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Old July 31st, 2008, 06:56 PM   #1
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Press Release: Panasonic unveils HMC150 pricing and ship date

PANASONIC UNVEILS PRICING AND SHIP DATE FOR ITS NEW
PROFESSIONAL AG-HMC150 AVCCAM HANDHELD CAMCORDER


Highly-Anticipated Pro AVCHD Handheld Available for Delivery Early October

SECAUCUS, NJ (July 31, 2008) – Panasonic announced today suggested list pricing and a ship date for its new AG-HMC150 professional handheld AVCCAM camcorder. Based on the proven design and advanced functionality of the highly popular DVX100, this new camcorder will offer both 1080 and 720 HD recording with solid-state SD memory card recording. With an exciting range of professional features, impressive picture quality and a sleek, compact design, the new AVCCAM handheld will be available on Thursday, October 2nd at a suggested list price of $3,995.

The HMC150 represents the next generation in affordable HD video production tools. The new handheld provides professionals and enthusiasts alike the flexibility of high-quality 1080/720 AVCHD recording at bit rates up to 24Mbps and a simple, solid-state SD memory card workflow. AVCHD, the industry’s new MPEG-4 / AVC Hi Profile compression format, provides a near doubling of bandwidth efficiency with improved video performance over the older MPEG-2 compression used in HDV formats. As a result, AVCHD recordings made by Panasonic AVCCAM camcorders are crisp and clear, even during fast motion, reducing image degradation or dropouts associated with HDV and other tape or disc-based systems.

“With features such as advanced, full 1920x1080 AVC Hi Profile HD recording, higher professional bit-rates, and an affordable and faster, solid-state SD card workflow, the HMC150 offers a state of the art professional handheld solution for those looking for the highest quality and flexibility at an affordable price,” said Robert Harris, Vice President, Marketing, Panasonic Broadcast. “The AG-HMC150 offers longer recording times and higher recording quality than is possible with current HDV formats.”

The HMC150 features 1/3” 16:9 progressive 3-CCD imagers that improve signal-to-noise ratio and deliver excellent low-light performance. It is equipped with a 13X Leica Dicomar zoom lens system offering an extra-wide 28mm* angle setting (the widest in its class). For stable, precise shooting in any situation, the AVCCAM camcorder features a cam-driven manual zoom ring, auto or manual operation of focus and iris, and optical image stabilization (O.I.S.). The HMC150 offers a host of selectable gamma tools including Cine-like gamma to produce warm film-like images, as well as helpful shooting functions such as a waveform monitor and a vectorscope display, focus assist and Dynamic Range Stretch (DRS).

The HMC150 records in a range of HD formats including 1080/24p, 1080/30p, 1080/60i, 720/24p, 720/30p and 720/60p. The handheld records stunning high definition in four recording modes – the highest quality PH mode (average 21 Mbps/max. 24 Mbps), HA mode (approx.17 Mbps), HG mode (approx.13 Mbps) and HE mode (approx. 6 Mbps). It captures full horizontal resolution 1920x1080 images at its PH, HA and HG recording modes. The camera can also be set to capture 1280x720 images in its PH mode. The recorded AVCHD files can also maintain metadata for individual recorded clips.

With the HMC150, videographers can capitalize on the cost advantages, reliability and widespread availability of SD and SDHC memory cards. Using just one 32GB SDHC memory card, users can record three hours of full pixel 1920x1080 video and audio at PH mode, four hours at HA mode and 5.3 hours at HG mode. In the HE mode, the camera can record up to 12 hours of 1440x1080 HD content – all on a single 32GB SDHC card.

The HMC150 comes standard with interface connections including HDMI out, USB 2.0, HD component out (mini D terminal), composite out as well as jacks to control zoom remotely, focus, iris and start/stop functions. Professional audio connections include XLR two-channel audio input (48V phantom power) with mic/line select, built-in stereo microphone, headphone out, manual two-channel audio level VR and RCA audio out jacks. The camera also offers a time/date stamp for legal depositions or surveillance, histogram display and time code/user bits. Other useful recording functions include pre-record, interval and shot marker, as well as new modes including last-clip delete and Rec check, which allows immediate review of the most-recently recorded clip.

Compact and lightweight, the 3.7-lb. handheld has an easy-to-grip design for balanced, stable shooting in a variety of environments. The camera has a color viewfinder and a 3.5-inch color LCD monitor that displays content in thumbnail images for quick viewing. Other valuable features include SMPTE time code generator/reader, three user buttons with 11 choices for customization, and a high-speed shutter (up to 1/2000 sec.)

For editing or playback, professionals can instantly transfer content from the HMC150 camcorder to Mac or PC computers with an SD/SDHC card reader or by connecting the camcorder directly via its USB 2.0 interface. Unlike HDV tapes, SD cards with AVCHD content can be inserted into and played back on a growing number of affordable playback devices including Blu-ray players (like Panasonic’s DMP-BD30), the Sony PlayStation 3, and some new Panasonic plasma displays, as well as computers with an SD card slot using applications that play AVCHD files. Using NLE software, content can also be edited and rendered in various formats and delivered on a wide range of media.

AVCHD is supported by wide range of editing options including Apple iMovie, Apple Final Cut Pro 6.0.1, Adobe Premier Pro CS3, Grass Valley Edius PRO v4.5, Pinnacle Studio Plus 11, Pinnacle Studio Ultimate 12, Nero7 Premium Reloaded, Ulead Video Studio 11 plus and DVD Movie Factory 6 Plus. In addition, a free transcoder, available for download from the Panasonic Broadcast web site, will convert AVCHD files to DVCPRO HD files for use with most existing professional editing packages.

Panasonic’s AVCCAM camcorder line-up brings the benefits of solid-state recording to budget-conscious professionals. Like digital still photography, recording onto SD/SDHC cards offers a fast and simple, file-based workflow with ultra-reliable performance and resistance to shock, vibration and extreme temperatures and weather. SD and SDHC memory cards are inexpensive, widely available and can be reused repeatedly. Since AVCHD records video as digital data files, content can be transferred and stored on affordable, high-capacity hard disk drives (HDD) and optical storage media and transferred to future storage media as technology advances. To backup Panasonic’s claim of solid-state reliability, the HMC150 comes with a three-year limited warranty upon registration. **

The HMC150 will be available on October 2nd, at a suggested list price of $3,995. Panasonic offers a wide section of SD and SDHC cards in 32GB, 16GB, 8GB, 4GB, 2GB and 1GB sizes.***

About Panasonic Broadcast

Panasonic Broadcast & Television Systems Co. is a leading supplier of broadcast and professional video products and systems. Panasonic Broadcast is a unit company of Panasonic Corporation of North America. The company is the North American headquarters of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (NYSE: MC) of Japan, and the hub of its U.S. marketing, sales, service and R&D operations. For more information on Panasonic Broadcast products, access the company’s web site at www.panasonic.com/broadcast.

*35mm equivalent.

**The 3-year limited warranty includes Panasonic Broadcast’s normal 1-year basic warranty plus an extended warranty for years two and three. Register within 30 days after purchase.

***To record in the high-quality PH mode, an SD card specified at class 4 and higher is required.
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Old July 31st, 2008, 10:56 PM   #2
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Bring on the early adopters. I can't wait to see what this baby will do.
So theoretically the 720p @ 24mbps should be way less compressed than the 1080 @ 24mbps right?
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Old August 1st, 2008, 12:43 AM   #3
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Just crunching some numbers, in the highest quality setting of 24 mbps, you'd be looking at about 90 minutes on a 16 GB SDHC card, right? So, an 8 GB card, which costs roughly $25 right now, will get you about 45 minutes. That's getting close to the old videotape workflow of having your shooting media act as your archive copy. Interesting...

If my math is bad, someone please correct me!
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Old August 1st, 2008, 05:44 AM   #4
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I too am curious about 720p @ 24mbps being less compressed . Could this be the cams sweet spot?
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Old August 1st, 2008, 06:22 AM   #5
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"Best Value?

To me, this unit sure comes close to the mythical "Best Value" camcorder that I've been waiting for!

Great features for less than $4k list, including 1/3" chips (should be great in low-light), and very affordable tapeless acquisition media (SDHC)!

If your NLE can handle AVCHD, this should be the one for you!

Last edited by Dwain Elliott; August 1st, 2008 at 06:43 AM. Reason: Typos
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Old August 1st, 2008, 06:58 AM   #6
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I think panasonic has a free AVCHD to .mxf conversion utility if your NLE will not handle AVCHD.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 07:39 AM   #7
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I'm with you guys. I'm really excited about this camera and hope it lives up to my expectations. I could care less about the fact that it shoots in AVCHD. I can always edit in some other format until NLE's catch up.

Someone mentioned $25 8gb cards. Are those class 4 cards?
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Old August 1st, 2008, 07:55 AM   #8
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Why not just buy better media. An 8GB Kingston SDHC Class 6 card goes for less than $35. Flash memory pays for itself pretty much right away, so what difference does $10 per card make?

How valuable is your data -- why trust it to the cheapest RAM? I'll take a slightly more expensive card with rave reviews over a cheap card with bad reviews any day.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 09:35 AM   #9
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@ Ethan - it's Class 4 or higher on the high end spec, so a class 6 card would be better, at least in theory.

@Chris - You can find better memory than Kingston. It's a well known brand, but it is often out-rated by Transcend, which is typically cheaper to boot. Since I like to keep ALL of my raw footage, this has been a major stumbling block for me in the adoption of a purely tapeless workflow. So, I'm intrigued by the possibility of buying these cards as I buy tape now - for one recording use only, and then, into the archive it goes and a fresh card for the next shoot is waiting.

@ Dwain - 1/3" is the smallest "professional" chips there are - which means they actually perform worse in low light than 1/2" or 2/3" cameras. I'm not saying this camera won't perform well in low light, just that it's working at a disadvantage to, say, the PMW-EX1.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 09:39 AM   #10
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The Transcend 8GB Class-6 SDHC card does get better user feedback at Newegg than the Kingston. Personally, I've never been very impressed by Kingston products on the whole.
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Old August 1st, 2008, 10:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Eric Darling View Post
@ Dwain - 1/3" is the smallest "professional" chips there are - which means they actually perform worse in low light than 1/2" or 2/3" cameras. I'm not saying this camera won't perform well in low light, just that it's working at a disadvantage to, say, the PMW-EX1.
To some people, the lighter weight of the HMC150 compared to the EX1 may be more important than bigger chips especially if they shoot mostly in situations that have plenty of lighting. If you’re not strong enough or you don’t use any support mechanisms, your footage can be almost useless with a lot of shakes. It’s a different story if you’re comparing the HMC150 to the EX3. The cost between the HMC150 and the EX1 is another important factor.
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 02:48 AM   #12
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Paulo points out one of the advantages of the HMC-150 over say the EX1 - it is lighter.

I'm going to embark on my first micro-budget digital feature at the end of this year (tiny personal project but about one and three quarter hours) and that is a factor for me. Acquisition choices are few in this price bracket and decisions are not easy - everything is a compromise. I do not want to go down the HDV route though I know people have successfully created movies on this format (and SNUB! a feature film has just been created using EX1s over here in the UK).

However, the idea of having a small wallet full of relatively inexpensive SDHC cards (against the price of one or two small capacity SxS cards) is very tempting so that is another big consideration.

So, has anyone used SDHC acquired footage to create more than a just few minute's worth of layered edited movie, or are we still in the realms of mere 'possibility' with the HMC-150 (and its AVCHD format) for lengthier projects?

In theory the 150 camera "provides a near doubling of bandwidth efficiency with improved video performance over the older MPEG-2 compression used in HDV formats. As a result, AVCHD recordings made by Panasonic AVCCAM camcorders are crisp and clear, even during fast motion" this is another plus - if it is true.

Can anyone explain that 'doubling' and the implication it has for a camcorder with small sensors ( although of course it has three of them)?

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Old August 3rd, 2008, 06:04 AM   #13
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So how does this compare to the HVX200? Is it what the GL2 is to the XL2?
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 10:00 AM   #14
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If the AVCHD encoder in the HMC150 holds up to motion better than HDV while using more affordable memory than P2 or SxS, that should be a useful cmbination for those who want solid state recording on a tight budget. It's not a full competitor to the EX1 with it's larger sensor, better depth of field and higher resolution, but it will compete with the HVX200, Canon XH-A1, Sony V1U, JVC HD110U and so on.

I wouldn't think most people would archive footage permanently on SD cards at ~$25-50/hour, but you could at least keep a few projects that way without the pressure to erase them immediately as with more expensive memory. Sounds like Panasonic may have a winner on their hands with this camera, if it lives up to expectations.
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Old August 3rd, 2008, 05:00 PM   #15
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What I mean is, you have already a solid state HD camera from Panasonic, in a similar price class. So, aside from the much cheaper SD cards and the $4000 price tag vs the HVX's $6000 (or so I thought), what are the differences? Just seems odd.
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