Panasonic HC-V10 Video Features
The HC-V10 uses the MPEG-4 format for 1280 x 720p high definition recording - it's the only model in Panasonic's traditional camcorder lineup to offer this lower-resolution HD recording. It supports 15Mbps recording. You can also drop the resolution to 840 x 480 resolution, 640 x 480 or iFrame recording (at 960 x 540) for movies that can be easily edited on most computers. The HC-V10 features a 1.5-megapixel 1/5.8-inch CMOS image sensor.
The camcorder uses Panasonic's "Intelligent Auto" mode for automatically matching scene modes such as portrait, sunset, scenery, forest and macro mode, to shooting environments. The mode employs various technologies - including image stabilization, face detection, an intelligent scene-selector and contrast control to optimize your exposure.
You'll find a 63x optical zoom lens on the VC10. This optical zoom is joined by a 70x "enhanced optical zoom," which can enhance the magnification of your footage by using a smaller portion of the sensor without losing image resolution. Finally, there's a 3500xdigital zoom which will degrade resolution when in use.
The lens employs Panasonic's Power Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) for keeping your footage relatively shake-free. The image stabilization technology has an active mode which can be enabled when walking or when you're otherwise in an unstable position to provide extra shake reduction.
The V10 lens is protected by a manual lens cover. It's not as convenient as the automatic covers found on higher-end Panasonic models.
Memory and Display
The HC-V10 offers a 2.7-inch LCD display. There is no optical or electronic viewfinder.
Design-wise, the HC-V10 cuts a fairly conventional, if somewhat boxy, figure. Thanks to the use of flash memory you'll still enjoy a light weight body at .47 pounds. The HC-V10 measures in at 2.1 x 2.5 x 4.3 inches, roughly the same form factor as the entry-level series of Panasonic camcorders, and features a zoom lever on the top of the camcorder and a record shutter located on the side, next to the camcorder's battery. Open the display and you'll find buttons video playback, scrolling and info, plus the camcorder's ports: component, HDMI, USB and AV.
Aesthetically, the HC-V10 is available in a black, silver and red.
The HC-V10 is outfitted with a fairly minimalistic feature set, which is not surprising given its price. It offers face detection a pre-record function which records three seconds worth of video before you hit the shutter. The V10 also offers an auto ground-directional standby mode, which detects if the camcorder is being held in an unusual position (say, upside down) and automatically stops recording. A low light/color night recording mode preserves colors even in dim lighting.
As far as scene modes go, you'll find sports, portrait, low light, spot light, snow, beach, sunset, fireworks, night scenery, night portrait and soft skin mode. You can snap .9-megapixel photos while recording video on the V10 (not a great resolution). Still photos can also be isolated from video footage played back on the camcorder and saved as a separate file. There is a two channel stereo microphone.
The HC-V10 offers a built-in HDMI output for connecting the camera although the cable is not included. You can also connect to a PC via USB cable.
At $249, the HC-V10 is Panasonic's bid for the budget dollar, and its only traditional camcorder to offer 720, not 1080, high definition resolution. It compensates for the lower resolution specification with a super high-powered lens. If sharper video quality is more important to you than a long zoom, consider Panasonic's slightly more expensive V100 which is the company's least expensive model to feature 1920 x 1080 recording. It does have a lower zoom lens, however, at 32x.