Panasonic HX-A500 Camera Review
Adventurous Joes out there like to record their escapees these days and are happy to pay premium prices to do it properly. So we went out and tested the all new Panasonic HX-A500 point-of-view wearable camera to see if it’s fit for purchase. The first every 4K action cam. Here’s what we thought of it!
The Panasonic HX-A500 is the first wearable Ultra HD camcorder, and it’s capable of capturing footage at 25fps. That’s a big advantage over competing action cams like the GoPro Hero3+ (though the 4 now offers this) or Camileo X-Sports as its rivals are still stuck with boring old 1080p, while the HX-A500 offers premium 4K recording. This is delivered by Crystal Engine Pro+, which, Panasonic say, ‘provides outstanding image processing’. We must say, we found the footage extraordinarily crisp and clear and it coped with fast motion capturing expertly. The only issue is the audio which is notoriously average in POV cams.
Like the Panasonic HX-A100, the camera comes in two parts: the camera lens and the main operating unit, with the two connected by a 70cm cable. You wear the camera lens on your head and then wear the operating unit in the supplied armband. The head mount that’s included positions the camera next to your left ear, which means it captures your point of view as you move through the world.
The lens unit weighs in at just 31g and the main body is only 119g – that’s very light. And you notice it. It means the HX-A500 is very comfortable to wear. The only issue we could find was that the connecting cable could be longer as it could potentially restrict movement during certain activities. It’s also a shame that there’s no shirt clip provided to stop the cable from moving around. Having said that, the headband is adjustable and the Velcro on the armband was secure, so we were never concerned about the camera or the main body coming loose.
Being for you explorers out there, The A500 is naturally designed to enable underwater recording for 30 minutes at 3 metres, as well as dustproofing which allows you to actively use the camera at the beach and other places like deserts and old abandoned warehouses. The battery life is also impressive at around 3 hours using normal recording settings.
Unlike others on the market, the Panasonic HX-A500 also had a 1.5inch LCD screen built into the main unit that controls the settings and you can use to frame your shot. Operations are performed using the joystick beneath the LCD. The screen is a great addition and is extremely functional when wanting to frame your shot properly. The joystick is a little small and fiddly but understandably so given the cameras size and weight.
The HX-A500 also has Wifi capabilities that allow real-time broadcasting which means you can distribute your videos on the Internet while recording. You can play back recordings on the main unit and extract selected sequences. If you have an Android smartphone or tablet with NFC (near field communication) capabilities, you can just install the HX-A500 app and connect your smart device to A500 in one-touch. It’s very easy to use.
There are, of course, some optional mounts you can purchase that might come in useful, such as the the handlebar mount – which comes in around £30, the suction cup mount – around £40, and the multi mount – roughly £25. We haven’t got our hands on any of these but we’re certain they’d be worth it at those prices. Though remember, this only mounts the camera part and not the screen / box, which is obviously attached by a short cable. And for us that is the main issue here. Whilst as a wearable device it is one of the very best. Super light and very comfortable, but the Panaasonic HX-A500 just isn’t quite an all-rounder. A detachable wire which could be made longer would help.
Overall, we loved the Panasonic HX-A500. It was comfortable to use and produced some flawless video footage, even if the audio wasn’t as pristine. We’d have liked more mountings to come as a standard, and more ability to hold both the camera and main housing. Also the cylinder like shape of the camera means it is very difficult to align it upright correctly. If you are looking for a POV camera though, there really is no current substitute. You can find out more from the www.panasonic.co.uk/a500 .