Top marks for footage, zoom and stabilisation, but bring a spare battery
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.
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