My first personal video camera was a Sony CCD-SP9 Video 8 camcorder. It had a maximum zoom of X6. Whoo Hoo! 😉 It was huge and weighed a ton. It was the latest and greatest for it's time and I paid about $1,000 for back in 1992. Fast forward to today. Now you can buy the Panasonic HC-V180 for under $200 and it has a X50 optical zoom, a X90 intelligent zoom and up to a X500 digital zoom. It takes ultra clear full HD video and it only weighs half a pound and can fit in the breast pocket of my shirt. We truly have come a long ways.
But the question remains; how good is all that zoom capability? Well, I had a chance to put the zoom on the HC- V180 to the test on a recent trip through New Mexico. I stopped at a road side picnic area just south of Nogal, New Mexico on highway 37. I took a walk back in the woods to stretch my legs and saw a mountain far in the distance north of my position. Using google earth a determined that the mountain was called "Carrizo Peak". Using the Polaris Navigation GPS android app on my Galaxy S5 Active smartphone, I determined that I was approximately 10 miles from the peak. It was a clear day and the conditions were perfect for my to put the zoom on the HC-V180 to the test.
This video is the test I performed on that day. I think you will be surprised by how well this little camcorder did.
Here is a list of the products used in the making of this video.