Using A Camcorder in 2020, is it still relevant?
At the time of production The HCX2000 is the world’s smallest and lightest 4k 60p Camcorder, and despite camcorders lack of YouTube Cool and the fact that this features an imagineer sensor the same size as your iPhone, I still want to explore this palm sized video camera to see if this dedicated video camera out performs it’s small censored reputation.
Standing at just 257mm in length and weighing only 1.5kg, it certainly lives up to the marketing blurb of being the smallest and lightest in its class.
At the front of the body it’s sporting the Leica Dicomar 24x Zoom lens. Going from a full frame equivalent 25mm – 600mm at the zoom end. This impressive Leica lens also features a very fast variable aperture of F/1.8 when wide open. In of itself this is impressive, as it’s rare to see a zoom with such a fast wide open aperture. But I’ll touch on this more feature later on.
The detachable top handle, with its dual XLR inputs, Hot Shoe, Mic Clip and integrated LED light are obviously welcome features for any video dedicated camera. As is the host of intuitive controls, ND filters, articulating touch screens and the dual SD card slots.
These dual slots are key here, The variable bit rates on the HCX2000 can top 200mbps, so making use of the dual sd card slots, with fast sd cards is going to be really important for relay or simultaneous recording.
Being a video camera the list of compression, codec and frame rate options are plentiful. Spanning an impressive 10bit 4:2:2 in 4K to a more streamlined 4:2:0 8bit in 1080p. 4k 60 is available in 10 bit 4:2:0 when making use of the h.265 compression.
The Good Bits
Everything about this camera is built for ease of use, on the go. It truly is a run and gun camera. The baked-in features like the ND filters, it’s ergonomics and weight, the easy and intuitive controls like the IRIS and focus rings and the 5 AXIS Hybrid stabilisation system all feed into this idea of being a camera built for documentary style filmmaking or maybe even vlogging.
Now lets talk about that sensor and the image it can render for you. Yes it is 1/2.5 inch in size and that is tiny, in fact is probably the same sized sensor as the one in your smartphones camera. This is obviously going to effect this cameras low light performance, and to be sure that isn’t great. However they are some interesting advantages to this diminutive imaging sensor.
The smaller amount of light captured allows for this camcorder to have that wider maximum aperture to it’s lens. F/1.8 isn’t just a rarity for variable zooms, but it’s an unusual paring for video cameras in general. As controlling the amount of light entering the sensor, especially in daylight conditions is less of a consideration you are now afforded the added creative options of that faster aperture.
The Venus image processor attached to this sensor also does some truly magical things with an image from a sensor no bigger than your iPhone. I’ve been truly impressed with the image quality the HCX2000 renders. For sure it isn’t as beautiful or versatile as some of the high end hybrids we’ve looked at recently, but I’d argue that this isn’t the place for this camera. However having access to a 10bit 4:2:2 4K file does also give a huge element of post-production versatility not normally associated with cameras of this niche.
Our experience of using Panasonic Camcorders for documentary, interview and even corporate work tells us that this camera is the perfect companion for these environments. It’s built for portability, it’s made for convenience and thrives being used with ease. The rock solid 5 axis stabilisation and reassuringly snappy auto focus really adds to this notion.
The Bad Bits
So the bad points and like very camera there are some notable compromises. That low light performance is going to become very apparent. The amount of gain needed to be added to capture a useable image in low light means your image is going to be very noisy.
It’s price point is interesting, sitting at around £1800 means that this camera finds itself in a very crowded and competitive price point. For example, for the same money you could pick up a Fuji XT4 which for outright quality is a superior camera. However the dedicated video features present on the HCX2000 such as the ND filtering, OIS, ridiculous zoom lens, XLR pre amps and LED light all hint at that not being a fair comparison. This is a video only camera, a camcorder built for 2020 and for that it occupies somewhat of a unique position.
There’s a special place in my heart for camcorders and video dedicated cameras in general. Of course, like everyone I’m a sucker for larger sensors and all the creative options afforded to you with cine or hybrid DSLR & mirrorless cameras. But there’s something unique about using a top handled video camera to shoot with and in 2020 there’s very few options that afford this experience. And in the sub 2 grand price point there’s even fewer that will offer 4k 10bit 4:2:2 with all the bells and whistles, so for that I do love this little camcorder.
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