Panasonic HX-WA2

As a dedicated underwater camcorder, the WA2 does its job well, but we can't help feeling that a little extra money spent on a regular waterproof camera will be a better investment.


7.0
CNET Rating
7.0
User Rating

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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Design and features

The HX-WA2 is a pistol-grip style camcorder that's waterproof enough to withstand three metres of underwater dunking, all the while shooting full HD videos. If you're looking for a simple camcorder to capture some beach holiday activities in an easy-to-use package, the WA2 certainly fits the bill.

Operation is very simple. The 2.6-inch screen can flip out from the body and rotate around 285 degrees. Opening it out also turns the camcorder on, though you can also power it on or off using the dedicated button on the side.

Because of its shooting configuration, most of the controls, such as the zoom and record buttons, are located at the top and positioned so that the thumb can easily access them. The pistol-grip is certainly a love-it or hate-it design; as some users (such as this reviewer) have difficulty in steadying the device, as it is somewhat top-heavy.

Buttons to switch between record and playback mode, as well as activating intelligent automatic, are found on the side panel. This is normally covered by the screen when the camcorder is powered off.

A small joystick on the rear can be used to navigate menu options, and a double-locking door just underneath it protects the battery, SD card and HDMI port.

The WA2 comes with 5x optical zoom, extendable to 15x using Panasonic's intelligent zoom technology. It can shoot video at the following quality: 1080/60i, 1080/30p, 720/60p, 720/30p, iFrame (960x540)/30p and VGA/30p. Voice recording is also available, and still images can be captured at a 14-megapixel resolution.

Manual focus control is available, but it is hidden within the menu options. It's also fiddly and difficult to get right, so for pretty much all purposes, you'll want to keep it on automatic.

Still photo options include a panoramic mode, which can stitch together a range of photos across either a vertical or horizontal axis.

While the WA2 is waterproof, there are no other tough credentials, like shock-proofing, to make it a viable competitor for still cameras. The only reason that we could see in buying a camcorder such as this, over a regular camera, is the extra reach of zoom.

Image and video quality

While the WA2 can't produce video that's as good as a higher-end camcorder, it does just fine for everyday shots, particularly if water resistance is high on your "must have" list. Autofocus is mostly smooth, except when zoomed in to the full extent of the intelligent zoom.

Zooming in (either at the optical or intelligent zoom length) highlights how twitchy the electronic image stabilisation can be. It would have made the WA2 a much more desirable device had it been fitted with an optical image stabiliser (OIS).

Panasonic has great OIS technology in a range of its camcorders and cameras, so we don't quite understand why the WA2 should miss out.

Colours are bright and punchy from the WA2, while exposures are generally fine for most situations. Chromatic aberration is hardly visible on the video image, though it does show up slightly on still images when shooting in high-contrast situations.

Low light performance is somewhat disappointing. Not only does the screen have trouble keeping up with the action, the video and still images develop quite a bit of noise.

Conclusion

As a dedicated underwater camcorder, the WA2 does its job well, but we can't help feeling that a little extra money spent on a regular waterproof camera will be a better investment.



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shoppercopper
9
Rating
 

"A very good all rounder , with good options"

shoppercopper posted a review   
United Kingdom

The Good:16:9 photos, customise joypad, HD video, one hand action

The Bad:don't know yet

my bad ... I figured out how to customise the joystick with any quick access setting I want ! How good is that . My bad ... I need to remove my last post ! ...

My initially gripe with the product was that I could not access essential popular setting via joystick / thumbstick ... the facts : initially nothing is attributed to the joystick, but in setting you can select 4 quick access setting from a very large list . VERY GOOD.

I would also chose to have the WA2 in photo mode as primary mode and change setting to 10meg 16:9 aspect to get the big picture.

Brilliant . Sorry about previous post.

shoppercopper
5
Rating
 

"let down by no quick access to flash on/off"

shoppercopper posted a review   
United Kingdom

The Good:Ai mode clever, then true one handed all action

The Bad:no quick access to options, all via menu button

A nice product, but you will have to trust Ai mode as the major flaw (as well identified by trustedreviews web site). Poor effort Panasonic on this :

"You don't get any direct control over shutter or iris, though. Also, all of these settings can only be found in the full menu, which is accessed using the menu button on the side and the joystick on the rear. So they're not quick to get to, and the joystick otherwise performs no function, which is a missed opportunity when it could have been used to provide a quick menu for some of the most frequently used settings."

Read more at http://www.trustedreviews.com/panasonic-hx-wa2_Camcorder_review_image-quality-and-verdict_Page-3#m5wchqZ6dOhUvjzD.99

 

AlexV1 posted a comment   
Australia

Presumably this is more a Sanyo product that was in the pipeline and Panasonic managed to squeeze it out with their branding prior to launch.




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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic HX-WA2

  • shoppercopper

    shoppercopper

    Rating9

    "my bad ... I figured out how to customise the joystick with any quick access setting I want ! How good is that . My bad ... I need to remove my last post ! ...

    My initially gripe with..."

  • shoppercopper

    shoppercopper

    Rating5

    "A nice product, but you will have to trust Ai mode as the major flaw (as well identified by trustedreviews web site). Poor effort Panasonic on this :

    "You don't get any direct contro..."

  • AlexV1

    AlexV1

    "Presumably this is more a Sanyo product that was in the pipeline and Panasonic managed to squeeze it out with their branding prior to launch."

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