Is the camcorder dead?

Friday

The camcorder is on the way out, replaced by video-friendly traditional cameras.

WHEN did you last see a full-sized camcorder?

It might have been in a TV flashback scene, at a retro party, or all the way back in the 1990s.

Video cameras are rarely devices held in palms or rested on shoulders any more but increasingly they’re small, waterproof blocks mounted on bicycles or, for more professional shoots, devices cunningly disguised as traditional cameras.

Imaging leaders including Sony and Panasonic are tipping these hybrid cameras as the future video leaders and sales figures appear to back them up.

Plus, the hybrid cameras are adding features and power more commonly seen in professional video cameras.

Panasonic is pitching its GH5 as a camera designed to shoot video.

Panasonic is pitching its GH5 as a camera designed to shoot video.Source:The Australian

Panasonic became the latest company to deliver a hybrid video camera to Australia recently with the much-anticipated launch of its Lumix GH5 .

The $3000 camera, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to five awards, can be used like any mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

It features a 20-megapixel sensor, can be packaged with a 12-60mm Leica kit lens, and offers image stabilisation.

But Panasonic Australia imaging senior product manager Doug Campbell says both it and its predecessor attract the most attention not from still photographers but videographers, both professionals and enthusiasts.

Its “key target customers”, he says, have become professional videographers who will use the GH5 to produce everything from documentaries to music videos, as well as “hybrid photographers” who want to capture photos and videos with just one camera body.

The Panasonic camera’s video focus is partly fuelled by a growing demand for moving images, Campbell says, and also by advances in quality.

“Video content is king on the internet and also social media. This, in turn, is making customers increasingly hungry for video, not only to watch but also to produce it themselves,” he says.

“Sales of 4K video products are up to 14 per cent of the market in less than three short years. We predict this trend will continue to grow.”

A Maori woman in traditional outfit in Queenstown, New Zealand, as captured with the Panasonic Lumix GH5. Picture: Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson

A Maori woman in traditional outfit in Queenstown, New Zealand, as captured with the Panasonic Lumix GH5. Picture: Jennifer Dudley-NicholsonSource:News Corp Australia

The new video focus is also growing the mirrorless camera market. GfK forecasts the cameras will make up 35 per cent of all interchangeable lens cameras this year, up from 25 per cent in 2014.

But does this mean the death of the Handycam?

Neither Panasonic nor Sony launched a new camcorder at CES this year, Canon added 4K video recording to its 5D Mk IV camera rather than issue a consumer-friendly video camera, and Nikon issued a range of action cameras that shoot video, as well as one that records 360-degree video.

For its part, Panasonic imaging network business director Yosuke Yamane says the company will continue to target the customers once serviced by camcorders, adding greater motion picture advances to its mirrorless cameras in the near future.

“Towards the year 2020, 4K (video) will evolve to 8K,” he says. “It will be a totally new world. Motion and still pictures will merge. Super high dynamic range will enable videographers to create impressive images even in candlelight.”

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