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


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Old April 13th, 2010, 01:32 PM   #1
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Educate me, please

I've been hibernating for a while. I'm still producing and directing selected projects, and I'm still teaching a few TV college courses. The gear that appears in my profile is still the same, plus a few new gadgets.

Recently I decided I have had it with a) tape, and b) standard definition. Last year I shot a project with the Canon XL-H1S, and I really enjoyed working with it and the results I got. But two factors work against it for me - the MiniDV tape, and the price tag.

Recently the college where I work began talking about AVCHD encoding and the Panasonic AG-HMC40. Since then I've been researching the pluses and minuses of getting one for professional shooting. The budgets have hit bottom, and $1849 for an HD camera seems about right.

But then there's the AG-HMC50, and the recurring issue of problems with the AVCHD format and the lack of compatibility between Panasonic's and Sony's.

At work we still use Avid and FCP. At home I use Premiere Pro CS4 (and soon CS5) - mainly because I've standardized on using my laptop for nearly everything. So far it has worked.

So here are my questions:
-HDC40 or 50? Why?
-any issues with AVCHD? (I see Premiere can accept it, but the version of Avid we have doesn't...yet.)
-any inherent work-flow issues with using an SD chip for capturing and transferring?

That is all for now. Thank you all in advance.

Oz
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Old April 14th, 2010, 02:23 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie Alfonso View Post
But then there's the AG-HMC50, and the recurring issue of problems with the AVCHD format and the lack of compatibility between Panasonic's and Sony's.
- First off, it's the AG-HMC150 ( not HMC50 )

- There are no problems with the AVCHD format, but there are some problems with the way certain editors handle the AVCHD format. ( namely Final Cut Pro does a pretty bad job with the format )

The cure for Final Cut Pro is to purchase the Cineform NEO SCENE software ( $129 US ) which will batch transcode AVCHD video in to the 10-bit 4:2:2 Cineform CODEC and place this within a ProRES MOV container. AVCHD files transcoded this way, look great, and are easy to edit with Final Cut Pro. ( note you need to be using an Intel based Mac )

Cineform Neoscene

- I am not familiar with any AVCHD format problems between Sony and Panasonic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie Alfonso View Post
- HDC40 or 50? Why?
- Again, get your naming correct: HMC40 and HMC150

HMC40 Pros : Smaller, cheaper, higher resolution than the HMC150

HMC150 Pros: CCD Imager ( no rolling shutter ), Much better in low-light, larger ( some people prefer the handling size )

Note: I own the HMC150, and would buy it again if I was looking for a camera today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie Alfonso View Post
-any issues with AVCHD? (I see Premiere can accept it, but the version of Avid we have doesn't...yet.)
These are editor problems. Premiere CS 4.2 ( or the new CS 5 version ), Sony Vegas Pro, Edius Neo can all edit AVCHD videos natively with no problems at all.

Final Cut Pro can be fixed if you buy the Cineform NEO SCENE software for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie Alfonso View Post
-any inherent work-flow issues with using an SD chip for capturing and transferring?
- No if you are using the right software and hardware. The AVCHD format requires a high performance CPU ( and GPU for Premiere CS 5 ), so you need a good computer to work with it. Final Cut Pro has it's problems, but this can be fixed with NEO SCENE.

BTW, NEO SCENE is also a good investment for Sony Vegas Pro and Premiere users as it helps to sort out performance issues for middle of the road computers.

- Not all SDHC memory cards are created equally. After trying many different brands I am now standardizing on the Patriot IRIS SDHC cards because they are high performance, low cost, and come with a 5 year warranty.

32GB Patriot IRIS SDHC card : $93 at NewEgg.com
Newegg.com

Water-proof Pelican Case to store 8 SDHC Cards : $15 at B&H Photo Video
B&H Photo Video
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Old April 14th, 2010, 03:31 PM   #3
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Thank you for the helpful tips. I'm sorry for skipping the 1 before the 50. I found out my mistake as soon as I began to price the two.

I find it interesting that the 40 yields a sharper image while the 150 is better in low light. I saw a sample of the 40 in a night scene and it leaves a lot to be desired. the 150 is visually better in low light, although I can't discern any difference in bright light between the two.

As far as the handling goes, that's something I'll have to go the B&H (or some such) and check out.

I know I really want the 150 but my budget is saying 40. I'm wondering if the differences are great enough to be felt and noticed in doing professional production?

Again, thanks, and I'll keep you posted.
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Old April 14th, 2010, 04:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ozzie Alfonso View Post
I find it interesting that the 40 yields a sharper image while the 150 is better in low light.
The HMC40 uses a 1/4 inch CMOS imager, that is able to resolve a true 1080P image.

The HMC150 uses a 1/3 inch CCD imager, that is able to resolve a true image slightly higher res than 720P.

Myself, I would take low-light over higher resolution any day, as I don't shoot under bright daylight very often.

...One last item I want to recommend is the amazing Neat Video noise-reduction plug-in. This plug-in does a fantastic job of cleaning up noisy video footage, especially low-light work.

Neat Video - best noise reduction for digital video
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