Panasonic’s HDC-HS700 is a great little HDD/SD hybrid AVCHD camcorder that will serve well for most anyone wanting to produce rock solid HD video and the integrated 5.1 channel built in mic can make for fun, surround sound home movies.The HDC-HS700’s three, 3.05 megapixel CMOS sensors provide crisp clean images with vivid color and the image stabilization makes for video that anyone can be proud of. Really, with a little practice, most anyone can produce great footage.
The controls are laid out well with the main functions easy to access and comfortable to reach. The slight upward slope toward the viewfinder makes reaching the zoom switch and photo button more comfortable. The high ridge of the grip gives a stable feel and also aids in comfort. Menu controls are a blend of push buttons and touch-screen buttons making navigation quite simple. I actually prefer at least some push buttons since they are generally more responsive. Before diving into the menu I had in my mind there would be scads of options, but really that is not the case. Menus are easy to navigate and the touch screen has just the right amount of sensitivity. Keep a soft cloth handy though. Finger prints are inevitable as with all the touch screen cameras I’ve used. The screen on the HDC-HS700 is on the low resolution side and is a bit small for this level of camcorder. While the screen is important, I put more emphasis on the quality of video which is very good as you can see in the video below.
This clip was shot at 1080/60p. There is also a sample still image a little further down in this post.
The HDC-HS700 is quite compact, so taking this camera out for a day of shooting video wouldn’t be a big chore. In fact, this camera is on of the most compact available with a full set of features and digital viewfinder. However, because of the hard disk the HDC-HS700 is a bit heavy compared to the size. Battery life for the HDC-HS700 is very good; above average I would say, but for extended periods of shooting a spare battery is a must. Panasonic offers the standard VW-VB130 as a reasonably priced option that should serve well. Panasonic went with the old fashioned dial selector for still/record/playback mode selection, which works well, making choosing between the modes quick and easy. The digital view finder is a welcome option for filming in direct sunlight, for example. Simply slide the viewfinder out to enable it. The record button is in the traditional location for palm camcorders, allowing for easy thumb operation.
The camera function button located on the left side of the lens barrel allows for making quick adjustment of things like focus, white balance, shutter and iris. Simply select an option via the LCD touch-screen and the rotating ring toggles between the options, which also doubles as a fine zoom control for precise zooming while filming. When open, the LCD screen will rotate 180 degrees while flipping the image to make viewing from almost any angle possible.
On the HDC-HS700, Panasonic places the shoe accessory mount on top for the body under a door that is easily opened. The shoe is a cold mount, so accessories such as lights will need their own power source to operate. The built in 5.1 channel surround mic doubles as a stereo mic as well an actually does a decent job of collecting a warm sound quality rather than the tinny audio of most camcorder mics. Home movies in 5.1 surround sound… that’s just too cool. The built in wind cut does a good job as well.
The trio of CMOS sensors are small, so don’t expect DSLR still image quality, but for quick snapshots it does quite well and the built in light doubles as a flash for low light.
The output ports are pretty standard for an HD camcorder. There is one USB, HDMI, A/V multi and headphone (located on other side, in front of strap). There is one mic input and a cold shoe mount on top for mics and lights. The SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot will handle up to a 64GB SDXC card. A major gripe of mine is camera’s with an HDMI output, but no HDMI cable included and the HDC-HS700 is no different, though Panasonic does include component cables you still need to string a separate cable to connect the audio to a source.
Panasonic VW-VBG130 Replacement Battery Pack – The Panasonic HDC-HS700 comes with a good rechargeable lithium-ion battery; however, if you’re going to be away from power for an extended period a spare may come in handy. For even more capacity Panasonic offers the VW-VBG260 as well.
Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod Kit – To get that smooth movement for more professional looking video a tripod is a must have. Don’t buy a cheap $15 excuse for a tripod. I have had those and they just don’t work. Buy a quality piece like the Manfrotto 190XDB. At a $150 price the 190XDB kit with ball head is in mot budgets and your video will benefit.
Bescor LED-25 25W LED On-Camera Light – For an inexpensive LED light that will work as continuous light source and not drain the cameras battery, the Bescor LED-25 may be a good option
Extra Memory – While the Panasonic HDC-HS700 comes equipped with 240GB internal memory, you may want the ability to expand that even further. I’ve used the basic Kingston SDHC cards in the HDC-HS700, which worked just fine. No need to go all out on fast memory cards with the HDC-HS700. You’ll just need to make sure you pick up SD cards that are Class 4 or higher in order to capture Full HD video. The HDC-HS700 is compatible with all SD, SDHC and SDXC cards.
Memory card reader – If you don’t own a memory card reader, they make transferring images to your computer a world faster. I highly recommend picking one up with the HDC-HS700. They’re cheap and big time saver. Lexar makes a good card reader for about $15.
Pearstone Gold Series HDMI Video Cable – It is convenient to be able to play back newly recorded video on a larger screen without loading onto a computer and a HDMI cable makes that task super easy. At $25 this Pearstone cable is a pretty good deal.
Camera Bag – When making an investment into a high end camcorder make sure it is protected when in storage by keeping is zipped up in a quality case.
The Panasonic HDC-HS700 is a great little camcorder with awesome video quality, 5.1 channel surround audio, 240GB internal hard drive plus SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot for expansion and a user friendly interface. For a $1,000+ camera you expect to get great quality and a wide range of features and the HDC-HS700 does deliver in most respects, but if you are on a budget the Panasonic HDC-TM700 may be a better option as it has almost identical features without the large hard disk and costs about $400 less. Panasonic has made the HDC-HS700 able to perform the duties of more experienced videographers, but easy enough to use for the casual endeavor as well. Hefty computing power is required to handle 1080/60p video, so the casual videographer be warned. All-in-all the Panasonic HDC-HS700 is a great little camcorder, on that I’ve enjoyed shooting with and getting to know, but a bit pricey if you don’t really need a large hard disk.
For European standards B&H has the Panasonic HDC-HS700 PAL camcorder as well.
|Sensor||3x 3.05 Megapixel 1/4.1″ CMOS Sensors|
Intelligent (Optical): 18x
|Recording Media||Hard Disk Drive 240GB
|Video Format||High Definition
1920 x 1080p (60 fps)
|Still Image Resolution
12.2MP= 3:2, 13.3 MP= 16:9, 12.2MP= 4:3
|JPEG: 14.2 Megapixel
JPEG: 13.3 Megapixel
JPEG: 12.2 Megapixel
User selectable surround mode 5.1 or 2-channel
|Built-in Light/Flash||Light – No
Flash – Yes
|Inputs||1x Microphone In|
|Outputs||1x Mini HDMI
1x USB 2.0
1x Headphone Out
|System Requirements||Not Specified By Manufacturer|
|Battery||Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Pack|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||2.56 x 2.72 x 5.43″ / 65 x 69 x 138mm|
|Weight||0.99 lb / 450g|