Panasonic HC-V720 review
Stereo sound courtesy of a large front microphone and wider overall proportions have allowed for more features than certain camcorders in its class
Of a similar rounded design to its Canon and JVC rivals, Panasonic own latest and greatest camcorder is chunkier, making it more of a squeeze to fit in the palm, or at least more comfortable for the large handed to grip. But what you do get in return is a more solid and less plastic-y feeling unit with prominent quality stereo microphone and a more serious-looking matt finish. The body by and large incorporates the battery pack within its design, rather than leaving it jutting out exposed at the back. For a little more money, the V720’s features are more comprehensive too.
Like most of the others here Wi-Fi for real-time live streaming and Full HD video capture is provided. But here we also get the option of 20.4 megapixel stills via a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, with a straightforward top plate slider switch for alternating between photo, video and play modes, footage committed to optional SD card. A shutter release button sits just behind the lever zoom lever, while the video record button rests under the thumb of the right hand at the back. In addition, flip open the LCD screen to the left and the unit powers up automatically, its protective lens cover opening in tandem, allowing us to get up and shooting straight away, which is always helpful.
While the ‘core’ optical zoom here appears comparably modest at 21x, with a focal range stretching from a wide 28mm-729.6mm and a bright f/1.8 maximum aperture, this can be digitally extended via what Panasonic calls its 50x ‘intelligent’ zoom, though that still falls short of the 53x ‘advanced’ zoom of the Canon and 65x ‘dynamic’ zoom of the JVC. Still, the lens action is again smooth and silent and there didn’t appear to be the usual wait for the camcorder to find the focus point when zooming in on a subject. What’s more a five axis image stabilisation system with level shot function that detects and corrects awkward angles, or corrects for camera when holding the device at arm’s length. In short the Panasonic HC-V720 displays an extra layer of sophistication above the Canon and JVC which we feel worth having, even if you’re paying just slightly more for it.