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Panasonic HX-WA2 Active HD Waterproof Camcorder Expert Review

Panasonic HX-WA2

Rating: ★★★★☆

If you are looking for a camcorder that’s ideal for the pool and the beach, then look no further than the Panasonic HX-WA2.  It’s a great lightweight and waterproof (up to 3 metres) camcorder that lets you record Full HD movies and shoot 14 megapixel still photos.

Design

The Panasonic HX-WA2 is an upright Full HD waterproof (up to 3 metres) camcorder that’s great for active users. Available in either blue or orange and weighing in at a mere 259g (with battery and memory card), the unique pistol grip design fits perfectly in your hand for a snug hold and is ideal for adventure lovers who want to capture all the action. The unit does appear to favour right-handed users, as it feels slightly more difficult to operate when zooming and pressing record with the thumb in the left hand.

The large 2.6 inch flip out screen is flexible and tilts and turns as far as 285 degrees, allowing you to easily view your footage whilst filming and during playback.

A built in speaker is found on the left side of the camera body and a microphone in the back of the display. Behind the display are four buttons: power on/off, menu, camera/playback/mode and Intelligent Auto. On the bottom of the unit, you’ll find the tripod mount.

The joystick sits at the back of the unit and is used for navigating the menu and making adjustments. You’ll also find the zoom buttons, video record and photo shutter buttons, zoom range button, status indicator light and the port/battery compartment.

The WA2 comes complete with HDMI Micro and mini-USB ports, battery and SD card slot as well as a very small amount of internal memory. Compatible memory cards for this camcorder are SD/SDHC/SDXC.

Features

With 14 megapixel high-resolution, the WA2 allows you to capture high quality photos and Full HD (1920 x 1080) videos with stereo sound. The 5x optical zoom lets you get up close to your subjects without disturbing them, which is ideal for sports and wildlife shooting. Plus, thanks to Panasonic’s intelligent zoom system, this is boosted to 15x with minimal loss of quality.

Another great feature that works best for action shots is the electrical image stabiliser (EIS). This enables you to capture incredible crisp shots with minimal blurring.

The WA2 comes with dynamic 360°/180° panoramic shooting. Operation is so easy to do, simply swing the camera up, down, left or right and you are able to capture vertical or horizontal images seamlessly and effortlessly.

For the more creative photographers out there, be sure to try the HDR (Backlight Compensation) feature. It combines three images taken in rapid succession at different exposures and forms one image with full-blown colour and sharp details.

For low light environments, the built-in flash at the front of the camera really comes into its own. It allows you to capture crisp shots and ensure your video action is perfectly lit without any noise normally caused in low light situations without the flash function. A great addition not normally found on handheld camcorders.

The HX-WA2 records using the MPEG-4 format.

Performance

This camcorder comes packed with some useful and creative features. It has manual focus and exposure options as well as electronic image stabilization settings, although I didn’t really notice any huge visible benefits of these options.

The buttons for operating the camcorder were a bit flimsy and on the small side, often resulting in the wrong options being chosen and becoming quite fiddly to use.

However, colour reproduction was quite impressive, providing rich and vibrant images and footage with excellent saturation. Low light performance on this camera was quite good as well, producing very little noise.

Underwater images were rich with colour and had very little noise. The ability to go in and out of the water, without the need for special waterproof housing is a bonus.

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Pros

  • Waterproof (up to 3 metres)
  • Active Full HD
  • HDR (Backlight Compensation)
  • 14-megapixel high-resolution
  • 5 x Optical Zoom

Cons

  • Flimsy controls
  • Very small buttons

Verdict

If you’re looking for a small camcorder that’s great for filming and still shooting with lots of features and you can take with you on the beach, then the HX-WA2 may be your perfect companion.

You’ll be guaranteed to produce some top quality footage and detailed still images of your day.

 

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