As a travel blogger and a mom, I take a lot of pictures and video. Like too much. Cause you just never know what you might miss if you turn that camera off. In fact, I tend to see life happening though a lens or the video camera screen rather than with my own 2 eyes. Yes, that means I have a record of it and can watch it over and over again later, but there’s something about catching the moment for the first time, unfiltered.
It’s truly a catch 22, as I love to record my kids in photographs and video, but I don’t want to be stuck behind the camera for 80% of their lives. You know?
Yet, it’s nice to have that video footage…..
I never thought about this dilemma until I was asked to try out a new wearable camera made by Panasonic. At the recent TravelingMom Retreat we were given the Panasonic HX-A500 Wearable Camera, given a brief lesson on how to use it and sent out into the parks to test them out. what follows is my review.
What is the Panasonic HX-A500 Wearable Camera?
The Panasonic HX-A500 is a wearable camera that records motion and still pictures. It is meant to be worn as a head set and the camera sits right at eye level, giving you a point of view filming experience. It is waterproof and dustproof so you can wear it in all kinds of conditions, from skiing to surfing.
It is also the world’s first 4K wearable camera. 4K is high resolution video that films at 25 frames per second – what most movies in Hollywood are shooting at. In layman’s terms – it shoots some pretty amazing, crystal-clear video. Most people do not shoot at this resolution, as it takes a lot of space to film, but even at the 720p and 1080p, the video is fantastic.
The camera comes in two parts: a tiny lens unit and body unit that has a 1.5 inch LCD screen, so you can see exactly what you are shooting. It comes with an armband to wear the body, making the camera completely hands-free.
One of the features I love the most, the HX-A500 has built in WiFi capabilities, so you can easily upload your video to the internet via your smartphone or tablet.
But after a day of wearing the camera, what did I really think of it?
Pros of the Panasonic HX-A500
Easy to use – the camera was easy to set up and use. We had it up and running within minutes and the menus are self-explanatory to change the settings. To shoot video, you simply push 2 buttons.
Light weight camera – the camera is very light and easy to carry in your bag.
LCD Screen – It’s very nice to have the screen to look at separate from the camera to see what you are filming. You can easily adjust the lens without having to dismount the entire camera.
Playback – You can playback your last video shot on the LCD screen, which gives you the opportunity to re-shoot if needed.
Crystal Clear Pictures – As you can see in the below videos, the clarity is amazing. I was not shooting in 4K, but 1080p.
Records well in low light – Many video cameras struggle to record in low lighting. As you can see in the below video, that was not an issue. Check out the Yeti and inside the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride.
Adjusts well – The camera transitions well from low light to bright (as in roller coaster video). I have had issues with cameras in the past that never could do this.
WiFi – I love being able to immediately upload my videos and pictures to share online. As I did when I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom:
Can capture your friends & families gut reactions to experiences in the moment, not after you get off the ride. Again, I love to capture the moments.
Cons of the Panasonic HX-A500
How do I Look? Let’s face it, you look like a nerd wearing the camera. However, I didn’t care. The quality of video I was able to shoot far outweighed my fashion sense that day.
Camera tilts up – I had to be careful of the camera tilting upward while I was wearing it. I noticed in several of my videos that day, I had lots of shots of the sky. It was a good thing that I rode all the rides twice and got 2 videos. The camera can be tightened into place, it just takes the foresight to remember to ensure it is facing slightly down.
1 Hour Record time – On average, depending on what resolution you are shooting in, you can only get at most an hour of recording time. So you will not be able to get a full day of skiing in with this camera.
Take a look at some of the video shot with the Panasonic HX-A500:
What do I think of the camera? At first, I was on the fence about wearing a headset for a camera. At the time, my iPhone shot video just fine. So I guess I didn’t really see the need for another camera.
And then I took it on Expedition Everest and shot this incredible video:
Looking back, I am amazed at how crystal clear the video is. I am noticing all the sharp, mountain edges and brilliant colors of the flags, things I didn’t notice in the heat of the moment. And I see the smooth transition from dark (did you see the YETI??) to bright light when we dropped out of the mountain. And I capture the thrill on my daughter’s face when it was all over. Yep. I’m sold.
Here’s the entire Expedition Everest video shot with my Panasonic HX-A500:
Getting back to my earlier point, with the new Panasonic HX-A500, I get to now be in the moment and experience life with my family and still get to record the moment. I’m not holding a camera in front of my face, fumbling to make sure I have the perfect shot. I get to be in the moment and enjoy it. And that is pretty awesome.
Disclosure: I was provided with the Panasonic HX-A500 to use and review. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.