For the CES 2020, Panasonic has once again reached deep into the engineering drawer and ventured into a completely new 4K camcorder series, which actually combines practically all relevant functions in this segment in an extremely compact housing.
The pure body of all three new models (HC-X1500, HC-X2000 and AG-CX10) is kept quite compact and light. Without handle and other extras it weighs just under 900 grams. Including the battery and the quickly removable handle, the camera still weighs a very comfortable 1.5 kg.
With 1/2.5-inch (≈ crop factor 6), the sensor size is far below typical large sensor cameras and offers native 8.29 megapixels for 4K (UHD) recording. The small sensor area in particular allows for corresponding optical refinements in the compact housing: the HC-X1500/2000 offers a small-image equivalent wide-angle range of 25mm that can be optically zoomed in 24x (which in turn corresponds to a KB equivalent of 600mm). In UHD, this zoom range can be increased digitally to 32x, in FullHD even to 48x, without reducing the resolution, since fewer sensors are required for FullHD resolution.
The optic has an initial aperture of 1.8 (up to approx. F4 at full zoom) and can work mechanically stabilized. In addition, Panasonic advertises the new models with hybrid BIld stabilisation, whereby the sensor in UHD has hardly any surplus pixels. When asked, however, Panasonic also denied that the sensor itself is mounted in a movable bearing. Especially because of the relatively small chip area, the autofocus should be able to react correspondingly fast and reliable.
Two lens rings allow manual focusing as well as optional zoom or aperture settings. Three ND filter levels (1/4, 1/16, 1/64) can also be manually switched on directly via the housing. In addition, the infrared filter can be deactivated for night shots.
In 4K(UHD) the camera can record 50/60p in 4:2:0 with 10 bit HEVC. A 4:2:2 10 bit recording is also possible in 4K up to 30p. In FullHD even a 200 Mbps All-Intra-Codec in 10 Bit4:2:2 up to 60p is available. And in addition, FullHD should be capable of up to 120 fps SlowMotion recording in 10 bit - even with active autofocus. Everything is recorded on two UHS-I SD card slots, which can handle all typical game types for backup or continuous recording. Full UHD-4K in 10 bit 4:2:2 with up to 60p can be output to external recorders, not least via HDMI.
The fold-out monitor is touch-capable, can be rotated by 270 degrees and has 2.760K R, G or B pixels, which is a rather high resolution for 3.5 inches. The viewfinder has a resolution of 1.555K.
The cameras become especially exciting with the detachable XLR handle VW-HU1, which can also be purchased as an option for the X1500 - and even quite cheap ( see below ).
In addition to the typical, fully adjustable XLR audio connectors with a maximum 48KHz recording, a dimmable LED video light with a maximum brightness of 70 lux has been integrated at the tip of the handle. The colour temperature of approx. 5000K Kelvin is constant. The lighting can be switched and dimmed manually on the handle. With the X2000 and the CX10 the handle is included.
The camera provides a total of 12 freely definable user buttons (five on the body, seven on the touch screen) which can be assigned a selection of 38 different functions. In addition, there are many relevant tools for image design. For example, there is a waveform monitor/vectorscope and variable zebra settings. The image profile can also be adjusted very sensitively in the camera. There are 16 intervention points in the colour space available for this purpose, which can be shifted in colour angle and saturation. These are supported by no less than 8 gamma settings (SD, HD, FILMLIKE 1-3, CINE-LIKE D/V and STILL-LIKE).
Especially for EB use, functions such as Shockless Whitebalance (i.e. a gradual change of the automatic white balance) are very useful. For example, when the camera switches from outside to inside in one setting.
A 2.4 GHz Wifi module has also been reintegrated, making the camera WLAN-capable without any additional accessories. Via the integrated RTMP (Real Time Messaging Protocol) it is possible to stream directly to the Internet (max. FullHD with 60p). During the streaming an internal MOV recording is possible.
With a new app (HC ROP) the camera can be remote controlled via tablet or smartphone. If required, even 8 cameras can be controlled simultaneously. And for those who prefer to use external, wired manual controls: the camera can be remotely controlled (iris, focus, zoom and REC start/stop) via external remote controls on the 2.5 inch mini jack.
Actually, a weighty argument for the HC-X1500/2000 is the battery life: With the included, new AG-VBR59 battery it should be possible to record over 4.5 hours uninterrupted in 4K. It was specially designed for the new models so that it does not protrude from the case. By the way, the predecessor model VW-VBD58 also remains compatible and achieves almost the same recording time with the X1500/X2000 (4h30min).
For this purpose, Panasonic is launching a further version of the HC-X2000 as the AG-CX10 for the broadcast sector. This differs in additional broadcast HD formats (AVC-G25/50, AVC-Intra50 and 100 as P2 MXF, MicroP2 card support) and an Ethernet connection option (via USB) including NDI HX.
In addition to the supplied handle, the AG-CX10/HC-X2000 differs from the HC-X1500 by an additional 3G SDI connector (which, as a G3 variant, only supports FullHD output up to a maximum of 60 fps).
All three model variants are scheduled to be available in stores from March. The HC-X1500 will cost 1699 Euros, the HC-X2000 has a RRP of 2199 Euros. And the AG-CX10 will be available for 2599 Euro. The handle VW-HU1 will cost 299 Euro as accessory for the HC-X1500.
The AVC-Intra codecs will be available as firmware update for the CX10 in summer 2020.