The Panasonic HC-VX870 was a high-end digital camcorder that was very difficult to top in 2015. The $800 camcorder’s crisp HD and 4K resolution, as well as its wealth of useful functions, won acclaim from reviewers.
It served as a harsh reminder of just how amazing it is to have one of these devices as opposed to a smartphone that can shoot 4K footage. It’s important to keep in mind the significant significance that manual controls, form factors, lenses, microphones, and sensors play.
This type of functionality is typical of contemporary high-end models, and fierce competition forces businesses like Panasonic to develop. The Panasonic HC-VX981K, which is the successor to the Panasonic HC-VX870, doesn’t provide many new functions, but it is an essential update that makes this camcorder a more alluring package.
With regards to the Panasonic HC-VX981K
If you ignore the previous versions, the Panasonic HC-VX981K, which replaced the VX870 in 2016, is currently the company’s most cheap 4K camcorder.
Despite having a vast feature set and being under a pound, it is nevertheless an intriguing piece of technology. Although it is still heavier than Panasonic’s less expensive camcorders, this gadget nevertheless has a tiny camcorder-like appearance and feel.
We live in a time where individuals use their iPhones to produce movies, so while it may not be the type of camcorder that a professional cinematographer would use, the Panasonic HC-VX981K definitely fits the bill better in terms of overall video quality.
Panasonic HC-VX870K in comparison
As previously said, the HC-VX981K doesn’t truly reinvent the wheel and keeps many of the essential features, such as the 1/2.3-inch backlit sensor, LEICA Dicomar 20x optical zoom lens, compatibility for wireless cameras, 3-inch touchscreen, and general appearance. The biggest change honors the many folks who still possess 1080p displays.
Naturally, if you don’t have any TVs that support 4K, there is no real purpose to acquiring a 4K camcorder. Since 4K videos have relatively large file sizes, watching them on a screen with a lesser resolution makes it difficult to fully appreciate their quality. The 4K standard is now more relevant for people who merely want better-quality 1080p video thanks to the Panasonic HC-VX981K.
While recording at 1080p is an option on all 4K camcorders, including the Panasonic HC-VX981K, and the results are generally decent, the Panasonic HC-VX981K includes extra methods for achieving better results. With the help of unique in-camera editing features included in Panasonic cameras, you can easily convert 4K footage into sharp 1080p films.
The operative term here is “focused,” as simple editing operations like cropping and zooming are employed instead of downsampling the video. You achieve a far more solid and focused result by recording in 4K video and utilizing the editing feature to “snip” a 1080p segment of the movie than by recording in 1080p natively.
Depending on the intended result, you can choose one of the numerous ways. You may either construct a cropping region over the topic to keep it in focus or you can have the video zoom to 1080p without affecting the viewpoint. Additionally, you may pan or choose to forgo 4K resolution for 1080p footage that is more steady.
A small upgrade is also being made to the HC-Wireless VX870’s Twin Camera functionality. The Panasonic Image App may still be used to link the smartphone and camcorder together, so long as they are both connected to a Wi-Fi connection.
With the use of the smartphone’s camera, you can use the app’s unique function to have live video from the HC-VX870 appear picture-in-picture overlaid on top of the live video from the smartphone. This allows you the unusual option of simultaneously capturing a scene from a different viewpoint or a whole new scenario.
You can still do that with the HC-VX981K, but you can also add two more cell phones to the mix. The number of picture-in-picture windows you can have is capped at two, but one of those windows can cycle with a third mobile device.
Since using a camcorder and a smartphone simultaneously is challenging, this function won’t be utilized frequently, but it may be entertaining to use if you have friends or family members who have extra iOS or Android devices and wish to record as well.
Without the proper software, integrating two picture-in-picture windows into another film may be challenging and time-consuming, making this new capability a fun and worthwhile addition.
The fascinating picture-in-picture function is just one aspect of the Panasonic Image App. It acts as the main control panel for the built-in Wi-Fi on the camcorder. The app is still being developed by Panasonic and is currently rather feature-rich.
It offers a pleasant touch interface for remotely operating the Panasonic HC-VX981K or pretty much any other contemporary Panasonic camcorder or camera that has built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to do standard operations like post video directly to social networking sites.
The Panasonic HC-VX981K has NFC built in as well, enabling contemporary Android devices with the software loaded to quickly connect to the Panasonic HC-VX981K by tapping the two devices together.
The HC-VX981performance K’s is identical to that of its predecessor. The little battery can only hold a single charge for less than an hour of 4K footage, and you are still only able to record at 30 frames per second in MP4 format.
Even so, the manual settings are excellent, and the hybrid optical image stabilization allows you to either record in its natural state or utilize the 20x optical zoom to get up and personal while still obtaining good results.
Panasonic VX981 Specifications
|1/2.3″-Type CMOS Sensor
|Actual: 18.91 Megapixel
Effective: 8.3 Megapixel
|4.08 to 81.6mm
|35mm-Equivalent Focal Length
|30.8 to 626mm at 16:9 4K (Level Shot Function OFF)
37 to 752mm at 16:9 Full HD (Level Shot Function Off or Normal)
30.8 to 626mm at 16:9 Photo
34.5 to 690.3mm at 3:2 Photo
37.6 to 752.8mm at 4:3 Photo
|f/1.8 to 3.6
Intelligent: 25x 4K
Intelligent: 40x (in HD)
|Media/Memory Card Slot
|Single Slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC
|3840 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 Support
25.9 MP (6784 x 3816)
14 MP (4992 x 2808)
2.1 MP (1920 x 1080)
20 MP (5472 x 3684)
10.6 MP (3984 x 2656)
2.0 MP (1728 x 1152)
20.4 MP (5216 x 3912)
10.9 MP (3808 x 2856)
.3 MP (640 x 480)
Dolby Digital 2ch
Dolby Digital 5.1
|1/8000 to 1/24 Second in Video Mode
1/2000 to 1/2 Second in Photo Mode
|Optical & Digital
|White Balance Modes
|Light – Yes
Flash – No
|1 x Cold
|Tripod Mounting Thread
|1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRRS A/V Output
1 x Mini-HDMI Output
|1 x Micro-USB (USB 2.0) Output
|Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n)
|Rechargeable Battery Pack, 3.6 VDC, 1940 mAh
Max Runtime: 1 Hours per Charge
|Recording: 7.1 W
Charging: 7.7 W
|Dimensions (W x H x D)
|2.6 x 2.9 x 5.5″ / 65 x 73 x 139 mm
|12.38 oz / 351 g (Body Only)
|Box Dimensions (LxWxH)
|8.9 x 5.9 x 4.1″
Choosing the Panasonic HC-VX981K over the more traditional VX870 depends on if the in-editing features are important. If you are still making the switch from a 1080p screen to a 4K one, it does make the camcorder more deserving of being owned.
The VX870 is a better option if you just no longer care about 1080p or don’t want to deal with the difficulties of editing 4K footage because there aren’t many additional enhancements.