Panasonic AG-HMC151 Camcorder

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Richard Payne
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(Seriously Vested Interest Alert)
My Demo Panasonic AG-HMC151 camcorder has arrived, and as soon as the sun comes out I'll get out the door and shoot some stuff.
In the mean time if anyone wants any information about the camera please feel free to PM me or add to this thread.

As I work for the UK distributor of this camera I am obviously biased, but I will answer as as much as I can as an enthusiast rather than an employee.

Alan Roberts
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And you'll have tried it one a zone plate, of course :D

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Richard Payne
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It's propped up in the kitchen as I write this!

Steamage
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What, if anything, is the relationship between the AG-HMC151 and the HMC-150 that I have seen discussed recently on DVinfo.net?

TIA

Mark @ Steam Age Pictures - Steam trains on video in aid of railway preservation societies. Latest release: "Mainline 2012, LMS Locomotives", on DVD or Bluray Disc.

Richard Payne
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The 151 is the European version of the 150.

Glen Cope
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Panasonic now put a number 1 for European models. So the HMV151 is for Europe, while the HMC150 is for USA/Japan. This new model/numbering system has been implemented to prevent grey-imports; which is a good thing. In the past, grey-importers were simply rubbing off the Europe letter (i.e. Sony Z1e or Z1u etc) from the base of the camcorder.

schwimmwagen1
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Frame rates

Does the 151 do the NTSC frame rates as well as the PAL ones?

Richard Payne
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Yes it does. However you cannot mix 50htz and 60htz on the same SD card.

infocus
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Does it do vari-speed in the same way as the HPX170/200etc Richard? It generally seems to be referred to as the same front end as a HPX170, but with SD cards and AVC-HD instead of P2 and DVCProHD, but the Panasonic pdf doesn't make any mention of varispeed, just variable shutter times.

Richard Payne
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No. The AG-HMC151 does not record Vari-speed. You can set 1080 24p, 1080 25p, 1080 30p, 720 50p, and 720 60p.

infocus
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Richard Payne wrote:
My Demo Panasonic AG-HMC151 camcorder has arrived, and as soon as the sun comes out I'll get out the door and shoot some stuff.

Out of interest, have you compared the difference between shooting in 1080i and 720p? I've been hearing reports that describe the "sweet spot" for the camera as the 720p mode at highest bitrate, that it (surprisingly) looks better than 1080i mode. The thinking is that it matches the front end quite well for resolution, yet taxes the compressor far less, and you're avoiding all the interlace issues.

Richard Payne
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I like the look of the 1080 better personally. I find it sharper.

I have tried both.

(A few months later and I am now convinced that 720 50p is the best mode for the camera, 1080i may appear sharper on some screens but when you take compression and better SD downsampling into account 720 50p has the edge)

tom hardwick
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I had a happy play with Richard's 151 at the IOV show and we all marvelled at the image quality on the big plasma. 70 quid cheaper than the Z5 lurking not far away (which costs a lot more if you want the CF card reader / writer) , and as Richard points out - SD cards are not far short of a pound a gig now.

The 151 looks almost identical to the long-standing DVX100, but with a 13x zoom in place of the 10x and of course an obvious 16:9 hood up front. HD User's review wasn't too kind but there's a lot of folk who have loved the DVX for years and won't mourn the passing of MiniDV.

tom.

Richard Payne
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Thanks Tom. Don't forget it also has a 28mm equivalent wide angle too.
Also if you Google it - the price is very reasonable compared to Z5.

infocus
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tom hardwick wrote:
70 quid cheaper than the Z5 lurking not far away (which costs a lot more if you want the CF card reader / writer) , and as Richard points out - SD cards are not far short of a pound a gig now.

I'm doing some research myself on "what camera" around that price point, and my quotes have indicated a bigger difference than that - more than £500?

Of the ones I've looked at, the sort of street prices I'm being quoted (all ex VAT) are around:

EX1 - £3,900
Z7 - £3,500 (incl 1 8GB CF card)
Z5 - £2,800 (with no CF recorder - about £500 more for the reader)
HVX171 - £2,600
HMC151 - £2,300 (well, £2,299, actually)

The EX1 is indisputedly the best, both in terms of technical quality and control ergonomics etc. I only ask why they couldn't have made it shouldermount for more easy handholding, but the same criticism applies to all the others. Hardly surprisingly, it's the most expensive.

The Z7 and the Z5 have USPs IMO of SD and tape compatibility, which may be deciding factors to some people alone.

I'm actually looking to go solid state, and need 720p/50 for specific reasons, as well as the ability to run for roughly two hours without downloading and formatting cards.

At this point, it's easy to see one very big attraction of the 151. The SD cards are about £20-25 for 16GB, enough for about an hour, so my 2 hours of continuous recording costs an extra £50 - about £2,350 for camera and memory.

Do the same sums for the 171, and the difference becomes ridiculous - you need 4 32GB cards at about £900 each. An extra £3,600, to bring the cost of camera and memory to £6,200.

Same sums for the EX1 and I make it about £5,000 if you use proper SxS, about £4,000 if you use SDHC with the adaptor.

My conclusions are that if you want the best in this category and need a reasonable amount of recording time, go with the EX, especially if you can use the SDHC cards. If £4,000 is just too much, the HMC151 is not much more than half that. As for the 171, I'm sure there must be some potential buyers who may want it as a B camera to bigger P2 cameras, but for the vast majority the EX is far better (and cheaper overall), and Panasonics own 151 is far cheaper, with the same basic picture quality. (Actually much better in 720p mode - it records a full 1280x720 raster.)

Alan Roberts
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Out of interest, I've just completed testing the HPX171 for the BBC (I've also just tested the Canon HF10 and 5D, and build #17 of RED, and several more to come in the next week or so). Since it's the HDSDI version of the HMC151, I expect the same settings to work. But, publication must wait until the manufacturers have had a chance to see my report. So don't ask here.

And, while we're at it, it seems that my camera settings docs might soon be promoted to official EBU status, rather than just BBC. Not that I'll get paid any more :)

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Since it's the HDSDI version of the HMC151, ......

Out of fairness to the 171, I think there are a few other differences, most notably it does varispeed, the 151 doesn't. I don't consider that justifies the extra cost - if varispeed was essential, I think the EX becomes a better buy.

And whilst the 151 doesn't have HDSDI, I believe it does have HDMI. That may be a more useful option for many. (Shame they couldn't have both.....)

Daniel Browning
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Alan Roberts wrote:
I've also just tested the Canon 5D

Wow! Is that a pre-production 5D Mark II? I'm looking forward to your report.

Alan Roberts
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Yes, I was over-simplifying in a hurry. The 171 does a lot of spot speeds, but not variable speed like the Varicam. These spot speeds are only available at 720p though. And, yes, the 151 does have HDMI, that's how I connected it in some private tests, but that brings about an interesting problem, because the licence for HDMI connection precludes professional/broadcast use. So, although I can easily convert HDMI to HDSDI, I can legally use it only for monitoring, not for programme feeds.

And I can't stop long now, because I've got a Z7 to test.

Yes, the 5D was pre-production. But, like I said, don't ask for comments yet.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Mick Mearman
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Looking at all the specs for the HMC 151 it doesn't say anything about down converting to Standard Def only via the analogue connections is that right, if that's the case is the Sony Z1 better for me? as I want to video in HD for my own use but down convert for distribution and with my PC specs I don't think capturing in HD and down converting there is possible, I do like the idea of SD card acquisition though.
Mick

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

Richard Payne
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Footage from the 151 seems to downconvert very well and software downconversion is usually preferable to using the camera downconvert through firewire.

Mick Mearman
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In that case is software like Elecard AVC HD to DV transcoder any good and able to work with computers not up to HD spec but are up to DV spec? I suspect it would work better from the card reader or may there be issues there also?
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Video/Encoders-Converter-DIVX-Related/Elecard-AVC-HD-to-DV-Transcoder.shtml
Mick

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

infocus
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Mick Mearman wrote:
..........I want to video in HD for my own use but down convert for distribution and with my PC specs I don't think capturing in HD and down converting there is possible, ..........

I think the recommended workflow would therefore be :

Film in HD
Capture and edit in HD
Downconvert and output in SD (Still having an HD master)

With the 151, I think the recommendation would be to import, then transcode to an "edit friendly" codec, before editing. I'm afraid you may have to think about a new PC. If that's not an option, and you just want to keep an HD rushes archive, all editing being SD for now, you may want to consider the Z7 - record HDV on tape for archive, simultaneously record DV to Compact Flash for the "here and now" SD edit. The Z7 does have the benefit of a true manual lens, but is more expensive than the 151.

Quote:
I do like the idea of SD card acquisition though.

In which you're far from alone....... :)

Also worth noting that recorded SD cards from the 151 can be put straight in to the SD slots on some Panasonic TVs, for very easy playback. A very useful feature for such as training I/Vs etc.

Richard Payne
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Mick Mearman wrote:
In that case is software like Elecard AVC HD to DV transcoder any good and able to work with computers not up to HD spec but are up to DV spec? I suspect it would work better from the card reader or may there be issues there also?
http://www.softpedia.com/get/Multimedia/Video/Encoders-Converter-DIVX-Related/Elecard-AVC-HD-to-DV-Transcoder.shtml
Mick

Are you wanting to Transcode to DV so Liquid can use the footage? If this is the case there is software that converts AVCHD to HDV as well. http://www.newbluefx.com/avchd-upshift.html

Mick Mearman
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Richard Payne wrote:
Are you wanting to Transcode to DV so Liquid can use the footage?

Yes Richard, I don't think my pc is up to HD
Mick

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

PeterM
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Infocus mentions that "... recorded SD cards from the 151 can be put straight in to the SD slots on some Panasonic TVs, for very easy playback. A very useful feature for such as training I/Vs etc."

I've found that the same is true if the card is placed in the card reader slot in my Sony PS3.

Mick Mearman
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I asked a dealer to put some footage on a SDHC card for me to see if I could read it and down convert it using the Elecard converter. I could read and convert it but when I played it in media player it seemed to be 4:3, then I put it on a Liquid 16:9 timeline and it had black bars either side, the clip properties say it's 4:3, playing direct from Liquid to a Panasonic 16:9 TV it plays somewhere between 4:3 and 14:9 if I force the TV to play it in 4:3 it's squashed but I can't force it to play in 16:9.
I think the dealer may have had side crop selected on the camera? because in the Elecard preview window before conversion the sides are cropped but not as much as 4:3.
I thought I need to see this in HD so I went to a friend who had a Panasonic with a SD slot but it won't read it, seems to only be able to read JPEG's
Can someone please advise me before I ask the dealer how he recorded it?
Mick

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

Dave R Smith
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Mick Mearman wrote:
I thought I need to see this in HD so I went to a friend who had a Panasonic with a SD slot but it won't read it, seems to only be able to read JPEG's
Can someone please advise me before I ask the dealer how he recorded it?
Mick

Hi Mick,
Recently bought Panasonic TV.:)
Haven't used SD card reader as my stills camera is a different format.:(
Specs say it accepts JPEG files of DCF* and EXIF standards and of certain resolution range.
Mention of various SD card types/sizes as well.
No mention of other file types (e.g. video), though when I was searching to buy a TV, I think it was the USB input models that could handle stills camera or external hard drive with photo's and/or mpf files - again no mention of video files.

HTH

Barry Hunter
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Mick, just a thought, in Liquid, go into the clips "Properties" select the video tab then choose scale both, I think. I`ve had one or two probs in the past where the footage had been shot in 16:9 & when edited in one PC & subsequently recorded to tape for use in another edit suite. Worth a try!

Barry Hunter videos4all.org

Alan Roberts
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I have a SDHC card on loan from Richard Payne, with some of his 151 footage. It plays perfectly in my Panasonic plasma, as 16:9. It also imports correctly into Edius. So, if you have footage that looks like 4:3, it must have been generated as 4:3. Try again :)

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Mick Mearman
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Alan Roberts wrote:
I have a SDHC card on loan from Richard Payne, with some of his 151 footage. It plays perfectly in my Panasonic plasma, as 16:9. It also imports correctly into Edius. So, if you have footage that looks like 4:3, it must have been generated as 4:3. Try again :)

Thanks Alan I think it must be, in the specs for the camera it does say you can crop & squeeze for analogue output but it seems strange that it would record in HD on the card like that, why would you want to do that?
Mick

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
I have a SDHC card ...... It plays perfectly in my Panasonic plasma, as 16:9.

Yes, I've also played test 151 footage directly on a Panasonic plasma TV, and again, very easy, and a very nice feature. In my case, insert card, select "SD", then there's a choice between movie and still mode, select video, and thumbnails come up on screen, one for each shot. Plays straight off in 16:9, and since I think the 151 is HD only, presumably the recording must be in that aspect ratio.

It does get me wondering if it could play the same trick (direct playback on TV) with an SD card recorded via an adaptor in an EX? I suppose it depends if it recognises the folder structure.

Mick Mearman
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I've just done a screen grab from the Elecard converter and that looks like 16:9 and yet the preview screen has black bars either side not as large as 4:3 in the middle of a 16:9 screen more like 14:9. Has anyone else used this converter? does it by default convert everything to 4:3?
I wish I could find a way to view the AVCHD footage then I would know.
Would anyone accept an email from me with this screen grab and give me their thoughts as to it's format please?
Mick

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

Alan Roberts
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Mick, you have a PM.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Mick Mearman
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Thanks Alan I've sent you a message
Mick

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

Richard Payne
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The 151 is not capable of generating 4:3 files, but can do analogue 4:3 output. I would suggest that the software is not interpreting the footage correctly, perhaps it assumes it is 1440 X 1080 non square pixel, when in reality it is 1920 X 1080 square pixel.

Mick Mearman
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Thanks Richard, Alan has viewed my frame grabs and says that the HD grab is how it should be, so you must be right, can you suggest an alternative converter other than Elecard which can convert AVCHD to SD avi that I could try? I would like to buy one of these cameras but at the moment I must be able to convert it to SD prior to editing, I know I could capture SD from the camera in analogue but that seems a step backwards to me.
Mick

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

Richard Payne
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The Firecoder Blu from Canopus will do this very fast, but is probably overkill http://www.holdan.co.uk/grassvalley/firecoder_blu.htm
If Virtual Dub can use AVCHD this might provide a low cost solution. The downconversion is the tricky bit. Much easier if you shoot at 720p 50 because then the downconversion does not need to work with the interlace.
My fear is if you are converting the footage once, so it works with Liquid and then Once more to downconvert that you are jumping through rather too many hoops!

Mick Mearman
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Since Alan confirmed to me that the footage was indeed 16:9 and for some reason was appearing (after conversion to SD) on the Liquid timeline squashed to 4:3 I have now tried Barry's suggestion and gone in to clip properties and changed the scale to 'Fit Both' and this works 'Fit X' also works, properties still reports it as being 4:3 I suppose the converter must be creating the wrong shape pixels.
The footage looks good on a Panasonic LCD apart from looking not interlaced on zooms and pans, although there again clip properties says it is interlaced?
Mick

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

Richard Payne
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I have uploaded 4 clips that I filmed at the 1920 X 1080 setting on the AG-HMC151 camcorder in their original M2ts format.

bottom left of page http://www.holdan.co.uk/panasonic/AG-HMC151.htm

You can play them in EDIUS or Premiere CS4 or this free program http://www.videolan.org/ Download and use at your own risk.

When the sun comes out next I'll film some 720 50p stuff too.

tom hardwick
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Richard Payne wrote:
When the sun comes out next I'll film some 720 50p stuff too.

Don't think we can wait till April, Richard.

Mick Mearman
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Thanks Richard, I tried them through the Elecard AVCHD to SD converter and it does it very well and copes with the interlacing ok except it comes out as before squashed into a 4:3 frame but taken into Liquid using 'fit X' puts it back to 16:9 don't know why it does this it must be an error in the converter?
Is the 3rd clip supposed to be a frozen pic with audio at the start? the one with a wide view of the train from the front, because on preview it is and converted twice it's the same?
Mick

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

Richard Payne
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Hi Mick. Clip 00048 plays fine for me. There is sound all the way through. The error in the converter might be because it is expecting 1440x1080 1.3333 rather than the full 1920x1080 with square pixels I setting I used.

Mick Mearman
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Yes I had sound all the way but a still picture for about 3 secs

3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium III, 3.5GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4350, Avid Liquid, Edius 6.03, Sony EX1R & EX1, Panasonic SD700

Richard Payne
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The Sun came out early Tom!

So now there are 4 new 720 50p clips up there too.
http://www.holdan.co.uk/panasonic/AG-HMC151.htm bottom left.

Neon Films
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Hi Richard,

I have a quick question regarding editing the footage from the 151. Do you know what sort of spec PC system I would need to edit the highest quality footage? Either with Premiere CS4 or Edius?

Mark Smith

Leeds Media Services
Video Production in Leeds and Yorkshire

tom hardwick
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Hey guys, Nigel Cooper does a great multi-page review on the 151 in this month's super-glossy DV User mag.

Alan Roberts
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We've got lots of evidence now that the 151 (and it's P2 brother the HPX171) is a very nice 1280x720 camera. Although you can set it to 1920x1080, you don't get any more useful resolution that way, and the compression artefacts are a bit more visible. Richard, Infocus and I had a joujnt viewing on Wednesday to establish that we're all seeing the same thing, and it was very clear that the best pictures come when you shoot it 720p.

Also, the HPX171 settings work well in it. The BBC settings doc for the 171 should be on line very soon, anyone wanting an early copy, send me a PM.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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Alan Roberts wrote:
We've got lots of evidence now that the 151 (and it's P2 brother the HPX171) is a very nice 1280x720 camera.

To dot i's, that should be seen in a positive light. It shouldn't be taken as "ahhh, only 1280x720.... I really want a 1080 camera...." Because you need to separate the camera performance from the recording format, and I'd say that ALL the current 1/3" cameras really have a performance which is around that point, regardless of what format they record.

In the case of Sony, then the front ends of their 1/3" cameras match 1080i recording, but the cameras resolutions generally fall short of what 1080 is fully capable of. In the case of JVC they are upfront about it, they're quite proud to say "these are 720p cameras" and their HDV variant is 720p, end of story. They accept that 720p matches 1/3" sensors.

The trouble with Panasonic is that their marketing makes a big splash of the 151 being 1080i compatible. But it's not a good idea to use it in that mode. It doesn't look BAD - but it does look BETTER in 720p/50 mode, and that gives a better route to downconvert to standard definition PAL as well. You don't lose any resolution, but DO gain far easier compression, and hence a lot less artifacts. 720p/50 should also convert quite well to 1080i/25, but the opposite is not true.

If anyone does want a camera which gets the best out the 1080 system, wants "true 1080 resolution", you really have to forget about ALL the 1/3" cameras and go for something with bigger chips, and the EX1/3 are the obvious (and only) cameras in anything like this price range. They also have other advantages such as true manual lens, far more pro features, and a codec that is easier to edit - but they're more expensive.

There is one big difference between the 151 and the 171 in 720p mode - the 151 records full 720 raster (1280x720) being AVC-HD, the 171 subsamples to 960x720 being DVCProHD. I'd expect a 151 to actually look noticeably sharper than a 171. (Quite apart from using vastly cheaper memory.... ;))

Alan Roberts
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Agreed all that, and in 1080 mode the 171 looks sharper than the 151, just a little.

But I fully support the advice to shoot 720p/50 on the 151, the pictures are significantly better because the compression is less severe because it doesn't have to deal with interlace. And the down-conversion routes a lot better.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Steamage
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How big and heavy is the 151? How does that compare to the Z1, XH-A1 or VX2xxx series? I'd expect it to be somewhere between the Z1 and the VX.

Mark @ Steam Age Pictures - Steam trains on video in aid of railway preservation societies. Latest release: "Mainline 2012, LMS Locomotives", on DVD or Bluray Disc.

Alan Roberts
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Very similar to Z1.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Glen Cope
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Review in issue 11 here:

http://www.dvuser.co.uk/back-issues.php

Richard Payne
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Neon Films wrote:
Hi Richard,

I have a quick question regarding editing the footage from the 151. Do you know what sort of spec PC system I would need to edit the highest quality footage? Either with Premiere CS4 or Edius?

If you transcode the footage using the free AVC2HQ converter software from Thomson/Canopus then you can edit with a fast Dual Core P4 or better still Core 2 Duo or Quad core.

For native AVCHD editing in Premiere Pro 4 you should look at a Quad core 2.66 or faster, although my 2.3 Core 2 Duo laptop makes a pretty good go of it.

Richard Payne
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Very big thanks to Alan and Infocus for helping me verify the best settings to use with the 151. The results will be on display at the Broadcast Video Expo show at Earls Court Feb 17th-19th. Personally I will now use 720 50p as a default with the camera, although I'm sure in some situations 1080i will be used again. In my opinion the 1080i pictures are noticably better than the Sony Z1 shooting 1080i.

infocus
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Richard Payne wrote:
In my opinion the 1080i pictures are noticably better than the Sony Z1 shooting 1080i.

Interesting - I'd look forward to seeing that. Off the top of my head I've no doubt you're right overall, but suspect it may be somewhat dependent on picture content. I'd predict the Z1 to be somewhat sharper, but the 151 to be better from a compression point of view. Hence I'd predict the Z1 to have the edge on more static scenes, the 151 to shine on scenes with higher motion. Any thoughts on that?

To be honest I think the important differences between the two from a purchasers point of view are more likely to be along the lines of solid state v tape, codec differences etc.

In the past, I've been less than impressed by the thought of solid state *for general usage*, the workflow has brought as many downsides as upsides. But that was in the days of solid state=P2 and what the 151 first brought to the table was being the first prosumer camera (?) to natively use SD cards, and the realisation that now you could have the advantages of solid state, but treat the cards much as tape was previously treated.

Other differences? As an advantage to the 151 I'd rate the ability to record 720p/50 at all, especially if a user wants a master in HD, but their most significant here and now market is SD. 720p/50 should downconvert better than 1080i/25, and we're all agreed now that the 151 is better in 720p/50 anyway. In favour of the Z1 then MPEG2 is far more easily editable natively than AVC-HD, though transcoding can solve that issue.

What is interesting is when you compare prices. I've just been on to one dealers web site and found them selling the 151 for £2,600 (which is more than I was expecting, has there been a price rise?) and the Z1 for £3,375 - nearly £800 more. They don't give a price for the EX1 without SxS cards, but elsewhere it's £3,900. I can make a good case for the 151 (it's the cheapest) and another good case for the EX1 (it's far better than either of the other two), but can't help feeling that the Z1 now sits uncomfortably between stools.

Richard Payne
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Prices have risen due to the Pounds continued slide against the Euro and the US Dollar. Ironic when you consider talk about negative inflation. I think these currency problems are increasing every manufacturers prices, fairly dramatically.

As the 151 is better in low light, and better in terms of movement compared to the Z1 I think my opinion that pictures are better from the 151 would be justified. Any static, well lit shots would probably be better handled by my stills camera ;-)

tom hardwick
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You're right on that front - prices are rising fast and even purelygadgets lists the Z1 at £3.7k. Yikes - that's made mine worth a goodly sight more. And Canon even made the Radio 4 news on Saturday with its price hikes across the board.

The sinewave has bottomed out chaps. If you want kit, the time was yesterday. Or maybe today if you're quick.

Richard - I'm more and more interested in the 151 because it uses CCDs instead of the CMOS that falters alarmingly under electronic flash. And you say it's better than the Z1 in low light? You mean as regards movement capture rather than aperture used though, yes?

tom.

Richard Payne
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tom hardwick wrote:
Richard - I'm more and more interested in the 151 because it uses CCDs instead of the CMOS that falters alarmingly under electronic flash. And you say it's better than the Z1 in low light? You mean as regards movement capture rather than aperture used though, yes?

tom.

I would say both in terms of movement and aperture.

Check out page 6 of the information below for performance with electronic flash.

http://www.holdan.co.uk/panasonic/specs/Panasonic_AG-HMC151.pdf

infocus
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Glen Cope wrote:
Review in issue 11 here:

http://www.dvuser.co.uk/back-issues.php

There's little in that review I'd disagree with, but I do think there is one big omission. Early on, he says:

Quote:
.....because for the first time ever, there is now a semiprofessional HD camcorder that produces excellent quality footage directly onto cheap ...SDHC ... memory cards.

Until the HMC151 we only had Panasonic’s P2 format and Sony’s SxS format for solid-state HD camcorders. Both these professional formats are out of reach for many budget conscious videographers due to the price of the cards. ........
In fact the cost-per-hour on Sony’s SxS is around 50x more expensive than SDHC on the HMC151 and DVCProHD onto P2 is around 130x more!

All true, but I would have expected a mention of the ability to now use SDHC cards with the EX cameras, given the amount of cross comparison with other cameras, and level of detail in the article. I did wonder if it had been written a while ago, but it seems to be the January 2009 edition. (And the use of SDHC in an EX has been around since September 2008)

tom hardwick
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infocus wrote:
I would have expected a mention of the ability to now use SDHC cards with the EX cameras

That certainly occurred to me too, and brings the pricing of the Z5 and Z7 (against the much better EX1) into some sort of question.

tom hardwick
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It's odd that the 151 doesn't have any decent slow shutter speeds, as these can be incredibly useful at times for special effects as well as to avoid using gain-up. I remember the DVX100 was quickly updated to the DVX100A when its lack of slow shutter speeds became apparent.

Richard Payne
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Even with gain at 12db there is very little noise so I haven't missed slow shutter. As an effect I would rather use motion blur in post and have a choice.

infocus
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tom hardwick wrote:
.......and brings the pricing of the Z5 and Z7 (against the much better EX1) into some sort of question.

Yes, but not just them, it's pretty much all the rest of that sector of the market! Even the 151. A few months ago the difference wasn't just that the EX cost more than the 151, the EX meant having to buy extra expensive memory and a completely different workflow. Now the EX can use SDHC, the financial difference between the two becomes far less.

I suspect that the review was written before the use of SDHC for the EX was discovered. In which case it's a good lesson that if you want up to date good advice, better to come to a forum like this than rely on magazines! ;)

It's not just price, picking up on Toms comments about framerates, elsewhere in the review is:

Quote:
The HMC151 has no variable frame-rate and there is no time-lapse feature, so if you want these features you’ll have to go for the AGHPX171E, but the latter costs about £175 more and you’ll lose the cheap SD/HD workflow as the 171 uses the more expensive P2 cards.

As said before, I can make a good case for the 151 based on price and value for money, but if I wanted those sort of features I wouldn't bother considering a 171. By the time it's equipped with a sensible amount of memory, it's now up to or more than the price of an EX, which is a far better camera.

SimonMW
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Nigel was aware of the SDHC cards in the EX when he wrote the 151 review, although he didn't know the ins and outs of doing it and probably didn't want to mention it without knowing more.

It is funny looking at the featuresets of the various cameras. For example the 171 using P2 cards thus bringing the overall cost up to that of the EX1. It really seems like an unwritten rule between the manufacturers not to stir things up too much for their own protection.

infocus
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SimonMW wrote:
Nigel was aware of the SDHC cards in the EX when he wrote the 151 review, although he didn't know the ins and outs of doing it and probably didn't want to mention it without knowing more.

Hmmm. I suppose it's easy to be wise after the event, but it rather begs the question of why he then didn't find out more before putting the article to bed. It's not a trivial matter, as may be seen from the tens of thousands of views the subject has got on other websites, and since the introduction and focus of his review (the fact which really caused him "to jump up and down with excitement" no less :)) is that "there is now a semiprofessional HD camcorder that produces excellent quality footage directly onto cheap ...SDHC ...memory cards".

If he was aware that it was now possible for another camera to do the same trick, surely it was worth at least mentioning it, even with caveats if he wasn't 100% sure of the ins and outs?

Quote:
It is funny looking at the featuresets of the various cameras. For example the 171 using P2 cards thus bringing the overall cost up to that of the EX1. It really seems like an unwritten rule between the manufacturers not to stir things up too much for their own protection.

In this case though it seems as if it's happened via third parties, caught ALL the manufacturers on the wrong foot, and the only clear winner seems to be the EX itself. And actually (for once) end users themselves, who are now able in droves to buy for the same money a better camera than they might have thought a few months ago.

It must have taken sales away from other parts of the Sony line up, let alone from other manufacturers. The irony is that it makes the EX even better than if Sony had just designed it to take SDHC cards from the start, since as it stands you can use cheap cards for standard filming, whilst proper SxS gives the full overcranking facilities, broadcast compatability etc. Heck, it's like having a 151 and a 171 rolled into one, able to take SDHC and/or P2 in the same body! Now there's something for Panasonic to think about.....!

StevenBagley
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Having just picked up a couple of MxR adaptors for my EX1, I've been thinking about the use of SD cards for video capture and have come to the conclusion that they may be the safest acquisition format for video capture.

Firstly, solid state media has the huge advantage that the camera knows if there is an error writing the data as it is recording. Certainly testing the MxR with an SD card I had lying around showed that the EX1 was able to detect and inform me on screen that the card wasn't up to speed. This is in contrast to shooting on tape where you don't know if you've got the shot till you play the tape back. A problem that affects all tape formats from DV to Digibeta and beyond -- take a look at the 'Magnox' documentary on the BBC DVD release of 'Edge of Darkness' to see a Digibeta camcorder developing a weird fault on just one tape, which would only replay on the camcorder itself and then with visible artefacts -- tapes shot before and after on what was a brand new camcorder were fine. Far better to know when you are recording that the media is dead when you can do something about it than back in the edit suite...

But this is true of all solid state media (and probably XDCam too), but the second reason why SD is nice is that it is cheap enough to own enough media that you don't need to wipe it on location. Although it is small and liable to get lost on set, so I guess keeping them permanently docked in an MxR adaptor wouldn't be a bad idea.

infocus wrote:
It must have taken sales away from other parts of the Sony line up, let alone from other manufacturers. The irony is that it makes the EX even better than if Sony had just designed it to take SDHC cards from the start, since as it stands you can use cheap cards for standard filming, whilst proper SxS gives the full overcranking facilities, broadcast compatability etc.

The other thing you can do is to record onto a proper SxS card at all times but then use the camera when not filming to dump the material to (multiple) SD cards in MxR adaptors. Giving you the security of using the SxS for capture, but with the cheapness of SD cards.

Steven

tom hardwick
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StevenBagley wrote:
The other thing you can do is to record onto a proper SxS card at all times but then use the camera when not filming to dump the material to (multiple) SD cards in MxR adaptors. Giving you the security of using the SxS for capture, but with the cheapness of SD cards.Steven

Hey - neat! So the SxS is in one slot and the MxR in the other and the camera will record on t'other? Is this a 5 minute job for an hour's recording, say?

infocus
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tom hardwick wrote:
Hey - neat! So the SxS is in one slot and the MxR in the other and the camera will record on t'other? Is this a 5 minute job for an hour's recording, say?

The evidence seems to point to the SDHC/MxR combo having a max write datarate (continuous) of somewhere around 60Mbs, so if that's the limiting factor I'd expect the transfer rate to be around 0.7x real time. Practically, it means that a single SxS card can be used for any overcrank shots, then these transferred in camera to the SDHC/MxR for longer term use and storage. I believe the clips do have to be selected and transferred one by one, but that's obviously a lot better than not at all!

I see it as a useful feature in other ways as well, since it could allow a second copy of material to be easily generated on location, without any need for other equipment such as laptops. A couple of times I've had to film and post the tape to an Australian client, and either had to cross fingers or delay sending it whilst a dub was made for security. The ideal would be if the same data could be written to both cards at the same time, but AFAIK unfortunately no camera seems to have that ability.

And one thing which does surprise me about the 151 is that it only has one SD slot. Maybe not the end of the world, but a second slot surely wouldn't have cost a lot more? Not to give huge continuous run times (you get 90 minutes with a 16GB card) but to allow for features like in-camera dubbing? I'd also feel a lot more confident about filling a card up if I knew that it would automatically switch to the other card if it got too near the end.

tom hardwick
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infocus wrote:
And one thing which does surprise me about the 151 is that it only has one SD slot.

I think we can safely write out the spec for the 151A now. As we all could when the DVX100 first appeared.

SimonMW
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Quote:
take a look at the 'Magnox' documentary on the BBC DVD release of 'Edge of Darkness' to see a Digibeta camcorder developing a weird fault on just one tape

That's the thing I can't understand about some who think that tape is somehow the most reliable method. I've used DigiB cameras that have crapped out with some very odd issues with the recording. I've used many other, supposedly well maintained, tape cameras, including my own, that have chewed up tapes. Of course putting a damaged tape into a camera can also cause issues with the heads and damage things too.

As Steven pointed out with solid state if there is an error you know about it instantly. What I would like to know though is the difference in error correction and recovery systems between SxS and SDHC. I believe that there is some complex stuff going on inside the SxS cards, much like the XDCAM disc. With the latter, if somehow the disc surface became damaged you can initiate a recovery sequence that will get you back as much data as possible that hasn't been affected by the damage.

I am led to believe that the SxS cards have some data recovery abilities too.

infocus
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SimonMW wrote:
As Steven pointed out with solid state if there is an error you know about it instantly. What I would like to know though is the difference in error correction and recovery systems between SxS and SDHC.

I think there's a line to be drawn between data corruption due to something like power failure during writing to a card, and a fault developing at a later time within the memory. Regarding the latter, my guess would be that the chance of such happening is a couple of magnitudes less than human error during a download and verify process, especially if that's done in the field.

That's why I'd say that recording to an SDHC card (and using a more tape like workflow), whether it be in an EX or 151, is actually more reliable overall than the use of P2 or SxS. Even though the two latter are more sophisticated themselves, they force a workflow which is more prone to error.

For even more reliability, it's another argument in favour of two slots for media, and being able to make identical recordings on the two cards at the same time.

rone01
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infocus wrote:
That's why I'd say that recording to an SDHC card (and using a more tape like workflow), whether it be in an EX or 151, is actually more reliable overall than the use of P2 or SxS. Even though the two latter are more sophisticated themselves, they force a workflow which is more prone to error.

To lay blame at encouraging inappropriate work flow by using P2 is off the scale, and to suggest this makes it less reliable because of this is not a logical debate.

(If you'd care to elaborate how this is the case I am genuinely interested, I'm happy to share my very simple and flawless work flow using Edius and some hard drives with NAS back-up.)

There is much more to a P2 card than some cheaply manufactured SDHC card that it doesn't bear comparison. There is a reason a P2 card costs what it costs.

infocus wrote:
As said before, I can make a good case for the 151 based on price and value for money, but if I wanted those sort of features I wouldn't bother considering a 171. By the time it's equipped with a sensible amount of memory, it's now up to or more than the price of an EX, which is a far better camera.

And also to say one camera is better than another in such a definitive tone is also ignorant of different users requirements.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

Alan Roberts
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I'll fully endorse what Infocus has said about these cameras. I'm in the perfect position to do so, I test them for the BBC.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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rone01 wrote:
To lay blame at encouraging inappropriate work flow by using P2 is off the scale, and to suggest this makes it less reliable because of this is not a logical debate.

(If you'd care to elaborate how this is the case I am genuinely interested, I'm happy to share my very simple and flawless work flow using Edius and some hard drives with NAS back-up.).

Talk to a designer of a technical system and they will tell you that there are two main fundamental causes of failure or accident. Equipment failures, and human error, and that holds true for all manner of systems, from video through to areonautics. Minimising equipment failure is the job of the design engineer, minimising the chance of human error is the whole field of industrial psychology.

The subject of a recent mission to Mars came up on another thread, unfortunately a space mission which failed at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Well, you may say, that literally IS rocket science! Millions of components to go wrong, extreme conditions, literally "going where no man has gone before"..... hardly surprising some bit of the rocket failed?

Errr, no. Rather embarrassingly, one company used different measurement units to everybody else. It was a simple case of human failure. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Climate_Orbiter

Quote:
The navigation error arose because a NASA subcontractor (Lockheed Martin) used Imperial units (pound-seconds) instead of the metric system.

Whoops. But the lesson is that all these rocket scientists must have spent a lot a time of effort on individually testing the reliability of millions of components, I'm sure they considered they had a "flawless work flow" - all to be thwarted by a bit of silly human error.

And the point I'm making in relation to video is that with a solid state workflow, it's the possibility of human error - deleting the wrong thing - that is far more likely to cause any problem. And not just theoretically, it's happened, believe me. Actually, other human failings as well as error. No names, but a cameraman was relying on using an on-site laptop for downloading (not sure if it was SxS or P2) which was going fine until it got stolen half way through the day. Lost half a days rushes, as well as the laptop.....

rone01 wrote:
There is much more to a P2 card than some cheaply manufactured SDHC card that it doesn't bear comparison. There is a reason a P2 card costs what it costs.

To a point, but the reasons are now largely historic. The original "S" series P2 cards had a write speed of up to 320Mbs, and at the time of development required some advanced trickery to get that sort of performance, to be able to record video to solid state at all. That was necessary at the time, but standard CF (ExtremeIV) can now give that sort of performance much more cheaply. P2 is saddled with expensive construction for legacy reasons that are now unnecessary.

Equally, most users are now simply deciding that that level of performance isn't necessary anyway. Not when a vastly cheaper alternative is adequate for most recording and allows what most people seem to consider a preferable workflow.

rone01 wrote:
And also to say one camera is better than another in such a definitive tone is also ignorant of different users requirements.

That's not at all what I said. As far as solid state goes, I believe such as the EX1 and EX3 have a lot going for them - the main disadvantage is price. I also believe the HMC151 has a lot going for it for different reasons, for different users - it's main ADVANTAGE is price! I also believe the JVC cameras just announced could suit other users - the 700 looks to have as good ergonomics as the 200 series, the HM100 is the smallest camera with a pro codec. I also believe such as the Z7, Z5 would be best for yet other people who may want tape and DV for legacy reasons.

But I really can't make a good case for anyone to buy a 171 and P2.

If you disagree, why would you suggest anyone went that route over firstly a Panasonic 151 (if money's tight), and secondly a Sony EX, if you've more to spend?

rone01
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Alan Roberts wrote:
I'll fully endorse what Infocus has said about these cameras. I'm in the perfect position to do so, I test them for the BBC.

Respect where it's due and I've read your white papers and there is nothing in there that I'm taking any sort of exception to.

Where I'm coming from is working in the corporate/advertising world, day in day out for the last 3 years working with many P2 based projects and cameras, and I can tell you that a camera being "better" is not wholly down to lab tests. To endorse what is being said in some of Infocus' posts is blindly committing yourself to some needless camera bias - especially in the unproven camera A being better than camera B comparisons.

Lab tests do not account for the long-term reliability, durability and workflow of these formats where I think the point appears to be being missed in some posts.

I like the lively technical debate here but there seems to be very little real-world experience being reported.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

rone01
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infocus wrote:
Talk to a designer of a technical system and they will tell you that there are two main fundamental causes of failure or accident. Equipment failures, and human error, and that holds true for all manner of systems, from video through to areonautics. Minimising equipment failure is the job of the design engineer, minimising the chance of human error is the whole field of industrial psychology.
Whoops. But the lesson is that all these rocket scientists must have spent a lot a time of effort on individually testing the reliability of millions of components, I'm sure they considered they had a "flawless work flow" - all to be thwarted by a bit of silly human error.
And the point I'm making in relation to video is that with a solid state workflow, it's the possibility of human error - deleting the wrong thing - that is far more likely to cause any problem. And not just theoretically, it's happened, believe me. Actually, other human failings as well as error. No names, but a cameraman was relying on using an on-site laptop for downloading (not sure if it was SxS or P2) which was going fine until it got stolen half way through the day. Lost half a days rushes, as well as the laptop.....

I understand your analogy, I do - but it applies to all formats.

The BBC embarrassingly lost (through theft) HDCAM Robin Hood tapes - what's the difference? Your system is only as good as the workflow you implement, irrelevant of the format. P2 / SxS makes not a jot of difference to theft or loss. (okay it's more expensive raw material but you know it’s the intellectual property that makes the difference.)
I would argue that the speed I can make a duplication of P2 (SxS) on set – gives it more security if you’re talking inherent benefits.

infocus wrote:

To a point, but the reasons are now largely historic. The original "S" series P2 cards had a write speed of up to 320Mbs, and at the time of development required some advanced trickery to get that sort of performance, to be able to record video to solid state at all. That was necessary at the time, but standard CF (ExtremeIV) can now give that sort of performance much more cheaply. P2 is saddled with expensive construction for legacy reasons that are now unnecessary.

Not so much the speed, the error free and ruggedized design of P2 is something SDHC can’t compete with and I think that’s a price worth paying if you’re dealing with critical material. I admit it might be out of the price range of the consumer but P2 wasn’t designed for the consumer so it’s not comparing like with like.

infocus wrote:

Equally, most users are now simply deciding that that level of performance isn't necessary anyway. Not when a vastly cheaper alternative is adequate for most recording and allows what most people seem to consider a preferable workflow.

If that work flow includes transcoding or a sluggish editing process then I think that is more of an obstacle in the real world than you think for the moment (or the past 3 years if you were already embracing P2) .

infocus wrote:

That's not at all what I said. As far as solid state goes, I believe such as the EX1 and EX3 have a lot going for them - the main disadvantage is price. I also believe the HMC151 has a lot going for it for different reasons, for different users - it's main ADVANTAGE is price! I also believe the JVC cameras just announced could suit other users - the 700 looks to have as good ergonomics as the 200 series, the HM100 is the smallest camera with a pro codec. I also believe such as the Z7, Z5 would be best for yet other people who may want tape and DV for legacy reasons.

Well that is better put but I disagree.

The EX’s were thwarted with quality control issues to begin with something that put me off the demo version early on, now hopefully things have got better.

The other thing was critical to me, Panasonic got there first. Panasonic had a lot to prove and this cost, so we spent a few bob on this system and it paid dividends. At the time it had no price equal for the feature set and performance. It just worked.

The EX may be sharper, but that’s about it my eyes. I prefer the look of the HVX/HPXs and that is something that can’t be described in a chart. But I wouldn’t say it was better, just more suitable to me.

infocus wrote:
But I really can't make a good case for anyone to buy a 171 and P2.
If you disagree, why would you suggest anyone went that route over firstly a Panasonic 151 (if money's tight), and secondly a Sony EX, if you've more to spend?

The case for the 171? Easy, it was a cheaper, lighter and better quality HVX without the legacy of DV tape. (But of course it still shoots DV, something the EX can't immediately do)

I paid £3200 for mine (HPRESTON). I can get a 32GB for £800 – for short form 720p films - I find this plenty. (Last time I checked the EX1 was £5462 from Hprestons). And we make money out of its look. Friends of ours have gone the HVX/HPX route and to have found new clients through the look of the camera.

If you’re shooting long form HD then you wouldn’t buy it - though we will be getting a 64GB card very soon.

I can’t speak for others choices but I would stress DVC-PRO HD/P2 work flow being better developed than the power hungry AVC-HD. I’ve just paid £900 for a VISTA based laptop, it came with PCMCIA – but no SDHC, it’s a 2.4GHZ dual core – and handles 720P HD with ease. AVC-HD however is still a slug. That’s where it is for me and if it costs more for that workflow then you have make your business model justify it.

I think the 151 is a great camera, but my little experiments into AVCHD have proved worthless and a chore in the edit. There is no free lunch, at least for the moment.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

StevenBagley
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rone01 wrote:
The BBC embarrassingly lost (through theft) HDCAM Robin Hood tapes - what's the difference?

DVCProHD, but no matter.

Quote:
Your system is only as good as the workflow you implement, irrelevant of the format. P2 / SxS makes not a jot of difference to theft or loss. (okay it's more expensive raw material but you know it’s the intellectual property that makes the difference.)
I would argue that the speed I can make a duplication of P2 (SxS) on set – gives it more security if you’re talking inherent benefits.

Until some nicks the laptop -- probably far more likely to get stolen on a shoot than anything else. :) But anyway, shooting on SD doesn't stop you duplicating the material on set (and tbh, if you can, you'd be mad not to), it just stops you having to reuse the cards, which reduces human error (putting the wrong card back in the camera -- something we've all done before, whether it be solid state or tape).

Quote:
Not so much the speed, the error free and ruggedized design of P2

Error free? P2 is still likely to give you errors, as the BBC has found to its cost I believe. See Cunningham and de Nier page 12...

Quote:
If that work flow includes transcoding or a sluggish editing process then I think that is more of an obstacle in the real world than you think for the moment (or the past 3 years if you were already embracing P2) .

Well HD MPEG2 editing has been easily edited for the same time period and is arguably less compressed than DVCproHD... Arguments against long-GOP editing in 2009 are not really valid anymore. You can argue that computers aren't fast enough to edit long-GOP AVC, but that isn't because it is long-GOP, it's because the codec is incredibly complex to decode...

As for look of the pictures, I decided on the EX1 because all the HVX200 footage just looked noisy while the EX1 was nice and clean.

Steven

rone01
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StevenBagley wrote:
DVCProHD, but no matter.

Okay the report I read definately said HDCAM, but tapes though? I actually didn't know BBC shot drama on DVC-PRO HD, I thought they reserved HDCAM for that.

StevenBagley wrote:

Until some nicks the laptop -- probably far more likely to get stolen on a shoot than anything else. :) But anyway, shooting on SD doesn't stop you duplicating the material on set (and tbh, if you can, you'd be mad not to), it just stops you having to reuse the cards, which reduces human error (putting the wrong card back in the camera -- something we've all done before, whether it be solid state or tape).

But shooting (SD Tape? I assume you mean?) means it's a slow back-up thereby encouraging a less than optimum scenario.

If you put the wrong card back in the camera you can't overwrite the footage unless you deliberately delete it (two confirmations).

I have no experience on set of anyone nicking a laptop, it could happen for sure but that risk has nothing to do with solid state. If you're daft enough to make one copy of your rushes and put them on a sole laptop and wipe your cards then what can I say!

I manage to come back from most shoots with footage on the P2 cards, we very rarely need to wipe them to be honest from a days shoot. I find Hi-Def a much slower shooting process and you come back with better quality but less material. Quantity is not an issue for me.

StevenBagley wrote:

Error free? P2 is still likely to give you errors, as the BBC has found to its cost I believe. See Cunningham and de Nier page 12...

Frankly that's not detailed enough to draw a conclusion. And it doesn't pertain to P2 - it just says file based cameras when copied to the computer.

It could've been the laptop transfer, the software being used or a bug on the computer.

That says nothing about the P2 cards quality control.

Very early on there were some FCP quirks with off-load, but to my knowledge they've been banished. Never had a problem with EDIUS in 700hrs of off-loading in my experience, including dozens of cards and cameras.

StevenBagley wrote:

Well HD MPEG2 editing has been easily edited for the same time period and is arguably less compressed than DVCproHD... Arguments against long-GOP editing in 2009 are not really valid anymore. You can argue that computers aren't fast enough to edit long-GOP AVC, but that isn't because it is long-GOP, it's because the codec is incredibly complex to decode...

Whatever reason it still makes for a sluggish edit or extra transcoding session. I could do without either.

StevenBagley wrote:

As for look of the pictures, I decided on the EX1 because all the HVX200 footage just looked noisy while the EX1 was nice and clean.

I never found the HVX200 to be that noisy (it did depend on what you monitored it on), but I appreciate some people did. The HPX is somewhat cleaner.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

Alan Roberts
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Ropbin Hood was shot on Varicam, thayt's DVCPROHD. And the "stolen "tapes were recovered within a very few days. No shooting time was lost, nor any shots.

And contrary to what you say about our experience here, just bear in mind the number of members registered, and number of man-years of experience that could represent. I'm happy to admit that my tests are designed at working out how well the cameras do what they should, and to finding best settings for them. Others test the ergonomics and durability. Nut that hardly amounts to our not knowing about it.

I've heard Panasonic people tell me, many times, just how bomb-proof P2 cards are, and I also know of one BBC production that was scrapped after the 5-day shoot was completed simply because there were card errors on a large proportion of the shots once they'd been dumped to a hard drive. Nothing's bomb-proof, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and in this industry it will always be at the worst possible time (because problems at other times are simply coped with and hardly reported).

And the HVX200 is fairly noisy. I measured between 42 and 44dB over the luma range. That's at least 10dB worse than a broadcast camera should be. And it wasn't measured just by looking at pictures, it was done in my standard way of capturing frames and doing a full data analysis. If you haven't seen noise, your monitoring can't be up to scratch.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

infocus
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rone01 wrote:
I understand your analogy, I do - but it applies to all formats.

The BBC embarrassingly lost (through theft) HDCAM Robin Hood tapes - what's the difference?

[and: Okay the report I read definately said HDCAM, but tapes though? I actually didn't know BBC shot drama on DVC-PRO HD, I thought they reserved HDCAM for that.]

I believe most drama is currently shot on cameras even more upmarket than HDCAM now, Arri D20s and the like, but given the nature of "Robin Hood" I would suspect that DVCProHD would have been used with the Varicam for off-speed shooting. Whether normal speed sequences were shot with the same camera, I don't know.

You can never end up with a totally secure system, I fully accept that, whether it be video, aviation, or missions to Mars. But a lot of people in these industries get paid a lot of money to MINIMISE that risk as much as is possible. I'm not saying that SDHC working carries NO risk, just that error due to human factors is greatly minimised if the memory cards never have to be regularly formatted for reuse.

A lot depends on situation, yes. In a studio environment, and maybe with someone paid especially to mange cards, the risk may be quite small. For event shooting - all on location, and quantities of material shot that mean frequent downloading as and when, maybe in difficult conditions, I'd maintain the human factor risk becomes large - very much so compared to the risk of an SDHC card failure.

Quote:
Not so much the speed, the error free and ruggedized design of P2 is something SDHC can’t compete with and I think that’s a price worth paying if you’re dealing with critical material. I admit it might be out of the price range of the consumer but P2 wasn’t designed for the consumer so it’s not comparing like with like.

Panasonic made quite a lot of "the error free" nature of P2, but it's a bit misleading. If a flash card has a defective memory location, it does NOT mean there will be data errors as a result - rather that the card electronics maps around it. That process does slow operation down a bit, so Panasonic chose "error free cards" NOT to guarantee error free operation, but to get the speed as high as possible - when it was being developed, they needed all the help they could get.

Memory technology has come on so much that it's far less of an issue than in the early days of P2.

It's true the system wasn't initially designed for the consumer - the first cameras were SD shoulder mount 2/3" - but they barely made an impact. It's only really the HVX200 that led to any significant sales of the system. But that came out at roughly the same time as the Z1, and got heavily outsold by the Z1. The HVX200 just wasn't good enough for higher end work, and the lower end generally preferred the simplicity of tape for long form shooting.

I shall go to my grave wondering why Panasonic never made the HVX200 DVCProHD to P2, HDV to tape. It would then have done everything the Z1 did - and much more. Been the obvious choice over the Z1.

Quote:
The EX’s were thwarted with quality control issues to begin with something that put me off the demo version early on, now hopefully things have got better.

I believe so - but the same thing can be said about the HVX200, it's release date was put back several times for QC issues. And I'm sure I read about the 171 having a loose lens issue, and problems with infinity focus?

Quote:
The EX may be sharper, but that’s about it my eyes. I prefer the look of the HVX/HPXs and that is something that can’t be described in a chart.

It's not just sharper, it's far, far sharper! But it's far more than that, the resolution of the EX means that the detail level can be wound down much further than with such as the 171 without it seeming soft. That's a much more natural effect, and the better the monitor, the more the difference shows up.

But it's not just the look of the image anyway. It's the true manual lens, the much better viewfinder, better low light performance and noise performance that swing it for me - and none of them can be described in a chart.

Quote:
I paid £3200 for mine (HPRESTON). I can get a 32GB for £800 – for short form 720p films - I find this plenty. (Last time I checked the EX1 was £5462 from Hprestons).

I assume those are VAT inclusive prices, and with 2 SxS cards? I was quoted £4,700 ex VAT today, £4,300 for a basic camera without cards. The basic price for a 171 seems to be £3,000 (ex VAT, todays HPreston price) with a 32GB card now £1,050 inc VAT, (just over £900 ex VAT)

That means an EX1 with 32GB of SDHC will cost about £4,350 (plus VAT) versus £3,900 for a 171 with 32GB. Factor in that at max quality the EX will then record for about 100 minutes, the 171 for only 30 and the 171 really doesn't tempt me at all. I would really like at least 2 hours of continuous run possible without downloading - that would mean about £6-7,000 plus VAT for a 171!!!

Quote:
I can’t speak for others choices but I would stress DVC-PRO HD/P2 work flow being better developed than the power hungry AVC-HD. ........
I think the 151 is a great camera, but my little experiments into AVCHD have proved worthless and a chore in the edit. There is no free lunch, at least for the moment.

But if you use Edius, have you investigated the possibility of transcoding to the native codec before editing? More hassle, true, and maybe not ideal if you were editing news, but it could solve the power issues with AVC-HD editing, and make the use of the 151 more feasible?

Quote:
I never found the HVX200 to be that noisy (it did depend on what you monitored it on), but I appreciate some people did. The HPX is somewhat cleaner.

You must be one of the few people who didn't find the HVX200 noisy! It does seem that the 171 is cleaner, but there are reports that it's also softer - Panasonic seem to have have traded resolution for noise performance. Strangely, they tend to talk about better noise a lot more than decreased resolution..... :)

rone01
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Ropbin Hood was shot on Varicam, thayt's DVCPROHD. And the "stolen "tapes were recovered within a very few days. No shooting time was lost, nor any shots.

And contrary to what you say about our experience here, just bear in mind the number of members registered, and number of man-years of experience that could represent. I'm happy to admit that my tests are designed at working out how well the cameras do what they should, and to finding best settings for them. Others test the ergonomics and durability. Nut that hardly amounts to our not knowing about it.

I've heard Panasonic people tell me, many times, just how bomb-proof P2 cards are, and I also know of one BBC production that was scrapped after the 5-day shoot was completed simply because there were card errors on a large proportion of the shots once they'd been dumped to a hard drive. Nothing's bomb-proof, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and in this industry it will always be at the worst possible time (because problems at other times are simply coped with and hardly reported).

And the HVX200 is fairly noisy. I measured between 42 and 44dB over the luma range. That's at least 10dB worse than a broadcast camera should be. And it wasn't measured just by looking at pictures, it was done in my standard way of capturing frames and doing a full data analysis. If you haven't seen noise, your monitoring can't be up to scratch.

Okay, so I'm happy to learn that Robin Hood was shot on Varicam and others on here also learn that tapes are not immune from being stolen.

The numbers of people here I don't know but I doubt it's the same amount of real world users over at DVXuser or CreativeCow - who are more than happy to report both the benefits and disadvantages of P2 based cameras. I have heard of problems but hardly ever with P2 itself, rather more badly set-up offloading solutions.

I hear very little on this site for user experience. I'm happy to keep reading, it's a good site.

With regards to bombproof, I would say it's the best we've got yet. But it is comparative and P2 in my direct experience and other industry professionals have found it to be solid - that's not to say it can't go wrong but most of the tales tend to be some imperfect off-loading exercise. Yet SD card, give me a break, they are mass-produced sometimes cheaply in not so perfect conditions - (at the moment the Japanese still manufacture P2, SD are made all over the world there is just no quality control) it can't hope to equal the expense poured into P2 or even SxS. It's like comparing a decent BETACAM to cheap DV tape. I have dozens SD(HC) cards of varying quality and speed, some of which have completely failed and other odd one which has lost data - that doesn't inspire confidence.

As for noise, I didn't say there wasn't any (all electronic visual systems are going to have some noise) I would just say it didn't bother me that much against all the other breakthrough benefits of the time. And that's the key "of the time" - these cameras are all getting better every few months. The HVX was groundbreaking for its combination of specification and quality, so much so that Sony had to nigh on duplicate it (and better it in some areas) - several months later. In fact had a quick look at your EX report, interesting but I couldn't see anything about how CMOS reacts under certain conditions, something that may be considered a pictorial limitation to some.

You say you've measured the HPX171 - I'm hoping the numbers are better but it looked cleaner to me, but then again I don't view charts (I have calibration facilities for my monitors which are set up to D65) - but the picture looked cleaner. And I think that has to be born out - that your audience doesn't view a chart either.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

rone01
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infocus wrote:
Panasonic made quite a lot of "the error free" nature of P2, but it's a bit misleading. If a flash card has a defective memory location, it does NOT mean there will be data errors as a result - rather that the card electronics maps around it. That process does slow operation down a bit, so Panasonic chose "error free cards" NOT to guarantee error free operation, but to get the speed as high as possible - when it was being developed, they needed all the help they could get.

Memory technology has come on so much that it's far less of an issue than in the early days of P2.

It's true the system wasn't initially designed for the consumer - the first cameras were SD shoulder mount 2/3" - but they barely made an impact. It's only really the HVX200 that led to any significant sales of the system. But that came out at roughly the same time as the Z1, and got heavily outsold by the Z1. The HVX200 just wasn't good enough for higher end work, and the lower end generally preferred the simplicity of tape for long form shooting.

And this is where I hugely disagree.

The Z1 one was an awful camera, awful to operate and blighted by a poor quality 25p imitation mode. The HVX(A) is still in production, and still selling I seriously doubt that the numbers now are in the Z1's favour. Also HDV, it was a stop gap for consumer DV who wanted cheap Hidef - the HVX was pretty much alone at the time in its specification and solid state nature - groundbreaking.

True I don't think of the HVX as high end, but again real-world we shot with the HVX on a feature "Helvetica" (look up the reviews) that had a small cinematic run in a few American and British cinemas. I did some camera op work on it, and everyone was impressed by the blow up, the critics even praised the picture quality. No one even considered it to be low end, or noisy by the time it made the cinema.

Another example, two years ago we made a documentary in Japan about the first ever wheel-chair world cup. I have given this footage first hand to several TV stations (BBC included) and they've all been more than happy to take the footage. Too noisy for broadcast - I don't think so. Many commented on the quality (720p -> SD.)

Release date being put back is one thing but releasing the camera with problems is more significant to me. And just to prove I'm objective in my critique, we have two HVXs - they have never had any issues but the HPX171 did have too much play in the lens which at the time I didn't know about until I purchased, the camera was repaired and turned around in 3 days. No other issues since.

I think the low light performance of the HPX171 is now closer to the EX, but I'm invested in P2 so I wouldn't consider swapping at the moment. My clients are happy with the quality.

Hprestons will match £2800 that I purchased for the HPX171. I wouldn't buy my cards from there I have a cheaper source, like I say £800.

Long form no competition in terms of price for cards P2 v SxS in Sony's favour.

I've no interest in AVCHD at the moment, I don't want to transcode it. I've tried plenty of AVCHD footage in EDIUS and it does take it natively but it's a slug.

P2 straight in and plenty of real-time streams, it's a downgrade to go to AVCHD. I will take intra when it comes.

The HPX171 is not softer than the HVX200, it's default coring and detail settiings are different out of the box. That said it's still not EX sharp but neither does it have CMOS which I'm not keen on.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

tom hardwick
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rone01 wrote:
The Z1 one was an awful camera, awful to operate and blighted by a poor quality 25p imitation mode.....That said it's still not EX sharp but neither does it have CMOS which I'm not keen on.

A fascinating thread gentlemen, I'm reading and learning.
But to the above, and to my admiration for the Z1. I'm thinking that those who traded their PD170 for a Z1 didn't think it awful, and surely this was Sony's market? Yes, its 25p was a bit iffy, but the PD's 12.5p was effectively unusable.

HDV with its MPEG2 compression to Mini DV tapes slowly starts to exit stage left as the new kid AVCHD bounces onto stage, and without doubt this much more efficient compression system – though requiring far more computer grunt to edit – is the wave of our camcorder future. So before it disappears I think I'd like to put in a good word for HDV.

The most amazing thing about HDV is the way camcorders hardly had to change at all to suddenly start recording hugely sharper pictures. Go back and read the test reviews of the just announced FX1 in 2004. Just look how gob-smacked the world was to learn that the camcorders used the same tape deck mechanism that had been around for years, the same tape even, and yet were able to record for an hour at the same tape speed and give pictures with nearly four times the resolution of DV.

Back then 1 gb of flash memory probably cost as much as 100 Mini DV tapes, so AVCHD was just a pipe dream. I give HDV a big thumbs up, and marvel at the ingenuity of the engineers that brought it all together while at the same time making it backwards compatible. The then-new HDV cameras would play back all the tapes you'd recorded since 1995 - amazing.

So I discount the list of negatives that are so easily thrown at Mini DV tapes and the then new FX1 / Z1. In the real world HDV has enabled hundreds of us here to gather in beautifully detailed pictures on bog-cheap tape using cameras no heavier, bulkier or more expensive than the DV cameras that went before them.

Now I'm with you on the CMOS issue Rone. It's only Sony who have taken this fork in the road, and brand new camcorders from Canon, JVC and Panasonic have all stayed with tried and tested CCDs. I find that interesting, especially since Canon are masters of CMOS in their DSLRs.

My latest cake-cutting wedding shot has 52 electronic flashes in exactly 20 seconds (I had to slo-mo the video to count them). It looks superb, the paparazzi attention of the couple making them look really special. I shudder to think what CMOS chips would have done to this shot.

tom.

rone01
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I don't mean to offend but the 25p was make or break for me, and I didn't truly like the focus ring which exhibited odd behaviour.

I qualify that the Z1 was not suitable for me, perhaps not fair to say awful. (And I do remember a bizarre BBC drama shot on it - was it set in Blackpool?)

LCD was great though!

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

Alan Roberts
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Current number of members here is a little over 14,000, as it says on the front page. And we've been going for over 10 years. There is a great deal of experience here, we're not newcomers to this game.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Richard Payne
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Joined: Sep 15 2000

"I think the 151 is a great camera, but my little experiments into AVCHD have proved worthless and a chore in the edit. There is no free lunch, at least for the moment."

Hi Rone01. If you use EDIUS and want to try editing AVCCAM again you can use the new version 3 Canopus AVCHD2HQ converter software that will transcode AVCCAM footage to either Mpeg2 or Wavelet based HQ format faster than real time even on my 2.4GHZ Core 2 Duo laptop. The same laptop can edit AVCCAM natively and smoothly with Adobe Premiere CS4. So lunch is getting cheaper.
The new I7 processors from Intel further enhance the AVCHD workflow, and I have been in this game long enough to remember how computers struggled first with DV and then with HDV! (Actually I remember them struggling with MJPEG)
If you make it to Broadcast Video Expo next week please come and see me and I'll show you the new workflows.

rone01
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Joined: Feb 9 2009

Thanks Richard, I've been using canopus transcoding software for a while when testing AVCHD. Although it works fine, I have little use for it and defeats the object of having compact footage for me. When things get properly native I will look again.

That reminds me I need to speak to Holdan about my broken Bebob LED light!

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

rone01
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Appreciate the numbers Alan, and I'm keen to support a UK? based forum but DVXuser has 44,000 odd members though not all of them worthy or unbiased ;)

I don't doubt the expertise and usefulness of this forum or I wouldn't post or read here, but I do think a bit of HVX/HPX user experience appears to be in the minority. I'm keen to stress the good few years I've had with the kit. It was a dream jumping to P2 after all the messing with analogue and betacam formats over the years prior.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

Richard Payne
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The new version 3 of AVCHD2HQ only came out in late December, it's faster and has more options, including hardware support from the FireCoder Blu. After conversion the HQ stands up to multiple renders quite a bit better than DVCPRO HD, but you are right it does slow the workflow. I have had some discussion with people at Canopus and better native AVCHD is on the priority list.

infocus
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rone01 wrote:
With regards to bombproof, I would say it's the best we've got yet. But it is comparative and P2 in my direct experience and other industry professionals have found it to be solid - that's not to say it can't go wrong but most of the tales tend to be some imperfect off-loading exercise.

Which is what I've been saying all along! It's the off-load that is far more likely to go wrong than the hardware! What a user of ANY of these systems should be worrying about are first and foremost human factors, to a far greater extent than the media failing. If you're operating in studio conditions at base, a secure off-loading regime is one thing. If you're shooting a lot on location, an "imperfect off-loading exercise" becomes difficult to avoid if you have to clear cards quickly for re-use. SDHC means that enough cards can be owned to avoid that, you don't get that option with P2.

Just go back to post 73, and re-read what you quoted me as saying, what you described as being "not a logical debate". The acknowledgement of P2 disaster tales from you and Alan seems to indicate that hardware failure versus human factors is a very valid debate, but as to who's right I'll let people make up their own minds.

rone01 wrote:
Yet SD card, give me a break, they are mass-produced sometimes cheaply in not so perfect conditions - (at the moment the Japanese still manufacture P2, SD are made all over the world there is just no quality control) it can't hope to equal the expense poured into P2 or even SxS. It's like comparing a decent BETACAM to cheap DV tape.

But in essence, a P2 card is nothing more than 4 SD cards with some fancy electronics put in a hard shell. It's true that those cards may be of the finest quality, and it's equally true that if you wish to use SDHC cards for video it would be crazy not to buy cards from the brand leaders, and check their operation before use.

Quote:
I have dozens SD(HC) cards of varying quality and speed, some of which have completely failed and other odd one which has lost data - that doesn't inspire confidence.

Read the full account of how to use SDHC cards in an EX. Stick to certain simple rules, and of the thousands of users who seem to be using them worldwide, there don't seem to be any more failures than with P2 users. One of those "rules" is to only use Sandisk or Transcend cards of a certain class.

If anyone uses a cheap unbranded card, it wouldn't surprise me if they have problems, but that's not what is being talked about.

Quote:
The Z1 one was an awful camera, awful to operate and blighted by a poor quality 25p imitation mode. The HVX(A) is still in production, and still selling I seriously doubt that the numbers now are in the Z1's favour. Also HDV, it was a stop gap for consumer DV who wanted cheap Hidef - the HVX was pretty much alone at the time in its specification and solid state nature - groundbreaking.

I've made no secret in the past of my ambivalence towards the Z1 - I'm used to 2/3" shoulder mount cameras, and find both the Z1 and HVX200 poor to operate by comparison.

But if ANY camera deserves the accolade of groundbreaking in the last few years, it would have to be the Z1. The Z1 was the first camera for the 50Hz market to enable HD operation without spending tens of thousands of pounds. (JVC beat them to it in the 60Hz world, but the least said about that camera, the better.) It was already being heavily used well before the HVX200 made it into the shops. I wouldn't be surprised to hear it's sales aren't what they were - but from what I've heard it is definitely not 200As or 171s that are being bought instead, it's EXs, Z7s and 151s !

I'd call the HVX200 "pioneering" rather than groundbreaking as far as most were concerned, though it's true that it had a feature set that was just what some people wanted. But far, far more just thought P2 was a limitation at the time, and bought Z1s instead. As said before, if Panasonic had put HDV to tape as an OPTION in it, it would have been the must have camera, and it's a mystery why they didn't.

But as far as the EX goes, if you're worried about SDHC cards, then it is obviously possible to use it with SxS cards, which are arguably even better than P2. The camera gives you the option of using SxS if in a situation where reliable off-loading is possible, and SDHC if off-loading is likely to be difficult or undesirable. Wouldn't it have been nice if Panasonic had bought out a 151 and 171 rolled into one? DVCProHD to P2 when downloading is easy, AVC-HD to SDHC when downloading is difficult? As it is, users are forced to choose, and my understanding is that the vast majority are going for the 151.

rone01
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Interesting none the less.

Obviously with Edius you can use the Canopus HQ as your intermediary when editing, and as you probably know there is very lttle rendering in Edius.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

rone01
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infocus wrote:
Which is what I've been saying all along! It's the off-load that is far more likely to go wrong than the hardware! What a user of ANY of these systems should be worrying about are first and foremost human factors, to a far greater extent than the media failing. If you're operating in studio conditions at base, a secure off-loading regime is one thing. If you're shooting a lot on location, an "imperfect off-loading exercise" becomes difficult to avoid if you have to clear cards quickly for re-use. SDHC means that enough cards can be owned to avoid that, you don't get that option with P2.

Seriously, anyone who trusts expensively shot footage to £20 SDHC is braver than me.

What you are talking about is analogous to any camera operation/post production activity. Assuming you are going digital, at some point in that process there is room for error. What I'm saying is that I've found the P2 process to be as close to ideal as possible.

I never run out of P2 cards, what's the issue?- if someone can't afford to buy P2 or have enough on set then why did they consider it in the first place?

We've just done a five camera shoot with HPX500 and P2cards, it was a 2hr programme - we didn't run dry or feel the need to find surplus cards we made sure we had enough.

The limitation of quantity/duration is applicable to all media and is definitely not limited to P2.

infocus wrote:

Just go back to post 73, and re-read what you quoted me as saying, what you described as being "not a logical debate". The acknowledgement of P2 disaster tales from you and Alan seems to indicate that hardware failure versus human factors is a very valid debate, but as to who's right I'll let people make up their own minds.
But in essence, a P2 card is nothing more than 4 SD cards with some fancy electronics put in a hard shell. It's true that those cards may be of the finest quality, and it's equally true that if you wish to use SDHC cards for video it would be crazy not to buy cards from the brand leaders, and check their operation before use.
Read the full account of how to use SDHC cards in an EX. Stick to certain simple rules, and of the thousands of users who seem to be using them worldwide, there don't seem to be any more failures than with P2 users. One of those "rules" is to only use Sandisk or Transcend cards of a certain class.

I know of no P2 disaster tales, that is spin. My personal experience is I've had no P2 failures but had many issues with SD and its variants.

I know P2 is a raid of cards with some fancy electronics, but if that does the job on a shoot where my filming day is worth £2000+ to me - then why would I trust it on a £20 SD card, I have no NEED to. The budget allows the superior product. And it is superior to SDHC.

infocus wrote:

If anyone uses a cheap unbranded card, it wouldn't surprise me if they have problems, but that's not what is being talked about.

I've made no secret in the past of my ambivalence towards the Z1 - I'm used to 2/3" shoulder mount cameras, and find both the Z1 and HVX200 poor to operate by comparison.

I started on shoulder mount cameras 17 years ago. I’m happy to see the back of them for the type of programmes we make. Big, bulky and heavy in general, though the 2/3” was a benefit of course. But technology is moving way beyond what cameras of that origin were capable of.
Buying a cheap unbranded card will happen, people think cheap otherwise they would've stuck to SxS.
This is what this debate boils down to cost. If you can't afford or justify P2 then don't buy it, but equally don't mock its benefits.
I can't afford a top of the range BMW but I still appreciate its qualities.

infocus wrote:

But if ANY camera deserves the accolade of groundbreaking in the last few years, it would have to be the Z1. The Z1 was the first camera for the 50Hz market to enable HD operation without spending tens of thousands of pounds. (JVC beat them to it in the 60Hz world, but the least said about that camera, the better.) It was already being heavily used well before the HVX200 made it into the shops. I wouldn't be surprised to hear it's sales aren't what they were - but from what I've heard it is definitely not 200As or 171s that are being bought instead, it's EXs, Z7s and 151s !

I'd call the HVX200 "pioneering" rather than groundbreaking as far as most were concerned, though it's true that it had a feature set that was just what some people wanted. But far, far more just thought P2 was a limitation at the time, and bought Z1s instead. As said before, if Panasonic had put HDV to tape as an OPTION in it, it would have been the must have camera, and it's a mystery why they didn't.

Your overlooking the fact that the HVX was all about proliferating P2 across the industry as a cheap entry product to HD solid-state. It sold loads, the HVX was Panasonic’s biggest selling camera ever which demonstrated it didn't need HDV. The move was away from tape.

The Z1 is old-hat, I can't believe we're talking about to be honest.

infocus wrote:

But as far as the EX goes, if you're worried about SDHC cards, then it is obviously possible to use it with SxS cards, which are arguably even better than P2. The camera gives you the option of using SxS if in a situation where reliable off-loading is possible, and SDHC if off-loading is likely to be difficult or undesirable. Wouldn't it have been nice if Panasonic had bought out a 151 and 171 rolled into one? DVCProHD to P2 when downloading is easy, AVC-HD to SDHC when downloading is difficult? As it is, users are forced to choose, and my understanding is that the vast majority are going for the 151.

I'm not worried about SDHC cards because I don't need them, I shoot solely P2.

People who can't afford the P2 workflow will buy the 151 those who can afford P2 will buy the 171 (and upwards) . That's why the different cameras exist.

The bit I don't agree with is you're trying to compare P2 and SxS to tape in its legacy. The workflow replaces the tape workflow but is not the same. The idea of racking up loads of SD cards because they're cheap fills me with horror.

The idea of buying a few P2 cards for a reasonable lifetime's usage and embracing the workflow for how it was designed is a pleasure to me.

P2 is very entrenched in industry and broadcast now, so there is no point in not looking at it as well established and very successful.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

infocus
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Joined: Jul 18 2003
rone01 wrote:
What you are talking about is analogous to any camera operation/post production activity. Assuming you are going digital, at some point in that process there is room for error.

Not true. With P2 (and SxS) you transfer the media, then wipe the card, with SDHC it's possible to transfer the media to the NLE.... and keep it on the card until the project is finished. Ideally in a different place, so if the edit suite burns down, at least it's still safe.

Quote:
I never run out of P2 cards, what's the issue?

None to you, and I'm really not suggesting YOU change. But a lot of others are still deciding on a next-gen purchase (me included) and strongly feel they want to be able to film for more than 30 minutes without running to download, and like the idea of archiving the original cards, or simply handing them over to a client. (Charging for them, obviously. Feasible with SDHC, not with P2.) If you don't, that's up to you, I'm very happy to let everybody else reading this make up their own mind.

Quote:
I know of no P2 disaster tales, that is spin.

Not spin at all. You yourself said "I have heard of problems but hardly ever with P2 itself, rather more badly set-up offloading solutions." It's splitting hairs to say whether the problem was with the card itself or the off-load process - it's a problem which occured with a P2 workflow, and wouldn't have occurred with a MxR/SDHC workflow.

Alan has also said"I've heard Panasonic people tell me, many times, just how bomb-proof P2 cards are, and I also know of one BBC production that was scrapped after the 5-day shoot was completed simply because there were card errors on a large proportion of the shots once they'd been dumped to a hard drive. Nothing's bomb-proof, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, .....". That doesn't sound like spin to me.

And what about Stevens reference to the BBC R&D website? "The urgency for such a tool was underscored by the corruption of 15 minutes of video during a BBC file-based camera production in May 2007. After recording several video clips the camera appeared to playback the clips correctly .....but ..... the video was too corrupted to be usable." Is that "spin", from an organisation which was a very early solid state and tapeless advocate? You cast doubt on whether it was a P2 camera - in May 2007, it's pretty certain it was.

And I'm not mentioning names, but the story of a stolen laptop is quite true. That wouldn't have happened if he hadn't had to download on site.

But again, I'll let everybody reading this make up their own minds.

Quote:
Your overlooking the fact that the HVX was all about proliferating P2 across the industry as a cheap entry product to HD solid-state. It sold loads, the HVX was Panasonic’s biggest selling camera ever which demonstrated it didn't need HDV. The move was away from tape.

The Z1 is old-hat, I can't believe we're talking about to be honest.

The HVX may have sold "loads", but the Z1 sold many loads more. And if the move was away from tape, it's tempting to ask why the 200 had a tape deck at all? And given that, then if HDV had been included *as well* I know for a fact that they would have sold more. It's a criticism that even some of the cameras strongest supporters have conceded.

Quote:
P2 is very entrenched in industry and broadcast now, so there is no point in not looking at it as well established and very successful.

There may be a lot of users, so in that sense you have a point. But the same could be said for many other formats, and what's interesting are the trends.

The HVX did a lot to proliferate P2, but it didn't really get picked up in an overwhelming way by broadcasters, and that's only the ones who made any change - most have still to decide on a move away from tape. And what I'm hearing is that most of the big broadcasters who have announced a big investment recently are going with XDCAM, not P2. The big, recent factor appears to have been the introduction of the PDW700, and XDCAM HD422.

That includes such as RAI and Bayerischer Rundfunk, and most recently RTL in Europe, and following the likes of CNN, NBC, and (I think) ABC in America. An Australian colleague informs me that it's been about 3:1 in favour of XDCAM over P2 over there.

I can only stress I have no vested commercial interest, and not even yet an owners interest in any solid state system - I currently use a tape based SD camera. But I am thinking of a purchase soon, and at the moment, on the balance of what I've heard from all sides, it will be an EX3. If I couldn't afford that, it would be an EX1, and if even more stretched a 151. I'd also be interested in seeing what the JVC SDHC cameras are like when they arrive. But I can't think of anything the 171 offers that would make me choose it, over one of the others.

The real beauty to me of the EX is the choice it now offers. Use SxS if subject and workflow permits, use SDHC if more appropiate. The 171 or 151 don't give the option, they force you to use one or the other.

rone01
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infocus wrote:
Not true. With P2 (and SxS) you transfer the media, then wipe the card, with SDHC it's possible to transfer the media to the NLE.... and keep it on the card until the project is finished. Ideally in a different place, so if the edit suite burns down, at least it's still safe.

Who said you had to wipe the card? It's perfectly simple to hire/buy the appropriate amount of cards for you project. Film on them, come home, copy them to the working hard-drive, back-up to your (LAN) server or whatever, then wipe the card if you need to.

SDHC is a solid-state system with identical restrictions to P2, identical. Whatever you can do with SDHC you can do with P2. I admit it costs more, but that doesn't mean they don't share the same properties when it comes to transfer and archival.

infocus wrote:

None to you, and I'm really not suggesting YOU change. But a lot of others are still deciding on a next-gen purchase (me included) and strongly feel they want to be able to film for more than 30 minutes without running to download, and like the idea of archiving the original cards, or simply handing them over to a client. (Charging for them, obviously. Feasible with SDHC, not with P2.) If you don't, that's up to you, I'm very happy to let everybody else reading this make up their own mind.

I have no issue with that but the only difference is economics and your market. That's it.

You can shoot more than 30 mins without download on a 64GB card which is available to purchase today. Again economics not the system.

infocus wrote:

Not spin at all. You yourself said "I have heard of problems but hardly ever with P2 itself, rather more badly set-up offloading solutions." It's splitting hairs to say whether the problem was with the card itself or the off-load process - it's a problem which occured with a P2 workflow, and wouldn't have occurred with a MxR/SDHC workflow.

Alan has also said"I've heard Panasonic people tell me, many times, just how bomb-proof P2 cards are, and I also know of one BBC production that was scrapped after the 5-day shoot was completed simply because there were card errors on a large proportion of the shots once they'd been dumped to a hard drive. Nothing's bomb-proof, anything that can go wrong will go wrong, .....". That doesn't sound like spin to me.

And what about Stevens reference to the BBC R&D website? "The urgency for such a tool was underscored by the corruption of 15 minutes of video during a BBC file-based camera production in May 2007. After recording several video clips the camera appeared to playback the clips correctly .....but ..... the video was too corrupted to be usable." Is that "spin", from an organisation which was a very early solid state and tapeless advocate? You cast doubt on whether it was a P2 camera - in May 2007, it's pretty certain it was.

Unless I'm going mad, Steve reference to the R&D PDF article didn't mention P2. And even if it was cut and dried truth, it's one thing to say P2 has problems and another to say the P2 offloading workflow has problems due to the kit the laptop/workflow that was being used. One is inherent, one is a sliding scale depending on the user. You edited out the bit where it mentioned copying onto a laptop then became corrupted.

I seriously, seriously can't believe you are using anecdotal evidence (barely that) and heresay for substantiating "P2 disasters".

I mean if I dipped a P2 card in some oil and then it didn't work, would it be a P2 disaster? The same as if I dropped a SDHC, HDCAM or SxS into oil.

If you can't draw a clear distinction or present some evidence that P2 has inherent problems then this debate it moot. I can through personal experience demonstrate it works day in day out without fault.

infocus wrote:

And I'm not mentioning names, but the story of a stolen laptop is quite true. That wouldn't have happened if he hadn't had to download on site.

But again, I'll let everybody reading this make up their own minds.

I don't doubt that it is, nothing to do with P2's inherent properities yet again.

infocus wrote:

The HVX may have sold "loads", but the Z1 sold many loads more. And if the move was away from tape, it's tempting to ask why the 200 had a tape deck at all? And given that, then if HDV had been included *as well* I know for a fact that they would have sold more. It's a criticism that even some of the cameras strongest supporters have conceded.

Statistics?

You can't know for a fact with that placing a HDV tapedeck on the HVX200 it would have sold more . How? Do you have crystal ball? I mean Panasonic are well placed to make money - if it had been that obvious they would have done it.

It had a tape deck as the large user base for the DVX100 and DV needed to be retained during the cross-over. It was a hybrid. Personally I've used the deck maybe 5 times. Putting a HDV deck in would have confused the branding of hidef for Panasonic.

infocus wrote:

There may be a lot of users, so in that sense you have a point. But the same could be said for many other formats, and what's interesting are the trends.

The HVX did a lot to proliferate P2, but it didn't really get picked up in an overwhelming way by broadcasters, and that's only the ones who made any change - most have still to decide on a move away from tape. And what I'm hearing is that most of the big broadcasters who have announced a big investment recently are going with XDCAM, not P2. The big, recent factor appears to have been the introduction of the PDW700, and XDCAM HD422.

The HVX maybe was never intended to be the pinnacle of broadcasting. P2 however is well entrenched in broadcasting circles. There are plenty of press-releases on the subject.

P2 and the HVX are seperate beasts. P2 has plainly got a future with broadcasting.

infocus wrote:

That includes such as RAI and Bayerischer Rundfunk, and most recently RTL in Europe, and following the likes of CNN, NBC, and (I think) ABC in America. An Australian colleague informs me that it's been about 3:1 in favour of XDCAM over P2 over there.

P2 based broadcasters from a quick scan.

SKY NEWS,Fox Television Stations Inc, Sinclair, Media General, Raycom, Cox, Dispatch, Fisher,Radio y TV de Andalucía (RTVA), LNK, ZDF and MDR in Germany, SVT in Sweden, Sogecable (CNN+) in Spain,Meredith stations, TV3 in New Zealand, and Jiangsu TV in China.

(I almost gave up cut and pasting at this point.)

Oh and ABC.. OZ

"Panasonic Australia is pleased to announce that it has been successful in securing a
three year contract to supply the Australian Broadcasting Corporation with P2 solid-state
equipment for their News and Current Affairs acquisition requirements.

The roll out of P2 product began in February and will take four months to deliver 89 AJSPX900 cameras to all ABC sites around Australia and their many overseas bureaux.
Numerous AJ-SPD850 P2 decks, AJ-HPM100E P2 Mobiles, AJ-PCS060 P2 Stores and other accessories will also be supplied as part of the contract.

This contract represents one of the largest single purchases of Broadcast P2 equipment in the world. Together with the recent adoption of P2 in the US by the Fox Network for their 35 company owned stations, this means that P2 will continue to make significant inroads into worldwide Broadcast markets as is has done for the past three years."

infocus wrote:

I can only stress I have no vested commercial interest, and not even yet an owners interest in any solid state system - I currently use a tape based SD camera. But I am thinking of a purchase soon, and at the moment, on the balance of what I've heard from all sides, it will be an EX3. If I couldn't afford that, it would be an EX1, and if even more stretched a 151. I'd also be interested in seeing what the JVC SDHC cameras are like when they arrive. But I can't think of anything the 171 offers that would make me choose it, over one of the others.

The real beauty to me of the EX is the choice it now offers. Use SxS if subject and workflow permits, use SDHC if more appropiate. The 171 or 151 don't give the option, they force you to use one or the other.

I have no issue with you buying what you want.

I purchased our gear based on demand for making certain types of programme back in 2006. If you every want to come and have a play with the cameras/workflow you're more than welcome.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

infocus
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rone01 wrote:
Who said you had to wipe the card? It's perfectly simple to hire/buy the appropriate amount of cards for you project. .....
SDHC is a solid-state system with identical restrictions to P2, identical.

Depends on the size of the project, though, doesn't it!?! I can easily envisage going away for a week, shooting 15 hours of material, then coming back to work on it for another week. In fact, it's exactly what I'm doing the week after next, and I really wouldn't want to start downloading material every night after a days filming.

15 hours equates to about 15 64GB cards with P2 - somewhere between £20-25,000. With SDHC cards, it's about 18 16GB cards - just over £300!!!

Even if I did download in the evenings, I'd still need to spend £4-5,000 on memory to see me through the day. If I didn't trust SDHC I'd still prefer SxS, and still save about £3,000 a day - the cost of a 171!

Identical restrictions to P2? I think not!

Quote:
Unless I'm going mad, Steve reference to the R&D PDF article didn't mention P2. And even if it was cut and dried truth, it's one thing to say P2 has problems and another to say the P2 offloading workflow has problems due to the kit the laptop/workflow that was being used. One is inherent, one is a sliding scale depending on the user. You edited out the bit where it mentioned copying onto a laptop then became corrupted.

I seriously, seriously can't believe you are using anecdotal evidence (barely that) and heresay for substantiating "P2 disasters".

Stevens reference is a BBC R&D White paper, officially published on their website, and it makes it clear that it "was originally published in the Proceedings of the International Broadcasting Convention, September 2007". That is about as far away from "anecdotal evidence (barely that) and heresay" as I would believe it's possible to get. True, it doesn't specifically say "P2", rather "a BBC file-based camera production in May 2007". But if it wasn't P2, what was it? That period was before other than P2 based solid state cameras were available, and well after the BBC announced it was stopping trialling XDCAM disc based cameras.

Given Alan Roberts position, I don't think his remarks can be called "anecdotal and heresay" either, and, well, I know the person who the laptop stolen.

Quote:
If you can't draw a clear distinction or present some evidence that P2 has inherent problems then this debate it moot. I can through personal experience demonstrate it works day in day out without fault.

This is coming around in circles, but I have never said that "P2 has inherent problems", with any intent to mean the hardware has such. To remind you of my original comment: "......recording to an SDHC card (and using a more tape like workflow), whether it be in an EX or 151, is actually more reliable overall than the use of P2 or SxS. Even though the two latter are more sophisticated themselves, they force a workflow which is more prone to error." I'd be happy to add a rider to that along the lines "for many users they force a workflow which is more prone to error", but fundamentally I stand by what I said.

It's the workflow that P2 forces I don't like, not the hardware. If you could get a 16GB P2 card for £23, I'll be the first customer.

Quote:
Statistics?

You can't know for a fact with that placing a HDV tapedeck on the HVX200 it would have sold more . How? Do you have crystal ball?

No crystal ball, but I know of two people who would have gone for an HVX200 if it had done HDV to tape as well - as it was, they went for Z1s. The forums were full of such comments at the time. Since it wouldn't have been any sort of disadvantage, it wouldn't have lost any sales, it could only have gained them.

As it is, I've seen many times more Z1s in use than HVX200s over the last few years.

Quote:
P2 based broadcasters from a quick scan.
.........
Oh and ABC.. OZ

[I]"Panasonic Australia is pleased to announce that it has been successful in securing a
three year contract to supply the Australian Broadcasting Corporation with P2 solid-state
equipment for their News and Current Affairs acquisition requirements.

The roll out of P2 product began in February and will take four months to deliver 89 AJSPX900 cameras .....

I did say "There may be a lot of [P2] users, ...", but it's the trends that are interesting, and WHO the users are. If my friends right, then it's the ABC who must be the 1 in 4 on P2, but that announcement is quite old, the cameras are AJSPX900 - SD only 2/3", and about to be discontinued even when ABC bought them. It would be interesting to know what ABC paid for them, and why they bought SD when Australia was one of the first countries to start broadcasting HD.

It's who has made an announcement in the last six months since the PDW700 came out that's interesting. Even more so will be to see what Sony do next, will we see a 50Mbs, SxS 2/3" camera?

Alan Roberts
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Chaps, this argument is going nowhere. Why continue it?

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

rone01
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Joined: Feb 9 2009
Alan Roberts wrote:
Chaps, this argument is going nowhere. Why continue it?

It's not an argument in my eyes, just putting forward the case. As long as it's not vicious or personal then maybe we will all learn something.

I've learnt that the EX1 is reliable with SDHC, that's great and is a cheap alternative to tape. (Out of interest can you edit on the SDHC cards satisfactorily, how are the tests for that?)

But the work flow of stacking SDHC cards up offers no incentive to me over tape.

We shoot short form, and don't mind off-loading if we need to, hard drives are fast and cheap, and a centralised server takes care of back-ups.

infocus wrote:

Depends on the size of the project, though, doesn't it!?! I can easily envisage going away for a week, shooting 15 hours of material, then coming back to work on it for another week. In fact, it's exactly what I'm doing the week after next, and I really wouldn't want to start downloading material every night after a days filming.

15 hours equates to about 15 64GB cards with P2 - somewhere between £20-25,000. With SDHC cards, it's about 18 16GB cards - just over £300!!!

Even if I did download in the evenings, I'd still need to spend £4-5,000 on memory to see me through the day. If I didn't trust SDHC I'd still prefer SxS, and still save about £3,000 a day - the cost of a 171!

Identical restrictions to P2? I think not!

It's economics, you can purchase or hire as many P2 cards as you need. Besides I don't think it's comparing like for like in terms of reliability. You're really brave if you dare knock up 15hrs on those cards but fair play to you.

Also if you're already shooting on tape, and cost is the issue why invest at all - after all you're only replacing tape for SDHC, what benefit are you getting?

(as an aside, downloading from you cards will be faster than your tape capture, but fine if you don't want to off-load - I think that's where your time savings come in and good house-keeping.)

SxS I can see the logic, I have no debate there - but to undermine the quality of decent card based system by using a cheap alternative, again I think it a professionally risky compromise.

Finally on the mxf footage footage, I'm still not convinced either way and it means nothing. The BBC wouldn't have carried on using it if it was a P2 issue. And what's funny the only time I have seen 'corruption' like that was using an intermediary such as an unlicensed copy of raylight which used to put blocks of (non-permanent) garbage on the display until you paid for the trial software in full. It looks very similar, but I can't be sure.

Please report back when you get your camera, I still think the EX is a interesting unit. But I have to go where the money flows and so far I've paid back the P2 equipment at least 20 times over due to the client enjoying the benefits of mobile on-site editing, instant preview, under-crank, fast off-load, 100% reliablity, P2 industry kudos, instant editing straight from the card, the hidef look - the list is endless.

Red EPIC / Scarlet - Panasonic AC 90 -  besq.co.uk

Alan Roberts
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You might not intend it to be an argument, but it looks like one to me. I lost interest in it a long time ago, I'm monitoring it now only make sure it doesn't get out of hand.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

Richard Payne
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Joined: Sep 15 2000

I found this review of the AG-HMC150 (US version of the 151)
http://www.eventdv.net/Articles/ReadArticle.aspx?ArticleID=52607
There are some interesting notes on weight and low light performance.

castman
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Joined: Mar 10 2009

I've been reading this thread with interest as a friend of mine is thinking of buying one of these 151's. Another colleague of mine has one and I have to say I was a little disappointed following all the hype. I suppose I should point out I have a Canon XH-G1.

My observations of the 151 are:

Firstly I thought it felt a little flimsy a bit too plastic and light-weight, the build quality doesn't seem very sturdy.
The LCD screen, I wasn't enthralled with either and I don't know if it is just the LCD or if it shows in the recording, but the camera/screen seemed very slow to react to changes in light. When the camera was indoors moving it from a dark area of the room to a light area bleached out the screen for a couple of seconds before it balanced out.
Perhaps my fingers are too big, but I found using the menu and playback toggle switch a little fiddly.
With audio level at their highest, the level seems a little low via a ME66 mic
I'd have liked to see a cover over the battery access.
The first thing I would do is throw away that stupid lens hood cover and replace it with a more appropriate lens cover - one you can take off and put in your pocket!

The footage my colleague shot in our local park prior to arriving at my house was fairly good, a bit of a reddish hue and slightly flatter than I expected given the hype, although more footage shot on F3 seemed better, but I think you are really going to have to be very careful in selecting the right scene file for the job because as he pointed the camera in a different direction, F3 made the image look a little over saturated - I guess a little tweaking could arrive at a happy medium.
The 'out-of-the-box' F5 & F6 Cine scenes were just too dark and so certainly need some adjustment.

I do like the scene select dial idea - Canon should take note of that! I felt the camera balanced in my hand better - probably because it's a little lighter than the Canon. Again, my love/hate relationship with the zoom controls are still there - it's the first knuckle joint that actually aligns with the zoom control, not the finger tips, but that seems the norm for all cameras. I also like the slower zoom action by comparison to the Canon.

I no expert, when it comes to videography, but I know what I like and I'm not sure if I like the 151. My colleague says he'll lend it to me after he's played with it for a while, so I'll see if I am more impressed then!

Richard Payne
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Joined: Sep 15 2000

I disagree that the 151 does not feel sturdy, but it is certainly light weight compared to Sony Models.
I haven't noticed a sluggish auto iris, although I have used it mainly with manual iris.
I find the controls fall to hand very easily for me.

Try these settings next time you shoot with the camera, kindly worked out by a friendly Colour Scientist who knows more than most about these things ;-)

Settings for Panasonic AG-HMC 151 Camcorder

Suggested Menu Settings to get high dynamic range neutral pictures for grading in post.

Menu Setting Suggested Value
Detail Level 0 for 1080i -2 to for 720p ‘film look’ NB (Alan says -4)
Vertical Detail level -2 for 1080i 0 720p Film
Detail Coring +2
Chroma level 0
Chroma Phase 0
Gamma HD Norm
Knee Mid (90%)
Matrix Norm1 (normal) Norm 2 (oversaturated)

castman
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Joined: Mar 10 2009

Richard,

Thanks for the reply and suggested settings. I will be borrowing the 151 this weekend so will try them.

I must clarify my position on the build of the unit. Using a Canon XH-G1, as I do, I just felt that the 151 seemed plastickie and so so robust, it may be robust, but it just doesn't feel like it would take much of a knock!

However, I do appreciate the light-weight aspect and I guess Panasonic have managed to gain the light weight from a more plastic shell

- that lens hood though, that's criminal especially if you don't have, or want to use a matte box when you need a polorising lens - how on earth do you stick your finger in there to twirl it round??? :-)

BTW "a colour scientist" - that sounds great job....compare rainbows all day? :-)

I think if I could find a camera that takes all the good points of the XH-G1 and the 151, I'd have a pretty perfect bit of kit

Alan Roberts
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I think I did a bit more than just comparing rainbows all day. Until you start to delve into colour science you can have no idea just how complex a subject it is. And there are very few books written on it, which is why I'm now near the end of writing one.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

castman
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Joined: Mar 10 2009
Alan Roberts wrote:
I think I did a bit more than just comparing rainbows all day. Until you start to delve into colour science you can have no idea just how complex a subject it is. And there are very few books written on it, which is why I'm now near the end of writing one.

Sorry Alan I didn't mean to poke fun or undermine your expertise, it just sounded like a crazy, fun job - like something a hippy with a degree would do :-)

Alan Roberts
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Well, that sounds like a reasonable description of me.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

castman
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Joined: Mar 10 2009
Alan Roberts wrote:
Well, that sounds like a reasonable description of me.

:-) aren't we all? - although I bombed out of the degree and opted for the City & Guilds and Dip.AD!

Seriously - and forgive my ignorance - what does a 'colour scientist' do? I see you worked for the BBC would I then be right in thinking it was your job to test new cameras and ensure they are set so that there would be no visible difference to the viewer when multiple cameras are in use?

Alan Roberts
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Colour science is a mathematical exploration of human vision in all its aspects. I've been doing it since the late 1980s. One small part of it has been analysing new HD cameras as they arrived, either in production or prototype form, reporting back to the manufacturers and only then developing setting to get the best from them. I still do that , 5 years after retirement. I also train people in camera tech nology and techniques, for SkillSet, the BBC, Ravesnbourne, and lately Danish, Swedesh and Norwegian TV, and next for the EBU as a whole.

I'm writing the book of it all right now, because nobody else has done so, 10 chapters down and 5 to go, up to 105,000 words. And you thought it was just watching rainbows? :D

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

castman
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Joined: Mar 10 2009
Alan Roberts wrote:
I'm writing the book of it all right now, because nobody else has done so, 10 chapters down and 5 to go, up to 105,000 words. And you thought it was just watching rainbows? :D

Sounds like some nice bedtime reading to look forward to!
...and what's wrong with watching rainbows and calling yourself a colour scientist...man! :D

It all sounds way above my learning curve right now. I used to be a pro stills photographer, then printer and in my later years as I work with people who make commercials, corporate and pop vidoes, I find myself sinking into video part hobby, and hopefully part income but with a lot to learn and it seems that the more you learn with video the more you need to know (or do you?). Getting your head around all the terminology is the worst part, just on the spec Richard gave me to try out I find I have no idea what detail coring, Matrix, knee mid and the various Chroma terms mean or the implecations of altering those settings, and whilst they may be advanced for my level of understanding, I find myself coming across these terms all the time, which makes me want to know.

Alan Roberts
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Don't worry about it, just put the numbers in and try it. They're the settings I got while optimising the HPX171, which is the same camera but recording onto P2 instead of SDHC.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

castman
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Alan Roberts wrote:
Don't worry about it, just put the numbers in and try it. They're the settings I got while optimising the HPX171, which is the same camera but recording onto P2 instead of SDHC.

Cheers Alan I certainly will, I'll be playing with it this weekend!!!

BTW do you have any settings for a Canon XH-G1, which is the camera I own?

Alan Roberts
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The settings for all the cameras I've tested are pointed to by the urls in my signature. Except for a batch I did before Christmas, but it's not among them.

Get my test cards document, and cards for 625, 525, 720 and 1080. Thanks to Gavin Gration for hosting them.
Camera settings documents are held by Daniel Browning and at the EBU
My book, 'Circles of Confusion' is available here.
Also EBU Tech.3335 tells how to test cameras, and R.118 tells how to use the results.

castman
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Alan Roberts wrote:
The settings for all the cameras I've tested are pointed to by the urls in my signature. Except for a batch I did before Christmas, but it's not among them.

Thanks for looking

Steamage
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Alan Roberts wrote:
The settings for all the cameras I've tested are pointed to by the urls in my signature. Except for a batch I did before Christmas, but it's not among them.

Internally, the XH-A1 and XH-G1 are identical. The only differences are the various connection options. Alan's XH-A1 settings will work fine with the XH-G1. Be aware that Alan expects the footage will be graded or otherwise post-processed during the production process. Watching the raw footage you may notice two things with his settings:
1) There is a slight yellow colour cast;
2) There's good detail in the shadows, because "black stretch" is used, but as a result black is seen as very dark grey;
The great thing about cameras like the Canon XH series and the Panasonic HMC151 is that you can make adjustments to the "look" of the footage, so saving time in post-production. Of course, it is just as easy to completely wreck the look if you over-do the adjustments. Been there, got the T-shirt...

Some of the Canon XH presets posted on the web are pretty extreme, and I guess the same is likely to be true of the HMC151. Make sure you do your own tests before using a new preset.

Mark @ Steam Age Pictures - Steam trains on video in aid of railway preservation societies. Latest release: "Mainline 2012, LMS Locomotives", on DVD or Bluray Disc.

JimmyJam
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Joined: Jun 1 2009

I just got the 151, brilliant camera!BUT I tried for the first time yesterday to import my clips into Final Cut 6.0 by going >log and trans etc. but I cant find any files on my SD card that are selectable.

Have I gone wrong in the camera set-up before shooting and capturing the wrong files? Or could it be a setting in Final Cut?

Cheers James

Richard Payne
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Hi James. Have you got the Latest version of FCP?
Have a look at this ftp://ftp.panasonic.com/pub/Panasonic/Drivers/PBTS/papers/AVCHD_Editing_FCP_2_Workflow.pdf

Does that help?

JimmyJam
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Joined: Jun 1 2009
Ag-hmc 151 Fcp

Thanks for that, I have updated my version and logging/capture is working so i can get my files into FCP bin but any I cant get them onto the timeline! Sounds rediculous but I have never used FCP.

Am i missing something obvious in FCP or could it be the format I recorded in?
I set up the Video/Audio settings correctly as it showed me in the workflow....

Any suggestions would be massively appreciated.

cheers

James

Richard Payne
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Joined: Sep 15 2000

Hi. If you can see them in the Bin I have no idea why you can't use them on the timeline.
Bound to be something simple like tracks not enabled.

sophie ahmed
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Joined: Sep 23 2009
help

hi ya, im planning on buying the Panasonic hmc 151 for some commercial work. just wanted to know as much as possible before i buy. if you can give me your opinion. and if it is compatible with final cut pro 7. i know it is compatible with final cut pro 6.0.1?
thank you
Sophie

Richard Payne
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Joined: Sep 15 2000

Hi Sophie. Compatibility is fine with FCP 7, and FCP 6.0.3. Not tried earlier. Use log and transfer.

sophie ahmed
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Richard Payne wrote:
Hi Sophie. Compatibility is fine with FCP 7, and FCP 6.0.3. Not tried earlier. Use log and transfer.

thanks for that. just wanted to know how good a camera it is. and issue i should look into before i buy. thanks