It's very unclear whether consumers are clamoring to get their hands on dedicated 4K camcorders. Professionals, sure, but most people are perfectly content with the 1080p footage their smartphones produce. And we've seen an increasing number of flagship handsets capable of pushing that resolution up to 4K anyway. But Panasonic's betting that there's a market of prosumers willing to pay extra for video a step above what phones and their tiny sensors can produce. Today, the company is introducing a pair of palm-sized 4K camcorders: the WX970 and WX870. Each shoots super-sharp 4K video with 5-axis hybrid optical image stabilization, 20x optical zoom, plus modern essentials like Wi-Fi and NFC pairing built in.
But Panasonic's new camcorders extend beyond just simple, straightforward video. They pack in features (or gimmicks, depending on your perspective) that could liven up your recordings and make for more creative results. One of these is HDR movie recording, which adjusts your exposure in real time to cut down on blown highlights and lost shadows. Panasonic touts this as a first for consumer-grade 4K camcorders, and it worked fairly well in demonstrations the company recently showed us. It's not perfect though, as we also saw some muddy and dull results depending on the scene. HDR Movie is rolling down to some 1080p camcorders Panasonic is also unveiling today.
The other thing Panasonic likes to show off is its Twin Camera feature. The higher-end WX970 includes a second, rotating tiny camera placed to the left of the flip-out display. Activate that, and you can set up some interesting picture-in-picture shots. But WX870 users aren't left out; they can use a smartphone on the same Wi-Fi network to achieve the same effect. The WX970 will launch for around $1,000, with the WX870 a bit lower at $900. Again, the lone difference between them is that the 970 features the built-in twin camera. If that's not of interest, you should opt for the cheaper model.