In the world of digital video recording, Panasonic is the first to come out with the ability to shoot in 4K Ultra HD in a handheld personal camera and at an affordable price. The Panasonic HC-VX870 is a lightweight camera that has several great features, perfect to shoot personal videos while traveling. Texas TMOM, Rebecca Darling gives us a full review of the camera after shooting her way around Walt Disney World.

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Panasonic HC-VX870 4K Ultra HD Photo Credit: Panasonic

As a traveling mom, I have various ways to record and document our travels. Blogging helps me keep a written record of the amazing places we see, fun experiences we have, and unique food we try. I take a ton of great photos on both my DSLR camera and my Panasonic Lumix, and even sometimes my iPhone. And I will admit, I have been taking a great deal more video, as it’s a fun way to record my children’s reactions to all that we see. I was relying heavily on my iPhone to take video and it was “good enough”. I didn’t think I needed any better.

That opinion changed when I had the chance to review the new Panasonic HC-VX870 Ultra HD Video Camera. The quality of video is light years ahead of what I have been filming. But was it good enough to justify carrying another camera around with my when I traveled? Let’s see.

Features of the Panasonic HC-VX870

4K Ultra HD

TMOM Travel DisclosurePanasonic’s HC-VX870 is the first 4K Ultra HD consumer camcorder offered by Panasonic. What exactly is 4K? 4K has four times the resolution of Full HD – about the same resolution as movies in Hollywood are shot in. Seriously! This means the 4K camera is shooting at eight megapixels per frame rather than the two MP that HD cameras shoot in. Why is this important? Many TVs are now going to 4K . Can you imagine how great your videos will appear on a 4K TV? Even if you don’t have a 4K TV now, I imagine you will in the future. You might as well be shooting great quality video now. Also, if you shoot in 4K, you can take a still shot of your video and the picture will come out in great quality (winning soccer goal photo you want to get?).

Zoom

Beyond that, the Panasonic HC-VX870 offers a 20X Optimal Zoom. When I was at a recent trip to Walt Disney World, I was shooting video at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and had no trouble shooting video of the animals that were a bit far away. I know that when my son starts to play football in Middle School next year, it will be great to have a camera that can easily zoom in on the field when I am way up in the stands.

Image Stabilization & Built-in WiFi

For those of us who tend to shoot with shaky hands, this camera has the HYBRID OIS 5-Axis image stabilization technology so our videos are now shake-proof. And with built in WiFi, you can easily transmit video and pictures to your phone or iPad as soon as you shoot them. That is a feature I really love having. If you want to share your videos via email or social sites, this technology is great to have.

Picture-in-Picture Recording

One really neat feature of the Panasonic HC-VX870 is the ability to shoot picture-in-picture with the camera. With the WiFi feature, you can record one angle from your smartphone while shoot another angle. I’ll admit, I was doubtful I would ever use this feature until I thought of all the possibilities. Imagine two different angles to capture your child’s winning home run – the close-up swing and the full angle of the field. Or maybe you’d like to get two angles of the Grand Canyon and have your child narrate (there is a special microphone for narrating on the camera) where they are and what they are doing.  I have also read that this feature can be used as baby monitor as well.

Is the Panasonic HC-VX870 Easy to Use?

Camera Set-up

One of my biggest concerns with new technology is how complex and difficult some equipment can be. With so many bells and whistles on the Panasonic HC-VX870, I was afraid it would be a steep uphill climb to learn how to set it up and use it.  I was happily surprised at how intuitive the camera is.  A full battery charge and a new SD card were all that was required to begin shooting video. Now, I did read the manual to adjust a few settings, but all in all, the camera was very easy to set up. It took us less than 10 minutes to make the adjustments and get going.

Camera Shooting

AS I mentioned, changing the setting was easy with the Multi-Manual Dial. Shooting video was even easier as you simply open the LCD screen and press the record button. Can’t get any more simpler than that.

But what is most impressive is the quality of video. The colors are brilliant. The sound is picked up easily. Every image, no matter how much lighting we had, is crisp and clear. I was very surprised at the difference between video shot on my iPhone versus on the Panasonic HC-VX870.

Uploading Video

Whether to my iPhone or my computer (I have a MacBook Pro), I found uploading video to be very easy. There are step-by-step instructions to connect to your smartphone and upload video.  And to my computer, it was essentially plug and play. I can not speak to Windows-based computers, but I imagine it is fairly simple to figure out.  Also, you will want movie making software to create movies with your newly created videos. It is also very easy to plug the camera directly into an HD-TV and watch your clips from there.

Summary

The biggest question for me was am I really going to carry around another camera? After seeing the amazing quality of video, that answer rings loud & clear to me: YES! Take a look at some video I shot from my recent trip trip to Walt Disney World:

Nighttime Celebrate the Magic Show at Magic Kingdom:

The Tree of Life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

Eating New Foods in Epcot’s World Showcase:

If you are taking the time to go on vacation, not to mention spending the money to go, why not capture your memories on something more than your smartphone?  These memories are precious – don’t rely on shaky, low-lite video when you can crisply capture the smiles the first time your child rides Dumbo, the excitement of them zip-lining across the canyon, the joy of jumping through the waves of the ocean, or the awe at seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. Capture these memories for a lifetime.