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Old December 28th, 2009, 08:07 PM   #91
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Originally Posted by Jeff Regan View Post
Tom,

Just so you know, DVCPRO HD and AVC-Intra 100 record at only 40Mbps in 720/24PN. With Panasonic E series P2 cards and PCD35 P2 reader into a desktop with PCIe slot, the download times are amazingly fast due to the 1.2Gbps throughput on the cards.
I get this, but DVCPRO HD still has to transcode to mpeg-2 or AVC or VC-1 to go on Blu-ray. XDCAM-EX needs no transcoding, it's already mpeg-2.

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Blu Ray looks as good as it does because it is painstakingly compressed scene by scene at great expense by compressionists, most often using MPEG4 and VC-1 codecs vs. MPEG2.
Agreed, yet taking transcoding off the table for Blu-ray with DVCPRO HD is not an option. The argument I made for XDCAM-EX is for speed. My client gets the finished product delivered on Blu-ray faster. If speed is not important, nothing precludes using the Nanoflash for 4:2:2 with the PMW-350, if desired.

I would not argue the PMW-350 is ideal for broadcast, or for rentals. But if you do events, or electronic news gathering run 'n gun, you might ask where else besides the kit lens you go to find 2/3 inch auto focus?

Up front, 10 bit is an advantage in gray scale acquisition agreed, just as 1920x1080 is an advantage in resolution. But the profile adopted for Blu-ray is 8 bit 4:2:0, so in the end, the best efforts from grayscale A/D get truncated to 8, but the advantage over 720p from having twice the number of luminance samples with 1080p is always maintained.

We also don't know fully what the PMW-350 is truly capable of. We have seen some stunning video from Alister Chapman shot in tough light, and we already know that 1080 XDCAM with Nanoflash is accepted by all the broadcasters. It took a few years but in the DSLR world, most manufacturers eventually settled on CMOS. At some point for video, the problem of CMOS artifacting will be solved. Some observations already seem to point to the PMW-350 representing an improvement in that regard.

For CCD, it could be the beginning of the end, perhaps not. The PMW-350 could be the end of the beginning for CMOS.
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Old December 28th, 2009, 08:42 PM   #92
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Tom,

I agree with most everything you posted. It is worth considering that feature films on Blu Ray are mastered from 10-bit HDCAM SR and D-5 formats, so there is some usefulness for 10-bit, besides the obvious grading and color correction advantages. It doesn't make sense to dumb down acquisition and mastering formats because deliverables have lower specs.

The nanoFlash recorder disadvantages are external vs. internal recording ergonomics and complexity, 8-bit, need for very high bit rates compared to AVC-Intra 100 I-Frame due to MPEG2.

Varicam tape and P2 cameras are a proven product, delivering consistently for many years in the case of the former. We just don't know yet how the 350 will perform as far as CMOS, but we are already well aware of the XDCAM EX codec's limitations.

I have no doubt the 350 would be a phenomenal events camera, an area where its codec limitations won't be an issue. High-end production is still an open question, but for many 4:2:0 and 8-bit color depth would rule it out. Similarly, there are projects where a 720P native chip set of the 2700 could rule it out, however, this same chip set has been used successfully for many years for features, commercials, episodic, docs, etc.

CMOS may be the future imager for video cameras, primarily due to cost, but the amazing Sony F35 and Panavision Genesis proves that a single large sensor CCD is possible and quite impressive--albeit expensive and power hungry at present.

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Old December 29th, 2009, 03:45 AM   #93
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I hate it when people claim that codec "A" is "the best codec" or codec "C" is the "the highest possible quality". Such claims for any codec are nonsense and misguided. All codecs other than uncompressed are compromises trying to balance quality with efficiency and speed of workflow. They all have pro's and con's. Sure you can have a favorite or preferred codec but that doesn't mean it's the "best" codec.

AVC-Intra is a terribly inefficient codec introduced as far as I can tell, as a stop gap to replace the aging DVCPPRO HD codec. As I see it Panasonic choose to use Mpeg4 because as usual they would not use the same codec, Mpeg2, as Sony, JVC, Canon etc. Then they realised that Mpeg4 (AVC) was so hard to edit natively that no one would want it for professional applications. So they took an efficient codec, Mpeg4 (which is a lot closer to Mpeg2 than most people realise), threw away the stuff that makes it work well (and thus hard to edit) and started a smear campaign on long Gop codecs to justify why they use an inefficient I frame codec. To claim AVC-I to be "vastly superior" or "the best codec" is nonsense. They have only just made it possible to edit native AVC-I in FCP while native XDCAM EX editing was possible from day one. If it really is the "best codec" then surely people would be editing with it and apple would not have had to introduce ProRes and Avid wouldn't recommend transcoding it to DNxHD etc.
I'm not saying that XDCAM EX is better, it's just the difference is not nearly as large as some like to claim or think. If you shoot progressive the difference between 4:2:0 and 4:2:2 is negligible, the difference in interlace is I agree larger.

As I have already said the EBU found XDCAM HD at 50Mb/s and AVC-I to offer similar performance and it was noted that the 10 bits of AVC-I offered no noticeable advantage for acquisition. This isn't my view or opinion but that of a panel of experts drawn from broadcasters across Europe. 10 Bit will only bring an advantage when the appropriate amount of data is used to record the extra bits, there is no such thing as a free lunch. While this is a comparison of AVC-I and 50Mb/s XDCAM and not 35Mb/s EX it does demonstrate that 10 Bit isn't everything. Yes for post work I use 10 bit, but at 220Mb/s where I really can see a difference.

The quality of any video system starts at the front end, not the rear. The lens being the first quality limiter followed by the sensor. I'm sorry but I just can't understand why anyone would want to invest now in an old design 720P front end. It cannot ever be magically turned into a 1080P front end. Yes there are differences between CCD and CMOS, but again these are largely over exaggerated differences that in the real world are not visible. The exception would be filming lots of strobe lighting etc where CCD would be an advantage, but even then I would want 1080 CCD not 720. You don't have to shoot 1080 with a 1080 camera, but at least you have the choice.

CMOS is being used day in day out to produce very high quality images including high end drama. The Arri D21 is CMOS as is RED. Would I prefer CCD on the 350? No. The power, weight and cost advantages far outweigh the different way that flash and strobe lights are handled. Remember, tube cameras used to respond to strobe lights and skew in a similar fashion, yet when CCD cameras first came along it was the CCD's that were seen by some to be "wrong".

At the end of the day you can take a native 1080 camera and shoot 1080 or 720. You can add an external recorder to up the bit rate, or a DA to add additional outputs. But you can never make a 720 camera into a 1080 one.
In the UK one of the most profitable SD rental camera lines is the DSR570/DSR450 DVCAM range, these are often more profitable than Digibeta or HDCAM because they are used day-in day-out in vast numbers as work horse cameras. They may not be the "best" cameras in the world or use the "best" codec but they are reliable workhorse cameras that if used well produce picture just about indistinguishable from the more expensive Digibeta cameras. This is the slot the PMW-350 is designed to fill and I believe it will turn heads as the image quality is stunning. It might not have the "best" codec, but what it will do is deliver 1080 HD out of the box that rivals or even surpasses many of the cameras currently on the market and offer a comprehensive range of modes and functions that will make it suitable for a huge range of productions. I believe it will make an excellent workhorse camera. It is expandable via external recorders should you choose. There is also an internal expansion slot for future upgrades, so who knows what will come in the future.

Jeff, you can put a mono VF on the 350. It has 2 viewfinder connectors, one for the colour VF and one for a CRT viewfinder. Using a NanoFlash is fit and forget. It powers on with the camera, it goes into record with the camera. It's solid state, it is not a firestore.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 05:34 AM   #94
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Alister, didn't I read somewhere that the BW viewfinder you can put on the 350 is an SD one? Anyhow, presumably the colour one can be switched to bw so probably not a big deal.
Funnily enough been playing a bit with the EX3 over the Christmas period and I do have a small preference for having the VF in colour now! It's not the greatest VF though, compared to all the other small cams on the market it's amazing, but not great compared to the full size cams.
It'll be interesting to see just what impact the 350 makes in high end work, but for wildlife I really don't expect to need to do a BBC training course on it any day soon, but that's just my guess.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 07:42 AM   #95
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You can put any DXF viewfinder on the 350. The DXF-20W is designed for HD. it is the viewfinder used on the PDW-F355 etc and is specified as "over" 480 lines resolution which is actually very close to the 500 lines offered by the HDVF-20A Sony's high end HD CRT finder.

Having used cameras with the high end C35W colour finder and the PMW-350 I would say there is little to choose between them. The C35W has a better range of options and controls but there is only a small difference in image quality.

Yes it will be interesting to see whether the 350 can make inroads into natural history.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 12:03 PM   #96
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Alister,

The specs for AVC-Intra 100 speak for themselves.

In my world 4:2:0 vs. 4:2:2 is important, not as big a deal as 4:1:1 vs. 4:2:2, but still a difference. I own a DSR-450WS, had two at one point, had a DSR-500. Digi Beta is clearly superior due to its color space and bit depth--it's not a subtle difference.

If Sony thought XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX were so great, why the need to introduce XDCAM 422? Obviously the 4:2:2 color space was seen to be worthwhile, and required raising the data rate to 50Mbps.

What we know about high end studio quality mastering formats is that they are 10-bit, high bit rate, 4:2:2 or 4:4:4, full sample, I-Frame. AVC-Intra 100 is the acquisition format that most closely matches a studio format specs wise.

AVC-Intra 100 is the only codec found inside a 1/3" and 2/3" one-piece camera that is 4:2:2, full sample, 10-bit other than an SRW-9000 for $100K. It is a Native, progressive codec that doesn't record 24P and 30P over 720/60P or 1080/60i to be compatible with legacy tape formats. MPEG4 is much newer and more efficient than MPEG2.

My editor did grading and color correction tests with Intra 100 vs. DVCPRO HD and found the former capable of being pushed much further. Many editors prefer I-Frame structure.

When editing for deliverable formats like HDCAM SR or D-5, both of which are 10-bit, it makes sense to shoot in a 10-bit format to begin with. If shooting 8-bit, the information is gone at the front end.

Sony was the first camera manufacturer to deliver an AVC HD camcorder, so they have embraced AVC codecs due to their superior efficiency vs. MPEG2. This is the same reason AVC h.264 is used with Blu Ray so often.

Final Cut Pro 7, Adobe CS4, Edius 4.5 and Avid 4.5 make editing in AVC-Intra much easier, some natively.

Regarding CMOS artifacts, I have clients who won't rent my EX1 because of the image skew(jello cam) issues. This is a bigger concern to them than the flash band artifacts.

I agree that the lens is the first quality limiter, and that is why I would be very reticent about asking a DP client to accept a $1600 HD lens on a 2/3" camera.

Again, Varicam is a proven name that has been improved in the P2 versions. If a full raster camera is paramount, there is the 3700, albeit not as flexible in frame rates and no 720P, but I have no doubt a 2700 and 3700 are taken more seriously for network episodic work than an XDCAM EX camera would be, primarily due to the master quality AVC-Intra 100 codec. A Fox Network prime time show called "Dollhouse" was shot in 35mm the first season and switched to 3700's and 2700's for the second. The show looks very good.

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Old December 29th, 2009, 02:40 PM   #97
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The specs for AVC-Intra 100 speak for themselves.

If Sony thought XDCAM HD and XDCAM EX were so great, why the need to introduce XDCAM 422? Obviously the 4:2:2 color space was seen to be worthwhile, and required raising the data rate to 50Mbps.
The specs for AVC-Intra speak for themselves but they don't yet speak to me. You asked a great question about why Sony felt the need to introduce XDCAM 422, but left without comment about why if AVC-Intra is the best codec, people would be editing with it and apple would not have had to introduce ProRes and Avid wouldn't recommend transcoding it to DNxHD etc. What it says to me is that the question was thrown up to mute a point that was made. The reasons in support of XDCAM-EX have been stated, speed in native editing and smart render to Blu-ray target.

Neither is the argument persuasive that AVC-Intra should be compelling because you would have to start with $100,000 to find similar codec features in the Sony line in the SRW-9000. This goes more to brand loyalty than logic.

Perhaps I would find those points compelling, if it could be justified why those extra 2 bits of grayscale are worth throwing away half of your luminance samples for 720p versus 1080p. People right here DO see that difference. I can't see the justification for 720p, nor can I find the answer by turning to the past and pointing to high end studio mastering formats, full sample 4:4:4 like HDCam SR when it appears we are trending away from that. There must be a reason. My guess would be that in the post tape world order, there is no longer room for inefficiency that wastes space on expensive storage media, for extremely minor benefits.

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Sony was the first camera manufacturer to deliver an AVC HD camcorder, so they have embraced AVC codecs due to their superior efficiency vs. MPEG2. This is the same reason AVC h.264 is used with Blu Ray so often.
Although your two points are correct, it is not the reason h.264 was adopted by Blu-ray. In fact, Blu-ray was conceived from the beginning to accommodate a two hour recording in mpeg-2. The h.264 was only adopted later by the BR association in response to the competition from rival HD DVD and Microsoft, that a new optical format was not needed because of the recent advances in codec compression, to witness VC-1. If not for that competitive push, h.264 would likely not have been adopted by Blu-ray at all.

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Regarding CMOS artifacts, I have clients who won't rent my EX1 because of the image skew(jello cam) issues. This is a bigger concern to them than the flash band artifacts.
You know your customers best. I would only counter that I own and use the EX1 now, am aware of the potential skew issues, they would not stand in the way of repurchasing into the CMOS technology. The benefits of light weight, low power, low noise and high sensitivity (and low cost) justify the use of CMOS for me.

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I agree that the lens is the first quality limiter, and that is why I would be very reticent about asking a DP client to accept a $1600 HD lens on a 2/3" camera.
Your point is understandable, but no one is forced to buy this lens.

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Again, Varicam is a proven name that has been improved in the P2 versions. If a full raster camera is paramount, there is the 3700, albeit not as flexible in frame rates and no 720P, but I have no doubt a 2700 and 3700 are taken more seriously for network episodic work than an XDCAM EX camera would be, primarily due to the master quality AVC-Intra 100 codec. A Fox Network prime time show called "Dollhouse" was shot in 35mm the first season and switched to 3700's and 2700's for the second. The show looks very good.
I'm looking for more than just reputation or brand name recognition. There are tangible benefits with CMOS. The PMW350 raises the bar in meaningful ways, reduced power consumption, lighter weight, lower cost 2/3 inch 1080p acquisition, lower cost storage per GB on a variety of solid state media types. It includes its own extremely fast and friendly editing codec that ports straight to Blu-ray with smart rendering, yet remains compatible with high bitrate 4:2:2 solid state capture solutions, i.e. Nanoflash.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 02:58 PM   #98
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AVC-Intra 100 is the only codec found inside a 1/3" and 2/3" one-piece camera that is 4:2:2, full sample, 10-bit other than an SRW-9000 for $100K. It is a Native, progressive codec that doesn't record 24P and 30P over 720/60P or 1080/60i to be compatible with legacy tape formats. MPEG4 is much newer and more efficient than MPEG2.
And that 1/3" camera is not approved for use by Discovery or Nat Geo while the EX's are. XDCAM, HDV, MPEG2, H264 and many other codecs can be native progressive recording just the actual used frames, there is nothing special about the way AVC-I encodes progressive. PsF is the way the signal is output over HDSDi as originally there was no provision in the the HDSDi specs for 1080P. Panasonic do exactly the same using PsF for 1080P over HDSDi, the recording itself is true progressive. PsF is part of the ITU part 709 specifications for HD broadcast systems.

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My editor did grading and color correction tests with Intra 100 vs. DVCPRO HD and found the former capable of being pushed much further. Many editors prefer I-Frame structure.
Well there are no surprises there. DVCPRO HD is no where near full frame and that causes all kinds of concatenation issues. This just proves my point that just because a codec uses "X" bit rate or 4:2:2 over 4:2:0 it doesn't automatically make it a better codec.

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When editing for deliverable formats like HDCAM SR or D-5, both of which are 10-bit, it makes sense to shoot in a 10-bit format to begin with. If shooting 8-bit, the information is gone at the front end.
But ONLY if the data isn't compromised by not using a high enough bit rate to allow for the extra bits to be recorded without raising the compression ratio. As I keep saying this was a point raised by the EBU in their tests with AVC-I and XDCAM HD422.

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Sony was the first camera manufacturer to deliver an AVC HD camcorder, so they have embraced AVC codecs due to their superior efficiency vs. MPEG2. This is the same reason AVC h.264 is used with Blu Ray so often.
Yes in consumer cameras and it's a swine to edit which normally means you end up having to transcode it. It is now creeping in to pro level cameras but even at it's maximum data rate of 24Mb/s the jury is still out as to whether it's any better than HDV. AVC or Mpeg4 was designed to excel at very low bit rates and high compression ratios, which is where it is at it's best. It's amazing how good a 4Mb/s 1080P clip can look. That's why it ended up in consumer cameras where people want to be able to record hours and hours on a single SD card or memory stick. At low bit rates/high compression ratios it is very efficient. But scale that up to 24Mb/s, AVC's maximum, where you would think it's going to kick HDV's butt and to be honest it's not really any better. Some scenes can look terrible where HDV would still look good. I have yet to see an AVC camera that produces superior images to a comparable HDV camera. At high bit rates/lower compression ratios AVC is no more efficient than MPEG2. If AVC really was so good then I'm sure that Canon and JVC would have adopted it in their pro level cameras, but they have not. Then you have to remember that AVC-I has almost non of the efficiency adding attributes of AVC. AVC (mepg4) was designed as a long GoP codec. It's the long GoP that make it so efficient, but AVC-I has no long GoP and thus the bulk of the efficiency has gone.

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Final Cut Pro 7, Adobe CS4, Edius 4.5 and Avid 4.5 make editing in AVC-Intra much easier, some natively.
They all edit XDCAM natively.

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I agree that the lens is the first quality limiter, and that is why I would be very reticent about asking a DP client to accept a $1600 HD lens on a 2/3" camera.
Then don't use it. The 350 has a standard B4 mount so just use whatever lens you feel is appropriate. You can by the camera without the lens if you wish.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 03:04 PM   #99
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Well my friend and officemate Don Lenzer got over to see the camera at Abel today and followed up with a report. It certainly puts on hold his plans for the 2700 although to be fair he was leaning against the trade in before this. He isn't rushing to buy the 350 but is holding off on the 2700.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 03:45 PM   #100
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Tom, Alister,

I think a big reason Sony tried to stay with MPEG2(and needed 50Gb dual layer discs because of that) is due to not wanting to pay licensing fees to Microsoft for VC-1 or fees to use MPEG4 h.264, ultimately they did so because of pressure from the studios who didn't want to have multiple encoding schemes to deal with when HD DVD was alive and because of the extra content needed for special features--even 50Gb wasn't adequate with MPEG2. They had to do this with consumer cameras due to that market wanting long record times.

It wouldn't surprise me if Canon and JVC don't want to pay for licensing new codecs either.

I agree that if 10-bit is of huge importance, it is conceivable that full raster 1080 is also important and that is why Panasonic offers the HPX300, 3000 and 3700. 2 extra bits translates to 4X more shades of gray, not inconsequential.

The 300 had terrible CMOS skewing in 1080/24P, not sure if this has been improved with new firmware. EX1 and EX3 global shutter issues are well known, now we just need to hear how the 350 performs. I Sony to keep improving CMOS technology and the 350 may already show benefits.

I think we are dealing with two different strata of production requirements, the clients that seek the Varicam look and functionality would not consider 4:2:0 low bit rate XDCAM EX. It's really that simple. Nor would they consider a $1600 lens. Nor would they want to take a chance with rolling shutter artifacts.

So while you may not care about proven CCD and Varicam history, many producers do.

Could this change? Of course. We've already seen the RED One make a big impact on film style production and video DSLR's are being used in places we would have never expected.

This doesn't change the fact that high end productions seek 10-bit, 4:4:4 or at least 4:2:2 at high bit rates, just as they are more likely to seek full raster sensors going forward. Whether tape or solid state doesn't make any difference--even if SR and D-5 went away, similar or better specs would be expected with whatever media.

This is why Panasonic is developing AVC Ultra at 200Mbps with 4:4:4, 1080/60P, 12-bit recording with 3D capability as well. This would use the same P2 card media currently in use.

I would be happy to see the 350 get some traction in my market and I would offer it in my rental inventory if I could get at least twice as much day rate than for my EX1, using the stock lens. I have no doubt that many people will be happy with the 350 and it should do exactly what they want, but to dismiss the HPX2700 Varicam due to native 720P CCD's or AVC-Intra 100 due to it requiring transcoding for some NLE's or is "inefficient"(even though a much newer codec than the long in the tooth MPEG2 variants) is not valid.

I think we've all made a good case for either camera, and they both deserve consideration.
Ultimately, the types of projects being shot daily with the cameras and formats is what is most telling. So far, Varicam has seen continuous usage for many years on all types of high end projects. EX1 and EX3 are doing projects that one wouldn't expect to see them on, such as a B-Camera for "Trauma" or "Public Enemy". I would be concerned right now if I owned an F900R or 700/800 because of the 350.

Of course, I'm concerned by all palmcorders, RED One and video DSLR's, not to mention Flip HD at this point! It seems 2/3" cameras just aren't sexy anymore.

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Old December 29th, 2009, 05:56 PM   #101
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As an amateur I have followed this thread with interest. My hobby since retirement is video, a little excessive according to my wife!! My camera inventory is an FX1 a SR11 and XR500 very consumer compared to this discussion. However for all the issues raised here the programs have to get to the viewer somehow, mainly cable or satellite and by the time they are displayed on my 42"1080P Panasonic plasma or my 40" 240HZ Sony LCD the best have a job being better than the output from my XR500!! Most are a lot worse, closer to the output from my old DV cameras!!! The Bluray disc I have made of theatre shows with these cameras are at least as good as most of the Bluray commercial discs I have and better than most of them. I can clearly see the difference in programs on my displays. The best at the moment are on Equator or Oasis group of HD channels here on Rogers cable though as expected large variation in quality.
Consumers now have access to AVCHD cameras at low cost that deliver clean, sharp video without judder etc. makes the professional products look not so good a lot of the time.
As a technical person I appreciate the issues being raised however the final delivery is what counts and how many stages of degradation takes place before the final viewer gets to see the production. Most of what i do has little processing, edited with Edius and straight to Bluray. When I watch cable the signal has been degraded many times from its pristine original whatever camera took the shots. Hence the difficulty competing with a $1000 consumer camera ( which may be shooting at more than twice the bit rate of the delivered cable channel).
With this in mind the system that can take the abuse the best is likely the winner!!!! What is the best input to the distribution encoders that results in the best viewer experience?
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Old December 29th, 2009, 06:32 PM   #102
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David,

What do you mean by this and "next generation" radio mics? The Panasonic 2000 and 3000 series camera have a slot for 2-channel digital radio mic. receivers such as Lectrosonics.
I'm pretty sure you'll find the 2000 and 3000 series cameras have a Unislot mount, and support single channel only, as well as not making use of some of the more advanced features of the new digital radio mics. I think you'll find they'll accept the new digital receivers, but only be able to access one of the channels within the camera. You really need a new generation camera to make full use of the capabilities, and the 350 is designed with the slot to do that.
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Sony was the first camera manufacturer to deliver an AVC HD camcorder, so they have embraced AVC codecs due to their superior efficiency vs. MPEG2. This is the same reason AVC h.264 is used with Blu Ray so often.
AVC-HD *CAN* offer superior efficiency to MPEG2, but it doesn't necessarily follow - all coders are not equal. It's also important to define "superior efficiency". If you mean "same quality at lower bitrate", then yes, if you mean "easier editing", then no - it's much more of a pain to edit than MPEG2. Which I suspect strongly is why Sony have stuck with MPEG2 in their pro range, to keep easy native editing albeit at the expense of greater bitrate.

It's also important to distinguish between Blu-Ray production and cameras. With the former, the coding can take place in non real time, likely 2-pass, and use powerful computers. With a camcorder, the coding has to take place in real time and computing power is limited by many constraints. So whereas H264 on a Blu-Ray may achieve the 2x efficiency figure, it's unlikely that a real time coder will in any consumer priced camera. (It most certainly gets nowhere near in the HMC150.)

Real time AVC coders are improving all the time, and that's likely why Sony have left it until now to use the codec in other than low end consumer cameras. At highest bitrate, my experiences have been that overall in the HMC150 it's only comparable at best to HDV (and far more difficult to edit.) New generation coders may change all that, and I'll be interested to see how the NXCAM range turns out.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 06:53 PM   #103
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With this in mind the system that can take the abuse the best is likely the winner!!!! What is the best input to the distribution encoders that results in the best viewer experience?
The simple answer to the question is probably "the cleanest"!

But that can mean a lot of things - low noise original, fewest compression artifacts, and amount of aliasing in the original signal to name just three.

The compression issue may be the most interesting here. Simple logic would have you believe that the higher the original bitrate the better, yes? Because the production process involves multiple decompression/recompression, you need to start off with something that will survive that as well as possible?

I'm hearing stories from people who are interested in cameras for short turn around events (sports, news etc) that XDCAM 35Mbs may be the best option for them, in that although the initial compression may be higher than AVC-Intra 100 or XDCAM 422, the bitrate is low enough to be edited natively and linked back in real time in native form. The savings on transcoding steps more than compensate for any higher compression.

In general, it depends on what you're going to do with the footage. If it's going to need a lot of grading or extensive post work, then 4:2:2 and other factors have far more significance than if the pictures are likely to be broadcast as shot - as is most likely the case for sports, news etc.

In more general terms, what you see at home will also depend on the transmission codec, bitrate, and (most importantly) the actual coders used. In the UK, the BBC HD channel has recently reduced it's bitrate from 16 Mbs to about 9.7Mbs, with little discernible difference. (At least to me, though there's some disagreement about it.) The claim is that the original H264 coders were "little better than MPEG2", the bitrate reduction has gone hand in hand with new and (much) better coders.
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Old December 29th, 2009, 07:53 PM   #104
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Well my friend and officemate Don Lenzer got over to see the camera at Abel today and followed up with a report. It certainly puts on hold his plans for the 2700 although to be fair he was leaning against the trade in before this. He isn't rushing to buy the 350 but is holding off on the 2700.
Don seemed pretty happy with the 350 today. He commented on the weight and size being very nice.

We now have four 350s in our rental department, as well as four plus 2700s. I really enjoy reading these debates because they echo the discussions we have with our clients everyday. I think when making a camera decision it comes down to a couple of key questions. Is the camera high quality? Will my client accept this camera and what it delivers? Will it work for most of my applications? How much can I charge for it? Oh.. and what about the workflow?

I work with many different freelancers and they each have pretty defined opinions about what is best. Usually what is best is what is making them the most money. They have clients that demand a certain format or have a list of acceptable cameras. The HPX2700 has been selling well and working in our rental department so it obviously meets a number of needs. I believe the 350 will also do very well in our rental department, especially because the rental price will be lower than most 2/3" cameras.

They are both high quality cameras. I say look at your client base and get the one that will meet their needs the most.
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Old December 30th, 2009, 02:29 AM   #105
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I'm pretty sure you'll find the 2000 and 3000 series cameras have a Unislot mount, and support single channel only, as well as not making use of some of the more advanced features of the new digital radio mics. I think you'll find they'll accept the new digital receivers, but only be able to access one of the channels within the camera. You really need a new generation camera to make full use of the capabilities, and the 350 is designed with the slot to do that.

AVC-HD *CAN* offer superior efficiency to MPEG2, but it doesn't necessarily follow - all coders are not equal. It's also important to define "superior efficiency". If you mean "same quality at lower bitrate", then yes, if you mean "easier editing", then no - it's much more of a pain to edit than MPEG2. Which I suspect strongly is why Sony have stuck with MPEG2 in their pro range, to keep easy native editing albeit at the expense of greater bitrate.
David,

The 2700 and 3700 have Unislot mounts, they are dual channel and the newest Lectrosonics digital dual channel receivers work with the cameras.

AVC-HD was designed as a low bit rate codec first and foremost and it is up to CPU's and coders to catch up to the processing complexity. When it comes to "easier editing", it's hard to beat DVCPRO HD, especially in Native frame rates. XDCAM EX is more processor intensive, as is any Long GOP frame structure codec. So if efficiency is based upon low processing requirements, my choice is DVCPRO HD with 4:2:2 and I-Frame. Of course any modern dual core higher-end computer should have no trouble with XDCAM EX or AVC-Intra 100.

Andy,

It would be great if you could give us some of your insight regarding codecs or sensors or what you think is hype vs. valuable, but I know you have to walk a fine line being in sales.

I too have these conversations with clients daily. Many times a producer asks me what camera they should use for a particular project. I always defer to their DP and also recommend they speak to their editor. Reality is, any of these cameras and formats can get the job done.

Having owned most every BVP and BVW series Sony camera since 1985, I know they make a great product that is reliable and robust. I'm newer to Panasonic, but am very impressed with the support I receive from them. You can't go wrong with either one, IMO.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video

Last edited by Jeff Regan; December 30th, 2009 at 10:13 AM.
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