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Old October 14th, 2015, 06:11 PM   #1
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Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

Wish I could go into any video store and pick the cam I want. Most of our work is in support of a radio program following social issues, so the videos take a second fiddle and the budget for the camera does, as well.

Looks like I might be able to pick up a Panasonic HPX 170, a camera I would never have considered, just because the seller wants it gone. Does anyone have experience with this camera? We shoot mostly ENG events and some promos. Anything to look out for with this cam? The seller says it only has 50 hours on it.

I am kind of desperate for answers here, as the deal may not last. On the other hand, sometimes those are the best kind of deals to avoid.
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Old October 14th, 2015, 06:33 PM   #2
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

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I am kind of desperate for answers here, as the deal may not last. On the other hand, sometimes those are the best kind of deals to avoid.
Depends how much is being asked for it.......!?! :-)

The HPX170 is a bit long in the tooth now, and was never the sharpest camera around, nor the best in low light. It's performance was what you'd expect from 720 standard, even though it would deliver such in a 1080 signal. And with so many people now saying they won't accept anything less than 4K in a camera purchase........? How important is that to you?

Also be aware it takes P2 media, far more expensive per recording minute than the SD cards of the X70. So how many P2 cards are included with the sale, and will they give you enough shooting time without having to copy and format cards? If you think you'd need to buy more, that could really make the final cost a lot more than the basic camera price.

If it's really cheap, and you don't need the latest and best cutting edge technology, it may be right for you. But unless it's a lot cheaper than the X70, and the price includes enough memory for your purposes, I'd forget it.
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Old October 14th, 2015, 07:55 PM   #3
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

Price: $1750. I would offer $900. He probably won't take it. Not much media included, and you make a great point about the media cards. Then, there is no warranty. I would need to test it out, hard to do under short circumstances.

Thanks for the tip, I think I am getting cold feet. The appointment is for the next few hours, I think I will sand bag and think about it a little bit.
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Old October 14th, 2015, 08:02 PM   #4
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

I offered him $600 cash tonight by email. I am sure he will tell me to take a hike. One sold for $600 on ebay, but they have also been selling as high as $1700.00. After I read the note here I really got cold feet and am not willing to make the 30 mile drive to even look at it if it is not a great deal from the start.
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Old October 14th, 2015, 09:59 PM   #5
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

Shot a lot and sold a lot of footage with a HPX 170. Great for color grading as it has 4:2:2 color space. I now have a GH4 and it is much higher rez. You can get P2 cards cheap buying used. The R-series cards have no restriction on number of uses. For the right price IMO it would be good for narrative work. It produces a softer image which is very kind to people with less than perfect skin. $1000 for one in mint condition would be a good price. Only 50 hours is like new. Used P2 32GB cards can be found under $200.
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Old October 14th, 2015, 10:43 PM   #6
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

Thanks, Mark. This morning, I was determined to buy this camera, even if I had to pay full ask price. Based upon the answers in this forum I paused and am glad I did.

The seller abruptly declined my offer of $600 (low ebay price) and now refuses to make a counter. I think he is stuck at his $1,700. Guess I don't blame him.

I was encouraged about the 4:2:2. That is what really got me hot about the camera to start.

Heck, Adorama has one with low hours and a 90 day warranty for $1250. Why would I pay $1700 with no warranty? I would probably pay $1000 bucks for it, but I have to agree with earlier points, the push is for 4K, while I like the form factor of this camera, it might be better to pursue a new camera even if it costs more.
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Old October 14th, 2015, 11:29 PM   #7
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

You have to look at more than things like 4:2:2, just like you have to look at more than just resolution. There is plenty of youtube footage of the HPX170 in action, probably vimeo too. You can see what it really looks like. Like others have said, for HD in modern times, it's kinda soft (remember, based off a 2006 era camera), even ignoring 4K.

For instance, a cam that is getting pretty affordable even for lower budget folks and I think still looks really nice (for HD) is the Sony EX1. They seem to be going about $1800. It may not have some of the codec specs of the HPX170 but it is noticeably sharper, and the media is much cheaper these days (2 pack of 64 GB SXS cards, which should be good for close to 4 hours each, for $650 last I checked). I rent one from a colleague regularly and still think it looks very nice on review of my footage.
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Old October 15th, 2015, 03:42 AM   #8
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

Some say the x70 is as good as or better than the ex1
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Old October 15th, 2015, 04:38 AM   #9
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

Well, sure. . .it's much newer! He seemed to be looking at older cams, that's why I mentioned it.

I played with an X70 at a local store. Having used the EX1 a lot, two major complaints with the 70:

-Really seems not as sharp as the EX (in HD anyway, no way to try the 4K on the 70 at the time). Not talking super soft by any means, but I will swear it is just not as sharp as the EX1.

-the focus ring. . .ick. I am used to real, manual focus rings, and the x70 has a servo controlled focus that took forever to go from one end of its range to the other. Maybe that's a firmware thing they can fix, dunno.

Those two things alone put me off of that cam, and I thought for SURE it was "the one" until I actually played with it.

How important those things are to you is up to each individual.
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Old October 15th, 2015, 05:30 PM   #10
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

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Originally Posted by Tim Paynter View Post
The seller abruptly declined my offer of $600 (low ebay price) and now refuses to make a counter. I think he is stuck at his $1,700. Guess I don't blame him.
$1,700 for that camera with not much memory included (let alone used and no warranty) seems way too much, as others have said. It may be an example of a psychology of selling, that if you advertise a high price, people just instinctively feel "well, it must be valuable".

There's a story of a vendor at a market stall who had his product advertised at a certain price and sold nothing the first day. He got advice to steeply rise it the second day - and saw the sales take off. Ridiculous I know.
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I was encouraged about the 4:2:2. That is what really got me hot about the camera to start.
I posted in great length about this in another thread, There is a lot made of "4:2:2" which is nonsense, though as with many things it has an underlying historical reason (and is valid in other cases).

4:2:2 refers to the recording system, but says NOTHING about the camera. It simply means that for every luminance pixel recorded there will be as many chrominance pixels recorded vertically, and half as many horizontally.

In other words, every frame will record 1920x1080 luminance pixels and 960x1080 chrominance, yes?

But in the HPX170, each of the R,G,B chips are only 960x540. An offset trick improves the luminance resolution to something like 1150x650 approx. - but with only 960x540 pixels for each of the colours, you'll never get chrominance resolution better than that.

So why record twice as many? All it will do is squander bitrate. If the camera can only output 960x540 in terms of resolution, no higher recording system will make it better.
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Old October 16th, 2015, 12:44 AM   #11
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

Most recent offer is $1,300. I turned the offer down.
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Old October 16th, 2015, 12:49 AM   #12
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

I thought I knew a lot about 4-2-2 and about prices. I have a lot to learn about both.
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Old October 16th, 2015, 09:58 AM   #13
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Re: Panisonic HPX 170 vs. X70

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Originally Posted by Tim Paynter View Post
I thought I knew a lot about 4-2-2 and about prices. I have a lot to learn about both.
Tim, the more I find out, the more I realise I don't know the answer to! :-)

If you're interested about the whole 4:2:2 and subsampling subject, I went into a lot more detail about the background at New Sony PXW-FS5
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