updated 03:00 am EST, Wed February 29, 2012
All nine new models will arrive next month
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month, Panasonic showed off its new lineup of camcorders for 2012. With the arrival of the new models imminent, the company has announced pricing for its range of consumer and prosumer HD camcorders, ranging from $1,200 down to $250. The top of the line is represented by the 3MOS sensor-using HC-X900M, while other models offer full HD, 3D and even a waterproof design.
The flagship camcorder is the HC-X900M that shoots 1080p at 60p and sells for $1,200. It features a completely re-engineered lens, sensor and engine to add features such as manual focusing, 5.1-channel surround sound and AVCHD 3D with an options conversion 3D lens (sold separately for $400).
Six of the camcorders offer 1MOS sensors and full HD (1920x1080) recording with compact bodies and lower pricing. Like the HC-X900M, the six models offer five-way optical image stabilization, ultra-telephoto zoom and wide-angle lenses and intelligent digital zoom when required. The HC-V700 ($550) and HC-V700M ($600) feature a high-sensitivity sensor that enhances low-light conditions and sport a 460K dot LCD with touch control. The two models can also use the VW-CLT2 3D conversion lens like the more expensive HC-X900M. The have built-in 28mm wide-angle lenses and feature 21x optical zoom (up to 46x digital zoom).
The HC-V500 ($450) and HC-V500M ($500) feature an "intelligent index system" that automatically notes faces, scene changes, zooming and panning and can intelligently play back selected highlight scenes. They feature a 32.4mm wide-angle lens with a 38x optical zoom (50x digital). Both models include a 2D to 3D conversion function and come with four special effect modes (Natural, Pop, Dynamic and Classical) to enhance scenes.
The even more compact and lightweight HC-V100 ($350) and HC-V100M ($400) are roughly the size of a can of soda and feature extended (lower-quality) recording capability and low power consumption for times when it will be impractical to recharge the battery for an extended period. They use a 32.5mm wide-angle lense with 34x optical zoom (42x digital) with a battery rated for up to 155 minutes of recording.
The main difference between the "M" and non-"M" models is that the "M" models offer 16GB of on-board memory as well as an SD card slot, whereas the non-"M" just have the SD card slot.
Lastly, Panasonic is also offering an entry-level 720p HD model, the HC-V10 ($250) that records video in MP4 format or iFrame rather than AVCHD. It features a 63x optical zoom (70x digital). There is also a colorful "active outdoor" user camcorder (the HX-WA2, which sells for $280) which is waterproof up to ten feet (or three meters). In addition to shooting HD videos, the HX-WA2 doubles as a 14-megapixel camera with a built-in Panorama mode that lets users shoot in all directions then stitches the results into horizontal or vertical panoramic pictures. It offers a 28mm lens, a slow-motion mode, is also dustproof and comes in either blue/white or orange/gray color combos.