There have been many 4K product launches over the last few months, from Panasonic’s GH4 to Sony’s AX1. For many people, these products lack one key ability, that of frame rates greater than 25p (30p in the US).
You see, for all the touted benefits of shooting 4K even when you’re outputting to HD – such as cropping in on the image without losing target resolution – it’s unhelpful to shoot in 25p if your output includes interlaced broadcast at 50i.
50p solves that both by being instantly down-frameable to 25p for the web as well as instantly interlaceable for broadcast – critically. in neither case losing anything in the process, unlike the 25p shooting option.
That’s why Panasonic’s new HC-X1000 camcorder is so interesting. Launched at IFA 2014 in Germany, it’s a very compact camcorder for fly-on-the-wall documentary and newsgathering which offers a plethora of framerates and bitrates including – tada! – 50p at 4K.
Looking a little bit like a beefed up AG-AC90 the specification is nonetheless jolly impressive. There’s traditional formats such as AVCHD up to 28Mbps; there’s .mov and .mp4 file formats; and there’s long-GOP and intraframe recording up to 200Mbps.
It’s a single chip design with a 20x optical zoom lens. There’s plenty of buttons on the body but a touchscreen as well for going through the menu settings.
No doubt to the amazement of many, the camera does all of this to – wait for it – SD cards. Yes, those little, flimsy, surely-they-can’t-be-fast-enough, cheap and cheerful storage thingys. Nice one Panasonic.
No idea what the UK pricing’s going to be like (apparently $3,500 USD), or the low-light performance (Sony’s competitor, the AX1 is reputedly and sadly less than stellar in this regard) but no doubt we’ll find out soon.