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Panasonic AVCCAM Camcorders
AVCHD for pro applications: AG-AC160, AC130 and other AVCCAM gear.


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Old August 1st, 2008, 12:16 PM   #1
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Hands on with the HMC-150

I just worked on a shoot with a consultant and producer for Panasonic, using what is apparently the only prototype in the USA.

The camera wasn't even on my radar screen at NAB, but, selling at less than $4000, it looks to be a winner. I reviewed media shot on it, and it looked very much like HVX200 footage; the Cinegamma look so revered. The body is light and really comfortable for handholding, like the DVX100. 1/3 in chips, but using pixel interpolation, just like the HVX200, so, even though it can record 1080, it'll be softer than the EX1. At 720p, it rocks. One thing I noticed, the zoom function soft started and ended rather nicely on the prototype. There was an obvious mod, a clear plastic piece covering the top half of the audio level controls, already tiny and recessed deeply, which made adjustments a bear. A pencil w/eraser might be a handy tool for adjustments, unless production models are revised.

It already has most of the features of the HVX200, a few unique to it, like the advantage of post-recording: when you hit record, it adds a specified amount of frames already in a buffer, thus recording after the fact. SD cards are cheap media compared to P2 or SxS. It has the same body, chip set and lens of the HPX-170, a much more expensive P2 camera, but only 1 slot. HDMI, but no HD-SDI out, btw. Almost all features I noticed are covered in the PR. VF was brighter and cleaner than I remembered, although coarse in resolution. Using unshaded LCD panel in bright sun was impossible.

NLE's will support it natively, some do already, and the long GOP format can be transcoded, just like HDV, at the cost of time expended. My prediction: winner!
Especially for Indie filmmakers, documentarians, and event shooters, if it can be edited natively w/o transcoding delays. It'll be interesting to see how long a minute of AVC conversion to DVCPro takes using the Pana software.

iPaul

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Old August 1st, 2008, 04:05 PM   #2
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Old August 19th, 2008, 12:27 PM   #3
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... but only 1 slot....
This is quite an omission. I suppose it's not worse than tape cameras, which can only accept one tape at a time, but it puts it at a disadvantage compared with other card-based cameras that take two cards, allowing you to change one whilst still recording to the other. Maybe it's no big deal with 16GB and even 32GB SDHC cards now available?
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Old August 19th, 2008, 01:12 PM   #4
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I don't see it as a big deal... with 32GB cards available now, and 64GB cards on the way, why would you need two slots? If you're doing something that requires hours upon hours of uninterrupted recording, there are other solutions for that.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 01:58 PM   #5
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I don't see it as a big deal... with 32GB cards available now, and 64GB cards on the way, why would you need two slots? If you're doing something that requires hours upon hours of uninterrupted recording, there are other solutions for that.
Yeah, as mentioned elsewhere you'd likely need to change batteries before a 32Gb card is full...
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Old August 19th, 2008, 03:17 PM   #6
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...It'll be interesting to see how long a minute of AVC conversion to DVCPro takes using the Pana software.
I wonder how many people will actually do that (and cut the horizontal rez almost in half), when there are options like Cineform.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 03:31 PM   #7
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when there are options like Cineform.

Or Canopus HQ ... I have converted AVCHD files to Canopus HQ in about 3 x real time ..but that was using an ancient P4 CPU. On a modern machine I imagine it would be a lot faster.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 04:06 PM   #8
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This is quite an omission. I suppose it's not worse than tape cameras, which can only accept one tape at a time, but it puts it at a disadvantage compared with other card-based cameras that take two cards, allowing you to change one whilst still recording to the other. Maybe it's no big deal with 16GB and even 32GB SDHC cards now available?
I've actually seen some footage on this camera also and while it does look nice, just like HDV it has something missing by comparison to DVCProHD . . but then . . it should, it's only Intra-frame long GOP. Thus, compared to HDV is it waaaaaay better? I think placed in front of untrained viewing audience (like 90% of the public - or maybe 95%) it will look the same as HDV. However, with one big exception:

MEDIA ARCHIVAL

I really like to have an archiving method that is simple and easy that has a format that I can pick up anywhere and use anywhere for the most part and that new camera from Sony with both tape and Compact Flash is a seller for us. DTE with the CF and tape for archival thus all the advantages of the AVCHD but with the safety of tape. Great idea and sold us to sell off our HVX cameras and move to the quick easy workflow of HDV.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 09:52 PM   #9
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Or Canopus HQ ... I have converted AVCHD files to Canopus HQ in about 3 x real time ..but that was using an ancient P4 CPU. On a modern machine I imagine it would be a lot faster.
I convert SR11 AVCHD on my Quad core Q9450 to Canopus HQ in just over realtime. That is copy to PC, takes about 1/3 realtime then convert which is less than realtime. Program of 1 hour and 10 mins copied and converted in about 1 hour and 15mins. So is close to tape capture. For long programs of over 2 hours it is faster than tape because of the multiple tapes involved. When in HQ editing in Edius is realtime. I like the quality of the SR11 just wish for a more adjustable camera. The advantage to me of the SR11 is long time recording, clip logging and management of the Sony Browser software. Archiving is a problem. For the family stuff it is not large so I have just included in normal PC backup routine and making AVCHD disc on normal DVD's. For projects I have burned to Blu-Ray with the nice part being the ability to also include all the project data. It's possible to record just less than 3 hours of 1920 x1080 @ 17Mbps on a BluRay disc at about $10 to $12 so close to tape costs.

I have not seen any artifacts that bother me and the video is cleaner than HDV from my FX1. I am sure Panasonic would not bring out a camera costing 3 times the SR11 and not at least compete with the quality!!!!

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Old August 19th, 2008, 10:29 PM   #10
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This is quite an omission. I suppose it's not worse than tape cameras, which can only accept one tape at a time, but it puts it at a disadvantage compared with other card-based cameras that take two cards, allowing you to change one whilst still recording to the other. Maybe it's no big deal with 16GB and even 32GB SDHC cards now available?
32 GB at the maximum data rate is 3 hours of material.

I can't think of any shoot I've ever done, where having 3 hours record time is a real limit.


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Old August 19th, 2008, 10:33 PM   #11
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I've done some events in the past that were well over three hours, but I've never had one that didn't include a break somewhere in there. How long does it take to switch out an SDHC card? Gotta be less than thirty seconds from power down to power up.
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Old August 20th, 2008, 07:41 AM   #12
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I've done some events in the past that were well over three hours, but I've never had one that didn't include a break somewhere in there. How long does it take to switch out an SDHC card? Gotta be less than thirty seconds from power down to power up.
On the Videomaker live review they took the SD card out with the camera on and it didn't freak out, so I wonder if a new one can be switched out without powering down.
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Old August 20th, 2008, 08:00 AM   #13
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I would hope the cards can be hot swapped.
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Old August 20th, 2008, 08:43 AM   #14
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Surely they can be hot-swapped. Guess I'm too "old school" to have thought of that.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 04:54 PM   #15
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Yes, it's probably hot-swappable, and even if not, what a small compromise for a camcorder of such value with so many other features. Definitely NOT a deal-breaker!
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