HMC150 vs. Sony AX2000 at DVinfo.net

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Old January 13th, 2010, 08:20 AM   #1
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HMC150 vs. Sony AX2000

We are just changing over from the Sony VX2100 cams to Panasonic, always loved the color from our old DVC60 so the HMC150 was a natural transition to HD for us as it has great features at a good price. However, we got one and the low light capabilities isn't what we are used to with the old VX2100s. It's not bad, a sharper image for sure, but definitely not as capable in extremely low light. We mainly do weddings, so low light situations are common for us.

Well, we still have a couple of the VX2100s to replace and now I'm seeing the Sony AX2000 is due to be available in March. Looking at it, I'm thinking it could be a little better in extreme low light than the HMC150, but I'm wondering how much really? I know the specs can be misleading, but the HMC150 is officially listed as a min. 3 LUX camera, while the AX200 is listed as a min. 1.5 LUX (at a 1/30th shutter). We have used the HMC150 at +12db gain to get the maximum low light when using next to the VX2100s we still have, which for SD work seems ok, so far. I'm wondering just how much better the new AX2000 will be compared to the HMC150 in matching what we are used to in low light with the VX2100. I guess we'll just have to see when it's released, but by looking at the specs I'm guessing it will be a closer match.

The other aspects of comparing these cameras, aside from image quality, is a higher resolution LCD on the AX2000, if slightly smaller screen (3.2" 910k pixels vs. 3.5" 210k pixels), and slightly wider zoom lens on the HMC150 vs. somewhat longer zoom on the AX2000. There is also the very nice feature of 2 card slots on the Sony, as well as memory stick option (which the latter isn't of much appeal to me personally, SD cards are fine IMO). These are the first specs that draw my attention in comparing these.

We are still planning on getting 2 more cams, one sooner and one a little later. Not sure if I want to wait until the AX2000 comes out, which is probably a little longer than I was intending to get the next cam, or not worry about it and just stick with the HMC150 that I was already feeling good about. The low light on the Sony looks appealing and is the main reason I hesitate, though I'm not really sure just how much better it will really be. I like the image from the Pannys we have for the most part, and generally we have found the Sonys we had to be a little cold in the image character. I'm also not a fan of getting a new camera when it is just released, although I broke that rule when the HMC40 came out. We got that to replace the DVC60 for outdoor/bright light work and to see if we liked the AVCHD format and have been very happy with it.

Well, I'm rambling...anyone's thoughts on this are welcome.

Robert
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Old January 13th, 2010, 10:30 AM   #2
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The biggest real-world difference seems likely to be notably finer image detail from the AX2000.
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Old January 13th, 2010, 10:54 AM   #3
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If only the AX2000 did 60p...
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Old January 13th, 2010, 11:33 AM   #4
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Robert,

We see more detail with the HMC150 over the VX2100, even when the AVCHD is transcoded down to SD AVI files, so we are already happy with the HMC150 in that respect. I guess the main thing we find with the VX2100 is that it captures images almost unnaturally bright in very low light situations. The HMC150 seems to "see" the light more as it appears in reality. So if it's a dark reception room, we usually need a video light with with the HMC150, while the VX2100 can sometimes can get away without one, making the captured image brighter than the room light really was (though somewhat muddy, admittedly). I'm guessing the AX2000 won't likely be as impressive as the VX2100 in this regard, of course nobody can really answer this until they are available.

Robert
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Old January 13th, 2010, 12:18 PM   #5
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Of course an HMC150 will yield more detail than a VX2100. Any HD camcorder will do that (HDV or AVCHD). If you want low light capability, in an HD camcorder, that rivals a VX2100, you really need a camcorder with bigger imaging chips. It's not practical to expect achieving HD image detail, while getting the same low light performance as can be achieved at SD resolutions, using imaging chips that are the same size. That sort of runs directly contrary to the laws of physics.
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Old January 14th, 2010, 08:14 AM   #6
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Hey Robert,

I realize you are correct that a bigger chip is the surest way to better low light capability, it's like in the old days of car racing, "there's no replacement for cubic displacement."

That said, it's remarkable what some of the camera makers are doing these days, in fact what Sony did with the VX2100 was astonishing really. Who's to say they can't one day acheive similiar results in an HD version. I'm a still photographer primarily (my wife actually handles the video work, I'm the tech investigator), and Canon & Nikon have both done remarkable things with thier DSLR cameras in recent years. I upgraded from a 1DmkII to the mkIII, and they not only increased the pixel density, they decreased the the noise by almost a full-stop (maybe 2/3rd of a stop between these cameras in my personal tests). Now they are coming out with the mkIV, and by all reports that camera with 2x the pixel density of the mkII it at least 2 full stops better in low light signal-to-noise ratio, if not more. And it's not just in camera noise reduction, apparently it's in the design of the sensor itself to a large degree.

So simply saying they will never be able to make a 1/3rd chip camcorder in HD that has the low light capabilities of the VX2100 is probably not an absolute. But yeah, it would be nice to have a bigger chip camera. And it would be nice to have clients who would pay us more because we have a bigger chip camera :)

Robert
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Old January 14th, 2010, 12:04 PM   #7
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If you need a camcorder now, the HMC150 is essentially the only game in town, for a three 1/3" chipper that records AVCHD, and it's a solid camcorder. I've got to think though, that in just a few months, with the NX cams coming out, and Canon poised to bring out an AVCHD cam pretty soon, prices will likely take a bit of a tumble this spring, and the newer cams will probably be far more capable of recording finer detail, which will become more and more important over time (as delivery of content in HD, like on Blu-Ray, becomes more and more commonplace).
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Old January 15th, 2010, 12:05 AM   #8
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Apparently the HMC150 will remain the only cam in its price range with 1/3" CCD's, XLR's and 720P capability. All for less than the cost of the AX2000 ($3500-ish). The NXcam would look to be a better match but they are saying it'll cost $4900+.

On the flip side yes the Sony will likely capture a bit finer detail, but it comes with CMOS chips and some object to that. The Sony would also likely be somewhat better in low light and have a better LCD.

I did ask Canon-albeit 6 months ago, or so it seems--of what their plans were in getting out an AVCHD cam that would be more along the lines of the HMC150, and Canon showed little interest in it. I was told we should not expect an AVCHD version of the XHA1 anytime soon. That I thought, is a shame. It would be a pretty cool piece of gear.

I just got a second HMC150 3 months ago and am loving working with two of them. Its a great cam with much to recommend it, even over the new Sony's, (cost, features, Panny mojo) provided they are similar to the Z5U and FX1000 in PQ and feature sets.
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Old January 15th, 2010, 07:39 AM   #9
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Thanks for your input, guys. I do find it interesting that Panasonic was over a year ahead of Sony in releasing a camcorder of this design, and apparently Canon isn't even deeming this style camcorder worthy of their consideration for the time being, if your info is right Steve. It seems to me the AVCHD format on memory cards is the obvious future format to replace the DV legacy line. HDV was more like putting an bigger engine in an old car, while ACVHD is like going from gasoline to hybrid, a whole new design concept, one that only makes sense to me. I'm really surprised Panasonic has been the only one to really embrace this idea up until now. It's too bad because we really should have had more competition and selection by now, IMO. I guess the manufactures want to maximize their ROI in the older technology as much as possible before introducing improved technology.

Robert
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Old January 17th, 2010, 02:53 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris McMahon View Post
If only the AX2000 did 60p...
I bet someone will find a way to hack a flash bios update to make the AX support all modes of the NX5... It's gotta be a software switch.
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Old January 17th, 2010, 04:47 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mike Dontigney View Post
I bet someone will find a way to hack a flash bios update to make the AX support all modes of the NX5... It's gotta be a software switch.
That's what I was thinking.
If someone can manage to get 720 60p I'll be buying the AX for sure.
At the moment I'm still torn between it and the HMC150.

Can't decide whether the Sony with its superior low light shooting but only 1080i 60 fps is better than the Pana.
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Old January 17th, 2010, 08:00 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Steve Wolla View Post
I did ask Canon-albeit 6 months ago, or so it seems--of what their plans were in getting out an AVCHD cam that would be more along the lines of the HMC150, and Canon showed little interest in it. I was told we should not expect an AVCHD version of the XHA1 anytime soon. That I thought, is a shame. It would be a pretty cool piece of gear.
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Originally Posted by Robert Welch View Post
...apparently Canon isn't even deeming this style camcorder worthy of their consideration for the time being, if your info is right Steve.
http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/digital-...video-cam.html
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Old January 17th, 2010, 10:58 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Richard Lacey View Post
Can't decide whether the Sony with its superior low light shooting but only 1080i 60 fps is better than the Pana.
For me it's not. 720p60 is a must-have for me (95% of my work is action sports-based, and I carry lights and whatnot with me), and it's ridiculous that it's not going to be present when it's available on a more expensive version of the same camera, especially when a similar, older camcorder in the same price-range (HMC150) does have that feature, even more so when a cheaper, smaller camcorder (HMC40) also has it.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 02:53 PM   #14
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That's what I was thinking.
If someone can manage to get 720 60p I'll be buying the AX for sure.
At the moment I'm still torn between it and the HMC150.

Can't decide whether the Sony with its superior low light shooting but only 1080i 60 fps is better than the Pana.
The AX2000 should yield noticeably more detailed images at 1080p30 and 1080p24, than the HMC150 (not just 1080i60).
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Old January 22nd, 2010, 02:58 AM   #15
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Robert thanks for that link--I'd asked a Canon rep at a local video shop and he was negative on it then, but it looks like they are coming out with one. That'll be a nice cam, alright.

Well if Canon is going to release their AVCHD pro cam soon, I'd wait to see how that compares.
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