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Panasonic HX-WA20 Video Camera Expert Review

Panasonic HX-WA20

Rating: ★★★★★

Design & Feel

The Panasonic HX-WA20 is a lightweight camcorder with a pistol grip design which sits perfectly in the palm of your hand.

It’s sleek and easy-grip design allows for effortless usability and is so small you can carry it around in your pocket or handbag, meaning it’s always to hand for capturing those special moments.

The beveled edge on the right side of the unit, as well as the screen’s position to the left appears to favour itself towards a right handed user. Having said that, it’s still perfectly suitable for a left handed user as well.

The HX-WA20 is a full HD camcorder with a 28mm super wide angle lens (35mm equivalent) and comes complete with a large, clear 3 inch LCD display.

It’s targeted at an ‘active’ audience, which means it’s ideal for use in dusty and wet environments. The HX-WA20 is waterproof up to 3 metres, which also makes it perfect for your snorkelling holiday. Being water and sand resistant, this camera a great companion for a beach holiday or when filming in the rain at a sporting event for example!

Features & Performance

One of the big sellers for this Panasonic camcorder is that it claims you can use it up to three metres underwater, so if you enjoy water activities, you’ll love the capabilities of the HX-WA20.

The menu options are well laid out and very easy to navigate through. They offer many good preset options as well as automatic modes such as white balance, ISO and exposure settings. You can choose to select the settings manually to suit your environment too and you can operate buttons to control zoom, slow motion settings as well as video and still image capturing modes.

Video recording includes two slow-motion modes, 240 fps (640 x 360) for 15 seconds, or 480 fps (320 x 180) for 15 seconds. The 240fps mode captures fantastic slow motion footage but at 480fps, I noticed some considerable deterioration in the picture quality. This meant I rarely used the 480 fps and kept to the 240 fps, which provided smooth, slow motion recordings.

The HX-WA20 can also capture 10 consecutive images (at 3-megapixel resolution) at 1-second intervals.  It can do this for a total of 40 continuous images in about 4 seconds. This is fantastic for fast action shots so you don’t miss a great photo opportunity.

The HX-WA20 comes complete with a 5x optical zoom.  This allows you to get up close to your subject, making it ideal for sports and wildlife shooting.  Plus, with the Intelligent 15x Zoom, you can shoot faraway subjects with minimal loss of quality, especially when the optical image stabiliser is turned on.

It has an impressive 16 megapixel capability, meaning I was able to capture extremely high quality still images with sharp details and contrasting colours, particularly in well lit environments.

Because it doesn’t have a touchscreen display, you’ll need to activate the menu with a button and navigate through the menus with a thumb joystick. This control method is fairly straight forward to use most of the time, but when I was in a hurry, I sometimes found I selected the wrong option.

The 360°/180° panorama shooting was great, all I had to do was move the camera up, down, left or right.

I’m particularly sold on the camcorders ability to capture video and still images with amazing detail and quality. Moreover, I absolutely loved the slow motion mode, which I used an awful lot!

Another thing I loved about this camcorder is the ability to shoot the minute you open the LCD screen. The unit immediately powers up without the need to press the power on button so you are can start shooting straight away. Plus, when you close the screen, it automatically powers the camcorder off. This is a very powerful tool that saves times when you need it most!

File Recording & Sharing

The HX-WA20 records in MP4 format which means you can easily transfer them straight to your PC and upload them to the internet.

Also, if you set up to shoot in iFrame mode, the footage can immediately be uploaded to iMovie, edited and shared with friends and family via social networking sites and YouTube. Sharing on your computer is so easy, simply connect the HX-WA20 via USB to be able to select the video you wish to upload and share.

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Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Dust proof
  • Slow motion features
  • Intelligent 15x Zoom
  • 5x optical zoom

Cons

  • Poor picture quality at 480 fps (320 x 180)

Verdict

To sum up, the Panasonic HX WA20 sleek design not only looks great, is very easy to use and has some great automatic and manual features, but it’s waterproof and has brilliant slow motion functionality and all this comes with a fairly low price tag!

This camcorder is definitely worth a look if you love outdoor activities or you are an adventure lover and never want to miss a moment worth recording!

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