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


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Old December 2nd, 2008, 06:47 PM   #1
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P2 or AVCHD?

Hi
I am considering a new camera and finally getting into HD although most of my tehnical stuff still goes to MPEG-1 and on CD-ROM. But I've heard that filming on HD will give a mucvh beter picture.l

Anyway I'm considering either the Panasonic AG HPX170 or the Panasonic AG-HMC150. the 170 is P2 and the 150 is AVCHD, sorry, of course we all knew that! ;-)

My current editing software is on the PC side, Sony's Vegas 8 Pro and on my MacBook Pro, Final Cut Express 4. It's a new MBP dual core. I know/heard that I can't edit P2 in FCE and I'd need FCP6 (Studio 2) which I will be getting when I upgrade my editing machine to a Mac Pro.

How does the AVCHD compare to P2? I'd probably mostly be shooting 720p @ either 30 or 60. Or Shooting for SD. Isn't AVCHD more compressed and harder to edit. It has the Long GOP or do they both. My other concern is the lack of a Firewire out on the 150 since I shoot with the nNovia digital recorder. I'm not familiar with the SDI at all sorry! ;-(

The other item is the cost. The 150 is a bit cheaper than the 170 and I can't quite afford the $3800 for 2 32gb P2's while the 150 shoots to much cheaper SDHC cards. Also does the 150 also provide all the focusing aids and scopes that the 170 has?

Thanks fo any info.
Allen
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 06:46 AM   #2
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I vote HMC150- rave reviews, small AVCHD files and similar performance to the 170.....biggest drawback isn't the camera itself, but the AVCHD files.
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 07:58 AM   #3
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Hi Steve

Thanks. Yes the AVCHD files are much harder to edit. However I also found out that the 150 doesn't have the focus assist or waveform monitor that the 170 does. But it still boils down to cost. SDHC cards vx P2! ugh!

Also how do I get a digital signal out to my dirigal HD recorder without a firewire?

Allen
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 08:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen Zagel View Post
How does the AVCHD compare to P2? I'd probably mostly be shooting 720p @ either 30 or 60. Or Shooting for SD. Isn't AVCHD more compressed and harder to edit.
It may be pedantic, but in a comparison of a 150 to a 170, the differences are AVCHD v DVCProHD (codec) and SDHC v P2 (hardware).

That said, it's a no brainer between P2 and SDHC, and the native use of SDHC memory is maybe the biggest appeal of the 150. It completely changes the workflow - solid state, but cheap enough for rushes to be kept on the original card indefinately if required, just like tape. I don't think you'd then need the nNovia.The codec choice is more complicated, and the differences are less of quality, more of workflow. AVCHD is harder to edit natively, but can be transcoded into something the NLE finds much easier.

There are differences: 150 has HDMI, 170 has HDSDI. The 170 also allows for off-speed filming, whilst the 150 doesn't. I don't know how important these are to you?

For most people I'd say go with the 150, but look into how your NLE handles AVCHD files and transcoding options.
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 10:13 AM   #5
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Hi David
Thanks. I don't shoot off speed, probably mainly at 720p 30 or 60. the 150 doesn't have firewire while the 170 does. And I need crystal clear video for most of my technical and training stuff.

Someone (not here) said that the 150 is little better than VHS which I actually doubt. My other requirement is low light capability as good to my VX2000 as I can get. I do a lot of natural light shooting.

P2 is easier to edit; I have Vegas 8 Pro as well as a Mac Book Pro with FCE and plan to buy Studio 2 & a Mac Pro as well. FCE don't do P2 and Vegas needs RayLight as an intermediate.

The 150 doesn't have the scopes or focus assist that the 170 has either. My only problem is the cost of those darn P2 cards. Yea, the SDHC cards are way cheaper but do I want to give up the other features? Also I use my nNovia as a digital backup. Need it for my legal video work. But then I don't know if the nNovia will do the Metadata like the FS5 does for my other shooting!

Decisions, decisions, decisions! ugh!

Thanks again
Allen
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Last edited by Allen Zagel; December 3rd, 2008 at 10:15 AM. Reason: correct spelling errors
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 11:02 AM   #6
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Compression War

The 150 AVCHD format pop's a maxiumum bitrate of 21 Mbits/sek and max of 24 Mbits /sek
in the Mpeg 4 H264 format.

The 170 pop's a max of 100 Mbits/sec in the DVCPRO 100 codec.

If the 150 had AVCDHD bitrates of 50 and 100 Mbits/ sek like their next generation AVC
INTRA Compression Camera's - HPX 3000 and HPX 2000 - (10 BIT 4.2.2 Sampling) then I would buy the 150.

But for now - I will go for the 170.

Why ? Panasonic's future AVC INTRA COMPRESSION can ONLY be stored on P2 Cards.

According to Panasonic their AVC INTRA COMPRESSION is their "Professional" variant of the
h 264 compression scheme.

Last remark - Keeping the EBU's Production codec tests in mind that specify's their MIN and MAX Bitrates for compressed material , it should be a "safe and sound" investment to buy the 170.

Greetings from the Third World.
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 11:52 AM   #7
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Hey Allen,

For editing AVCHD, the most common practice right now is to transcode to DVCProHD or Apple Prores. Panasonic has a free transcoding program on their site for AVCHD to DVCPROHD. Then all the editing problems are moot. Of course you'll need an MXF capable NLE or a program like DVFilm Raylight to work with the MXFs.

The HMC150 is a pretty cool camera. I got to mess with one at a show. I've seen some amateur footage from the 150 and it looked very good and I've heard that it's 720p mode rivals that of the HPX170. Not to say that the HMC150 is a better camera than the HPX170 because it's not. They overlap in the applications they cover, but the HMC150 is a the clear winner when you need long recording times and have a smaller budget. Also, the HMC150 does have 2 types of focus assist and does have a waveform and vectorscope.

Hope this helps.
Andy
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 12:34 PM   #8
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Hi Herman and Andy

Thanks a bunch. It's funny but then that's why I love this forum. For every reply there's pro's and con's of both cameras. Making the decision is extremely dificult.

Herman

Very interesting on the rates and compression.
>Panasonic's future AVC INTRA COMPRESSION can ONLY be stored on P2 Cards.

I hope this doesn't mean I can't archive video on other medium? I don't fully understand that statement. I do agree however that if it weren't for the P2 cost, there'd be no decision to make. It would be the 170 hands down.

Andy
Yes, recording times are important to me. I can't be shooting like they do movies. 10-20min scenes. I wasn't sure about that the 150 had or didn't have compared to the 170. I was told the 150 didn't have that focus bar in the lcd. Didn't know if it did have the waveform and/or histogram or not to be honest.

But what about the recording rates Herman mentioned above? 100 Mbits/sec is certainly a lot beter than the 21/24 of the 150 wouldn't you think? but that's DVCPRO 100. Would I be using that or the DVCPRO 50? So then using one of the other DVCPRO codecs, what does that do to the bit rate? I really don't know anything about the DVCPRO or ProRes codecs at all. What is it 25-50 and 100? and what's the difference?

I believe, speaking from not knowing anything about HD, that I'd be either shooting SD or HD @ 720, 30 or 60 What is it (i) or fps! From what I've read you can go up or down easily from 720p and that seems to be the sweet spot for the 150. Also been told shootig HD and downconverting to SD still give a much better picture. At this time most of the tehnical stuff I do still encodes to MPEG-1 on CD-ROM but the clients eventually will be upgrading computers. For network install of the program we probably could go with MPEG2 or even possibly HD.

So I have to think what am I doing now and how long will it be before the full value of HD becomes apparent to me and my work.

M DSR-250 is too big and heavy to be carrying around and expecially traveling overseas and my VX2000 is what 7/8 years old but still works like new. Plus I've been getting a bad run of tapes lately which makes me want to go tapeless right now! ;-)

I could be shooting my tourist and advertising stuff in HD right now. But that's only about 25% of my workload. 25% Legal and 50% technical/training.

Thanks Again
Allen
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 01:00 PM   #9
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I believe DVCPRO 25 is 4:1:1 dv, DVCPRO 50 is 4:2:2 dv and DVCPRO 100 is 4:2:2 hd...the 25, 50, 100 are the mbits.

I know the HMC150 has a 2 types of focus assist, but I'm not sure it that means it has a focus bar on the lcd. I assumed that the focus assist was the magnifying and using the histogram or waveform, but I've actually never used a focus assist beside the magnifying.

I will say to go with the HMC150. The HPX170 with the 4:2:2 DVCPROhd is nice and gives you a lot of flexibility on massive amounts of color correction in post, but it's not necessary. I've gotten enough leeway from 4:2:0 HDV at times so 4:2:2 might be overkill for what you are working on since most legal and training videos won't need heavy color manipulation. Also, you probably don't need the variable frame rates which is another HPX selling point.

For your needs right now, it sounds like the HMC150 is the way to go.

Best,
Andy
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 01:10 PM   #10
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Thanks Andy

That only leaves me 3 questions then, ;-)

Picture quality, (maybe compared to the 170 or my DSR-250) low light capability compared to say a Sony VX2000 and lack of a firewire port for using my digital reorder, be it my current nNovia or a FS5 that does Metadata.

I know I don't need FW to 'capture' the video as any reader for the SDHC cards I guess will do? Then import into FCE or FCP or in the PC side into Vegas. Just for the external Disk recorder. External monitor works off composite anyway.

Allen
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 01:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen Zagel View Post
Hi Steve

Thanks. Yes the AVCHD files are much harder to edit. However I also found out that the 150 doesn't have the focus assist or waveform monitor that the 170 does. But it still boils down to cost. SDHC cards vx P2! ugh!

Also how do I get a digital signal out to my dirigal HD recorder without a firewire?

Allen
The HMC-150 does have the focus assist AND the waveform monitor that the HPX-170 has.


I need to update my WEB Page, but here are some photos from NAB...

Panasonic HMC-150



Some factors to consider are:

(1) Cost, don't just count the cost of the camera, but add in the cost of memory cards (SDHC / P2) to the total. P2 is good, but is more expensive than SDHC.

(2) Do you need the extra features of the 170? Over crank, under crank, time lapse, and single frame...

(3) Work flow and file storage: AVCHD does require more processing power (quad-core for native editing or higher) OR transcoding. The AVCHD files are smaller than the DVCPRO-HD files.



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Old December 3rd, 2008, 01:33 PM   #12
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The Hmc150 720p picture quality should be on par with the HPX170 at 720p...don't know about the dsr250, but the hmc150 is hd so most likely it will be better. Low light is as good or better than the Vx2000 and dsr250 and especially since it is a newer camera with new ccds.

You don't really need your digital recorder with this camera. You can back up the sd card onto a laptop or just keep them as the raw media themselves since they are cheap or you can even get a sd card portable harddrive to backup data on too.

You'd have to transcode to edit right now until the NLE's catch up with AVCHD.

Best,
Andy
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 07:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Herman Van Deventer View Post
Last remark - Keeping the EBU's Production codec tests in mind that specify's their MIN and MAX Bitrates for compressed material , it should be a "safe and sound" investment to buy the 170.
I posted the link to the EBU reference( http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/general-h...dec-tests.html ), and you may have missed a crucial bit.
Quote:
For acquisition applications an HDTV format with 4:2:2 sampling, no further horizontal or vertical sub-sampling should be applied.
The bit about "no further horizontal or vertical sub-sampling should be applied" implies a 1920x1080 recording raster, which rules out both HDCAM and DVCProHD. The Panasonic and Sony codecs it approves are AVC-Intra (at 100Mbs), and XDCAM-HD 422 (50Mbs). Neither of those are available built in to any camera in the sub $10,000 market.

The tests and recommendations are intended as "looking forward", and certainly shouldn't be taken as "you have to stop using all your HDCAM and DVCProHD tomorrow".
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Old December 3rd, 2008, 07:43 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Allen Zagel View Post
But what about the recording rates Herman mentioned above? 100 Mbits/sec is certainly a lot beter than the 21/24 of the 150 wouldn't you think? but that's DVCPRO 100. Would I be using that or the DVCPRO 50? So then using one of the other DVCPRO codecs, what does that do to the bit rate? I really don't know anything about the DVCPRO or ProRes codecs at all. What is it 25-50 and 100? and what's the difference?
Only the 100Mbs rate is for HD. DVCPro50 and 25 are both SD codecs.

Don't get hung up on data rates. There are three factors that can be traded against each other - data rate, quality, and ease of editing. Regarding these two cameras, the trade is largely data rate versus editing ease. To get a much reduced data rate compared to the 170, the 150 trades off ease of native editing - but you can still transcode.
Quote:
From what I've read you can go up or down easily from 720p and that seems to be the sweet spot for the 150.
I agree.

If you really need easier native editing, or occasional off-speed filming, then I'd tend to go for an EX1 now rather than a 170. That may not have been so true a few months back, but what has changed the equation is people finding out a way of to use standard SDHC cards with the EX. A 170 may be a lot cheaper than an EX, but load the EX up with SDHC, the 170 with P2, and the EX becomes much more competitive.

I can make a good case for getting a 150, and a different but equally good case for an EX, but it's more difficult for a 170.
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Old December 4th, 2008, 03:33 AM   #15
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I've just sold my HVX200 and bought a HMC150. To my eyes the picture of the HMC150 (at 720p) maybe it's not so good as the HVX200 picture is but it's very similar. That is to say that the HMC150 produces great HD video. In terms of ergonomics the HMC150 is also very good. It's compact, light and elegant.
In my opinion the SDHC workflow is the main reason to love this camera. It's simple, flexible and cheap.
Now I can travel everywhere with some SDHC cards in my pocket. If you need to work alone, far from the studio, for long periods, this camera is absolutely fantastic. You don't have to carry on laptop, hard disks, P2 store and so on. You can record all the footage you need without stopping for P2 cards download. For my style of work and for my need I consider these features priceless.
Moreover, I'm editing on FCP 2 with no problems at all. Just my first impressions after a couple of weeks of work.
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