The Panasonic HC-V250 and HC-V550 are neat, small and affordable camcorders that shoot Full HD. I’ve used Panasonic camcorders on my workshops and training for years and I find them reliable and well designed. I currently use the HC-V510 which is an older, no wi-fi version of the V550.
One thing I like about both these cameras is that the zoom is a genuine wide angle, going to the equivalent of 28mm. For filmmaking, the wide setting is more important than having a really long telephoto setting. 28mm is good for shooting handheld and in confined spaces, and making things look dramatic.
Panasonic’s image stabilisation is very good, which is important for small cameras that you’re likely to use handheld a lot. Both cameras have wifi that lets you use a phone or tablet as a remote viewfinder and to control the camera. And you can set focus, white balance, aperture and shutter speed manually.
What’s the difference?
As you can see they’re almost identical. The more expensive V-550 has more advanced image stabilisation, and a ‘level shot’ function which is missing on the cheaper model. It’s also got a larger, higher resolution touchscreen. It’s slightly bigger and heavier (though they’re both small and light).
- Wide angle lens
- Good image stabilisation
- Manual controls
- There’s no built-in memory so you’ll need to factor in the price of an SD card.
- Small camcorders like these aren’t great in low light.