Canon HF-G25 or Panasonic x920?

After saving my pennies for some time I’m in the process of taking the plunge to upgrade from a decent, but fully auto, camcorder to my first prosumer camcorder with manual controls. I’m trying to work out what would be best with a budget of around £1000. Is the Panasonic X920 still the best option? I had been looking at the Canon Legria HF G25 or G30 (especially now that Amazon have dropped the price of the G25) but would you still say that the X920 beats them? And how would you compare the G25 and G30 given that they’ve dropped the waveform monitor? (Does the X920 have something similar?)

I was also wondering if Panasonic have a replacement for the X920 in the pipeline. I guess there will always be a new model coming along but from what I’ve read the X920, although highly rated, is not significantly different from the two models before it which makes me wonder whether they’ll be more a step change next time.

— Neil Warren (http://vimeopro.com/neilwsupport/neil-warren-portfolio)

Answer:
For starters, whilst the HF-G30 has features more on a par with the Panasonic, it is substantially more expensive, so on pure price terms you’d have to compare the HF-G25 with the x920. Then, in terms of “bang for the buck”, the x920 vastly outstrips the HF-G25. Of course, the x920 only has a single physical manual control (the ring) though this can be toggled between certain functions with the small button right next to it. The Canon HF-G25 has an additional manual control of the thumbwheel at the back. Both then make extensive use of touchscreen menus to amend the settings.

So given its price and huge feature set, the x920 would be my recommendation, especially if it’s your first such camcorder. It’s got so many more features than the HF-G25 (50p, WiFi, auto tilt correction and much more) yet still permits reasonable manual control (focus, exposure, white balance, audio etc albeit some from the touchscreen) and will make an ideal introduction to a “less automatic” way of filming.

The Panasonic has a histogram display to aid with exposure (granted, the G25 has its WFM but it’s so well hidden in the menus that it’s only useable in the most relaxed scenarios where time is not an issue, such as sit-down interviews). I think the Panasonic tends to have a somewhat oversaturated look by default though, so beware of this; you may need to tweak its settings either in camera or during your edit.

Panasonic tend to update their consumer camcorder line (which is how they class the x920) every year, so you’re always going to live with that problem. The fact is that’s it’s a very decent camcorder at a very decent price (I found it for £720 inc VAT & delivery at a Panasonic dealer in Sheffield) and if it fits your needs now, then why not buy it!

Panasonic x920

Panasonic x920

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8 Responses

  1. Alan White says:

    Does the X920 have a lens hood, filters etc.

    • admin says:

      Hi Alan,

      The x920 has a built-in lens shield which closes automatically when you switch the unit off. It is also supplied with a rather small lens hood to block a bit of sunshine out but it’s very thin so how much difference it practically makes I am not sure. No filters are supplied but they can be purchased separately (49mm diameter)

      • Alan White says:

        Thanks , hopefully staff at a well known store in ‘ Bluewater ‘ will have read and noted your reply. .I have ordered the X920 solely on your excellent review.

        • admin says:

          Crikey, that’s a weight of responsibility on our shoulders! I think you will like it though, it’s got an excellent feature set at a bargain price. The zoom toggle and focus ring are good to use and thought the touchscreen – like all touchscreens – is a bit of a pain at times, for the price you can’t go wrong.

  2. Lee says:

    This is a great review – I am still torn between these two products – I am guessing both would fit on a shoulder rig ok?

    I already have a Panasonic video camera but in low light its woeful so as I am shooting wedding videos I need the camera to be just as good in low light/evening/night as it would be during the day/outdoors – i am aware that there will be some quality degradation but any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks
    Lee

    • admin says:

      Well, the answer to the first question is it depends on the shoulder rig. But neither is large so assuming you can find a rig that’s suitable for them, they should be fine.

      You’re onto a hiding to nothing on your second point though. Simply, there is no such camera that performs as well in low light as it does during the daytime – it’s the law of physics! Less light means fewer photons for the camera’s chipset to pick up so the picture will be worse.

      Out of the Canon HFG25 and Panasonic x920 though, the Panasonic has much better low light capabilities. But if you’re shooting weddings, you really need something like a Sony PWM200 / 300 to get decent images in low light, and they’re a whole substantial step up in cash from any consumer camcorders like the Canon and Panasonic on this page.

      You simply won’t get good low light capability (really) in a low cost consumer, or even prosumer, camcorder. You need big sensor chips like the Sony’s have. Potentially the new Sony CX900 camcorder MIGHT fit the bill, but it’s not even out until April. We have one on order and will be testing it.

  3. ove.engvik@gmail.com says:

    Hi, I am looking at your video “Low light battle: Canon XA20 vs HF-G25 vs Panasonic x920” on YouTube.
    ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOCgdd8tTfU )

    At 1:08 in the video I see the differences between the cameras, but find it hard to choose which is the better. The HF-G25 provides details in the area of the sky, but is overall not as sharp as the X920.
    – is this something that can be “fixed” in post editing?
    – which of the two cameras would you advice for my use: shooting theatrical dance shows performed on typical dark venues…?

    • admin says:

      Remember that at that point the Canon HF-G25 is running 24dB gain as well, which is really making the picture noisy. None of the artefacts (noise, lack of detail, lack of highlights) can be fixed in post, once the picture is recorded like that, it’s pretty much set that way especially at these extremes of gain and low light.

      No camera is going to enjoy the scenario you intend to film (!) as it’s going to give extremes of light and shade and swiftly changing lighting conditions too. If at all possible I would urge you to try to borrow each of the cameras and try them out in your situation. If that is not possible then I personally prefer the x920 over the HF-G25. Good luck!

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