Panasonic X920 or W850 (or something else)

wobblycogs

Standard Member
Hi,

I've been looking at getting a replacement for my Panasonic SD700 which got stolen about 18 months ago. I really liked the SD700 so the X920 seemed like the obvious choice as on paper it seems to be broadly the same but with wireless features. The W850 caught my eye though as it scores well in all the reviews I've read and I can easily get it in the next few days for a few pounds less than an X920.

What I'll be using it for... most of the time I'll be filming in a workshop where I have control over the lighting (but the lighting might not be great at first) and the camera will normally be on a tripod. It will also get used as the family camcorder though which means everywhere from the beach to a dark room on Christmas morning.

I'm not fussed about the second camera on the W850, it looks like a gimmick and the fact it burns the secondary video into the first would stop me using it. The few bits of test footage I can find from the W850 all look good but they were all shot outside where even my phone does a good job. I suppose really it comes down to whether it's worth waiting and paying a bit more for the triple sensor on the X920?
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
I have just bought the 750 to compliment my HC-V700. The two differences between the 850 and the 750 are the second camera plus the 850 has an infra red setting with an infra red light. (and the price) I suggest that the more useful replacement is the 750 for your purposes.
The SD700 has the three sensors like the 920 and the 850/750 has only one but it is larger. The 750 performance at 1080/50p is excellent plus it has all the settings you have on the (older) 920. You should get a HC-V750 for around £500.
 

wobblycogs

Standard Member
Thanks Terfyn, that's good advice (I just read your 750 review as well).

For some reason it hadn't dawned on me that the 850 and 750 use the same optics, sensor and engine. Since there's nothing extra on the 850 that I want I think the 750 is an excellent choice. I can see the slow-mo and time-lapse features coming in handy occasionally as well.

Time to go and find the best price...
 

12harry

Well-known Member
The PiP feature in Pana 850 looks like stupidity IMHO. Surely it would be possible to combine, or switch, even in-camera Editing....or Much betterl produce two files, as I understood the second camera was low-res.
Possibly someone will come out with a second-lens camera which can swing to take the main-picture too, so you don't miss anything whilst zoomed-in. Of course, for Selfie pics, the angle needs to be very wide (also helps with focussing.).... so mfrs will have to find a compromise, as this will be too wide for switching between lenses. er, IMHO.

Certaiinly the features of the Pana 750 are looking very good. ( Trust Terfyn!), +There is every chance the single-larger sensor will perform well in low-light. However, for good colours you will always benefit from lots of light - and in OP's workshop, there is really no excuse.
Will OP be using manual focus?

Good luck, tell us how things work out.
 

wobblycogs

Standard Member
I agree (I'm the OP), the PiP feature as it is isn't very useful. IIRC you get to choose four locations on the screen for the PiP to be burnt in and you can't turn it on and off or move it during recording. If it stored it as a separate file I'd actually be interested as it could give a wide angle view of a scene while focused in on a subject which could be useful. I suspect there's a couple of reasons they didn't go that route though: the first might be technical in that you are writing two files to the SD card at the same time. That switching would affect the throughput on the card and I suspect it would mean only SDXC cards could be used. The other would be the technical challenge of combining the PiP and main video post shooting. They could, I suppose, provide a tool for doing it but I think it would be beyond a lot of their audience.

I trusted Terfyn and placed an order for the 750, it should be with me tomorrow (£507 from Amazon) along with a tripod and memory card.

As soon as the workshop is properly set up I'll get a ton of lights in there for filming but for now the workshop is a tumble down (the roof is falling in) extension. I want to film the build and out fitting of the workshop so obviously I don't want to trailing a host of lights behind me.

Whether I use manual focusing will be dependent on what I'm doing. Some of the time I'll probably be moving about so auto-focus will be good but a lot of the time it'll be close up stuff so manual with zoom will probably be the order of the day.

I've noticed there's not a huge amount of test footage, particularly of lower light conditions, out there so I'll probably shoot some test footage and stick it on YouTube. Any requests?
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
I trusted Terfyn and placed an order for the 750, it should be with me tomorrow (£507 from Amazon) along with a tripod and memory card.
Now I AM worried.:confused:

I hope you will be satisfied with your purchase. As a Panasonic user of some three years I have been very happy with the results. I do a lot of filming on the "Great little trains of Wales" and normally leave the camera in auto mode. (IA) The results have been steady and in focus. I work in 1080/50p mode and render the resulting video to DVD for the family and AVCHD for myself. (This has to be shown on a Blu-Ray player) The AVCHD is downloaded on to a SD card for the player. I use Corel VideoStudio Pro X7 as my editor.

I am still feeling my way with the 750. The basic camera gives a better picture than the 700. (as I expected) This lunchtime I received the Class 10 cards so I can now try the slow motion feature.
If you want to use the Wi-Fi do load the latest version of the "Image App". I have failed to set up the Wi-Fi according to the official instructions, (I am pretty hopeless with new technology) but the Near Field Communication (NFC) works well. I click on the Image App and lie the phone on the top of the camera and it just works! The slight downside is that the supplied battery seems to discharge fairly rapidly so I suggest you set up a flying lead and connect the charger while you are filming.
Now the first nervousness is past, I do like this camera so I hope you will like it too. Please keep in touch and let us know how you get on.
 

wobblycogs

Standard Member
:) no need to worry I'm sure I'll love it.

Everything I've seen tells me that the picture quality will be at least as good as the 700 and it's got several features that I'd like to play with so I can't see anything but big smiles all round. I went for a class 10 card so I'll probably be playing with slow-mo straight away.

I've been filming with my mobile for the last year. It's great if you can get enough light on the scene and mount it well and and and... The one feature I've really missed from the 700 though was the IA. It's remarkable how well it steadies you hand when filming.

I reckon I should be ok with the technology side of things, I've been proudly to wearing my geek badge for the last 20 years. In fact the only problem I can see on that front is storing all the video I shoot. I've only made a dozen short videos for YouTube so far and I've already eaten 65GB on the NAS - time for some more hard drives I think.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
Tried the Slow Motion, it works rather well but, if you want to use it, you will need an assistant. The camera records in normal time and needs a press on an icon on the LCD screen to activate the Slo Mo which will record in Slo Mo until the icon is released. Bit of a pain.:facepalm:
I am more impressed each time I try something. BUT I do hope that these camcorders do not follow the path of smartphones, which do everything except make a phone call, and forget their video roots.

Please tell what you have put on YT.
 

wobblycogs

Standard Member
Argh, that's an awful design for the slow-mo feature. Fingers crossed they make it a toggle on/off option and available through the wi-fi control (I'm not going to hold my breath though).

Anyway, it's arrived and my first impressions are mostly good - keep in mind I'm still charging the battery for the first time so this is just looking at the device.

The good...
The touch screen is clearly a step up from the 700. On the 700 they appeared to have put in a standard LCD with a touch sensitive layer, the 750 looks and feels like it was designed for touching and the screen isn't recessed.

The microphone set up looks to have been significantly upgraded and I can't wait to try out the zoom feature.

The shoe is a better design and the external mic connector is in a better location.

The different...
The unit feels a lot lighter and less sturdy than I remember the 700 being but the specs seem to say it's only about 20g lighter so it's probably just my memory.

I rather liked the lens ring on the 700 and it's a shame to see that replaced with a tiny little wheel. I reserve judgement on that though until I've properly tried it.

There's no eye piece but I didn't find I used it much anyway.

The bad...
The team idiot clearly designed the power system for this camera. The charging cable sticks out the side of the wall wart plug! This means that it either has to go in the right hand socket on the wall or takes up two sockets. Has this person not seen a UK wall socket? The charger that came with my tablet is the same spec though ([email protected]1.8A) so I'll probably give that a go at some point.

The battery is minuscule at only 1940mAh putting it on a par with a top end mobile phone. The device clearly has space for a much larger capacity battery as there's a gap between the screen and the battery. Can't help feeling this is just a cheap ploy to gouge the consumer for more money considering how astronomically expensive the batteries are. And then there's the lack of external charging unit...


I wasn't sure if it was ok to self promote so I didn't link my YT channel before but this is what I'm up to: CNCtrl - YouTube. At the moment I'm mostly focused on building a CNC machine but over the coming months I plan on branching out as I'm more into wood work. My next project is building some scaffolding to take the existing extension down.

I most agree with you about adding features, as long as it's done carefully though I think it can be a benefit but they have to keep their eye on the fact it's a camera first.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
The battery is minuscule at only 1940mAh putting it on a par with a top end mobile phone. The device clearly has space for a much larger capacity battery as there's a gap between the screen and the battery. Can't help feeling this is just a cheap ploy to gouge the consumer for more money considering how astronomically expensive the batteries are. And then there's the lack of external charging unit...

In another thread we are currently searching for a cheaper means for a mobile supply. As the charger has the same spec as a USB supply, My co correspondent is looking at a USB based charger pack of which there are plenty, all cheaper than the OEM battery.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
I wasn't sure if it was ok to self promote so I didn't link my YT channel before
Self promotion is fine as long as it is for a hobby rather than a money making business - for that you need to pay to advertise on here :thumbsdow

Mark.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
Just had a look at your top YT vid. Looked an interesting project. may I make two suggestions:- if you are going to speed up the vid, it may be better to split the audio track and substitute either a voiceover or music OR why not cut the repetitive sections out and use a transition (or a cutaway) to link the relevant parts together.
Think I would have put nylock nuts on the fan holding bolts, wouldn't want a nut loose in that case.:eek:
 

wobblycogs

Standard Member
Cheers Mark. I wish I could make CNC / woodwork more than a hobby but I think it's a bit late in the day for a career change :-(

Thanks for the editing tips Terfyn. At the moment I'm still at the stage of copying editing ideas that I see in other videos. I'm leaving the sped up bits in for context but I must admit I've been getting bolder with the cuts to keep up the pace of the video. I'll have an experiment with putting some music in there or doing away with them completely. As you can probably tell I'm really new to editing as well, I'm using VMS 13 which I rather like even if the touch buttons are a bit big.

Anyway, I said I'd shoot a little test footage and here it is:

Inside with varying lighting conditions and outside with zoom and features:

Comparison with a Galaxy S3

As for the nuts, once the case is finished I'm going to go around with some locking compound on anything I think might work itself loose.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
Very interesting and satisfying. I noted that there was very little amplifier noise in the dark shots and that the picture held its crispness. The Slo-Mo was nice and smooth. The 1600x zoom was predictably awful. As for the Samsung, I suggest you keep it for making phone calls!

Perhaps I was not too clear, there is nothing wrong with the speeded up video but the audio sounds Mickey Mouseish, possibly mute the live audio and replace with a voice over.
There are "conventions" relating to the passage of time. One is a cutaway (watch Delia Smith's cooking programme) and another is a slow dissolve between the start and finish shot. For a cutaway, you might film yourself but not show your hands, or there is always a picture of a clock filmed with the interval timer. (very corny!!)
 

wobblycogs

Standard Member
The YouTube "optimization" seems to badly affect the darker shots making them darker and causing more artefacts. I suppose that is to be expected from the way the algorithms work though. The file I uploaded is much better looking.

The original source had a little amplifier noise in the darkest shots but by the time it had been though editing and re-rendering that was cleaned up to leave a great looking image. I'm assuming that as the render process is re-compressing the material it's effectively applying a de-speckle filter.

I can't remember what all the zoom modes are but I skipped one as it seemed very similar (x60 I think). I was impressed with how good the x50 zoom was.. As you say the x1600 was awful on maximum zoom but it was impressive to see what was possible. I'll probably be leaving it in x20 optical zoom though.

I made the comparison video for a bit of fun but I think it's useful to see the difference in quality. For a phone camera I think the S3 is fairly good but when you see the two side by side like that the difference is like night and day.

I see what you mean now re the audio. I'll give it a try. I'm working on some improved titles and credits at the moment.
 

12harry

Well-known Member
Digital zoom is always poor, since you're throwing away data and expanding remaining pixels.
Did I understand the 750's SloMo records audio? On the CX410 the file has no audio (what would it sound like anyway?), however, it is stretching 2Sec to 11 (~x5).

FWIW I often use "Clock-Wipe" as a transition intended to indicate the passage of time.

Good to read 750 is behaving well and both Terfyn/OP are happy - looks like Pana will be selling quite a few....Camera-phones are improving all the while, but a camcorder is still easier to use, with convenient features.
Batteries:
My CX410 has three battery options :2hr(supplied), 4hr (I bought) and Larger, (probably 6hr). These are charged via a power-plug, but Sony also sells a dedicated charger. However, on a shoot about 6hrs is long enough! Esp if I'm expected to edit the stuff!
It's difficult to believe Pana doesn't offer larger Battery capacities. .... maybe later? Grey types are usually much cheaper....
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
Two points Harry. The 750 does not record any audio when in the Slo-Mo mode but as the Slo-Mo is actioned as needed during a standard shot (you press and hold an icon on the screen) normal audio is recorded while running at normal speed.
Second Panasonic supply the 190 battery (1h 20m supplied with the camera) and the 380 (2h 40m) but this costs £89.00 so is a fairly major outlay. At present no third party supply a 380 "look alike" at a sensible price. Example, I bought the 360 (equivalent to the 380) for the V700 for £25 from a third party supplier. I think that Panasonic have "got at" these third party suppliers.
 

12harry

Well-known Member
Thanks for additional Info. Terfyn, I misread yr earlier Post, so thought I'd ask....For CX410 there is no changeover, you have to be in SloMo-mode and press the usual REC button.
+Those are mighty expensive Battery prices...the 4hr-Sony was about £70, but discounted 20% as a catch to pay the asking price for the CX410 - which is now £50 lower; funny that. Also, there is an even larger one, so presumably that would help with "continuous recording".... except one might run out of Memory.

No doubt there will be Secondary Battery Mfr. as the Pana 750 is bound to be popular.
The only omission (I haven't found it), may be the lack of Headphone-Out - but maybe yr trick with AV will do as a fix. In Britain there is a conflict between Patent Rights and Restraint of Trade. All Mfr try to make their bits "Special" but this is counter-productive if the potential Buyer believes they're being taken for a ride. However, I'd like a longer remote cable, something like 1.5metre would be nice . . . Possibly 3metre would be better.... but then I could make an extender using D-type shells/cables.
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
The 750 has an independent headphone out complete with its own volume control. Not sure what you mean about a remote cable, the 750 "remote" is via Wi-Fi.
 

wobblycogs

Standard Member
I've shot a few video clips now and so far I'm really pleased with the performance of the 750. Both the sound and picture can only be described as excellent.

I did, however, hit a slight bump in the road yesterday which I'm hoping someone can help with. The clips I shoot are generally quite short (10 minutes or less) which is why I've not seen this before but yesterday I recorded a clip of about 25 minutes. In 1080p50 AVCHD mode this clip required about 4.3GB of data which the camera saved as two files.

I fully understand why it's been saved as two files - there's a 4GB file limit on FAT32 files systems - and I have no problem joining the two clips together in Vegas. The problem is that about 900mS of audio seems to have been lost at the end of the first file - I was talking at the time and it's neatly cut out two words.

In order to investigate this I pointed the camera at a stopwatch running on my tablet and had it record white noise for 30 minutes. I used HD Writer to copy the two files from the camera to the PC.

In Vegas I then simply imported the two files and butted them up together. When the stopwatch shows 22:47.36 the sound cuts out until the next file starts less than a second later. Looking at the audio waveform in Vegas confirms that there is, literally, no sound for the last few hundred milli-seconds of the first file.

Now, what's really strange is that if I edit the video in HD Writer, trim this clip around the file transition point and save it the audio is smooth and complete through the file transition. I've gone through this output clip frame by frame and there's no hint of a drop out in the sound.

I suppose it's possible the HD Writer did something naughty with the audio like pull it in from the second file to fill the silent space which would result in lip-sync issues. I can't tell if this is the case with white noise, I'll maybe try again with music (I didn't want to get a copyright strike on YouTube). Alternatively it's possible the missing audio is in one of the other files HD Writer copies across but that seems unlikely.


So, am I missing something really obvious here? It looks like the data is still available somewhere as HD Writer has produced a good clip.

From my point of view there are three possible good outcomes:
  • I can format the memory card exFAT and save files as large as I want. The camera formatted the card FAT though. Having said that the camera is supposed to support SDXC cards which require exFAT.
  • I'm doing something stupid and the audio is actually there.
  • There's a really easy fix that stops this from happening.
Cheers :)
 

Terfyn

Well-known Member
I wonder if it is something in Vegas as the problem is not in HDWriter. Have you tried splitting the audio from the video and joining the clips on the audio line?
There is much pressure to "follow the party line" and format the card in the camera. It may be to do with all the extra files recorded along with the video. (see the manual About the PC Display) However it may be worth a try using the SDXC card. The worst that can happen is an error message.

The obvious other answer is to record your audio on third party kit, a Zoom H2 for example.
 

wobblycogs

Standard Member
I'm fairly sure the problem isn't in Vegas. When I play the file with VLC or Windows Media Player I can hear the drop out at the end just before the video finishes in the first file. I've also tried joining the two files in Avidemux with exactly the same results as Vegas.

I'm currently using an 32GB SDHC card which I tried formatting as exFAT but the camera didn't like it so I've formatted it back to FAT32. An SDXC card might work but I suspect the camera would just format it FAT32.

I've just tried it again with music playing rather than white noise and it would seem that HD Writer is outputing a seamless file. I did as you suggested and split, trimmed and joined the audio in Vegas and I got a surprisingly good result. I think that was more to do with (bad) luck though as the file transition fell on a section that had a repeating melody that made any drop out hard to spot.

I tried "cutting and shutting" the audio on the track where I'm talking and as I suspected it ended up with terrible lip sync. I've deleted the additional files for the clip were I'm talking so it looks like it's back to shooting test footage.

I think I'm going to have to have a chat with Panasonic support. It's not a show stopper but it suddenly feels like driving an electric car - you're not quite sure when you'll run out of charge.
 

rogs

Well-known Member
There have been lots of complaints about this missing audio 'glitch' when joining mts files over the years... indeed I think we had a thread on here a while back?... but I can't find it at the moment. I'm pretty sure Graham L Thompson has written something about the problem on this forum in the past?.......I'll keep looking...

One solution I have seen mentioned involves 'Device Explorer' in Vegas (see here: Using the Device Explorer in Vegas Movie Studio )
I'm not a Vegas user myself, so I don't know if it helps, but it might be worth a look?...
 

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