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Review Panasonic HC-VXF990 Camcorder

The popularity of amateur camcorders is gradually declining. The reason is simple: if earlier buying an inexpensive video camera was the only way to record video on family holidays and on trips, today most users use smartphones for this purpose. In addition, in recent years, the video capabilities of SLR cameras and mirrorless cameras with interchangeable optics have greatly expanded. They are most often chosen for commercial shooting, when artistry is important.

However, classic amateur camcorders are in no hurry to retire. Recently I happened to get acquainted with one of the top camcorders in the amateur segment – Panasonic HC-VXF990. The main question that interested me was: what modern video cameras of this category can contrast their competitors in the form of smartphones on the one hand and SLR cameras on the other.

Characteristics:
Maximum Resolution: 4K
Recording Format: AVCHD / MP4
Media: SD / SDHC / SDXC
Photo mode: 26 megapixels
Sensor: 1 / 1.23 ″ BSI MOS
Focal Length: 4.08 – 81.6 mm
Aperture: F1.8 – F3.6
Zoom (optical / digital): 20/60
LCD screen: 3 inches, touch
Connectors: AV, miniHDMI, headphones, microphone input
Optional: cold shoe
Dimensions: 68 x 78 x 163 mm
Weight: 396g
Manufacturer Website: panasonic.com
What’s in the box?
The camera comes with a basic set of accessories, which is definitely enough for the first time. For shooting static scenes, I would recommend getting a tripod. But if the plans include shooting family holidays and travel, then the basic set will be more than enough.

So, in the box, in addition to the camera, there was a hood, a network adapter for recharging the battery and working directly from the network, in fact, the battery, USB cable and HDMI cable. It is worth clarifying that at my disposal was not a commercial version of the kit. Store delivery may vary slightly.

First meeting

The Panasonic HC-VXF990 is a classic camcorder with a class-specific design that you cannot confuse with any other device. During handheld shooting, holding such a camera is definitely more convenient than a smartphone or a DSLR. In the case of SLR and mirrorless cameras, it is advisable to use shoulder rests and other special devices to compensate for hand shake. This is not necessary here. It is not surprising, because the ergonomics of the device were originally sharpened for shooting video.

The quality of the strap, which prevents the camcorder from slipping out of hand, was somewhat confused. With an overall good build and a positive impression of the materials, this strap looks really cheap and easy. However, he copes with his task.

The camera can be mounted on a tripod – there is a standard thread at the bottom. And on the top of the device there is a “cold” shoe, covered with a hinged plastic cover. In previous Panasonic camcorders that I have encountered, this mount was available only when the adapter was connected, but here it is initially. Here you can connect, for example, camera light or an external microphone.

The complete hood is attached to the front housing and secured with a threaded ring. With the hood installed, you will not be able to use filters or any other lens attachments. However, the backlight LED built into the case remains operational – there is a special hole for it. This LED can save the picture in low light conditions, or just additionally illuminate the subject at a distance of up to two meters.

The user has access to a standard set of connectors, of which I especially want to note the output for an external microphone, which not every camcorder has, and, alas, the vast majority of mirrorless cameras do not. Separately rendered buttons for activating HDR and turning on Wi-Fi. Whether such attention to these functions is justified is a moot point. Apparently, the manufacturer wanted to emphasize their presence.

Navigating through the menus and settings is proposed through the rotary wheel in front of the camera. In part, its functions are duplicated by touch control. You can choose the most convenient option for yourself.

The 1940 mAh battery is fixed in the back so that it can be quickly and conveniently replaced, almost without interrupting the work process. A full charge lasts more than 100 minutes of continuous shooting in 4K – unattainable autonomy for most cameras and smartphones. It’s nice that you can shoot with the camera powered directly from the network, and in the field – recharge the HC-VXF990 from external portable batteries.

Another obvious plus of the design is the tilted viewfinder, which can be used both during handheld shooting, when the camera is approximately at the level of your face, and from a tripod, when the camera is much lower. In the latter case, the operator does not have to squat to work with the viewfinder, just bend a little.

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