Monday, January 30, 2023
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Panasonic WXF991 Review

Let’s start with the most appealing choice, which is 4K, or UHD 4K. As of this writing, the Sony AX33 is the only camera on the market that can shoot 4K like the WXF991K. The Panasonic is closer to $900 than the Sony, which costs about $800.

In actuality, these two models only differ in two key ways. The Panasonic features a second camera on the flip-out display that can be oriented towards the camera operator, to the side, or forward for capturing pictures in pictures, whereas the Sony only has a 10x optical zoom. The Panasonic also has a 20x optical zoom. The Sony only has one conventional lens.

Who is that second camera for, was the main query we received regarding the WXF991K? To come up with some situations where the second camera might be useful, it needed some time and innovative thinking. Although we’re not entirely sure Panasonic had a specific user in mind when they created the functionality, we ultimately came up with several workable use cases.

The first is the amateur videographer who attempts to record the entire scene, including the camera operator. The next person created prank videos or other comparable stuff to give viewers a peek behind the scenes. Finally, we may consider this a wonderful choice for a vlogger who wants to include a picture of themselves along with whatever they are discussing.

The dual camera was quite tough to use when we were controlling the camera. It is printed in the video and may be seen onscreen as a picture-in-picture element. One-fifth of your photo is taken up by a close-up of you when the picture-in-picture feature is activated since it cannot be deleted in post-production. Additionally, it’s not a particularly attractive angle.

We would think that many people who enjoy shooting video, at least to some extent, enjoy being in the background and not in front of the lens. Despite all the discomfort, you do have some alternatives for that second perspective since the camera can swivel to film in front of, behind, or toward the camera operator. When you rotate the camera out of selfie mode, the twin camera will automatically switch on.

Another noteworthy choice is the ability to track, stabilize, zoom, and trim a 4K shot into HD all within the camera. It takes your 4K video and gives you the option to zoom into a certain area, choose the zoom speed, and create a new movie all within the camera.

Stabilization, tracking, or a pseudo-dolly shot can all be done in the same way. Additionally, you can take 60 frames per second HD clip and then, on the camera, slow it down to 24 frames per second for a slow-motion shot; this is approximately three times slow motion. If you don’t want to utilize a computer to carry out those adjustments, they are actually quite practical solutions.

Performance

Since we are working video professionals, it might be a pain to utilize a camera that is solely designed for consumers. We only wish we had more manual control over the camera, which isn’t to say that it isn’t a nice camera.

With the WXF991K, exposure and focus cannot be manually adjusted. It can only change the gain, which is its sole exposure tool. Gain may add undesirable noise to your image, so we wanted to evaluate how sensitive it was in low-light conditions.

We tested it in low light conditions using all of its gain levels: 0, +6, +8, +10, +12, and +18 dB. We discovered that any gain levels over +6db were too noisy. There must be enough light for the dB level to not need to rise over +6 for the image to appear its best.

This is some guidance if you want outcomes that are professional. Pushing it up to +10db may be OK if the camera is to be used to record memories and some noise is acceptable. The other gain levels will also work if all you need to do is record the incident and capture the moment. +18db enables photography in quite dim conditions, although the image will appear too noisy.

We too had a problem with some really bad moire. The moire was noticeable and rather distracting in the majority of the scenarios we photographed. The moire was powerful enough to strain your eyes when tested on some coarse cloth.

The entire screen danced with the delicate lines in a broad view of a structure. This can be a huge problem, depending on the device it would be seen on. Even with sufficient lighting, the shot will be poor.

The moving shutter was the last thing we wanted to try. Straight lines appear like rubber or Jell-O when using a rolling shutter, which creates rapid pan or tilt movements. The WXF-991K didn’t experience the rolling shutter effect all that much. It is anticipated to experience some problems due to its rolling shutter, but things might be far worse.

THE 20X OPTICAL ZOOM IS A REALLY NICE FEATURE THAT WE FOUND VALUABLE.

The 20X optical zoom is a pretty excellent function that we thought was helpful. The lens’s throw is exceptionally great, extending from an effective focal length of 30 mm to 626 mm. That implies that, aside from the increased difficulty in maintaining a steady shot, it is not a major deal if you are far away.

This is a significant competitive advantage over the Sony AX33, which has a 10x optical zoom but only half the performance. As a result, you can only reach objects that are halfway distant. A 10x optical zoom might not be sufficient to allow the subject to fill the frame while photographing sports from the stands.

The Experience of Shooting

The first day we took the camera outside, there was a lot of wind. In fact, the wind was so strong that it almost knocked our tripod over when we first put the camera on it. The camera is composed of plastic and is quite basic; it is neither sturdy nor hefty.

Its lack of heft makes it simple to bump while trying to select the focus point because it uses a touchscreen to operate the focus. For the first half of our shoot day, the clouds were out, giving us lovely diffused light, and the camera worked well. If you could look past the moire, the image shone in soft, steady lighting.

It was the ideal opportunity to test the wind reduction feature with the built-in microphone because of how windy it was. Without it, the wind made the audio worthless, but with it on, the issue was considerably diminished even though you could still hear the wind pass past the microphone’s diaphragm. It wasn’t a panacea for windy conditions, but it sufficed.

When we were filming at another time, there were many sunny days with no wind or clouds. This is when we realized the dynamic range, or lack thereof, of the camera. The shadows were thick and distinct since the sun was high in the sky.

With some detail still there in the highlights, the camera didn’t capture much detail in the shadows. Due to the camera’s auto exposure feature, a little adjustment in framing might produce a significant change in exposure, depending on the size and amount of dark areas in the image.

As a consumer camera, we don’t believe that anyone wanting to buy this camera would be worried about the amount of dynamic range. This camera is not a good option if the dynamic range is important to you.

Pricing in the Market

Currently, there aren’t many 4K dedicated camcorders on the market. Currently, only the WXF991K and the AX33 occupy this area. Their MSRPs are comparable, with the Sony being a little less expensive ($800) than the Panasonic ($900). With the exception of the optical zoom and second camera, their features are identical.

The Panasonic is more adaptable thanks to the optical zoom, however, we wouldn’t say the double camera is worth the additional expense. Does that one choice merit $100? Depending on who you are, I will respond to that. Consider your needs and if a wide zoom range is necessary.

If so, $150 is not an unreasonable price to demand a doubled focus length. The dual camera is at best a curiosity and caters to a very small subset of user types. Unless you have a special purpose for it, it is not worth paying more for.

It’s for whom?

This camera might be useful for a wide range of people. Beginner filmmakers who wish to create short tales at home with little to no team in 4K may suit the bill, as would a home video camera. Due to its compact factor and available features, it is ideal for family and holiday photography.

The simplicity of the camera and the resolution match nicely for the YouTuber who wants to create but doesn’t want to be forced into using manual settings and the social media enthusiast who needs something to make time for daily material.

The WXF991 would also work for a vacation videographer who needs something high-quality and portable but doesn’t need a professional camera’s hefty price tag. Last but not least, this camera would work effectively in the classroom for teachers as both a teaching and a learning tool.

Parents looking to purchase a camera for their small children are one group to whom we heartily suggest this model. Children would love the opportunity to take videos and record themselves while doing so, and it would also produce priceless mementos for future enjoyment.

Recommendation

Is this the greatest camera for approximately $800 that you can find? No. However, it could have the easiest-to-use, highest-resolution cameras in its category.

Many detachable lens cameras, which are sold separately from the camcorder market, also fit in this category but call for the purchase of a lens. This camera is not for you if you enjoy a lot of manual control.

Consider it if you’re searching for something straightforward that produces a pleasing image and works well for a variety of purposes. Although we wouldn’t suggest this camera for a compelling narrative, it might work well for documenting the moment.

Specifications

Camera

Sensor Type1/2.3″-Type CMOS Sensor
Sensor ResolutionActual: 18.91 Megapixel
Effective: 8.3 Megapixel

Optics

Focal Length4.08 to 81.6mm
35mm-Equivalent Focal Length30.8 to 626mm at 16:9 4K
37 to 752mm at 16:9 Full HD (Level Shot Function Off or Normal)
30.8 to 626mm at 16:9 
34.5 to 690.3mm at 3:2 Photo
37.6 to 752.8mm at 4:3 Photo
Maximum Aperturef/1.8 to 3.6
ZoomOptical: 20x
Intelligent: 25x 4K
Intelligent: 40x (in HD)
Digital: 60x
Digital: 1500x
Filter Size49 mm

Recording

SystemNTSC
Media/Memory Card SlotSingle Slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC
Video Format3840 x 2160p at 24/30 fps (72 Mb/s MP4)
1920 x 1080p at 24/60 fps (50 Mb/s MP4)
1920 x 1080p at 60 fps (28 Mb/s MP4)
1280 x 720p at 30 fps (9 Mb/s MP4)
1920 x 1080p at 60 fps (28 Mb/s AVCHD)
1920 x 1080i at 60 fps (24 Mb/s AVCHD)
1920 x 1080i at 60 fps (17 Mb/s AVCHD)
1920 x 1080i at 60 fps (13 Mb/s AVCHD)
1920 x 1080i at 60 fps (5 Mb/s AVCHD)
960 x 540p at 30 fps (28 Mb/s iFrame)
Still Image SupportJPEG
25.9 MP (6784 x 3816)
JPEG
14 MP (4992 x 2808)
JPEG
2.1 MP (1920 x 1080)
JPEG
20 MP (5472 x 3684)
JPEG
10.6 MP (3984 x 2656)
JPEG
2.0 MP (1728 x 1152)
JPEG
20.4 MP (5216 x 3912)
JPEG
10.9 MP (3808 x 2856)
JPEG
.3 MP (640 x 480)
Audio FormatAAC
Dolby Digital 2ch
Dolby Digital 5.1

Display

Size3.0″

EVF

Size.24″
Resolution1,555,200 Dots

Exposure Control

Shutter Speed1/8000 to 1/24 Second in Video Mode

Features

Image StabilizationOptical & Digital
Scene ModesPreset: Yes
White Balance ModesAuto
Cloudy
Custom
Daylight
Indoor 1
Indoor 2
Creative EffectsYes
Built-In MicYes
Built-In SpeakerYes
Built-In Light/FlashLight – Yes
Flash – No
Accessory Shoe1 x Cold
Tripod Mounting Thread1/4″-20 Female

Input/Output Connectors

Video I/O1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRRS A/V Output
1 x Micro-HDMI Output
Other I/O1 x Micro-USB (USB 2.0) Output
WirelessWi-Fi 4 (802.11n)

General

BatteryRechargeable Battery Pack, 3.6 VDC, 1940 mAh
Max Runtime: 1 Hours per Charge
Charging MethodAC Adapter
USB
Power Adapter5 VDC
Power ConsumptionRecording: 7.8 W
Charging: 7.7 W
Dimensions (W x H x D)2.7 x 3.1 x 6.4″ / 6.8 x 7.8 x 16.3 cm
Weight14.21 oz / 403 g

Packaging Info

Package Weight1.95 lb
Box Dimensions (LxWxH)8.9 x 5.9 x 4.1″

Conclusion

With the 4K Panasonic WXF991K, you may record videos of yourself while you’re recording. Slow-motion footage, zooming after the shot has been captured, and even generating in-camera dolly-like movements are all possible with in-camera tools. The WXF991 has considerable moire issues, costs more than its rivals, but has some special benefits for its class.

Panasonic created a camera that anybody with little to no experience using camera controls and settings can use to capture beautiful, high-resolution video. Just maybe, it’s not for everyone.

Price

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