Seems everyone is throwing their hats into the action sports camera ring these days. Panasonic is the latest, hitting play with a 3.54 megapixel lightweight, ultra-compact wearable 1080 pixel HD option (available in two colors, for the more fashionable among us) with a lot of bang for the buck. It’s shockproof, waterproof, freeze-proof, and dustproof and comes with a variety of fun mounting options and accessories to tailor the product for a given mode of adventure.
What really differentiates the Panasonic, however, is its coolest feature: The ability to film in total darkness through an IR filter and light source (source available separately). More features on the A1 and a video after the jump.
The first thing to note about the A1 is its size. Coming in at a minuscule 1.6oz (45g) the camera is designed to be unnoticeable when mounted to a user’s body or helmet. The slender inch diameter body and short length of the camera (3.3″) means its small footprint means it won’t take up a lot of space on a handlebar and that it can easily be tossed in a pocket to keep it handy when not in use. The tiny camera is durable, designed to follow the user on a variety of adventure cases. It functions to 14ºF for cold weather applications, is waterproof to 5ft to follow you on wakeboarding trips or the occasional unintentional drop into a stream, and shockproof and dust proof for rocky trail applications.
The 3.54 megapixel camera shoots in 1080p utilizing a Panasnoic 2.6mm F2.8 lens. There are several frame rates to choose from to accommodate shooting at high speeds, including a 848 x 480 at 120fps/30p. The built in WiFi allows user to quickly upload video to social media for quick sharing. It also allows your phone or tablet to act as a viewfinder for setting up shots or, if you’re fancy, users can pair it with another Panasonic camera for twin camera recording. In this mode, the A1 footage is shown in a smaller window within the existing camera’s viewfinder, allowing for multiple perspectives to be filmed simultaneously and later merged if desired.
A lot of the Cool Factor of this particular product comes with the accessories. While the camera comes with a built-in 480 mAh battery with about an hour of record time, rechargeable by a micro USB port protected by a screw-on waterproof cap, there is an available option for an extension battery to bring the recording battery life up to 2.75 hours (at 1920×1080 pixel/30 frames per sec). While the A1 comes with basic tripod and surface/helmet mounts, the optional mounting accessories available for the camera by Panasonic are a bit more interesting. These mounts include more activity-specific options such as suction cup mounts for smooth surfaces such as surfboards or car hoods, a handlebar mounts for cyclists, and a mount allowing for eye-level attachment to either side of a user’s head.
Most interesting, however, is a Twin Mount for attaching two A1 cameras in tandem, for those who want to film in two directions at once. This particular mount also enables users to exploit the night vision potential of this product, using the second mount for an IR light source (available seperately) with the camera for shooting in total darkness when used with the included IR lens. And if the user isn’t shooting in a dark cave or in the middle of the night, there is a 1/3in MOS image sensor integrated in the camera body for shooting in low light conditions.
The A1 is currently available for pre-order at Panasonic for $199, with an expected ship date of June/July.