I bought the HC-V500 today as an upgrade to my 4 year old Panasonic HD SD5. The main reason for the upgrade was the wide angle lens. For interior shooting in the average living room not to mention most other indoor situations the lack of wide angle is extremely frustrating. This camera goes to 32.4mm as opposed to the usual 50mm so you get a lot more in and its great quality. I had tried a cheap wide angle add on lens (£10 ebay from Hong Kong) as an experiment on my SD5 and it was simply unusable the quality was so bad.
Image stabilization in the V500 is incredible and even better than the SD5. I bought mine in Comet for £229 after Panasonic gave £50 cashback as part of a 2012 promo (up to Oct 31st so be quick!). I've ordered a 64gb SDXC class10 card from Amazon for £32 which is also incredible. 64GB is a lot of video. Selecting 1080 50p mode on this camera gives the best results if you are going to be playing back on a HD tv with the unit. Be wary though because this mode is not supported on older cameras. I cannot for example swap and change mem cards from one camera to the other if I use 1080p. With 1080i though there are no problems and the quality is still fantastic. White balance, focus and iris on this new model are all greatly improved. Quick and responsive. The quality between the two cameras is actually quite surprising. The V500 is so much better. Its very small and light which would make holding it steady a problem if it were not for the image stabilizer. With it though it has no effect and it fits nicely in the hand. LCD is touchscreen and fairly easy to use. the camera is chargeable without having to take the damned battery off. Brilliant. Just plug the power cord in and it charges away for 2-3 hours with the standard supplied battery. This battery is small and lasts approximately an hour so take my advice and buy a bigger one. Just make sure it has the necessary chip in it. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-VW-VBK360E-K-Replacement-Camcorders-Ex-Pro/dp/B006YQQKCQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1349881774&sr=8-1 A bigger battery obviously adds weight and hangs of the back a bit but will double your operating time. Niggles: No remote control. Playing back you'll have to keep getting up and down to touch the LCD screen controls. A pain but would have added cost. No case No memory card at all supplied Silly little battery Ridiculous cable supplied. Its a poor quality 'does it all' effort to connect to your TV either with composite or component. Who used these connections these days if they own a HD camcorder!?! The HDMI socket on the camera is the mini type and no lead supplied to go from mini to standard for your tv!!! You have to buy one. A 2m lead will only cost about £5 but why on earth is this not supplied. I despair of Panasonic's corner cutting sometimes.
Having said all that this is a hell of a camera for the price. Great quality and you have manual control over pretty much anything should you need it. Factor in though that with an hour of opening the box i had ordered a 64GB SDXC card, a bigger battery and a miniHDMI>HDMI lead. In all an additional £65.
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