While the lens component of the new ultra high-definition camera fits around your ear and rests by your cheek, the body slots into an armband case, making the A500 a hands-free (and helmet-free!) device that’s ideal for capturing all your extreme sports adventures – or altogether more gentle pursuits – in breathtaking detail.
The waterproof camera can record 30fps at 4K, 60fps at 1080p, 120fps at 720fps, and 240fps at 480. The higher the frame rate, the slower the recorded footage, so go for the 240fps option and you’ll capture every tiny bit of your heart-stopping surf through a terrifyingly awesome tubing wave (although it’ll probably take forever to watch back).
The Japanese maker claims excellent low-light performance and ultra-wide shooting at a maximum of 160 degrees, helping to ensure you get everything in the frame.
The A500 package is remarkably light, with the camera weighing 31g (1.1oz), while the body, which features a 1.5-inch 115,200-dot color display, tips the scales at 119g (4.2oz). However, the camera part of the outfit begins to look decidedly bulky when sitting by the side of your face. Users who find the look unappealing, or possibly uncomfortable, will be pleased to know a multi-mount option allows you to attach it to a helmet or backpack.
Panasonic’s Image app (for iOS and Android) lets you use your smartphone or tablet to remotely control the shooting and playback functions of the A500, and to upload footage to the Web as well. You can also use the camera to broadcast live video via Ustream, giving family and close friends an opportunity to see you risking your life while participating in an extreme sport of your choosing.
The A500 will be available in the US at the beginning of July at photo specialty retailers, as well as online at shop.panasonic.com. While we’re still waiting on price information for the US, we do know that the A500 is set to hit stores in the UK at around the same time for £379 ($625).