REVIEW / Panasonic HC-V720

Get some Wi-Fi in your camcorder

133 readers want this So do I!
Add to favorites
Jump to...
Renaud Labracherie Published on September 10, 2013
Translated by Catherine Barraclough
Morgane Alzieu
Lab work
This is an archive page, the content is no longer up to date.


  • Format AVCHD
  • Sensor CMOS BSI 1/2,3"
  • Zoom 21 x
  • Focal length in 24x36 28-730 mm (f/1.8-3.5)
  • Image stabilization Hybrid OIS with Active mode
  • Dimensions 60 x 69 x 124 mm


Panasonic has updated its mid-range camcorder for 2013, adding Wi-Fi, a new optical stabilisation mode and 5.1 audio recording. The previous model won us over with its excellent image quality. Will the new version prove just as impressive? Read on to find out.


One thing we didn't like about this camcorder's predecessor, the HC-V700, was its very plastic-feeling casing. Unfortunately, the 2013 version isn't a whole lot more impressive build-wise, since it's still made from a relatively low-grade material. But don't be put off by this first impression, as the V720 is actually a comfortable and practical camcorder to handle. The V720 is light and fits easily in the palm of your hand, even if the finish is a little on the smooth, slippery side. The 3" LCD flips out from the camcorder body and swivels. With a 460,000-dot display, it doesn't have the most precise of screens, but the image displayed stays smooth in most situations (it sometimes glitches slightly in low light). In bright, sunny conditions, the screen is too glossy and reflective. That's something we see in most camcorders, but since the HC-720 doesn't have a built-in viewfinder, there's no way around it here.

Panasonic v720 test review from the front

The HC-720 is a relatively compact camcorder.

Panasonic v720 test review controls and screen

The main controls and connections are on the left side of the body.

Opening up the screen reveals various connections (HDMI, USB, microphone, A/V out) and controls (Wi-Fi, on/off). The mini-jack makes a nice addition for hooking up a more directional mic, but it's hard to understand why there's no headphones socket. Sound monitoring is pretty important for good-quality audio and an extra mini-jack wouldn't exactly have added bulk to the camcorder's body or spoil its design. It almost feels like Panasonic is holding back with this mid-range model to keep certain features for its higher-end camcorders, without necessarily considering what's practical for end-users. On the other side of the V720, there's a mains charging port and an NFC zone for automatically configuring a Wi-Fi connection with compatible devices.

Panasonic v720 test review hand strap

Mains charging port.
Panasonic v720 test review plug in accessories shoe

The accessories shoe isn't built into the camcorder directly.
It has to be plugged into the back manually.

The Panasonic HC-V720 does have an accessories shoe for connecting a microphone or a light, but this isn't built into the top of the camcorder as you might expect. And that's surprising, as it's not like there's not enough room for one. Panasonic instead supplies a separate accessories shoe adapter that plugs into the back of the camcorder (see above).

With the battery supplied (VBT190, 7 Wh), the V720 can film for almost an hour with standard, day-to-day use. The camera plugs straight into the mains to charge, which means it's out of use during that time.

Panasonic v720 test review lens

The HC-V720 has a built-in LED for use when filming in darker conditions.
Panasonic v720 test review underside

The memory card compartment is on the underside of the camcorder. It therefore can't be accessed with the V720 on a tripod.

One nice feature of the V720 is a built-in LED lamp that can illuminate subjects around 1 m from the camcorder when filming in darker conditions. However, it won't be that useful if you use an adapter ring or another kind of add-on for the lens, as the LED will end up being hidden.

Seeing as there's no physical settings wheel or lens ring, switching to manual focusing mode may not feel like the most obvious way of using this camcorder. Still, manual focusing is available in the HC-V720 via onscreen buttons and a focus peaking function highlighting which parts of the picture are sharply focused. In manual mode, the white balance, shutter speed and aperture (iris) can also be changed.

Thankfully, this camcorder has a fully automatic mode that works pretty well. The screen is like the camcorder's nerve centre from where almost everything is controlled. Only the optical stabilisation, the recording mode (photo/video), Wi-Fi and iA mode have their own physical controls. The internal menus are easily accessible and the V720 has a good range of options for a mid-range camcorder, including image composition grids, an electronic level, focus peaking and exposure correction. You can also use the touchscreen to select a subject for the camcorder to focus on.

Panasonic's V720 has ditched plain old stereo sound in favour of a 5.1 microphone. This does a good job of capturing and reproducing audio environments. The camcorder's 28-730 mm zoom lens is also nice and versatile.

The HC-V720 films AVCHD 2 video, shooting 1080/50p HD footage with a maximum bitrate of 28 Mbps. If you switch to interlaced video, you can shoot with bitrates of 24, 17, 13 and 5 Mbps. It's a shame that there's no 720p HD mode, as this can be handy for keeping file sizes down and for keeping your computer running smoothly when post-editing. A high-speed mode (100 fps) would also have been nice for smooth slow-motion filming. It is, however, possible to convert files from the camcorder into standard definition (640 x 360 pixels, 25p).

With a 17.3-Megapixel 1/2.3" sensor, this camcorder is actually over-equipped for video, even HD video! Panasonic's product documentation explains that just over 4 Megapixels are actually used in video mode. So why does the V720 need so many pixels? And do they really bring anything to image quality?

The HC-V720 does a very good job with our test card for precision. It's no match for the X920, but the results are impressive for a camcorder at this price point. The image looks a little too over-emphasised for our liking (with an "unsharp mask" kind of look to it) and the effects of compression are a little more noticeable in certain conditions. Still, on the whole, the sensor and lens work together to give very good results. Low-light performances are decent too. Sensitivity isn't amazing, but the image stays clean. And with an effective optical stabilisation system onboard, you can really make the most of that 21x zoom. Even when using the camcorder handheld, you can still film reasonable-quality video with a focal length of more than 700 mm. Plus, an "Active" mode takes the stabilisation system up a gear for static shots at long focal lengths (and you should probably stick to static shots, otherwise the image hangs and tends not to look smooth). It's a bit like having a virtual monopod to hand. The results in "Active" mode are fine even if the image is still a bit too gaudy.

You can shoot 9-Megapixel (via extrapolation) still shots while filming video. These come out looking more or less OK. In photo mode, the HC-V720 can shoot at up to 20 Megapixels (even though the sensor only has 17.3 Mpx), again by using extrapolation. The results are a little better. Detail is decent even if shots have a bit of an over-exaggerated look. It's perfectly acceptable quality for small-sized prints or onscreen viewing.

V720 test card

Improved Wi-Fi Set-Up
Panasonic is without a doubt the camcorder-maker that gets the best out of Wi-Fi connectivity. For starters, the firm's Android and iOS apps can be used to pilot the camcorder remotely with the display mirrored on your smartphone or tablet. On top of that, you can use your camcorder as a surveillance camera by connecting the V720 to a local Wi-Fi network over which it can send images at regular intervals. You can even set up live streaming with the V720 via a Ustream account.

And the good news is that the tiresome set-up process seen in early Wi-Fi models has been simplified this time around. Anyone with an NFC smartphone can simply tap their mobile against the V720 for automatic set-up. Alternatively, you can scan a QR code or, as a last resort, enter all the connection details manually.


  • Image quality
  • Lightweight build
  • Wi-Fi with easy set-up and good range of functions
  • 5.1 audio
  • Built-in LED light
  • 21x zoom lens starting at 28 mm


  • No viewfinder, glossy screen prone to reflections in bright sunlight
  • No slow-motion video or 720p mode
  • Accessories shoe has to be manually connected to the camcorder
  • No headphones socket
  • SD card slot on the underside
  • Very plastic finish


Although it's a shame that there's no headphones socket, the Panasonic HC-V720 is still an attractive camcorder with good image quality and an interesting selection of specs, including a 21x wide-angle zoom lens, 5.1 audio recording, Wi-Fi and an effective optical image stabiliser.
4 Panasonic HC-V720 DigitalVersus 2013-09-10 10:05:00
Compare: Panasonic HC-V720 to its competitors
Add to favorites

USER REVIEWS (0) 3.7/5

No users have reviewed this product yet. Post a user review