Panasonic HC-V180 review: a bargain travel camcorder

The Panasonic HC-V180 is a tiny camcorder with a tiny price and better zoom than some phones

The Panasonic HC-V180 camcorder being held by a young woman
(Image: © Lauren Scott)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Panasonic HC-V180 is a strong contender for budget-conscious camcorder buyers, but it's showing its age. The setup is quick and the controls are user-friendly, but the video quality is so-so and grainy in lower light. Its standout feature is the impressive 50x optical zoom, which is excellent for wildlife watching and stable even at full power. The HC-V180 is a good choice if you prioritize zoom capabilities and compact sizing above cinematic visuals.

Pros

  • +

    Wide-angle good for vlogging

  • +

    Incredibly lightweight

  • +

    Powerful zoom

Cons

  • -

    Unresponsive touchscreen

  • -

    Menus aren't always clear

  • -

    Slow to turn on

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The best camcorders are back in fashion, but were they ever out? Video is still the fastest-growing sector for content creation, and camcorders have plenty of USPs. They're great for handheld footage, come with all-in-one lenses, and, if they're anything like the Panasonic HC-V180, offer epic zooming potential far beyond what the best phone for video recording is capable of.

With a 50x optical zoom and a 28mm wide-angle setting for landscape scenic and group shots, the HC-V180 seems like the ultimate travel companion. The best cinema cameras are bulky and expensive, while the budget Panasonic HC-V180 is cheap and compact. It's the company's budget, entry-level camcorder and one of the last remaining from a bygone era, having been released more than eight years ago.

Sony HDR-CX405

The <a href="https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/reviews/sony-hdr-cx405-handycam-review-a-cheap-compact-hd-camcorder" data-link-merchant="digitalcameraworld.com"">Sony HDR-CX405 is ever so slightly cheaper and lighter than the HC-V180, but it sports the same-sized sensor. With a less powerful 30x optical zoom, it's a decent choice if you don't need a long-range lens, and has a built-in USB charging cable for convenience.

Image

If you need a more advanced camcorder for vlogging, the Sony FDR-AX700 offers both 4K and HD recording, with slow motion at 120 fps. It's about five times the price of the HC-V180, and the optical zoom is much lower at 12x, but the 1-inch sensor gives excellent video quality. 

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Lauren Scott
Freelance contributor/former Managing Editor

Lauren is a writer, reviewer, and photographer with ten years of experience in the camera industry. She's the former Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, and previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, Technique editor for PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, and Deputy Editor of our sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine. An experienced journalist and freelance photographer, Lauren also has bylines at Tech Radar, Space.com, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, Stuff, and British Airways' in-flight magazine (among others). When she's not testing gear for DCW, she's probably in the kitchen testing yet another new curry recipe or walking in the Cotswolds with her Flat-coated Retriever.