Panasonic HC-V720 review
Don’t let the 720 in the name fool you: this Panasonic goes the whole hi-def hog, trumping the JVC GZ-VX815 with 1080p recording at 50fps. Arty video effects and a time-lapse mode are backed up with a lens that goes wider than the JVC and zooms a whole lot further too. There are Wi-Fi remote control skills too, via Android and iPhone apps.
A 50x optical zoom gives the Panasonic an incredibly long range. The sensor in the V720 has a far greater resolution than the 1920x1080 resolution of HD video, and it uses this to extend that 50x further still with a very usable digital zoom that can produce the goods even when handheld at 200x (it will go up to 1500x, but that's just a mess of pixels).
Such is the power, that subjects too distant for the naked eye to spot can be made to fill the frame. It's quite a feat for a camcorder at this level, but it wouldn't be practical without the superb image stabilisation that nullifies your hand wobbles.
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The zoom motor itself is swift but smooth, as is the autofocus. It all contributes to footage that's comfortably up to scratch for semi-pro work. Colours are well controlled, not easily pushed into over-exposure or saturation, and edges are pretty sharp, especially at wider angles.
Monitoring and controlling the camera via a phone over Wi-Fi is easy enough and could be a very useful feature for more specialist shoots. So why isn't this a five-star review? It's the Panasonic's 55-minute battery life that holds it back. That's not a deal-breaker – you can always pack a few spares or fork out for a bigger battery – but we'd like it to have more stamina straight out of the box. Otherwise the HC-V720 is a superb performer
Review by Tony Horgan.
Top marks for footage, zoom and stabilisation, but bring a spare battery