If you know me, you know video is what I do…having been a television news producer for 20+ years and a vlogger since I think the word was created. I just believe video tells a story better than anything else can, so imagine my thrill at getting to test out the new Panasonic HX A500 video cameras.
I know that sounds like a mouthful, so let me just say this: this is the next step up from the GoPro. There, I said it. And you know what a GoPro fan I am. But here’s the thing about my beloved GoPro: I have to use my hands to hold it, or I have to buy one of a bazillion accessories to make it so that my hands can be free to do the things I want to do while getting my video…chest straps, helmet straps, wrist straps…you get my point.
This new Panasonic A500 (that’s what I call it just because it’s easier for me without the HX in the middle) comes with a headpiece so that it’s worn a bit like a headband. And know what makes that extra awesome? The camera ends up being mounted right about eye level, so what you’re capturing on camera is the equivalent of what you’re seeing yourself.
There are accessories you can buy, but you don’t need them when you have the headband. It has an extra strap you can use to make sure it stays on your head if you’re using it for things like a rollercoaster ride.
Already owning a GoPro, I wanted to put it to the test and compare how the video looked side by side.
The observation that jumped out at me most:
The GoPro tends to have a stretched out view when recorded, almost like a fish eye lens. That was ok when I had no other options because I wanted something better than my cell phone video camera for shooting in extreme conditions. But this Panasonic doesn’t do that.
Compare the pictures below.
(Above is the Panasonic A500 image.)
See how in the one of the snow the trees seem to be leaning off the mountain at the edges? That’s what I call the GoPro effect.
Look at the one of the animals next. That one was taken with the Panasonic A500 and didn’t have the same issue.
An iPhone won’t distort your image, but the quality at night is nothing like what you’ll get with the Panasonic.
And the video…well, I tried the Panasonic out at night because that’s where I run into problems with video on my iPhone 6. Laugh all you want, but I use it because it’s easy and I always have it with me. But then, I get home and am so disappointed in the quality after I’ve shot something at night. That’s not an issue with the Panasonic A500. The quality at night is amazing, as you can see in the video below of the last 90 seconds of the Epcot IllumiNations Fireworks show at Disney.
[hana-code-insert name=’illuminations’ /]
I haven’t even mentioned that it shoots 4k video resolution at 30p. The image quality four times better than Full HD resolution! What that essentially means is it’s four times better than what you’re used to shooting or seeing.
Another thing: it’s waterproof and dustproof. Waterproof And Dustproof. The A500 is designed to enable underwater recording for 30 minutes at 3 meters. Dustproofing makes it possible to use the camera at the beach and other similar spots.
Oh—and even better (in my opinion) is the fact that you can see what you’re shooting!! The monitor is worn on your arm and you only have to look down to know that you’re getting the video you want!
(You don’t have to wear the rubber strap around the front, but it’s great if you’re on an amusement park ride and don’t want it to slip.)
The only heads up I should offer is that if you use this much you will want to get a bigger, better computer, too, because it eats up some serious storage if you shoot in the highest quality settings. I personally don’t go there…I prefer to stick to 1080. That helps. And I shoot in quick 60 second clips unless I’m recording an interview. That way you have smaller segments to download and work with.
And here’s one more thing I discovered. There’s a sale on the Panasonic A500s right now–$50 bucks off, for a sales price of $350. We spent more than that on the GoPro. Kind of regretting that now.