Panasonic HC-X2000 Full Review

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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. 

SUMMARY

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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2 thoughts on “Panasonic HC-X2000 Full Review

  1. I’ve had mine for about 9 months and it’s a great camera but there are a few other negatives not mentioned here:

    1. there is no audio indicator of record/standby status when you hit the record button and on far too many occasions in the field the camera does not stop recording when commanded to. This results in lots of footage of the ground and valuable shots missed because when record is hit again, the recording stops. This is the biggest headache with this camera.

    2. at its widest angle there is a lot of fishbown distortion (non-linearity). It’s a 25mm equivalent but none of my other camcorders have this problem at the same focal length.

    3. the LCD, when twisted 180 degrees so that it faces forwards, is a “bare” feed without audio meters or even a recording indicator. This makes it far less useful for vlogging or a “one man band” type of setup.

    4. there is no simple IR remote. Instead there’s a rather full-featured wifi app that requires at least a 7-inch tablet or full-sized smartphone. All many YouTubers want is a simple start/stop record remote and don’t want to have to constantly use a smartphone or tablet for this purpose.

    5. face detect only works in “auto” mode so if you want to do *anything* manually, forget it.

    6. the ND filter switch is very awkward to reach when hand-held and can’t be operated without significant jarring of the camera so is best not used when actually recording anything.

    7. the inbuilt mic is awful. It’s badly affected by wind-noise and quite low in gain. I fitted a cheap $70 Boya omni with dead cat and that is 1000 times better.

    8. the LCD screen is reflective which makes its use outdoors far more difficult than my Sony cameras with their matte surfaced LCDs.

    9. the camera gets quite “soft” for a 4K camera at high zoom with the full hybrid image stabilization active. I suspect it crops on the sensor and interpolates back up to 4K, thus reducing the *actual* resolution somewhat.

    10. there’s no log format of any kind (a shame given the 4.2.2 capabilities). There are several color profiles but none come even close to the kind of log formats that similar cameras offer.

    On the plus side there were a few good points also missed in this review:

    1. the battery life is more than 4 hours continuous recording at 4K/60.

    2. the camera does not overheat at all.

    3 the EVF is excellent with a great rubber eye-cushion that excluses all ambient light.

    4. unlike many other camcorders, this is dual-standard (NTSC/PAL) — 25/50 or 30/60 FPS.

    Bottom line, it is great for the kind of work I do (I can live with the negatives and they’re outweighed by the positives) but I can imagine that there are lots of folk who would disappointed by such a small sensor, limited dynamic range and other issues. If you need a “point and shoot” with full manual capabilties and a zoom range from 25mm to 600mm without the need for carrying around a bag of lenses, ND filters and such… this is a good camera and pretty nice value for money.

  2. I bought one ( X2000 a few weeks ago , not really impressed with this Camera …lens barrell plastic 2 rings making scrathy noise, view finder horrible small ,rubber eyepiece terrible , buttons on camera to little fiddely , only 1 type of battery fits , bigger seize won’t fit . face detection only in auto, menu horrible.
    I will get rid of this machine a.s.a.p ,
    Will start using my 2 sony’s HXR NX 80 again ….a much better camera .
    Bart

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