- High-Image-Quality, High-Sensitivity 1.0-type (inch) 4K Sensor
- Newly Developed, Industry's Widest Angle 24mm and 20x Optical Zoom Lens
- Professional Functions Including Triple Manual Rings and XLR Audio Input
- High-speed, High-precision Intelligent AF
- Advanced Optical Image Stabilizer (4K/UHD/FHD)
- HD Super Slow Motion and VFR (2 to 60 fps)
- Review Price: £2599.99
- 1-inch-type CMOS with 9.46 megapixels
- MP4 recording at up to 4K at 150Mbits/sec
- 20x optical zoom; 30x intelligent zoom
- Optical image stabilisation (5-axis hybrid image stabiliser at HD or lower)
- Comprehensive manual controls
- XLR audio inputs
What is the Panasonic HC-X1E?
The HC-X1E is a professionally orientated 4K camcorder from Panasonic, with a price tag to match. It goes head-to-head with Canon’s XC10, or more likely the recent XC15 update. With a host of manual controls including built-in Neutral Density filter and professional audio connections, the HC-X1E is a tempting proposition for serious amateurs, students, wedding videographers and event coverage.
Panasonic HC-X1E – Main Specification
The HC-X1E is a considerable step forward from its first “prosumer” 4K camcorder, the HC-X1000E, even if they look quite similar physically. Whereas the latter sports a 1/2.3-inch CMOS, similar to Panasonic’s consumer-grade camcorders, the HC-X1E upgrades the specification with a “1-inch-type” CMOS, which will effectively have around four times the surface area. Couple this with a lower 9.46-megapixel resolution, so each pixel is a lot bigger, and you have a recipe for far better image quality and low-light performance.
The shooting modes haven’t been improved, however. Frame rates max out at 50/60p, with no 100/120 frames per second high-speed option or higher. As a result, smooth slow-motion shooting isn’t an option, which is disappointing. However, both Digital Cinema (DCI) 4096 x 2160 and UHD 3840 x 2160 resolutions are available, as well as a host of Full HD, 720p and even SD options.
Related: Best Camcorders
For Full HD and below, the AVCHD format can be used at data rates up 25Mbits/sec. But MP4/MOV provides some seriously high-quality possibilities, such as All-Intra Full HD at 200Mbits/sec. Unfortunately, 4K can’t be shot at this high a rate, with DCI offered at 100Mbits/sec and UHD at 150Mbits/sec, although they’re still reasonably high.
From a practical day-to-day point of view, the HC-X1E takes a different approach to Canon. Whereas the XC10 and XC15 require the use of extremely expensive CFast 2.0 cards when shooting 4K, the HC-X1E relies on SDXC storage for HD or 4K, with two slots available. Canon offers a pro-grade 305Mbits/sec in 4K, which is beyond what SDXC can deliver reliably. So the HC-X1E can use much cheaper media, but at the expense of having more aggressive compression with potentially reduced image quality.
Panasonic HC-X1E – Operation and Manual Controls
The positioning of the EVF and LCD screen provides two handheld shooting postures. You can either hold the camera with two hands so the EVF is at eye level, or rest it on your shoulder and use the LCD panel instead. The EVF is preferable for crisp focus pulls, since it sports 1,769,000 dots; the 3.5-inch LCD offers only 1,152,000 dots.
The HC-X1E is therefore a versatile camera with which to shoot, and there’s a huge range of manual control available, with lots of discrete buttons and dials for rapid access. The built-in ND filter has ¼, 1/16 and 1/64 options. There are three lens rings, with the front one for focus, the middle for zoom, and the one closest to the body for iris, with a button nearby to enable it. The zoom control is electronic, however, rather than controlling the lens directly, so operates with a very short delay.
If this isn’t enough for you, there’s a small wheel at the bottom of the body that can be set to different functions via discrete buttons, including gain, white balance and shutter. There are three user-assignable buttons as well as buttons for toggling the waveform monitor, zebra, optical image stabilisation, and switching between the EVF and LCD. The latter can also be reassigned, allowing you to set up quick access to exactly what you need.
Overall, the HC-X1E is very well endowed for manual controls, and these are sensibly as well as ergonomically arranged on the camera body.
Panasonic HC-X1E – Audio and Connectivity
Although the HC-X1E has two XLR audio inputs, they’re in two different locations. At first glance this is a strange choice, until you think through how XLR connections are generally used, with a mono shotgun mic on top of the camera or a wireless lapel mic, or even both. It does make some sense to have the inputs for these physically separated in this way.
The two audio channels can be controlled separately with little wheels under a transparent plastic door, which allows these wheels to be adjusted when it’s closed, but keeps the other audio controls out of reach. Handily, you can send either audio input to either channel of the stereo pair, as well as selecting mic, line or +48V phantom power levels.
There are numerous other ports available. A USB 3.0 Host port can be found on the top, so that external storage devices from 32GB to 2TB can be attached. A USB 3.0 Micro-B connector is available for accessing the camera’s storage, as well as full-sized HDMI output and even composite analog video outputs with RCA audio. A mini-jack is available for headphone attachment, as well as a mini-jack for external focus control and micro-jack for external zoom
Panasonic HC-X1E – Image Quality and Performance
Where the HC-X1000E was a bit of a compromise in terms of image quality – with consumer-grade video capabilities inside a professional-grade body – the HC-X1E is a much more serious contender. The 1-inch-type CMOS is still quite a bit smaller than Micro Four Thirds or APS-C, but significantly larger than consumer-grade sensors, and the image quality is reflective of this.
Taking the HC-X1E out on a day that isn’t particularly bright, it picks up brilliant colour and plenty of detail. The 150Mbits/sec data rate is also high enough to avoid any compression issues. The larger sensor in particular comes into its own in lower light, with the HC-X1E significantly outperforming the HC-X1000E as the illumination drops. You can even get away with adding video gain in low light, without introducing significant noise.
You can watch some sample footage shot at the top 4K quality setting here.
Should I buy the Panasonic HC-X1E?
The Panasonic HC-X1E is a much more serious proposition than the HC-X1000E. It may lack high-speed shooting modes, and tie you to a fixed lens, but the latter might even be beneficial in certain circumstances – electronic news gathering, for example. It’s also capable of an approximation of the “DSLR look” that’s so sought after these days.
This is very much a “prosumer” model, and priced accordingly. But if you’re looking for a reliable, feature-rich, high-quality 4K camcorder for corporate and student videography, the Panasonic HC-X1E has plenty going for it. In that context, the cost is actually quite reasonable, too.
|Image Sensor||1-type (inch) MOS Sensor|
|Effective Pixels||UHD/FHD 59.94p/29.97p/23.98p : 8.79 megapixels 4K 24.00p : 9.46 megapixels|
|F Value||F2.8 F4.5|
|Focal Length||8.8 176 mm|
|35 mm Film Camera Equivalent (Motion Image/Still Image)||25.4 508.0 mm [UHD/FHD 59.94p/29.97p/23.98p], 24.0 480.0 mm [4K24.00p]|
|Filter Diameter||67 mm|
|Lens Brand||Leica Dicomar Lens|
|Minimum Illumination||0.2 lx (F2.8, Gain 18dB, Manual Slow Shutter 1/2, [HIGH SENS] Mode)|
|Focus||Auto / Manual|
|Intelligent Zoom OFF||20x|
|Intelligent Zoom ON||30x|
|Digital Zoom||2x / 5x / 10x|
|White Balance||Auto / ATW LOCK / 3200K / 5600K / VAR (2000K15000K) / Ach Fixed / Bch Fixed|
|Iris||Auto / Manual|
|ND Filter||1/4, 1/16, 1/64, OFF|
|IR Filter||Incorporates the ON/OFF control function|
|59.94 Hz mode||60i/60p: 1/60, 1/100, 1/120, 1/180, 1/250, 1/350, 1/500, 1/750, 1/1000, 1/1500, 1/2000, 1/3000, 1/4000, 1/8000 sec 30p: 1/30, 1/50, 1/60, 1/100, 1/120, 1/180, 1/250, 1/350, 1/500, 1/750, 1/1000, 1/1500, 1/2000, 1/3000, 1/4000, 1/8000 sec 24p: 1/24, 1/48, 1/50, 1/60, 1/100, 1/120, 1/180, 1/250, 1/350, 1/500, 1/750, 1/1000, 1/1500, 1/2000, 1/3000, 1/4000, 1/8000 sec|
|50.00 Hz mode||50i/50p: 1/50, 1/60, 1/100, 1/125, 1/180, 1/250, 1/350, 1/500, 1/750, 1/1000, 1/1500, 1/2000, 1/3000, 1/4000, 1/8000 sec 25p: 1/25, 1/50, 1/60, 1/100, 1/125, 1/180, 1/250, 1/350, 1/500, 1/750, 1/1000, 1/1500, 1/2000, 1/3000, 1/4000, 1/8000 sec|
|Slow Shutter Speed|
|59.94 Hz mode||60i/60p: 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30 sec 30p: 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15 sec 24p: 1/2, 1/3, 1/6, 1/12 sec|
|50.00 Hz mode||50i/50p: 1/2, 1/3, 1/6, 1/12, 1/25 sec 25p: 1/2, 1/3, 1/6, 1/12 sec|
|59.94 Hz mode||59.94i/59.94p: 1/60.0 1/249.7 sec 29.97p: 1/30.0 1/249.7 sec 23.98p: 1/24.0 1/249.6 sec 24.00p: 1/24.0 1/249.9 sec|
|50.00 Hz mode||50i/50p: 1/50.0 1/250.0 sec 25p: 1/25.0 1/250.0 sec|
|VFR Recording Frame Rate|
|59.94 Hz mode||30p: 2, 15, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 45, 60 fps 24p: 2, 12, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 36, 48, 60 fps|
|50.00 Hz mode||25p: 2, 12, 21, 23, 25, 27, 30, 37 and 50 fps|
|Image Stabilizer||4K24.00p / UHD: Optical image stabilizer FHD or lower: 5-Axis Hybrid Image Stabilizer|
|HIGH SENS.mode||F11 (2,000 lx, 3,200 K, 89.9 reflect, 1080/59.94i) / F12 (2,000 lx, 3,200 K, 89.9 reflect, 1080/50i)|
|NORMAL mode||F8 (2,000 lx, 3,200 K, 89.9 reflect, 1080/59.94i) / F9 (2,000 lx, 3,200 K, 89.9 reflect, 1080/50i)|
|Recording Media||SDHC/SDXC Memory Card|
|Recording Format||MOV, MP4, AVCHD|
|Video Compression Method||MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 High Profile (MOV/MP4/AVCHD)|
|Audio Compression Method||MOV / MP4: LPCM (2ch) AVCHD: Dolby Digital (2ch)|
|System Frequency||59.94Hz / 50.00Hz|
|Recording / Playback Mode|
|AVCHD||PS 1920x1080 59.94p/50.00p: Average 25Mbps (VBR) PH 1920x1080 59.94i/50.00i/23.98p: Average 21Mbps (VBR) HA 1920x1080 59.94i/50.00i: Average 17Mbps (VBR) HE 1440x1080 59.94i/50.00i: Average 5Mbps (VBR) PM 1280x720 59.94p/50.00p: Average 8Mbps (VBR) SA 720x480/720x576 59.94i/50.00i (SIDE CROP/LETTERBOX/SQUEEZE): Average 9Mbps (VBR)|
|MP4/ MOV||4K 4096x2160 24.00p 100M: Average 100Mbps (VBR) UHD 3840x2160 59.94p/50.00p 150M: Average 150Mbps (VBR) UHD 3840x2160 29.97p/25.00p/23.98p 100M: Average 100Mbps (VBR) FHD 1920x1080 59.94p/50.00p/29.97p/25.00p/23.98p 200M (ALL-Intra): Average 200Mbps (VBR) FHD 1920x1080 59.94p/50.00p 100M: Average 100Mbps (VBR) FHD 1920x1080 59.94p/50.00p/29.97p/25.00p/23.98p/59.94i/50.00i 50M: Average 50Mbps (VBR)|
|STILL IMAGE SECTION|
|Recording Format||JPEG (DCF/Exif2.2)|
|Recording Image Size||[17:9] 8.8megapixels (4096 x 2160) [16:9] 8.3megapixels (3840 x 2160), 2.1 megapixels (1920 x 1080), 0.9 megapixels (1280 x 720)|
|Power Supply||7.28V (Battery) / 12V (AC Adaptor)|
|Power Consumption||19.7W (LCD Monitor)|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||Approx. 173 x 195 x 346 mm (6.81 x 7.68 x 13.6 inch)|
|Weight (w/o Battery and SD Card)||Approx. 2000g (4.41 lb)|
|LCD Monitor||8.88 cm (3.5") Wide LCD monitor (1,152,000 dots)|
|Viewfinder||0.99 cm (0.39") OLED (1,769,000 dots)|
|Manual Ring||Focus / Zoom / Iris|
|Rechargeable Battery Pack||Yes (5,900mAh)|
|Microphone Holder Screws||Yes|
|Input Terminal Cap||Yes|
|VIDEO OUT||Video OUT x 1|
|HDMI||Type A x 1 (Not compatible with VIERA Link) Output format:2160/59.94p/50.00p/29.97p/25.00p/24.00p/23.98p/, 1080/59.94p/50.00p/29.97p/25.00p/24.00p/23.98p/59.94i/50.00i/, 720/59.94p/50.00p, 480/59.94p, 576/50.00p|
|Built-in Microphone||Stereo microphone|
|XLR Input||XLR (3 pins) x 2 Input high impedance, LINE/MIC/MIC+48 V (switchable SW) LINE:+4dBu/0dBu (switchable menu) MIC: 40dBu/50dBu/60dBu (switchable menu)|
|HDMI||2 ch (LPCM)|
|Audio OUT||Audio OUT x 2|
|Headphone||3.5 mm diameter stereo mini jack x 1|
|Speaker||20 mm diameter, round x 1|
|Camera Remote||2.5mm super mini jack x 1 (ZOOM S/S) 3.5mm mini jack x 1 (FOCUS/IRIS)|
|USB 3.0 HOST||Standard-A connector, 9-pin, for External Media Device Connection, Bus Power Supply External media device with a capacity of 32 GB or below or a capacity above 2 TB cannot be used|
|USB 3.0 DEVICE||Micro-B connector, 10-pin, Mass storage function (read only)|
|DC IN||DC 12V (11.4V 12.6V) EIAJ Type4|
|NOTE||Specifications are subject to change without notice.|