Panasonic HC-WXF991 Review

It might seem unfair to compare 4K camcorders against others that shoot lower quality 1080p.

Our Verdict

The Panasonic HC-WXF991 is our top choice in HD camcorders. It shoots clear, high quality video and is ideal for capturing memories.

For

  • The Panasonic HC-WXF991 shoots ultra high definition 4K video for stunning visual impact.

Against

  • It is a rather large camcorder.
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The Panasonic HC-WXF991 shoots 4K video, which has more pixels per image than 1080p video, resulting in an even clearer picture.

The Panasonic HC-WXF991 shoots 4K video, which has more pixels per image than 1080p video, resulting in an even clearer picture.
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The Panasonic HC-WXF991 comes with a lens hood for an added layer of lens protection.

The Panasonic HC-WXF991 comes with a lens hood for an added layer of lens protection.
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The HC-WXF991 has a touchscreen LCD monitor.

The HC-WXF991 has a touchscreen LCD monitor.
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The Panasonic HC-WXF991 weighs more than 14 ounces, making it the heaviest one we tested.

The Panasonic HC-WXF991 weighs more than 14 ounces, making it the heaviest one we tested.
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The rotating second camera on the side of the Panasonic HC-WXF991’s LCD screen can capture the reaction of the person filming.

The rotating second camera on the side of the Panasonic HC-WXF991’s LCD screen can capture the reaction of the person filming.
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The Panasonic 4K camcorder’s weight and size really makes it feel like a professional-grade camera.

The Panasonic 4K camcorder’s weight and size really makes it feel like a professional-grade camera.
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The Panasonic HC-WXF991 has a lens cover that automatically opens when you turn the camcorder on.

The Panasonic HC-WXF991 has a lens cover that automatically opens when you turn the camcorder on.
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You can affix the Panasonic HC-WXF991 to a tripod.

You can affix the Panasonic HC-WXF991 to a tripod.
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Like most of the camcorders we tested, the HC-WXF991 comes with a hand strap.

Like most of the camcorders we tested, the HC-WXF991 comes with a hand strap.
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The Panasonic 4K camcorder takes a full-size SD card.

The Panasonic 4K camcorder takes a full-size SD card.
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The Panasonic HC-WXF991 has a comfortable viewfinder.

The Panasonic HC-WXF991 has a comfortable viewfinder.
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The viewfinder on the Panasonic 4K camcorder can be tilted up so you can easily record things like your child’s school concert or play, keeping the camera in your lap.

The viewfinder on the Panasonic 4K camcorder can be tilted up so you can easily record things like your child’s school concert or play, keeping the camera in your lap.
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The Panasonic HC-WXF991 got an A- from our reviewers for overall video quality and clarity.

The Panasonic HC-WXF991 got an A- from our reviewers for overall video quality and clarity.
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The HC-WXF991 also takes still 4K photos.

The HC-WXF991 also takes still 4K photos.
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The Panasonic HC-WXF991 is incredibly easy to use.

The Panasonic HC-WXF991 is incredibly easy to use.
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We gave the Panasonic HC-WXF991 a B- for color balance because the footage we took outdoors appeared slightly gray.

We gave the Panasonic HC-WXF991 a B- for color balance because the footage we took outdoors appeared slightly gray.
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This Panasonic 4K camcorder has a windshield around the microphone.

This Panasonic 4K camcorder has a windshield around the microphone.
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The lens hood on the Panasonic HC-WXF991 can be easily removed to make the camcorder smaller and easier to transport.

The lens hood on the Panasonic HC-WXF991 can be easily removed to make the camcorder smaller and easier to transport.
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The Panasonic 4K camcorder also has a slot to attach a flash.

The Panasonic 4K camcorder also has a slot to attach a flash.
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You can plug headphones and a variety of other cords into the Panasonic HC-WXF991.

You can plug headphones and a variety of other cords into the Panasonic HC-WXF991.
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Getting high quality audio is easy with the Panasonic HC-WXF991 because you can plug a microphone right into the camcorder.

Getting high quality audio is easy with the Panasonic HC-WXF991 because you can plug a microphone right into the camcorder.
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The lens hood helps protect the lens and also assists in getting color-correct video by blocking unnecessary light when you’re outdoors.

The lens hood helps protect the lens and also assists in getting color-correct video by blocking unnecessary light when you’re outdoors.
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You can remove the battery on the Panasonic HC-WXF991.

You can remove the battery on the Panasonic HC-WXF991.
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The Panasonic HC-WXF991 did turn off unexpectedly once during our outdoor testing, so we had to turn it back on.

The Panasonic HC-WXF991 did turn off unexpectedly once during our outdoor testing, so we had to turn it back on.
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The Panasonic HC-WXF991, shown here at the far right, took very clear footage outdoors, though it did look a little gray.

The Panasonic HC-WXF991, shown here at the far right, took very clear footage outdoors, though it did look a little gray.
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We prefer camcorders with automatic lens covers like the Panasonic HC-WXF991 because, as you can see here, we neglected to open the manual ones sometimes.

We prefer camcorders with automatic lens covers like the Panasonic HC-WXF991 because, as you can see here, we neglected to open the manual ones sometimes.
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The HC-WXF991 got a B- in color balance because outdoor footage had elevated levels of blue and looked a little gray.

The HC-WXF991 got a B- in color balance because outdoor footage had elevated levels of blue and looked a little gray.

It might seem unfair to compare 4K camcorders against others that shoot lower quality 1080p. Put simply, 4K ultra high definition has nearly four times the pixels – that’s four times the clarity – of 1080p video. We decided that in a day when even some smartphones can record video in ultra high definition (UHD) 4K, that our comparison should include camcorders with that upgraded technology. The Panasonic HC-WXF991 has a Crystal Engine 4K image processor that supports 4K UHD video at 24/30 frames per second and 1080p video up to 60 frames per second. Keep in mind that shooting higher quality video will take up much more space on your SD card.

It might be easy to reach for your phone, but this Panasonic camcorder has extra features that can really improve the variety and quality of the footage you’re getting. One such feature is its nifty rear-facing camera, like the one on the thriftier Panasonic HC-W580. Located on the edge of the LCD viewfinder, this small extra camera can rotate to face back toward the person filming or off to the side. This unique feature means you can capture all the action in front of you and get a reaction shot too. The LCD screen can also flip for easy viewing from almost any angle. This camcorder also has a front-facing light to improve the footage you take in dark places.

The Panasonic is the only device we reviewed that includes an eye piece, or ocular lens. It allows you to flip the lighted LCD screen down and see what you’re recording through the eye piece, eliminating obnoxious light while sitting in the audience. It’s also practical for shooting in bright light because LCD screens can appear washed out under these circumstances. The eye piece can also be flipped upward so you can hold the camera in your lap while filming but still see what you’re doing. This way, your neck and arms are less likely to get tired.

The LCD monitor is a touchscreen, so you can access the camera’s various functions with your fingertip. There are pros and cons to touchscreens. The screen smudges easily and we found ourselves frequently hitting buttons on accident. On the other hand, a touchscreen feels modern and guides you easily to the camcorder’s settings and editing capabilities. And speaking of editing, this Panasonic gives you the option to crop footage on the camera. You can also turn on other features, like image stabilization if you’re going to be moving around a lot or zoomed in while filming.

This camcorder comes with a battery pack, an AC adaptor, USB cable, DC cable, HDMI micro cable and lens hood. This is the only camera we tested that comes with a lens hood, which is for blocking light and creating images with deeper, richer colors. The hood also adds a layer of protection to your lens.

To turn the camcorder on, you just slide the battery pack into the slot on the back of the camera. While some battery packs can stick out awkwardly, this Panasonic is large enough that the battery blends in with the rest of the machine. Recharging is done with the DC cable and AC wall adaptor and, according to the instructions, should only take about two hours. The whole thing weighs 14.2 ounces, the heaviest of any camera we tested. While this might make your arm tired during prolonged filming, some people prefer cameras with a little heft because the very light ones feel cheap and breakable.

This camcorder takes a full-sized SD card for storing your footage. We prefer cameras like this, including the JVC Quad Proof GZ-R550 EverioR, because using a microSD card means you also must keep the full-size adapter to insert it into most computers. Once you install the SD card and set the camcorder’s time and date, and you can start filming. This camcorder has integrated Wi-Fi, though, so you can use that feature to transfer your videos and eliminate the need to remove the SD card altogether.

We took video both inside and outside and analyzed it, comparing all nine cameras we tested against each other. Using rankings from seven reviewers, this camcorder got an A- for overall video quality and clarity. It was about 30 degrees Fahrenheit when we did our outdoor testing, and this camera did turn off a few times at random while we tried to record video. We also had our video experts run the footage through the editing software Adobe Premiere Pro and evaluate the color using RGB graphs on the program. We rated this camera a B- in color correctness because the outdoor footage had some higher blue levels which gave everything a slight gray appearance.

Zoom lenses can really make a camcorder stand out. This Panasonic model has a 20x optical zoom, which is low compared to other models we tested. Optical zoom gives you the best-quality magnified image by adjusting the camera’s lens. This camera’s 60x digital zoom merely crops whatever you’re seeing through the viewfinder, resulting in a more pixelated video.

This camera also has intelligent zoom, which is a combination of optical and digital zoom but still isn't quite as clear as a straight optical zoom. This Panasonic has 25x intelligent zoom while filming in 4K and 40x intelligent zoom while filming in 1080p high definition. You can also use this camcorder to take still photos in 4K quality.