There are not as many digital camcorder owners as digital camera or smartphone owners. In the past, digital camcorders were dismissed as pricey portable gadgets that could be worth the money if you frequently go on vacations out of town. Now, you can get pretty good results just by using a good phone or average point-and-shoot camera. But if you want the convenience of a hand strap and some extra video recording features, you can actually settle for a digital camcorder without breaking the bank. Panasonic offers a wide range of camcorder options with the Panasonic HC-V110 resting on the budget side of the pack. Budget camcorders normally introduce plenty of compromises but the HC-V110 is a modern 2013 camcorder that is a fairly big step above its highly-praised predecessor – the Panasonic HC-V100.
Design and Interface
The Panasonic HC-V110 won’t win any design awards but the curvy accents make the HC-V110 a bit sleeker than the boxy design of the HC-V100. If you plan on upgrading from an older Panasonic camcorder, you may have to get used to the new position of the recording button. It is now found on the back of the Panasonic HC-V110 which should make it easier to hit with your thumb. The rest of the controls are on their usual spots with the top of the camcorder having the photoshot button and lever for controlling the zoom and volume depending on the mode you are in.
No improvements were made to the 2.7-inch LCD monitor featured in the Panasonic HC-V100. The LCD monitor isn’t a touchscreen either so getting used to the interface shouldn’t be a problem.The directional buttons are placed just next to the display along with the usual menu and enter buttons.
Storage and Connectivity
The HC-V110 is the most basic model in Panasonic’s 2013 lineup of camcorders. Most of the new camcorders feature internal memory and Wi-Fi connectivity, but the HC-V110 lacks both of them. Plus Panasonic did not bother in making an identical model with internal memory so you will have purchase a separate SD card in order use the camcorder. But the Panasonic HC-V110 can still cater to your needs if you purchase the right SD card. If you need high-capacity, for instance, you can get a 64 GB SDXC card so you can record approximately 5 hours of video in the iFrame format. The iFrame format should work fine with most PC and Mac video editors. Switch to MP4 and you can store 84 hours of footage in a 64 GB card.
The HC-V110 is also Eye-Fi compatible which is a great new addition if you need the convenience of wireless transferring without buying a pricier Panasonic camcorder. Equipping the Panasonic HC-V110 with an Eye-Fi card not only lets you transfer videos to PCs, laptops and mobile devices without cables and access points but it also lets you upload videos directly to social networking sites if you connect to a wireless hotspot.
The 1/5.8-inch MOS sensor featured in the V100 was already sufficient for casual usage but Panasonic decided to sport the HC-V110 with an upgraded BSI MOS sensor. This high sensitivity sensor vastly improves the image quality when the lighting is dim. Activate the Color Night Rec feature and you may be able to capture some color during those dimly-lit situations.
The Panasonic HC-V110 also has a slightly higher optical zoom (38x) than the HC-V100 (34x). Turn on the intelligent zoom and you can reach ultra-telephoto levels maxing out at 72x without affecting the details. There is also an image stabilizer that may not be as powerful as the HYBRID O.I.S. featured in mid-range and high-end models but it still does a decent job in correcting slight shakes even if you are at a high zoom level. This should result to reduced blurring.
Like any standard digital camera or camcorder, you can choose from a number of modes that best fit the scene such as sports for high activity or portrait for recording people. But if you frequently transition to different scenes, you are better off setting the iA or Intelligent Auto mode which lets the camcorder decide which scene is best. This is great for beginner users that don’t wish to play with the manual controls.
Manual controls are normally reserved for enthusiasts that may have more mileage with a more expensive camcorder. But surprisingly, the HC-V110 offers independent focus, iris and shutter controls. There are also a number of white balance modes which are ideal for certain sceneries and lightings.
While you are actively recording video, you can tap the photoshot button to take a still image any time you like. These 2-megapixel images are not ideal for printing but the quality is still good enough for the web if the lighting is good. You can still choose from a number of scenes like snow, beach and sunset to improve the quality of still images.
In a standard camcorder, you only start recording footage after you press the record button. But with the Panasonic HC-V110 and its Pre-Rec Function, the camcorder can also include the last 3 seconds the camcorder witnessed before the record button is pressed. It is great to leave this function on if you are slow in pushing the record button.
The HC-V110 comes with a special video editing software for Windows called HD Writer. This allows you to do basic edits to your videos. This software features the Short Movie Story function which can make some creative short videos based on any images or videos you feed into the program. You can also supply background music as well as some transition effects. While the software does a good job in automatically producing the movie, you can customize it too in case you want to arrange the scenes in a specific way.
The HC-V100 remains as a good purchase if you want to get a cheap and feature-rich camcorder but the Panasonic HC-V110 brings up image quality without bumping up the price so much. Just buy a memory card and you are all set.
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