April 09, 2014

Panasonic HX-A500 4K action cam

The world’s first 4K 25p/30p wearable camcorder has been launched by Panasonic, as part of a growing Ultra HD ecosystem that encompasses home cinema, professional monitors, a new prosumer 4K DSLR (the GH4), and its 4K VariCam 35broadcast camera launched at NAB.

The new, lightweight HX-A500 UHD action cam can also record HD at 50p, and is waterproof (to 3m for 30 minutes) and dustproof.

It features the umbilical design Panasonic has used previously for miniature cameras, with the 31g camera connected via a cable to the 119g operating and recording unit, which has a built-in 1.5-inch LCD monitor.

The HX-A500 can connect via WiFi to a smartphone or tablet, and be used with Panasonic’s Image App to record and edit video remotely, share the result via social media, and transmit it live using UStream.

It uses a new high-speed image processor, Crystal Engine Pro+, with a new high sensitivity BSI sensor for low light. Other features include: Levelling Correction, Image Stabilisation and Loop recording.

The HX-A500 will be available from May priced $400/£380, and can be fitted with a wide range of optional accessories, such as: a new clip mount to easily attach the camera to a helmet or bag; or the ‘multi-case’ to combine the main unit, camera and cable into one body for single-handed use.

“We’ve seen the action camcorder market grow year on year as people look to share their activities and capture the action in the best picture quality possible,” said Matt Evans, Camcorder Product Manager, Panasonic UK.

“4K is the next step in video capture and when combined with the ability to use a point-of-view camcorder we begin to push the boundaries of videography. The HX-A500 has the benefit of a lightweight lens piece, just 31g, which means using it becomes unobtrusive and it adds no significant bulk or weight to the user. This is a key point when you consider that an action camcorder will be used during an activity, such as skiing or sailing, so the less weight, or size, the better the experience.”

4K ecosystem

Besides the HX-A500, which is aimed at consumers, although professional users will probably find it equally useful, Panasonic has announced a host of 4K-enabled devices and technologies for the European consumer market, from TV sets (the UHD VIERA AX802 series feature HDMI 2.0 and 4K up-scaling) to up-scaling Blu-ray Disc Players and home theatre systems, and 4K-capable SD cards.

HDMI 2.0 allows 4K content to be transmitted at up to 60fps (the AX802 series also has a 60p-capable DisplayPort terminal for connecting to PCs or video games systems). The sets are also compatible with the HEVC encoding standard being adopted for Ultra HD.

Panasonic has also launched a new 4K-enabled stills/movie camera, the Lumix DMC-GH4, its most advanced Digital Single Lens Mirrorless (DSLM) interchangeable lens camera to date. The micro four-thirds lens mount camera can record 4K 24/25/30p video with a bitrate of 100Mbps (IPB) and is priced for prosumer use - it is currently available for pre-order at $1,700, £1,300 (inc VAT) or €1,499.

By David Fox

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