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Old March 15th, 2013, 07:40 AM   #1
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HPX250 vs. PMW200?

Not quite as many direct comparisons as I thought there'd be by this point...

I have a good shot at a long-term recurring gig that's going to be run & gun, lots of travel, usually bad weather, for national broadcast. More than likely means a solid small-chip with >50-4:2:2 internal, and my HVX probably won't cut the mustard.

The above 2 are my top contenders. Not considering the XF305 for various reasons.

I lean towards the HPX because I already have the batteries and 128GB of P2, it's less expensive, and it has a longer zoom and twice the capture bandwidth. I lean away from it because of reported autofocus problems (not used often at all, but it'd be nice if it worked right when I did)

I lean towards the PMW because EX cameras are requested more often by other clients, and the slightly greater control and sensitivity available with 1/2" chips. I lean away from it because it's more expensive initially.

While there's some chance I'll get a chance to visit a vendor that has both of these on their floor in a few weeks, I'd be very grateful for input from anybody who's used or sampled both. Thanks.
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Kevin McRoberts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old March 15th, 2013, 09:13 AM   #2
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Re: HPX250 vs. PMW200?

Tough decision!

I would go for the PMW200. XDCAM is a much respected and requested format in the freelance world. Beyond your current client, the PMW should give you better job opportunities.
Plus, the 200 has 1/2" chips, and size really does matter. It will give a better picture in low light conditions.
I'm not certain, but I believe the 200 will give you more control over the picture profiles than the 250.

A few years ago, a friend who was entering the freelance market asked for my recommendation on a camera. I had the Canon XF305 and had just sold my HPX500. But I told him to buy the EX1R or 3, as I knew the XDCAM format was in demand. He bought an EX3 and hasn't had any regrets.

Of course, you already have the media and batteries for the 250. A cheaper option, and Panny's about to release the cheaper mini-P2 cards. Hmm.

Another one of my freelance buddies has the HPX250. He also has a Sony PMW350. He wants to sell both and buy the PMW200. He decided the PMW200 would fit his needs better, and he already has SxS cards. (Since I have P2 cards, I let him use mine, and I can use his 250 when I need it.)
Nothing wrong with the 250, and I like using it, but he prefers the XDCAM format.
BTW, if you do decide to buy the 250, I know where you can get a gently used one.

Either camera will be a big upgrade from the HVX. Both the 200 and 250 are cleared for general broadcast use. And they both have HDMI, SDI out and timecode in/out, good features to have on a true broadcast camera.

I'm in a similar position as you. I want to upgrade to a more broadcast friendly camera, and my FS100 is a bit lacking in that department. Since I have P2 cards, a B4 lens and batteries left over from my HPX500, I am seriously considering the HPX600, but that's way more expensive than your choices. Or I could save a lot and buy my buddy's 250. Or get my own PMW200.

Or, wait until NAB. See what new goodies are about to be unwrapped.
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Old March 15th, 2013, 10:13 AM   #3
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Re: HPX250 vs. PMW200?

If money is tight I would think about a new or used HPX 170. It is a vast improvement over the HVX. I have shot with the HPX250 and other than the longer lens I liked the image of the 170 which has CCDs better. I have also shot with the Sony and liked it but could not justify the increased cost.
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Old March 15th, 2013, 11:24 AM   #4
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Re: HPX250 vs. PMW200?

I'd say there are two big "headline" differences between the two cameras you mention - chip size (as Glen has already mentioned) and manual lens control - the PMW200 has a "true" manual lens, the HPX250 manual mode is via servos. There are other differences, but for those two reasons alone I'd pay the extra for the PMW200. A longer zoom range can often come at the expense of quality and other factors, here I suspect it's the 1/2" chips and keeping size, weight etc down.

As far as the chip size goes, I note you say "....slightly greater control and sensitivity available with 1/2" chips." I'd call the difference more than slight - it's a stop as far as depth of field control and range before diffraction limiting, and well over a stop of inherent sensitivity. Not as good as 2/3", but half way there! (It's more than a stop in sensitivity terms because of the unused interphotosite areas. Hence although the chip area is pretty well twice as much with 1/2" chips, the photosite area is more than twice as much.)

If you're comparing the two, then beware of in camera noise reduction. The HPX250 appears to use the same as the 370, and has PAP Type1 and PAP Type2 modes. From the manual:
This setting is suitable for image production that reduces noise as far as possible with increased sensitivity by using a 3D adaptation effect.
This setting suppresses 3D adaptation effects and is suitable for an image production with natural sensitivity and image quality.
In other words - normally use PAP Type 2 for "natural image quality", and if you're doing a comparison between an HPX250 and another camera, make sure the HPX250 is set to PAP Type 2.

Mark - Kevin has stated he is looking for a new camera suitable for "national broadcast", and as such I think he'd be sensible to meet the conditions that the EBU describe as "Tier 2L". As such, both the HPX250 and the PMW200 tick the boxes - but the HPX170 doesn't, thanks to it's 960x540 chips. When compared directly with a true 1920x1080 camera on a full HD monitor nowadays, it just looks soft - and too often needs a higher detail level to try to compensate. Use a 1920x1080 camera and the real resolution means far lower levels of detail - and a far more "natural" look.

Kevin - the one aspect in favour of the HPX250 for you must be the fact you already own so many P2 cards. But Panasonic have announced a going away from P2 towards micro-P2 and SDXC - maybe now may be a good time to sell them, before they lose too much value?

As far as "twice the capture bandwidth", I assume you're referring to 100Mbs versus 50Mbs of the PMW200? That I wouldn't worry about. Datarate is only one factor in codec quality, and as a rule of thumb. it's expected that a given quality level will be achieved with an interframe codec (such as XDCAM422) at less than half the datarate of an intraframe one (all else equal). Both XDCAM422 and AVC-Intra 100 are considered fully acceptable acquisition codecs in the broadcast world. For acquisition, AVC Intra 100 may be considered a disadvantage as it means you need twice the memory compared to XDCAM422, and the higher bitrate means it has to be higher performance (hence more expensive).
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Old March 16th, 2013, 07:06 AM   #5
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Re: HPX250 vs. PMW200?

I have used the HPX 250 several times and the PMW 200 once and I would go for the Sony in a heartbeat. I have to qualify this and tell you I own an EX1R so that could have something to do with it. The lens is a huge difference, having real manual focus and the iris where my hand expects it to be on the lens barrel is one of the biggest things in Sony's favor. Depth of field 1/2" to 1/3" - Sony. LCD on the Panasonic seems lower res. to me but I do enjoy having the waveform available; I wish Sony would get on board with this. The slow zooms on the HPX were as bad as my EX1 but seem improved on the 200. The worst thing about the 200 is having the dc input in the battery bay. I haven't heard anything about P2 going away but I can assure you S x S isn't going away anytime soon and I have never had an issue with a card in 3 1/2 years.
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