Panasonic's HC-X1000 offers an impressive 4K UHD at 60fps for the prosumer audience.
Panasonic came out swinging in 2014 with their late Spring release of their GH4, a mirrorless camera model that shocked the industry as it brought professional-grade cinema 4K and UHD capabilities to consumers for under $2000. Just a few months later, Panasonic pushed out an updated prosumer camcorder dubbed the HC-X1000 that offered a slew of competitive features including 4K UHD recording at an impressive 60fps.
When I initially received my review sample on a temporary loan from B&H Photo, the HC-X1000's price was $3,500. As of a few days ago, this model received a $700 price-drop thus bringing the total price down to $2,800, so the evaluation was under entirely different circumstances at this price-point.
In the following review, I'll offer my honest opinion of this model at the new $2,800 price-point based on my experiences using the product over the previous 21-day period. Rest assured, Panasonic has played no part in administering this review, and no bias or outside influences have factored into the opinions expressed in this article.
Design & Build Quality
I'm a huge fan of the HC-X1000's cosmetic appeal as it is large enough to look like professional rig especially with an XLR mic attached (sold separately), but it doesn't feel awkward bulky either.
Panasonic made sure to not go overboard with the branding giving it a subtle and sleek impression that I appreciate. While not a big deal to me, some may like the addition of the 4K engraving to the back plate of this display as well as a 4K plate to the back left corner of the device so everyone in your proximity will know you are shooting in 4K.
This is a camcorder, so you are getting a fixed lens with a built-in lens hood and integrated lens cover. Nearly all of the controls are located on the left side of the body which makes for easy access when making changes on the fly. There are two SD card slots in this area along with audio controls for any mics plugged into the XLR inputs that are both protected by flip-out plastic covers.
Moving to the rear of the camera's chassis, the included battery is seats nicely on the left side with a push-button release above it. Next to this is an assortment of inputs and outputs that span around the back right corner with protection via flip out plastic tabs. One of the two XLR inputs is found on the back right corner above the inputs/outputs.
Moving up to the middle of the right side of the body, is a concave indentation for your hand that has an integrated strap for added stability. Within this element, there is a small variety of buttons including those to give the camera power, zoom, and start/stop recording.
There's a built-in handle on the top of the HC-X1000's chassis with the adjustable eye-cup near the back. Panasonic added another set of record and zoom buttons towards the front of the top handle that allows for two different shooting variations depending on the shooting environment. Moving up further on the top grip, you'll find the second XLR audio input, an XLR mic mount, a cold shoe (for attaching a light or LCD panel), some miscellaneous buttons, and an integrated stereo microphone.
Lastly, I can't forget the 3.5″ LCD screen that slides into the top grip for safety and security while not in use, but can be extended out and rotated to suit your needs. The screen has a matte finish to helping to keep it visible in high-intensity lighting conditions like direct sunlight.
While I love the look and appreciate the design, the build quality is the only real downfall within this area. The first time that I picked up this camera model, I was very surprised to see how lightweight it was, and truthfully I expected a more substantial, premium feel to it. Its weight is likely related to the plastic build in comparison to magnesium alloy body like the GH4. In some regard, I can appreciate the lighter weight for travel purposes although it still just has a cheap feel to it that doesn't match its a $2,800 price-point.
My guess is they could have made it much smaller and compact like the lower-priced consumer versions yet they chose to go with a professional looking design to catch the eye of prosumers and make it look more suitable for the price. Thus being the reason it feels like a lot of wasted plastic without much need for the extra space other than a cosmetic standpoint.
Of course, anyone can visit the B&H Photo page and get all the technical specs listed neatly so in this section, I'm just going to cover the features that are worth mentioning at this price-point that are found within the HC-X1000.
Leica Dicomar 20x Optical Zoom Lens
- Equates to 4.08-81.6mm range
- Maximum aperture of f/1.8-f/3.6
- Integrated lens hood and cover
- Built-in filters (Clear, 1/4, 1/16, 1/64)
- Electronically linked zoom, focus, and iris rings
- Separate optical image stabilization systems for 4K versus HD
Two Separate Viewfinders For Different Shooting Situations
- A standard traditional tilt-up color EVF with isolating eye-cup
- A pull-out 3.5″ LCD display with touchscreen and matte finish
Variety Of Resolution, FPS & Codec Options
- Choices range from 720P HD up to true Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160p)
- Can shoot 4K UHD (3840 x 2160p) up to a whopping 60fps at 150mbps
- Surprisingly lacks any support for 1080P or 720P at higher frame rates than 60fps
- Highest bitrate video format is 1080P at 200mbps with All-I compression
- Can record in .mov, .mp4 and AVCHD
- Capable of snapping 8.8MP still images
Dual SD Slots Offers Affordable Storage
- Two separate SD card slots offer simultaneous recording abilities or auto-switch for limited downtime when your first card fills up
- SD cards are now very affordable and widely accepted via modern PCs and Macs
Integrated Color Profiles For Better Dynamic Range
- Similar to the GH4, you get access to a multitude of color profiles including Cine-Like D and V
- Cinelike D is great for getting the most detail out of the highlight and shadows of your image (dynamic range) although it will need to be messed with in post as the resulting image is flat
- I used Cinelike D for the vast majority of my time spent with the camera
Built-in Focus, Lighting, & Audio Tools
- Focus peaking – adjustable by color and sensitivity
- Zebras – adjustable by sensitivity
- Focus assist – temporary zoom for nailing manual focus in difficult situations
- On-screen audio levels – helps you adjust microphone input volume to preserve premium audio quality
- Digital level overlay and electronic color bars
Four Programmable Side Buttons
- Can be assigned to any function for easy access to a certain setting or menu while out in the field
Built-in WiFi & NFC Support
- Easily connect to a smartphone or tablet by way of Wi-Fi or NFC to control camera functionality and see a live feed while away from the camera
- Uses the same Panasonic Image App as the GH4