Can picture-in-picture shooting renew consumer interest in camcorders?
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Panasonic is taking some time at CES 2014 to shine the spotlight on its camcorders, with an aim to reinvigorate a shrinking and stagnant market segment. The new additions include some updated models, with a few neat additions that show innovation hasn't totally escaped camcorder designers.
The big news is the W850, which is what Panasonic is calling a Twin Camera HD camcorder. It has a secondary camera on the end of the flip-out LCD, which can rotate, letting you get a wide-angle shot separate from what the main 50x optical zoom lens is shooting. This lets you zoom in with the main lens while gathering a wide shot of the same scene, or you can rotate around, capturing a secondary shot of yourself or anyone around you.
Even though you can't play director by switching between the two cameras, the second camera's small window can be placed, picture-in-picture, in whichever corner of the video you want.
Panasonic also improved the W850's Full-HD slow-motion video, with the ability to capture interpolated 120fps video at full resolution. Using the touchscreen, you can tap and hold at any time to start shooting in slow-motion. This footage is part of the longer clip you're recording on the fly. Sample video we watched looked almost broadcast-quality, showing impressive detail and consistently smooth motion despite the interpolation.
Not satisfied with simply adding new features, Panasonic also reworked the W850's lens and sensor assembly, adding backside illumination and upping the megapixel count from 4 to 6 megapixels. The world's first 4-drive lens zoom method lets Panasonic keep the W850 compact while offering 50x optical zoom. If you're looking for high–bit rate video, the W850 includes a new 50 Mbps MP4 shooting mode in addition to AVCHD.
WiFi functionality lets you use Panasonic's camcorders for a whole host of activities. There's an emphasis on remote viewing, so you can keep an eye on your pet, baby, or belongings when you're away. Paired with the new Panasonic pan/tilt cradle, 2014 Panasonic camcorders can also track subjects on their own. The built-in speaker also lets you command pets or soothe a child, and sound detection can send the owner a notification if a loud noise is picked up by the microphones.
The other camcorders announced are the V750, V550, V250, and V130. All of these come equipped with the aforementioned app-enabled functionality and pan/tilt cradle compatibility. The top 3 models all include upgraded five-axis image stabilization and improved Level Shot automatic shot straightening.
Pricing and availability of the 2014 Panasonic camcorder roster has yet to be revealed, but stick with us for more exciting news from CES 2014.