The V700M features an Intelligent Auto (iA) dummy mode that handles all of the video settings for the user, and while it generally works very well, certain aspects of it are better than others. Adjusting from well-lit to low-light shooting environments, for example, is handled very capably by iA, but white balance struggles quite a bit to adjust. It will often take three or four seconds for the camera to shake off the orange tinge of warmer tones when shifting to that feature more pure whites or cooler tones.
And switching between iA and manual controls is a snap, as there is a dedicated button to do so on the upper left side of the camcorder. With a single press, a new page with the manual control options is added to the touchscreen menu. Should you need to, there is also a physical button that also allows the OIS to be freely switched on and off while remaining in iA mode (and users can enable controls via the on-screen menus that allow them to touch the display for an extra stabilization boost).
The manual controls on the V700M are relatively basic and straightforward, but easy to access thanks to the dedicated iA/manual switch. Once on manual control, users can manually adjust focus, white balance, shutter speed, and iris (aperture adjustment). I don’t love that they all have to be adjusted through virtual buttons on the touchscreen, but given its high level of responsiveness, things could be a lot worse.
There are also other menu options found on the quick (on-screen) menu, like the ability to tap to focus or to use fades. Again, these controls are well-implemented and easy to use, so even newbies shouldn’t have trouble with them. It’s unfortunate, however, that the V700M is lacking the “zebra stripe” feature, which indicates which parts of the picture are overexposed. Thankfully, though, it does have a manual focus assist, which uses colored lines to show what subjects are in focus.
The battery life of the V700M is poor; the included 1790 mAh battery has an advertised life of 1 hour and 35 minutes of continuous shooting on 1080/60i, and the reality is that you get even less. Obviously with intermittent periods of keeping the camera in standby -- or off -- you can increase the longevity a little, but you can only get roughly an hour of actual recording out of a single charge, if you’re lucky (my continuous recording time on a full charge on 60i was about 1 hour and 5 minutes). As for the zoom, the V700M has a respectable 21x optical zoom, with the “intelligent zoom” taking it up to 46x, or a digital zoom up to 1500x.
Video, Audio, and Stills Quality
The video quality of the V700M is generally solid and very smooth thanks to the 60 fps shooting speed, though for the money, I would have liked the inclusion of a cinematic framerate (24p) option. But while the picture itself appears crisp with sharp textures, colors don’t exactly pop. In fact, they look a little muted. Equally troublesome is the fact that shooting anywhere even remotely in the shade when outdoors often results in a bluish hue plaguing the image. Still, the lack of noise (even in low-light situations) and high level of detail found in the videos from the V700M thanks to its 15.3 megapixel 1MOS sensor are impressive.
The built-in microphone on the V700M impressed, to the point where its sensitivity would occasionally pick up my breathing despite being held a reasonable distance from my face. The only part about the sound quality that I was a little disappointed by was the lack of directional audio. The microphone may have been surprisingly sensitive and produced good-quality sound, but there was little point to it being stereo. If I was shooting video on the street, for example, and a car passed by, its sound on the video wouldn’t gradually move from right to left or vice-versa, it would remain essentially right in the center regardless of the car’s position.
Still pictures from the V700M were decent, but nothing special. These, too, occasionally suffered from white balance issues (see our sample images), but under the right conditions, photos produced good color saturation, even if they were lacking somewhat in sharpness. I also appreciated the fact that you could snap shots even while in video mode, which was extra convenient.
And as an added plus, 2D photos and scenes taken with the V700M can be converted later on and viewed in 3D (with the right external display, that is).
Operations and Extras
Like most of Panasonic’s HD camcorders, the V700M only records in AVCHD or in iFrame, for those of you using Macs and iMovie editing software. While you can technically drag, drop, and even view AVCHD files straight off the camera or SD card, you’re bound to run into interlace combing (looks like you’re viewing the picture through window blinds) when watching them on a computer without first deinterlacing the video. That is, of course, where the included HD Writer AE 4.0 software comes in, to help with video conversion, light editing, and adding visual effects.
Aside from the software, the V700M also comes packaged with an AC power adapter, AV cables, and a USB cable. No HDMI cables here, and while there may not be an included memory card, the camcorder at least has the 16GB of onboard memory to work with, which is a plus.
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