MOS High Sensitivity Sensor, 50x Intelligent Zoom) 3 inch LCD is about £100 more and the top of the range Panasonic X920 Full HD Camcorder - Black (20.4MP, 1920 x 1080P, 3MOS BSI Sensor, 25x Intelligent Zoom) 3.5 inch LCD is significantly more (£450+) but you lose that phenomenal zoom and that for me is a trade off too far unless you're shooting very HQ (Professional standard video).

My usual gripe is you do not get an SD card included (but all manufacturers are cheapskates in this respect), you'll need a minimum of a class 6 (preferably a class 10) with a minimum write speed of 30Mb/s (preferably 45 Mb/s +) - SanDisk do an affordable range and you can pick up a SanDisk 32GB 45MB/s Extreme HD Video SDHC Card for about £24.
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on 18 April 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The camera itself is much smaller than expected as my previous SD-900 is much more a handful than this one. Not a bad thing and the fact the camera shake OIS function really takes care of it being a smaller camera is also great. The fact this little gem has such a good optical zoom on it is staggering, and the extra digital zoom is usable up to 100X without noticing any degradation of the footage. The build quality is also very good and I'm pleased to state that the opening of the video side screen is not as easy if you flick your wrist that on other models either - this can be cause for concern as you can literally pull the screen off in a sudden fast jerky movement with some cameras, gladly this doesn't suffer this issue.

Sound and Video quality are very good, another great feature is the levelling feature, this shows you which way to tilt the camera to remain straight, I did think the camera did this for you but I have not come across the settings for it - really should read all the manual!

So it misses some of the bells and whistles that some of you may want such as 5.1 ch surround sound, a rear view scope for sunny videoing... Personally I feel that the price is justified for the quality of footage that you get, I personally stick to using interlaced recording to save space in AVCHD format rather than go all out recording in 50p. You need to bear in mind how much post production work you fancy doing afterwards or if your just going to connect to the TV (which you can now do wirelessly!). It's with these thoughts you should base your purchase decision and not only on the camera but deciding on the computer you use too. The software that Panasonic bundle is only ever PC compatible so I am not going to comment on it as I use Macs...

Connecting to the Wifi was a little problematic and took me 15 minutes to solve it. There's then the issue of finding the correct App in the iOS store because I couldn't be bothered to insert a CD to my computer to read the manual (yes they have not stopped including the full manual to save paper and weight, you get a quick start guide but it really is naff). Once you have the Wifi figures out the remote control app really is a step in the right direction and for the price of the camera I was very impressed!

Photo taking on video camera is handy but a pointless exercise in my opinion as they are all interpolated, look good before you try and zoom in!!! All in all though this is a superb little camera with a battery life time of just over an hour ( I do wish they'd make it so that all there models used the same batteries). One slight positive yet negative is the bottom loading of the SD card, it is nice and accessible but also easy to catch and I can seeing it being broken off too easily.
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on 7 August 2013
II have bought several very good video and SLR still cameras in the past but if they aren’t lightweight and don't fit in my pocket, they simply don't end up coming with me. The best camera in the world, if left at home is useless. A great favourite (and still is) has therefore been my Canon PowerShot SX 200 is.
I however really need a good video for my work too and the 10 mg pixel still on the Panasonic HC-V520 was therefore of interest as a good move towards a duel function camera. Looking at the results, I doubt that this is anywhere near the true resolution but that fantastic 80X zoom on this camera helps it to give better still photos than any other video camera I have used as well as being a very good HD video.
This is a brilliant almost unbelievably lightweight image stabilised point and shoot camera and even levels the picture out for you. I would recommend it to anyone.
Being so small and light however it takes practice to hold the camera steady in video mode and I would recommend getting a cheap light tripod that tucks away in your pocket to steady it if at all possible.
My only grumble is that the computer edit program is terribly basic and I didn’t find it easy to get the photo’s out into other programs in order to use them and I am still not sure that you can add sound to the clips. They could try much harder here but it’s a big camera in a small price.
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on 20 October 2013
This review will be short and to the point.
The Panasonic V520 camcorder is a really good camcorder for the price.
We bought it for outdoor sports filming in HD at a relatively decent frame rate and high clarity.
The camera is far better than expected, and the image quality superb.
The camera is physically small and light and the 50x optical zoom is plenty (extra zoom to 80x is possible digitally - but we have it switched off). Zoom is smooth and the image stabiliser works brilliantly whenever we neglect the normal tripod.
If you want a great hand held, high quality camera that does more than most people will ever want - then right now, I think this is perhaps one of the best - if not THE best.
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on 19 September 2013
I'm very fussy about my camcorders. Having owned several Sony variations before over the last 10 years, I can easily say that this one runs circles around similar priced models from any vendor.

The v520 is amazingly small (I had to get used to this which is kind of its only fault so far) but is a powerhouse. For all my previous camcorders I always purchased a spare large capacity battery as I hate to run of juice when on a vacation. I did the same for this one despite the additional cost. However the originally supplied batter lasts for so long (full 2 hrs of HD recording) that I rarely had a need to use the spare battery...in short power usage of the v520 is excellent.

The quality of video is excellent (at least good enough for me!). I've done low light shooting, indoor shooting, sports shooting (my son's sports day!) as well as landscape and in all cases this has given great results.

The zoom factor was one of the main reasons I opted for this model than v720 and it has delivered as promised.

The only aspect which isnt upto par is its still shooting mode...so dont use this as your main photo camera thats all.

In short, I'm very happy with the purchase and would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a good camcorder in a reasonable range.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Panasonic V520 is an HD Camcorder with a twist -- it is wi-fi enabled and can stream direct to the web, be controlled through your smartphone, stream to a DLNA TV or be used in home surveillance. Like the Sony PJ220 Full HD Handycam with Built-In Projector (27x Zoom) it has an excellent camera, only a little short of broadcast quality (it is one CCD not three), only on-board microphone, and very little in the way of physical controls. Although the Wi-fi opens up worlds of possibilities, it is disappointingly frustrating in use, and the live web-streaming is either so limited as to be useless, or extremely expensive compared with the cost of the camera.

The camera image is sharp and lively, with some good on-screen controls which include iris and shutter speed and are easy to get to and use thanks to the touch-screen. There's a nice on-screen levelling feature which helps you keep the camera approximately horizontal in addition to the help given you by the image stabilisation. The 80x zoom is a combination of physical and digital zoom, but, given the relatively lowly resolution of HD video, it does give a workable 80x throw, with a helpful 28mm at the short end. Exposure control is good, and the camera makes a good fist of difficult contrast images.

The camera claims 10 MP still pictures, though only a 2.5 MP sensor. I'm not really sure how that works -- my guess is that some kind of interpolation is going on.

The microphones built into the camera are excellent as far as microphones built into cameras go. Although this camera has an AV output, it doesn't have an AV input so you will not be able to capture good quality audio except for background sound or speech if it's very close. This is similar to most camcorders, but it does mean that you won't be able to shoot a home documentary on the camera, notwithstanding the great optics.

Ergonomics and handling
The touch-screen works pretty well, though not enough better than the aforementioned Sony's toggle to really make it a killer feature. Panasonic's decision to give main screen access to iris, shutter speed and other important controls, though, means that this camera is considerably more photographer friendly than the Sony. It's a nice size and shape and won't get in the way of your life too much if you want to carry it around.

The Wi-fi is hugely frustrating. It takes a long time to set up, particularly if you have any decent security on your wi-fi, and seems to want to reset itself several times while doing it. If you get any of the settings wrong -- for example, you choose the wrong encryption method -- then you have to start again, as you can't edit the wi-fi settings once installed.

Although there is a free app for the iPhone, it doesn't seem to be particularly keen to make a connection between the two devices, and, after several attempts, I gave up. The instructions for the home surveillance function are completely baffling, and I wasn't able even to find the relevant app.

What ought to put this camera head and shoulders above the competition, though, is the ability to stream straight to UStream. This was characteristically hard to set up, but once set up it did work very well. The only problem is that the UStream free service only seems to want to keep its signal for a few minutes, then you have to refresh the browser and watch the initial adverts again. If you were watching a live event I'm fairly sure you would get bored and switch off. The paid for service, though, is $499 per month for 1,000 viewer hours. In other words, if you were streaming a 1 hour event each week (like, say, a church service), then that would allow the equivalent of 250 people to watch it each week. The cheaper service, at $99 per month, only allows 100 viewer hours a month, or the equivalent of 25 people watching your 1 hour broadcast each week.

All in all
This is a good camcorder, and good for all the things camcorders are good for. Some of the camera functions are especially good, with very helpful on-screen access to focus and exposure. The wi-fi, though, is not sufficiently refined or thought through to be useful yet. If you are considering spending much money on streaming, then you will want a camera with better audio input. If you intend to use the free service, the streaming really isn't fit for purpose.
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on 20 September 2013
Bought it as a replacement for my old Sony DCR-SR90 and very pleased with the results so far. The image quality is excellent and the optical zoom is superb. The one thing I miss from the Sony is the separate viewfinder as the LCD screen is difficult to see in sunlight and I find it more difficult to frame scenes without a viewfinder. Unfortunately no manufacturers seem to supply viewfinders, except on their expensive semi-pro ranges. The small size also makes it a little more difficult to steady the camcorder when the full zoom is in use.

The Sony used to have a noticeable clicking sound on the recording when the stop recording button was pressed (which meant time spent cutting out the final bit of recording during the editing stage) but thankfully I don't get this with the Panasonic.

Overall good value and excellent results so far.
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on 11 March 2013
WRITTEN ON 11 MARCH 2013 and EDITED ON 24 MARCH - edits in CAPS below: I have had a Sony SD camcorder for a few years now, and used it to mainly record my son's competitive swimming because he wanted to be able to review his technical execution.

I therefore needed a good zoom as often the spectator seats are set way back from the pool itself. My old camera had a 60x Optical, and this worked fine. I wanted to upgrade to HD a little while ago, but was worried about the zoom capabilities of HD camcorders until Panasonic unveiled the HC-V520 which has a 80x Intelligent zoom (practically, optical zoom).

I got hold of my unit last week and my reaction is mixed, for the following reasons:

1. The zoom is phenomenal, and the HD quality absolutely top notch (in my view).
2. The anti-shake software is fabulous. It completely cancels the nervous tremors I get when videoing my son.
3. Whilst I have been able to set up remote control by wifi, I have not been able to upload any videos to YT using the wifi function. This was one of the main reasons why I bought this particular camcorder, as I saw myself sitting in a pool (you are there for hours!) uploading completed swims to YT as I was awaiting the next race. It is possible that I am missing something, but I don't know.
4. I am a Mac die hard, and was chuffed to see that I could record in "iFrames" in order to process the recording using iMovies - as I had envisaged perhaps not being able to upload to YT on poolside (if the files were too large etc.). Well, when I got the camera, I was disappointed. Yes, you can record in this mode, but if you do, you need to note that your recording will not be in HD; I in fact felt that the quality was worse than what I got on my old SD camcorder, but it is possible that I felt like this because the difference in output quality between the full HD and iFrames was just stark. If you have a PC, you get special software that allows you edit in HD.

Apart from its zoom properties, I chose this model because most of its functions could be automated (perfect for my purposes).

Other than the above, the camera is light and its mechanisms fairly intuitive. Panasonic provides an HDMI cable to allow direct playback on a TV. My recordings played back brilliantly on my Bravia.

All of this sounds fabulous, but I still have the problem of transferring my recordings so that they can be shared (secondary purpose of recording the swims). I HAVE NOW FOUND A WAY TO UPLOAD TO VIMEO - BY USING DROPBOX. THE VIDEOS ARE ALSO SHOWING AS HD QUALITY WHEN THEY PLAY. I CANNOT EDIT STILL, BUT FOR MY PURPOSES, I DON'T REALLY NEED TO.

This is my first Panasonic purchase, and I am very disappointed with how difficult it is to get any help - you have to email, or use a high rate phone number.

Lastly, if you want to buy one of these, do shop around first. I first placed an order with Amazon - wanting to use the camcorder at a high level meet my son was attending about 10 days later. When the camcorders were released by Panasonic (a week before the meet), Amazon informed me it didn't have any to sell, and wouldn't for another 2 months.

I cancelled my Amazon order and placed one with Panasonic, which had stock. Their prices were 24 pounds more than what another retailer was selling them for (however, as I tend not to buy 'expensive' goods from retailers unknown to me, I didn't go for the cheaper option). A few days later, Amazon had them on their site with the seller being Panasonic, but at a higher price than the camcorders were available on Panasonic's own site. I let Amazon know, and now see that the price has since been lowered a bit. Anyway, I was shocked at the range of prices these were being offered at.


This is a perfect camcorder if you use a PC or never need to upload, otherwise, you might face the dilemma that I am facing now. I shall investigate some more, and update this review if I come across any solutions.
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on 13 July 2013
This was smaller and lighter than I expected which is great for travel but does make it require careful holding. It's lightness means it's very easy to move about and get amaturish difficult to watch video. The build quality has a very plastic toy like feel. Although it seems quite delicate it's been OK so far but I'm not sure how robust it will be long term. In terms of use the zoom is pretty amaizing image quality is generally clear and some stunning macro Atinborough-like insect images from quite a distance away are possible. Landscape images do take on a painting like quality at times though at certain zoom distances and just look a bit fuzzy. That seems a bit odd when you see the sharpness and clarity of other images.
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