Panasonic HC-X1000 4K Camcorder Review
Want pro 4K video and control without the pro price? The X1000 has arrived.
By the Numbers
Being a 4K camcorder with a solid lens and sensor combination, the HC-X1000 did a very good job in our performance tests. That being said, the camcorder's $3,500 price tag won't get you the best video quality for the money. There are a variety of DSLR and mirrorless cameras with larger sensors and better lens options that will cost you roughly the same (or a bit cheaper) for a complete package.
What the X1000 has that those DSLRs don't, however, is a whole slew of manual controls, customizable buttons, lens rings, and audio options. So, if you're just looking for the best video quality this isn't the camcorder for you, but if you want a well-rounded package, then the X1000 is spot-on for your needs.
Sharpness is where the X1000 stood out the most in our performance tests. This makes sense, since the X1000 can shoot 4K/60p video at a bitrate of 150Mbps. Those killer specs translate into excellent scores: 1300 line pairs per picture height (lp/ph) horizontal sharpness and 1400 lp/ph vertical. Those numbers are significantly better than what we saw from the prosumer-oriented Sony AX100 (1100 lp/ph horizontal and 1150 lp/ph vertical). If you want impeccably sharp video without shelling out for an expensive lens—this is the ideal camcorder for your needs.
Low Light Performance
While the X1000 soared in our sharpness test, the camcorder struggled a bit in low light. Maybe struggle is being a bit too harsh—the camcorder put up fine numbers in our low light tests—it just didn't excel the way we anticipated. The camcorder matched the Sony AX100 in minimum illumination requirements (needing 6 lux of light to produce a usable image), but it fell to the Sony in our noise test. The X1000's low light image was murkier than we'd hoped, registering 1.5% noise in our test. This is likely due to the camcorder's smallish 1/2.3-inch sensor compared to the Sony's 1-inch imager. You'd also get much brighter and cleaner low light images from a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a full 35mm sensor.
Motion & Detail
The HC-X1000 captures superb motion, thanks to its 4K recording capability and plethora of frame rate options. You can shoot film-like 24p with this camcorder, or you can capture ultra-smooth 60p—both at 4K resolution. Either rate you choose, the results should look sharp, crisp, and artifact-free.
In addition to the copious manual controls and image settings, the HC-X1000 also holds a stark advantage over its DSLR and mirrorless camera competitors in terms of battery life. Recording continuously (without making any on-the-fly adjustments) with the camcorder's 4K/30p MP4 record mode yielded over 400 minutes of battery life (6 hours, 42 minutes). That's rather incredible, particularly for a camcorder as robust as the HC-X1000. Most high-end consumer camcorders come with batteries that last around two hours (the Sony AX100 went for 145 minutes in our test).
Keep in mind, the HC-X1000 is a big camcorder, so it ships with a large 5800 mAh battery pack that is 2-3x the size than what you get with most consumer camcorders or cameras. It's arguable that most camcorders or cameras could replicate this performance if a battery pack of this size was used. But that's not possible with many DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, as most utilize an enclosed battery compartment that can't fit larger battery packs.
Any way you cut it, the HC-X1000's battery performance is a significant plus. The battery pack itself even has a cool capacity check feature that shows you how much battery life remains at the click of a button (it's just a four-step scale, so it won't give you down-to-the-minute details). It should also be noted we shot the HC-X1000's battery life test in 4K using the 100Mbps 30p MP4 setting. Other recording options may drain the battery faster or slower, but they should all be in the same ballpark.
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