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Built in wi-fi support with "Real Time Broadcasting"
If you are into sports video, you know that it almost a given that you need a decent zoom to get the action (and it goes without saying, a tripod as well).
In still photography terms, my experiences in motor sport suggest a 200mm is the minimum and probably a 400mm the optimal.
Of course you need to allow factors such as low light and depth of field to get the best of them.
Panasonic has obviously realized this in terms of the video world and released the HC-V520M, a single CMOS hi-def camcorder that will sit easily in the palm of your hand, but sports a genuine 50x optical zoom and an "intelligent" 80x (as distinct from the old digital zoom with its ridiculous numbers).
To aids in the stability factor when shooting at such zooms, the HC-V520M has a 5 axis optical stabilisation system and a brilliant "level shot" function to detect and correct images shot with a tilt. This means that stabilisation is affected through both the horizontal and vertical, but also via axis of rotation, and horizontal and vertical rotation.
Another interesting feature is what Panasonic call BSI or Back Side Illumination. Perhaps a slightly unfortunate title, not used for emphasising your model's derriere, instead is used to achieve better performance when shooting in low light conditions.
You can run the camera in a semi-auto capacity, but many will want to use the iA (intelligent Auto) functionality which automatically selects the most suitable shooting mode. The suite of options in iA includes Face Detection, Auto Focus and Auto Exposure tracking, Scene Selector, Face Recognition and Contrast Control. For those so inclined, there are also four effects includes Miniature, 8mm and Time Lapse.
Two other features are worth noting, and these are somewhat related. The HC-V520M has built in wi-fi support with "Real Time Broadcasting". This lets you connect to the internet and transmit full HD footage for others to watch as you shoot in real time. Panasonic has developed an APP for Andoid and iOS letting you use your smartphone or tablet as a remote control include remote home monitoring and connectivity with DLNA.
Additionally, NFC or Near Field Communication is employed to achieve a one touch connection with a smartphone and once connected, it can be used to check audio, zoom in and out record on/off and other functions while viewing the live image.
On the more conventional front, standard connectivity functions include USB, mini HDMI and A/V. There are no ports for headphones or external mic. The majority of controls are touch screen, and this is also the only way you can frame subjects there being no viewfinder. On the plus side, unless the sun is shining directly on the LCD, it is quite viewable outside - probably one of the best I have yet seen.
The lens is a nice wide 28mm and can shoot 10 megapixel stills as well as video. Storage memory is to single SD card and there is also 16 GB of internal memory. The standard battery can be charged either with the supplied 240v adaptor or via USB. As mentioned, this is a small camera, ideal for travelling and weighs in at only 230g.
This really is a very good camcorder; there was little to fault it in testing. At $599 I'd rate this as an excellent buy.
- Fully featured, excellent zoom, good LCD
- No external headphones or mic port. An LED light would have been nice.
- Performance 9/10
- Documentation 6/10
- Features 9/10
- Setup 9 /10
- Value for Money 9/10
- Help Functions. 8/10
David is the owner and publisher of Australian Videocamera. He has a background in media dating back to 1979 when he first got involved with photojournalism in motorsport, and went from there into technology via a 5 year stint with Tandy Computers.
Moving back to WA, David wrote scripts for Computer Television for video training for the just released Windows and Office 95 among others, and was then lured to Sydney to create web sites for the newly commercial Internet in 1995, building hundreds of sites under contract to OzEmail including Coates Hire, Hertz Queensland, John Williamson, the NSW Board of Studies and many, many more.
David can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org