Panasonic HX-A500: A 4K action cam with full HD resolution – UPDATED for 2017

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With the ever-growing popularity of Facebook, YouTube and other social networking sites, a lot of people have developed the look-at-me attitude.  It is no longer strange for people to post photos and videos of themselves doing all sorts of things for their friends, and even for the world, to see.

And if people think that their friends are interested in what they had for lunch and how it was served on a plate, what more if they are jumping out of planes or skiing down a steep mountain slope?

So the action cam was born. This camera is a wearable camera that allows you to capture your activities and antics for the entire world to see.  And when it comes to action cameras, Panasonic wants you to buy its HX-A500.

The basics

The Panasonic HX-A500 is a wearable camera that allows you to record action and sports shots, and videos.  Unlike most wearable cameras, the HX-A500 features a two-piece form factor where you have the camera and a computing box separate from each other.  This way, you can mount the camera easily while still having enough resources to store and process your videos and photos.  What’s more, this would help keep the weight distributed.

The camera portion of the HX-A500 weighs only about 30 grams and measures 2.70 inches long and 1.04 inches wide. The main unit is 2.34 inches wide, 3.70 inches high and 1.05 inches thick.  It also weighs around 120 grams.  And it features a 1.5-inch display.

The camera is waterproof, which means that you could take it with you into the water.  However, you can take it only until 10 feet deep.  Aside from that, it is also dust proof.

The Panasonic HX-A500 will sell for $399.99 by June 2014, although you could pre-order at the Panasonic Web site at http://shop.panasonic.com/shop/model/HX-A500H.

The camera is pretty straightforward.  You just mount it and start shooting.  You can use the LCD monitor to operate it.  You can instantly check if you are getting the right frame and field of view.  You can also change the setting using the LCD monitor.

The camera may be mounted using the head mount at both ears and at the back of your head.  This ensures that you are able to wear the camera comfortably.  Aside from the head mount, you also have an armband case for the main unit.  There are also a lot of different accessories for your Panasonic HX-A500, such as a new clip mount, a multi case and a multi belt.  This way, you can use your HX-A500 in more ways.  Having different mounts can help you shoot with your camera in different positions and several situations.

There is also the tripod mount that helps you capture scenes in a fixed-point setting.  The Wind Jammer, on the other hand, helps you get clearer audio by shielding the microphone from the wind and is especially useful if you mount the HX-A500 on your motorcycle or bicycle and when shooting on windy days.

You can also use the video camera mount on the handlebars for motorcycle / bicycle rides that you want to film, while the suction cup mount helps you mount the camera on any flat surface such as your boat or your car’s dashboard.

The camera

the-camera

The Panasonic HX-A500 comes with a 12.8 megapixel camera that features a 1/2.3-inch-type BSI MOS sensor.  But what does this BSI sensor do?  It helps you shoot with higher sensitivity, which results in images that have less noise even when you shoot at night, indoors or in other low light conditions.  With a BSI sensor on board, the Panasonic HX-A500 is guaranteed to deliver great images.

The HX-A500 shoots in ultra HD, with resolutions up to 3,840 pixels by 2,160 pixels at 25 frames per second.  This is Panasonic’s second 4K camera after the HX-4500.  There are slow motion capture options.  You can get 50 frames per second with resolutions of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels.  Other configurations are:

  • 100 frames per second at 1280 pixels by 720 pixels
  • 200 frames per second at 848 pixels by 480 pixels

It uses MP4 files with an MPEG-4 using H.264 and AVC codec.

The camera on the HX-A500 also has an image stabilizer on board, with a 160-degree angle of view.  It has a fixed focus, f stop 2.8 aperture lens.  It comes with several white balance presets:

  • Auto
  • Indoor1
  • Indoor2
  • Sunny
  • Cloudy
  • White

Moreover, shutter speed is changeable from 1/25th to 1/12,000.

Also, you get to use the Crystal Engine Pro+ to process your images and videos.  The new Crystal Engine Pro+ engine allows you to process videos and photos faster.  The new engine is around 1.5 times quicker than the previous engine used by Panasonic.  It also delivers top-notch capabilities when it comes to handling super high-resolution videos.

Additionally, you get to use the camera’s levelling correction feature that detects whether you are recording at an angle and adjusts the final images so that it does not look odd.

The battery

The Panasonic HX-A500 uses a 1450 mAh internal battery, which might be a suitable battery for smartphones, but might not be enough for an action camera.  So you may want to bring your charger along.

Connectivity

The HX-A500 makes use of Wi-Fi and near field communications (NFC) to connect with other mobile devices. The near field communication chip allows you to pair your Panasonic HX-A500 with compatible devices with just one tap.  You do not have to go through the process of pairing via Bluetooth and keying in pairing codes.

Plus, you will love that you are able to transfer files between your HX-A500 to a compatible device more quickly because a Wi-Fi connection has more bandwidth than your regular Bluetooth connection.

Mobile app

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Panasonic Image App for Android.

PanasonicImageApp-iOS

Panasonic Image App for iOS.

You can use the Panasonic Image App for both Android and iOS devices to edit your videos.  You can also use these mobile apps to record videos remotely or to share your videos.

The app also allows you to pinpoint highlights in your videos and having it edited into a single click.  You get a highlight video of all the videos you have taken and you can then share it.

Other useful features of the mobile app include:

  1. Being able to view, playback and delete photos and videos on your camera.
  2. Allowing you to download the photos and videos onto your smartphone.
  3. You can use the near field communication chip to transfer photos and videos to your phone just by tapping your camera and your phone together.

Sharing

You can stream your videos on uStream, so that you can get people to watch your videos as it happens when it happens.  Other than uStream, you can also share your photos and videos on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social networking sites.

The bottom line

Here are the good things about the Panasonic HX-A500:

Waterproof_and_Dustproof

 

High_Quality_4K_Recording

  1. You can use it to record underwater scenes for 10 feet for 30 minutes.
  2. You can take it to the beach or the desert because it is dustproof.
  3. You get the best resolutions that is four times better, clearer and crisper than full high definition resolution.
  4. You can use the Panasonic HX-A500 to help you improve your game.  Using the slow motion function, you can analyze your golf swing or basketball shots!
  5. You can take the camera part and put it in more interesting places, such as small spaces that other bulkier cameras cannot get into.
  6. You can also use the camera to view things that may not be easily viewed.  For example, you could put the camera part over the wall while you check out what is beyond the wall with the LCD display on the main unit.

The downsides?

  1. Because of its setup, wherein you have the camera and the main unit connected by a wire, it is much more complex as a form factor than other wearable cameras.  Plus, you cannot extend the wire if you need to and it could easily break.
  2. It has a capped variable bit rate, which puts it at a disadvantage when being compared to other action cameras such as GoPro’s Hero 3+.
  3. It might not be as compatible with other camera formats because it does not have a flat picture profile.
  4. Battery life might prove to be short, and this can be annoying.

The thing with Panasonic HX-A500 is that it is the first 4K camera that allows you to record super resolution videos at 25 frames per second.  The GoPro Hero3+ is limited at 15 frames per second.  As an action cam, it delivers great videos even if you are shooting action shots with fast and high-speed scenes.  Moreover, Panasonic has not stop at just having a great 12-megapixel camera on board, it also included great image enhancing capabilities and features such as the BSI sensor and the Crystal Engine Pro+.  This is why you can get clear videos of high speed scenes even with less than ample lighting.  You can even capture sudden movements crisply and clearly.

That in itself is reason enough for you to buy the Panasonic HX-A500 when it becomes available!

Photos courtesy of Panasonic, Google Play and Apple App Store.

 

UPDATED FOR 2017

This review that was originally written in 2014 has been updated for 2017.

 

In today’s social media dominant age, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, along with many such platforms, have taken over our everyday lives. People want their friends, families and others to have a glimpse of their personal lives. It is no longer a strange thing to be updated with your friend or family member’s day to day activities.

Most people are of the opinion that if everybody is so interested in what they are eating or wearing, wouldn’t they be more engaged by adventurous activities. What if people could see you diving out of a plane or scaling a mountain slope?

That is exactly the idea behind the action cam. It is a camera that allows you to capture and record your adventurous excursions and activities on a regular basis. The world will be able to witness it through this camera. Now, there are many of these available, but Panasonic takes the lead when it comes to action cams. The HX-A500 is a smart choice.

Basics

The Panasonic HX-A500 is a one of a kind wearable camera that allows people to record their action videos and sport adventures. This is not like most wearable cameras, in the sense that it comes with a two piece formation where the camera and computing system are separate from each other. It makes it easier for the user to mount the device easily and gives them enough resources to store or process their pictures as well as videos. An additional perk of the separate camera and computer is that the weight is evenly distributed.

This lightweight device is quite ingenious in design and results. The camera part only weighs around 30 grams and measures 2.70 inches long and 1.04 inches wide. Featuring a 1.5 inch display, the other computing unit is 3.70 inches high and 1.05 inches thick. The Panasonic HX-A500 has been designed in a way that it can be mounted literally anywhere. It is versatile and lightweight, and comes along with accessories that provide various mounting options.

It is water proof and dust proof, which means you, can carry it around for adventure sports or activities. You can easily navigate it, since the camera only needs to be mounted and it starts shooting. The LCD monitor can be used to monitor the videos or pictures, and settings can be adjusted accordingly. Users may also check for appropriate shooting angles and frames before beginning.

One of the best parts of this camera is the head mount option. It is what makes the device better than every other ones in the market. The head mount allows you to wear the camera around your head and ears. The headband is adjustable and highly secure. Other than that, you can also use the armband for the main unit. Panasonic offers several accessories for the HX-A500, like the clip mount and multi belt. These mounts enable users to shoot from different angles and positions.

For fixed points, you can bring out the tripod and if there is windy outside, you can employ the Wind Jammer, which protects the microphone from the wind and ensures clear audio. You can also mount the camera on your bicycle or motorcycle with a convenient surface.

The Camera

When it comes to the actual camera, the Panasonic HX-A500 features a 12.8 megapixel camera with a 1/2.3-inch-type BSI MOS sensor. The microphone shaped unit has a fixed focus semi fisheye lens in the front that can cover a focus distance of 20 inches. The sensor allows you to shoot easily in places with high sensitivity, which means that you get clear images even during night shoots or low light conditions. A great image at the end is a guarantee.

The HX-A500 has a full HD resolution that goes up to 3,840 pixels by 2,160 pixels at 25 frames per second. With this, Panasonic has successfully brought out their second 4K camera after the launch of HX-4500.

The camera allows slow motion captures with a setting of 50 frames per second and resolutions of 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels. There are other settings which can also be configured, such as:

-200 frames per second at 848 pixels by 480 pixels

-100 frames per second at 1280 pixels by 720 pixels

As far as the camera settings are concerned, it comes with an image stabilizer and a view angle of 160 degrees. There are many presets balances which can be activated, like, white, cloudy, indoor1, indoor2, sunny and auto. The shutter speed of this device ranges in between 1/25th to 1/12,000. Its software comprises of MP4 files as well as an MPEG-4 setting that uses AVC Codec and H.264.

You will also be able to enjoy the processing program Crystal Engine Pro+. It is the best one around and allows users to process their photos and videos very quickly. There is also an additional camera levelling features that will set up the shot according to an angle.

Connectivity

There is Wi-Fi connectivity and the feature to transfer files without Bluetooth pairing. You can do it within minutes via the connection. You can also use the app to edit or share videos. The app allows users to download and share videos or picture to their smartphones instantly.

The Bottom Line

It can be said that this is one of the best devices in the market currently. It comes with a battery of 1450 mAh and may require a charger at times. The image capturing capabilities are top notch and you can take it under water or to the beach for up to 30 minutes. You can shoot anything from any angle. The almost negligible downside to it is the wire which cannot be extended.

Sometimes, the battery life may also prove to be shorter. Other than that, there is no reason why you shouldn’t buy this camera. It will help you improve your game and visibility by far more than you can image. The Panasonic HX-A500 retails for a price of $199.99 and above.

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