PANASONIC HC-VX981K REVIEW

PANASONIC HC-VX981K

One of the most affordable camcorder models currently reigning the market is the Panasonic HC-VX981K. It is the official replacement of its earlier version, VX870. Compared to its predecessor, the VX981K has improved a lot. In addition to the improvements of previous basic features, some new attributes are also thrown in the mix to come up as a necessary refresh and a worthy replacement.

This model combines ultra-HD 4K visual recording together with in-camera video editing. It delivers sharp 4K HD video quality and also provides enhanced form factor, improved camera sensor, superior lenses, and easy-to-operate manual controls.

The simple yet powerful operation of the HC-VX981K enables camcorder users of almost all levels to enjoy the best quality visuals. Despite being weighed less than a pound, this piece of technology can offer a huge set of features, including HDR movie mode to avail more shadow effects and highlight modes, wireless functionality, the ability to record up to two picture-in-picture video feeds, etc.

You can capture videos from multiple viewpoints and diversified angles to enjoy a unique video experience. This camcorder might not be an ideal choice for professional cinematographers as per their video recording requirements.

PANASONIC HC-VX981K REVIEW

But if you are a casual user and in search of a camera unit for movie-making or filming documentaries purposes, then this VX981K should be a perfect fit item for you.

Let’s get some elaborative view of this product.

Design and Construction

If your top priority is innovative design and camera body construction, Panasonic HC-VX981 packs one of the most attractive camcorder packages due to its irresistible features. This camcorder utilizes a powerful Leica Dicomar Lens that provides an optical zooming range of 20X and a focal length of 30.8 mm,, equivalent to a wide end 35 mm of distance. Moreover, this device is also combined with an additional intelligent zoom feature that enables the machine to increase its typical 20X zoom range to 25X for 4K shooting and 40X for full HD recording.

This particular camcorder unit isn’t a twin camera option, but you would love its wireless multi-camera features. There is in-built Wi-Fi connectivity being available with the model. It lets the users connect their cameras with mobile devices. Thus, they can record picture-in-picture from multiple viewpoints and diversified shooting angles simultaneously. It eventually paves the way to more innovative filming facilities.

Using the Wi-Fi, the users can control this camcorder remotely through the Panasonic Image App. It also enables them to monitor live images and upload video or image files directly to the social media platforms. You can also live stream your captured videos using U-Stream. Additionally, there is also a baby monitor feature to check on the other room’s sleeping baby. If the baby starts crying, a notification will be sent to your smartphone. In order to get this facility, both your mobile device and camcorder should be connected to the same network.

Visual Quality

The 1/2.3-inch BSI (backside illuminated) MOS image sensor being featured with the VX981K model provides a larger effective area with its 8.29 megapixels resolution. It further combines with the crystal engine to ensure effective 4K image processing at 24 to 30fps bit rates and 1080p video shooting at 60fps.

This camcorder is also capable of taking 25.9 megapixels interpolated still images. There is a 4K photo mode as well. You can extract still images from your captured 4K videos. These extracted images will look like pics captured using an 8.29-mp camera.

Furthermore, the camera is also featured with 4K video editing tools. Using these, you can multitask the 4K video footage like zooming, tracking, cropping, panning, stabilizing, etc. There is a minor issue here, and you won’t be able to save these edited videos in 4K format, only at 1080p resolution. Though, these 1080p videos are quite stable and more focused than the native 1080p specialized cameras.

Performance

You can ensure the steadier handheld video shooting while keeping the image vibration to a very minimal level because of Panasonic’s 5-axis Hybrid optical image stabilization process featured by the HC-VX981k model. It provides correction at 5 directions-pan, roll, tilt, vertical, and horizontal. If you don’t use any tripod, your videos might have blurs and jitters. This stabilization technology can suppress them and yield a better handheld video quality.

The high-dynamic-range movie mode of this camcorder has taken its functionalities to a whole new level. With this feature, the operators can not only combine two images of dissimilar exposure times but also maintain proper image gradation. This feature presents the crispier image quality, even when the subject is backlit. Additionally, the level shot function detects camera tilting and auto-corrects instantly. There are three different levels of such adjustment-Off, Normal and Strong. The right adjustment depends on your shooting conditions. 

Test Video

Pros

  • The new in-editing function offers more flexible resolution options for the users.
  • Relatively small and compact camcorder to be packed with attractive camera features.
  • The wireless multi-camera option enables a picture-in-picture facility captured with multiple smartphones covering different angles.
  • Optical stabilization technology coupled with level shot function provides exceptional visual quality.

Cons

  • The optical image sensor doesn’t feature any improvements other than the previous Panasonic models.
  • Average battery life and run time, especially while recording 4k videos.

Final verdict

I have been using Panasonic camcorders for years, and on the basis of my usage experience, I can assure you that picking the Panasonic HC-VX981K unit over the other models or its predecessor VX870 is worth considering. Apart from all the basic camera features, the in-editing option makes this camcorder a much worthy investment as this one is missing in the older VX870 version.

You might face some problems as there is no available 1080p video recording option with this device. Also, considered previous models, this camcorder won’t add up many features to your shooting experience. But in case your top priority is filming 4k videos, the Panasonic HC-VX981K should be on top of your camcorder shortlist. Happy shooting time, folks! 

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