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Old October 14th, 2009, 09:28 AM   #1
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JVC HM 100 vs Panasonic HMC 40

I am in the market for a small, lightweight HD solid state camera (not DSLR) to supplement my EX3 and I wonder if anyone has done a functional comparison, the codec notwithstanding, between the JVC HM100, the Panasonic HMC 40 and or the HMC 150 (several inches longer than the first two but still half the weight of the EX3)?

Thank you in advance.

Last edited by Ron Wilk; October 14th, 2009 at 12:24 PM.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 05:03 PM   #2
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JVC HM100 vx Panasonic HMC40 - Here Are My Thoughts

I've been struggling with the same issue. I wanted a small HD camcorder that was professional, lightweight, and won't become obsolete by this weekend. I went to DV Expo in Pasadena in September to check them out. Here is what I wrote in my blog: http://budurl.com/tmxj
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Old October 14th, 2009, 05:19 PM   #3
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I think as a "B" camera to an EX, it's the codec that would probably be the most important factor to me, mainly for compatability reasons. Any alternative would have to be a great deal better in other respects to make up for that, IMO.

I also think you'd find the 151 look soft compared to an EX if directly intercut. Both the HMC40 and the HM100 should be better, though they are both likely to be worse than the 151 in low light. (And all substantially worse in low light than the EX)
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Old October 14th, 2009, 05:28 PM   #4
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Hi:
Thank you for the link, I had already read your blog and enjoyed the content and empathize with your confusion. I live in South Florida, a virtual desert when it comes to searching for a reseller capable of demonstrating pro or pro-sumer video equipment. I therefore rely upon the various forums from which I attempt to assemble a reasonable assessment of the hardware/software in question but in this instance, I have arrived at the same place you indicated in your blog.

I like my EX3 but with rods, matt box, glass filters, Anton Bauer battery attached along with a support system to aid in hand holding (I use a large Sachtler whenever possible) it's a bundle to handle. To wit, my quest for something smaller and lighter capable of producing reasonably good image quality to used for those occasions where a tripod is neither acceptable nor appropriate nor convenient. The JVC sounds interesting but numerous posts suggesting a less than acceptable build quality, poor zoom function along with a few other niggles, has me concerned. The HMC40, on the other hand, seems to be more sturdy (this is not first hand info, mind you) and provides several seemingly useful features. THEN, there is the HMC 150, that I am beginning to lean towards... several inches longer and approx. 2 lbs heavier than the HMC 40 but still much smaller and lighter than the EX3. It seems to offer more in the way of immediately available features (switches rather than menu options) than the HMC 40 with the added advantage of 1/3 CCD's.

Have I made a clear decision, well... not really. I'm sure that as time goes by some other manufacturer will come along with an improvement over those describe above but that will always be the case, given the nature of profit driven product cycles. So, timing isn't as much a factor in the decision making process, nor is the price but valid information is, and that is where my quest falls flat!
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Old October 14th, 2009, 05:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
I think as a "B" camera to an EX, it's the codec that would probably be the most important factor to me, mainly for compatability reasons. Any alternative would have to be a great deal better in other respects to make up for that, IMO.

I also think you'd find the 151 look soft compared to an EX if directly intercut. Both the HMC40 and the HM100 should be better, though they are both likely to be worse than the 151 in low light. (And all substantially worse in low light than the EX)
Hello:
I believe I was busy formulating my response and initially missed your post. That said, am I to assume that you have made a direct and visual comparison between equivalent footage shot with both the EX1 and HMC 150? After all, it is not an EX1 that I am attempting to complement but, rather, an EX3. I do encounter situations where hand holding is necessary and I did not find the Ex1 suitable for that purpose, IMO. With the proper rig, the EX3 can accomplish that task but not for very long unless one has consumed a copious amount of spinach.
In addition, you indicated that the HMC40 and HM100 "should be better." I assume that you are referring to image quality but your use of a conditional word suggests that you are basing your conclusion upon specs rather than visual inspection?

As for the difference in image quality, vis-a-vis a "B" camera, I would expect my EX3 with its larger chips and much greater cost to provide a more impressive, higher quality image, codec notwithstanding, but one must accept a trade off of sorts for the convenience of portability and hand-hold-ability.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 07:23 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ron Wilk
......am I to assume that you have made a direct and visual comparison between equivalent footage shot with both the EX1 and HMC 150?
Yes. On a 1920x1080 plasma. (Obviously on a lower res screen, the difference would be less marked.)

The EX3 and EX1 should be almost identical for picture quality. The other thing about the HMC 150 is that it is better in 720 mode than 1080. With 1080 recording, the picture is no sharper than 720 (though it seems to have a bit more artificial edginess) which is what theory predicts, but the codec seems far more stressed. I could see compression artifacting at first generation in 1080 mode, but not in 720 mode.

The 150 is a good camera for the price, but it's not as sharp as the EX by a big margin.

Yes, comments about the HMC40 and HM100 were based on specs. In your shoes, the thing I'd be most looking at there would be low light performance of both of them. Not 0dB performance, but take them somewhere badly lit, put gain in to expose, and see how they compare. (And I'd like to know the answer to that one.)
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Old October 14th, 2009, 08:15 PM   #7
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Thank you for your reply.

Unfortunately, I do not access to any of the cameras mentioned, with the exception of the EX3, of course, which I own. There do not seem to be any local dealers here in S Florida that can provide assistance, so, I have been relying upon information gleaned from various forums.
With that in mind, and moving up the scale a tad while keeping in mind your comments vis-a-vis image quality as compared to the Ex series, what are your thoughts on the Panasonic HPX 170?
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Old October 15th, 2009, 10:11 AM   #8
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After viewing some footage shot with the Panasonic HPX 170 and speaking with several owners, I believe that I have come to a decision. Although the storage media is costly, the codec plus the 4.2.2 space is enticing. Furthermore, the camera is light and well balanced for hand holding purposes. While, as discussed in earlier posts, the image may not be a sharp as the EX series, I doubt that it will be noticeable in the vast majority of situations even when inter cut with the EX3, with the possible exception of extreme close-ups. There is currently a $500.00 rebate offer direct from Panasonic and the camera comes with a hard to beat 5yr warranty.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 10:29 AM   #9
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Well I can't offer any insights on the JVC, but I own the HMC40.

It is a really nice little camera. Has some great professional features. It has a full raster 1920x1080 3MOS chip set and produces some amazingly sharp images. Low light is less than stellar, but for my subjects that is rarely a problem.

There are some interesting write-ups comparing the HMC40 to the HMC150 and the Canon 7d. Compared to the HMC150 it is about 3 stops slower, so if low light is important then the HMC150 would be a better solution for you. The HMC40 is significantly sharper than both the HMC150 and the 7d.

Panasonic has done a remarkably good job cramming lots of functionality into fewer button. For example, the white balance button toggles between ATW, ATW Lock, 5.6k preset, 3.2k preset and A/B manual white balance. The HMC150 uses more buttons to give you the same result (personally I find this easier). The HMC40 has some other nice features including the waveform display, touch auto focus, the previously mentioned 3 second pre-record and interval recording (for time lapse).

The HPX170 and the HMC150 have very similar imaging systems (including the same 3CCD chip set). The resulting images are VERY close. The main differentiator is the P2 workflow versus the SDHC workflow.

The CMOS/CCD tradeoffs between the HMC40 and the JVC/HMC150/HPX170 might be significant for you. CCD smear versus CMOS rolling shutter (jello, skew, flash) may be important to you.

I edit on a 2.4 GHz Dual core laptop running Windows Vista (I use Vegas Pro) and don't find AVCHD editing to be that much of a problem. Sometimes I edit natively, but I also have Cineform NeoScene for transcoding if I am going to be doing complex edits.

The HMC40 is hard to beat at $2000, but if the CMOS or low light issues are unacceptable then for the $3500 I would go with the 1/3" CCD HMC150 before getting the 1/4" CCD JVC.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 01:59 PM   #10
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Thank you for your insights.

As for the CMOS chips, I am quite familiar with their downsides since I do own a Sony EX3 but, personally, I have never experienced the rolling shutter issue.
As for the Panasonic HMC 40 vs HPX 150 & 170, I am a Mac/Intel/FCP user and am leaning towards the 170 given the P2 workflow, codec, (storage card cost notwithstanding) and several features that 150 lacks.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 04:58 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Ron Wilk View Post
.........while keeping in mind your comments vis-a-vis image quality as compared to the Ex series, what are your thoughts on the Panasonic HPX 170?
It may be fine in isolation, but I don't think it's a good choice as "B" camera to an EX3. By the time you've added the cost of the P2 media, you're getting pretty close to the cost of an EX1. And that would match your EX3 far, far better, whilst giving all the other advantages of compatible media, batteries, codec etc, to say nothing of comparable low light performance to the EX3.

I think you may be surprised how much difference you do see between an intercut EX and a 170, and more likely on distant views, landscapes, even more than close ups.

Don't be swayed by the talk of 4:2:2 regarding the 170. That implies equal chroma/luminance vertical resolution, so a recording resolution of 1080 lines vertically. Unfortunately, the front end can only manage 540 lines for chroma with the 960x540 chips, so there's little point of being able to record twice what the front end produces. (Pixel shifting only improves the luminance resolution.)

And remember DVCProHD is subsampled whereas AVC-HD (or 35Mbs MPEG2) aren't. To 960x720 or 1280x1080. Hence the 720 mode doesn't capture all the available horizontal resolution, the 1080 mode is far better than the front end can supply. And using the 1080 mode means no 60p ability or realistic overcranking etc.

I originally suggested check the lowlight of the HM100 and the HMC40 before buying, so didn't think it would be good, but..... 3 stops!? If true, that's incredibly poor, the HMC150 itself isn't the best at low light. I don't know what the HM100 is like, but it's hard to believe it's worse, so together with the codec compatability, that's the way I'd personally be looking first in your position. (I'd still want to check an HM100 out first though.) Or get an EX1 if you can afford it.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 05:10 PM   #12
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Hello:

First off, let me say that I truly appreciate the time and effort that you put into your response, however, I believe that you have overlooked my primary objective. I am looking for a hand holdable camera, smaller and LIGHTER than my Ex3 , and while the Ex1 is smaller it is not readily hand holdable and at 6.3 lbs, not that much lighter than the 8 lb Ex3. Cost is really not an issue in this instance.
However, that said, I have found a local pro who has a new 170 and I will be comparing its output with my Ex3 over this weekend.

While I agree that a review of specs might suggest otherwise, the only true test of acceptability is in the eyes of the beholder. To wit, who would have thought that the 10 megapixel chip in the Leica M8 could produce such stunning and artifact free 32x40 enlargements as I have hanging in a local gallery? Technical specifications clearly do not reveal the entire picture (to make a pun).
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Old October 15th, 2009, 05:37 PM   #13
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Ron,

I would be interested in your comparison results. Please post back your findings after this weekend.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 05:58 PM   #14
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While I agree that a review of specs might suggest otherwise, the only true test of acceptability is in the eyes of the beholder.
No, I won't disagree with that at all, though I think it's important to check the results on a 1920x1080 screen, and I hope you get the chance to set up the 170 side by side with your EX3, shoot identical framings, and intercut the results. Don't just rely on any old monitor that happens to be in the shop. Record the results, edit it them in your system, and look at them on a known 1080p monitor.

Additionally, do the same test in low light levels. (Lower than normal artificial room lighting, so you need to use a fair amount of gain. Alternatively, use the same ND on each, just to get into a high gain situation.) I've found that can really show up differences between cameras that daylight shooting doesn't.
Quote:
Technical specifications clearly do not reveal the entire picture (to make a pun).
No, agreed again, but don't only think of what the pictures look like. I'd prefer not to mix codecs in the edit for practical reasons, which I suppose is a big argument in favour of the HM100.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 09:58 PM   #15
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"... I'd prefer not to mix codecs in the edit for practical reasons, which I suppose is a big argument in favour of the HM100."

Although the following question may reveal a degree of naivety, I agree with the above statement but if the ingested footage is converted to Pro Res what difference might it make?

I will indeed post my findings when available but I should mention one other factor that must be plugged into the decision making process and that is, that any camera I eventually select will be purposed differently than the Ex3 and although a time may come when it will be called upon to stand in as a "B" camera, the primary purpose for its purchase is for the acquisition of footage that might not be otherwise obtainable with the larger and heavier Ex3 or, for that matter, the Ex1. A smaller and lighter camera allows it to be carried for longer periods of time and to places where a larger device may not be appropriate and under those circumstances may serve as the primary acquisition device.
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