Panasonic has announced the HC-X1000, the first camcorder capable of recording 4K ultra HD video at 60 frames per second onto an SD card. Intended as a bridging camera for 1080p shooters looking to take the step into 4K production, the X1000 brings a host of pro features to the table, including twin XLR audio inputs, built in ND filters, a 20x zoom, high speed autofocus Leica lens and a pop-out protected touch screen. With dual SD card slots, it also introduces a new "background recording" mode that constantly lays down footage on the secondary card so you never miss anything.

With US pricing set at US$3,499, the X1000 looks like a strong contender in the camcorder game. Sony's FDR-AX1, for example, has a similar level of specification, but it's a thousand dollars dearer and requires XQD cards instead of SD cards to handle the giant 4K, 60p data stream.

The X1000 is field-ready, with a host of tasty inclusions, like three manual lens rings (zoom, focus, iris), infra-red night mode and some very impressive image stabilization capabilities that virtually eliminate hand-held image shake and blur.

Its dual SD card slots can be used for conventional instant-backup double recording or sequential recording that cuts over from one card to the other when the first runs out. But there's also "background recording" mode – an interesting idea that keeps the secondary card recording at all times, while using the primary card as a select-cuts recorder.

While there's not a huge call for 4K media at the moment, using this extra resolution can give shooters additional options in post processing. Shooting wider than necessary opens up a bunch of image stabilization options in post, or you can crop, zoom, compose and pan using 1080p windows that take up as little as a quarter of the full 4K frame.

The HC-X1000 has its own Wi-Fi transmitter built in, allowing users to connect, control and monitor the camera from a smartphone or tablet through the Panasonic Image app available for iOS and Android.

Perhaps the only let-down is the X1000's tiny 1/2.3-inch image sensor, even if it does boast very impressive 8-megapixel resolution. The sensor is the same size as the one used in a GoPro 3, nearly 8 times smaller than a Micro Four Thirds sensor and more than 30 times smaller than a full frame 35 mm sensor.

But this has always been the trade-off with camcorders – the convenience of excellent autofocus, electronic zoom and fully field-ready audio and equipment levels, versus the low-light excellence and fast glass but extremely fiddly shooting experience of a DSLR or Micro Four Thirds camera.

The HC-X1000 is expected to begin shipping in mid-October with global pricing to be available closer to the release date.

The video below introduces the new camcorder.

Product Page: Panasonic HC-X1000