Top positive review
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Fair review of the W850
on 8 September 2014
Like a lot of you, i was weighing up the pros and cons of which camcorder to buy from Panasonic's 2014 series. The Panasonic Panasonic HC-V750 is cheaper and has pretty much the same specs as the more expensive Panasonic HC-W850, so it it worth paying more for the same quality image? Yes, in my opinion. There are some key features that make the W850 worth every single penny that it's worth.
Wanting to go ghost hunting? Perhaps you just like the idea of being able to make use of the invisible light that most camcorders are unable to see. With the W850 you can, and i must say it works very well! In pitch blackness as the W850 is able to see things very clearly.
Another feature the W850 has that the v750 doesn't is the option to use a second camera on the camcorder itself. The second camera can be moved left to right and is able to record things you'd normally miss such as the reaction on kids faces while at a circus, or cars speeding down the track. The main camcorder would point at the cars, and once the cars have left the main lens vision, the second camera can pick them up speeding by. One issue with this feature is that it records as a PIP (picture in picture) and is unable to record to its own file. What this means is that the second camera is permanently recording within the original recording. You can't watch the particular recording without the second camera in the corner (if you were using it. It's easy to turn second camera off and then obviously there is no PIP). The second camera is also lower quality than the main camera with different white balances and contrasts. It is not ideal for certain indoor lights.
These are the 2 main features that the W850 has over the V750. The following features can be found on both (though i am testing them on the W850 obviously).
The picture quality is amazing. The quality to detail is superb and you really cannot do better for the money. I was debating if a new iphone would be simpler to use as a video camera due to its portability. However, after purchasing this camcorder i can tell that the iphones don't even come close. The zoom also works well and doesn't degrade in quality when using optical zoom. The intelligent zoom also works very very well. As for low light conditions, you'd be hard pressed to find a camcorder anywhere near this price range that performs this well under bad lighting conditions. You can record in both AVCHD and MP4 at 1080p. The fact it can record at 50M is impressive.
Provides 5.1 audio and 2 ch audio with very effective wind cancellation. It has a standard input for microphone and also headphone.
Excellent! I must admit i have never seen motion stabilisation as good as what the W850 provides. You are easily able to cancel out shaking and produces an image that is level and not jumpy (also vital for zooming). You can even slowly tilt the camera and it'll stay level to a degree. It's the best i've seen on any camcorder so i'm very pleased with it. Cheaper Camcorders have so much camera shaking when you film that it's hard to produce a video that won't cause massive headaches to those that watch it.
Feels like plastics to me. Not the best feel to the camcorder at all. I had an old 3 CCD panasonic camcorder that recorded to Mini DV tapes and the build quality is amazing. With my old Panasonic camcorder i'm sure i could drop it and it'll survive. The W850 on the other hand feels much more delicate and not something you want to be to rough with. This isn't the smallest camcorder in the world by a long shot but it's a very comfortable camera to hold. Although it may be slightly bigger, it still provides a fair amount of portability.
Works much better than i had expected! The recording isn't quite the same quality as normal recordings in my opinion but it's still brilliant. Slow motion can work by using a button that allows you to do slow motion 3 times within a video, or you can set the camcorder to record in slow motion continuously with no real limitation other than the amount of space you have left on the SD card (SD card does not come with camcorder). Slow motion videos have no sound at all, which is a shame.
Works exactly as expected. 1 second, 10 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute and 2 minutes is the options you're given. This camcorder is brilliant for time lapsing.
In my opinion the battery supplied is way to small. It keeps a charge for 1 and a half hours apparently, but in actual practice it seems much less. You'd need to purchase another battery but the prices are astronomical with no current options of buying replacements cheaper elsewhere. Panasonic is being greedy with the battery costs and have cornered the market in the sense that you can't find anything else cheaper elsewhere. I would recommend getting a battery that charges USB devices (i own the Anker Astro 5600mAh battery that i purchased from amazon). The camcorder charges through USB, meaning a portable battery device like the one i said can charge while you're on the go. It works out much cheaper until the prices for Panasonic batteries become cheaper (hopefully one day!!).
The screen isn't fantastic in my opinion. It's perfect for filming and framing, but as a touchscreen it feels very unresponsive. It maybe just me but it's worth keeping in mind that you could end up having to push options on the screen more than once for it to work.
WIFI baby monitor and external screen controls
This works okay. Not perfectly and i noticed a fair bit of lag. When it comes to camcorders we're not quite there yet at having perfect WIFI features. While these features do what they technically say they can do, the execution is normally not solid These are nice features to have, but i don't recommend buying just for these features. I am of course only going by my own experiences with these features.
This is, in my opinion, the best camcorder of 2014. You cannot go wrong by buying it and all the key features such as picture quality, sound quality and whatnot are perfectly executed. Panasonic is really leading the way with camcorders and you can tell they've worked hard at creating a powerful yet fun camcorder. It's a shame about battery prices but as i said, there are ways around it. If the Night Vision and second camera option isn't important to you, save some money and buy the v750. Otherwise, the W850 is your perfect buy. Would i buy this camcorder knowing what i know now? Yes.
Things to note:
It comes with HDMI cable
It does not come with any storage (must buy a suitable SDXC card)
Comes with attachable shoe adapter if required
Comes with battery and charger (usb wire and plug for wall).
Battery must be charged within camera
Camcorder takes filters that are 49mm