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Review: Panasonic HC-W850 Video Camera

26 May 14

In this day and age, DSLRs and video cameras feel superfluous, especially with the increasing technical abilities of smartphones and devices. So what makes Panasonic release a $1300 video camera onto the market, and is it worth it?

The pain point for me around smartphones is their storage limitation. More and more smartphone manufacturers are limiting the storage capacity and there doesn’t seem much appetite from them to increase the storage size or to offer the capability to expand your storage.

I’m on the latest model from LG and yet I still have the same amount of storage I had in my iPhone 4. Yet OSs have got bigger, applications are bigger, cameras take bigger pictures and video, and hence storage space is smaller. Twice in the last month, I’ve tried to use my phone to record video only to run out of space. What memories have you lost cause you’ve run out of space to record that moment?

So, yes the argument still stands for separate cameras, possibly more than ever.

Panasonic’s offering has all the latest gizmos such as Optical Image Stabilsation, 50x zoom and connectivity to pretty much everything.

This means you really can start taking broadcast quality video and images on a compact device that has an amazing battery life! Mobile devices use all sorts of trickery to take ‘good’ pictures and video, but they’ll never match up to the dedicated devices.

With the W850, Panasonic have added a small secondary camera to the fold out screen. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to be a wow factor, but Panasonic’s engineers have been very smart and developed a feature that moves this product into new markets.

This camera would be ideal for doing training, presentations and for any form of coaching, whether that be in the business or out on the sports field.

Too often, it is very difficult to capture a presentation for training and feedback purposes as the camera is either zoomed in on the presenter, or doesn't have a zoom and captures a wide shot.

This means that it’s very hard to give feedback and fully understand the audience’s reaction to a presentation, yet capture close-ups of the presenter to help improve their skills.

The Panasonic HC-W850 does this with nary a thought, the small camera captures the wide shot, where you’re looking for the audience’s reaction and the main camera can zoom in on the presenter framing them perfectly.

The same can be applied to out on the sports field, imagine on a cricket pitch with the camera zoomed in on the batsman, but the second camera provides that wider view of the pitch, brilliant for training, maybe even your new video umpire!!

Pros:


  • IR night mode

  • Live stream via wi-fi

  • Picture in picture

  • The inbuilt 16GB memory can easily be expanded - try that with your smartphone!


Cons:

  • Price - It’s not cheap, but as a corporate tool it’s infinitely justifiable.

  • You will start videoing every meeting as ‘feedback’!


Summary
The Panasonic HC-W850 has opened up a door not many other video cameras have. One into the corporate world where it would be a real business benefit. So much of our work nowadays is presentations, anything that helps with that can only improve the bottom line.
Oh and it’s very good at taking selfies as the second camera has 180 degrees of motion (if you’re into that stuff - shame on you!).

I would have liked to have seen a 4K option, especially as Panasonic are releasing their 4K TVs soon. My GoPro has it, yet I bet the picture quality from the 850 would blow it away in 4K.

Score
4.5 / 5

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