After some dismal years when enthusiastic videographers were denied camcorders with manual controls and a range of abilities unless they shelled out for low-end professional gear, the top end of the consumer camcorder market has of late been reborn, thanks in part to YouTube and the other video sharing websites as well as lower costs in other movie-making gear leading to an explosion of demand from creative talent around the world.
Thus at the top end we have camcorders from Canon, Sony and Panasonic all battling it out to offer more features with more flexibility and more options and an ever more aggressive price.
Without a doubt, the king of the field has to be the Panasonic x920, their top spec model for 2013.
It’s equipped with 3, large, back-side illuminated sensors for great image quality even in poor light. It has a multi-purpose manual ring on the front of the lens (switchable between focus, zoom, exposure and other settings by use of a small button next to the ring). It has a decent size, useable touchscreen. There’s a fantastic stabilisation system that is a miracle compared with what was on offer only a few years ago. WiFi capabilities include not only remote setup and monitoring but even live Internet streaming – that’s the kind of power that used to demand an entire satellite truck and thousands of pounds worth of gear and it’s all packed into a handheld camcorder!
The list of positives goes on but the deal is sealed with the price – available on Amazon for £899 and, if you look around, from at least one reputable UK supplier for £799 all in!
Canon’s HF-G25 and new HF-G30 may like to consider themselves competitors but the former lacks anything like the same number of features and the latter is far more costly yet still doesn’t meet the same level of spec. Sony’s range have their own selling point, of a built-in projector which apparently works surprisingly well, along with a level of stabilisation that matches or even beats the Panasonic – but the manual controls are fiddly and the price for the top model is also substantially more than the x920.
With headphone and microphone sockets, a cold shoe mount and tons of accessories, it is no great surprise therefore that even before you consider its amazing price, the Panasonic x920 camcorder wins Tubeshooter’s Best Bargain Consumer Camcorder award.