Panasonic has announced the HC-X1, which it describes as “a professional 4K 50p/60p camcorder designed for outstanding results”.

There is a stack of features to provide those results, starting with a Leica Dicomar 20x optical zoom lens. It ranges from 24mm (35mm equivalent) wide angle to 480mm telephoto range when recording at full cinema 4K, and 25.4mm to 508mm in UHD or HD resolution. It has manual rings for focus, zoom and aperture. There are also digital zoom modes. The camera uses a 1 inch MOS (Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensor to capture the stream of images.

Panasonic HC-X1

Resolutions supported are Cinema 4K (4096 by 2160 pixels) progressive at 24 frames per second, Ultra High Definition (3840 by 2160 pixels) at 24p, 25p, 30p, 50p and 60p fps, and full HD at 24p, 30p, 50p, 60i and 60p, plus some lesser resolutions (“p” = progressive and “i” = interlaced).

Various recording formats can be chosen: MP4, MOV and AVCHD. Likewise, recording quality can be from 17 megabits per second through to super high quality 200Mbps. Not all resolutions and bitrates are available in all formats. Stereo audio can be recorded in AAC, Dolby Digital and LPCM formats. The unit can also take stills at up to 8.8 megapixels.

All those facts and figures boil down to one summary: the camera will provide whatever resolution and technical specification is required for the filmed material to be used in any market: film, 50 hertz and 60 hertz countries. The camcorder can be switched between modes, so all projects can be undertaken.

The capacity is also enormous. There are two SDHC/SDXC card slots. SDXC is specified up to two terabytes, although that capacity remains some way off. The cards are “hot swappable” to allow “relay recording” across multiple cards. Both cards can be used to record for security, or using different codecs to each card. And one can be used for continuous recording while the other records only the material selected by the videographer.

There is provision for stereo XLR microphones to be plugged in for audio recording, complete with 48 volt phantom power available. A Panasonic microphone rig is an optional extra.

Panasonic HC-X1

The Panasonic HC-X1 is loaded with video processing capabilities, and also offers speed control. It will run at up to 120 or 100 frames per second (depending on mode) to deliver slow motion when played back at normal speed. There are also ten speed steps from two frames per second to sixty, to allow overcranking and undercranking on-screen effects.

It is fitted with a 3.5 inch touch sensitive LCD screen, and a 1.77 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder. Thirteen buttons can be assigned different functions to customise operation to the user’s requirements.

The Panasonic HC-X1 will be available in Australia in December this year. There’s no official Australian price available yet, but popular New York retailer B & H Foto & Electronics has it available for pre-order for $US3199. So in Australia? I’d guess around $5000 as ballpark figure.

Professional level 4K filming at $5K? Incredible!