It’s time to future-proof your work by using a 4K camcorder. Even if you downscale your UHD video to 1080p, it will still look gorgeous. Plus, you can crop 4K footage to zoom in at HD resolution. So the only problem is not whether to upgrade, but which camera to buy. Let’s examine three top camcorders from Sony and Panasonic to see which will be the best for you.
Sony PXW-X70 XDCAM Hand-Held Camcorder
Sony’s PXW-X70 XDCAM is compact, designed for professionals who want to shoot superior quality video without the bulk of a full-size camera. It comes with a HD-SDI port for fast file transfer in broadcast situations, and it holds two SDXC card slots for relay recording so you don’t miss a moment.
Some of the features that stand out in the PXW-X70 are the 1-inch 20MP Exmor R CMOS sensor, the Zeiss 12x Vario-Sonnar T lens with lens ring, and the 24x/48x digital zoom. On the bright side, the CMOS sensoris sensitive enough to avoid lots of noise in low light conditions, even though it’s limited by the maximum aperture size.
When you’re shooting while zoomed out in windy conditions, or walking or in a vehicle, you’ll be glad for the image stabilization options. The Standard mode keeps the picture still for zooms, and the Active mode keeps it super steady when you’re moving.
While you record, you can choose from Sony’s own XAVC format or AVCHD. The maximum quality you can get with XAVC Long GOP is 10-bit sampling at 50Mbps with 4:2:2 color sampling. That’s better than its competitor, the Panasonic AG-UX90 can manage. The main difference is that you may need to transcode Sony’s native format since only a few video editors can read it. The AVCHD format is more common at this time.
Finally, you can also control the camera and transfer files wirelessly. The Sony PXW-X70 comes with both Wi-Fi and NFC.
More features of the Sony PXW-x70 camcorder:
- Comes with lens cap, lens hood, eye cup, USB cable, NP-FV70 battery pack, AC adapter, power cord, accessory shoe kit, remote control and battery, and XLR handle unit
- 4 levels of ND filters
- Covered by a 1-year limited warranty
- Package includes Sony 4K Upgrade License Key for camcorder
Panasonic AG-UX90 4K Professional Camcorder
The Panasonic AG-UX90 is built around a 1-inch MOS sensor with a Leica f2.8 to f4.5 lens. The lens films a wide 24.5mm angle for HD video, but only 35.4mm at 4K. And there is another limitation—it can only film 4K at 25p, not 50p like the Sony PXW-X70.
Meanwhile, the maximum optical zoom is 15x. The zoom is configurable to perform either standard or fast zooms, and you can do a manual creeping zoom with the rocker. There’s also auto-focus, but no face recognition. And the focus-assist magnification only functions when the camera is in standby, not while it’s recording.
As for image stabilization, users say it doesn’t work as well when shooting 4K while moving, but it does smooth out shake when using telephoto. Users also report that the AG-UX90 films with quite a bit of noise in low light situations, even with SuperGain engaged.
Finally, one of the best features of the Panasonic AG-UX90 is that you can customize the majority of functions and controls on the camcorder. The built-in LCD display is a touchscreen, making it even simpler to do adjustments.
More features of the Panasonic AG-UX90 camcorder:
- Two XLR inputs and two-channel audio recording
- Battery life up to 7 hours
Panasonic HC-X1000 4K Ultra HD 60p/50p Professional Camcorder
Our final pick is also from Panasonic. Their HC-X1000 is a true 4K camcorder with pro-grade features. It weighs less than 4 pounds, making it handy and very portable for long hours of shooting. Both handles have their own sets of controls, including record buttons. And you can assign functions to buttons on the camera body, too.
If you’re filming while the camera is mounted on a tripod, you can use a smartphone or tablet to control it over Wi-Fi or NFC. All you need is the Panasonic Image app. Once installed, you can use it to start and stop recording, view a preview, and adjust zoom, focus, gain, or white balance.
When you record, you don’t need to miss an important moment because there are two SDHC/SDXC card slots for relay recording. You can transfer video by way of the HDMI, USB 3.0, or composite video ports, too.
While recording, you’ll have access to the 20x optical zoom plus 10x digital zoom, and even 40x intelligent zoom, although this last option doesn’t work while shooting 4K, only HD. Reviewers report that the optical image stabilization works quite well, too.
You can record 2-channel sound with the built-in mic, or attach up to two external microphones to the XLR inputs. The XLR ports both have +48V phantom power.
If you’re new to managing a professional camcorder, look for the switch marked iA/MANU to switch from manual control to Intelligent Auto. In Auto mode, the camera manages focus, white balance, shutter speed, ND filters, and more.
While you record, you can select from a wide range of frame rates and formats. The Panasonic HC-X1000 supports MOV, MP4, and AVCHD for wide compatibility. It can also film at 24p, 30p, 60p, and 60i, and 4K down to 720p, depending on the format you choose. Plus, you can record video in infrared, too. This is a versatile camcorder that will launch you smoothly into the world of 4K video.
More features of the Panasonic HC-X1000 camcorder:
- 3 levels of ND filters
- Lens is Leica Dicomar, f/1.8-3.6
As much as we wanted to like the Panasonic AG-UX90, it is a bit limited compared to our two other picks.
Instead, you might prefer the Panasonic HC-X1000, a full-featured 4K camcorder with features for new videographers and seasoned pros alike. With it, you can record at a variety of frame rates and resolutions in a variety of formats. You can also control the camcorder wirelessly over Wi-Fi and NFC.
If you don’t mind some limitation regarding formats, the Sony PXW-X70 is also a top choice that films beautiful 4K video. It has an HD-SDI port that makes it easily compatible with professional broadcast equipment, too.