Panasonic WX970 Brief Review


REVIEW SUMMARY

Specifications

  • 8.29 megapixel 1/2.3” backlit CMOS sensor
  • 4k 30 fps video
  • 1080p HD video at 50 fps and 28 Mbps (slow motion up to 120 fps)
  • Maximum aperture f1.8-f3.6
  • 20x optical zoom
  • Sub-camera with 5.27 megapixel 1/4” CMOS sensor and f2.2 lens
  • Shutter speed 1/25-1/8000
  • Hybrid optical image stabilization
  • High Dynamic Range Video
  • Manual ring
  • 3” touchscreen LCD
  • Li-ion battery rated at 55 minutes of recording
  • Weighs .794 lbs (360g)
  • Release Date: 2015-01-05
  • Final Grade: 90 4.5 Star Rating: Recommended


4K becomes more accessible with the Panasonic WX970
One of two 4K camcorders for about $1k introduced in January 2015, high resolution is slowly becoming more affordable for the average consumer.
By Hillary Grigonis, Last updated on: 5/21/2016

Hey! You should know that Panasonic has released a newer version of this product: the Panasonic HC-WXF991.

4K is gradually becoming more and more accessible to the average consumer. Where 4K meant about $4K just two years ago, the Panasonic WX970 is one of two $1K 4K camcorders introduced in January 2014, alongside the Sony AX33.

The Panasonic WX970 replaces the WX920, an HD camcorder that uses three sensors instead of one. The new WX970 uses a 1/2.3" sensor capable of 4k video at 30 fps. That powerful image sensor is combined with a 20x optical zoom and optical image stabilization. The WX970 also keeps the secondary sub-camera, used to capture picture-in-picture footage without any editing. The sub-camera can face backwards, recording the videographer, to the side or to the front.

Panasonic has also added to new features across most of their 2015 line-up, including high dynamic range videography. Dynamic range refers to the different extremes of light; High dynamic range recording allows for better video quality in high contrast situations. (You can preview the effect with a video comparing the same feature on the Panasonic V770). Panasonic's wi-fi app will now allow their latest cameras to use a smartphone as a sub-camera for more versatile picture-in-picture recording.

The X970 looks to be an excellent upgrade to the X920 that we reviewed last year, with the higher-resolution 4K. But as the technology becomes more accessible and more affordable, which of the two $1,000 options offer the most bang for the buck? The Sony AX33 has a 1" sensor, which is quite a bit larger than the X970's 1/2.3". While both have 4K resolution, the larger sensor will perform better in low lighting conditions. The Sony AX33 looks to have a slight edge in overall video quality, including the ability to shoot regular HD video at a huge 100 Mbps bit rate. But, the Panasonic X970 has the better zoom out of the two as well as the sub-camera, plus weighs half of the AX33's bulkier 1 pound, 5 ounce heft.

You could also save about $100 by going with the Panasonic VX870, which is the same model except it lacks the secondary camera.

Overall, the X970 looks to be an excellent camera, just be sure to compare closely with the Sony AX33 and decide which features are more important before you buy.


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