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Old October 31st, 2010, 02:38 PM   #1
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Considering an HMC40 - Questions...

Hi,
I'm looking to get an HMC40. Ideally, I'd like to get an XF300, but as a student, my budget doesn't allow for that. So before I go ahead and make my purchase, I have a few questions that hopefully some of the members here can answer.

1. How wide does the HMC40 lens get? I've played with the HMC150 and enjoy the lens on that, so how would the hmc40 compare?

2. Are there any built in ND filters?

3. Is the touch screen decent? I don't expect an iPhone quality touch screen, but is it usable without a stylus?

4. How long does the standard battery go for at full 1080/30p at highest quality?

5. What kind of case would you recommend storing this in? I have a preference of hard cases. I intend getting the XLR adapter, a small shotgun mic, extra battery, and 2 memory cards. Being able to fit it all in one case would be great. Any recommendations?

Thanks ahead of time for your responses. :)
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Old October 31st, 2010, 03:55 PM   #2
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Hi Ryan,

I have an HMC41 (UK version of the HMC40, just different frame rates) and am very happy. I got it because I wanted something compact, solid state (no tapes), high quality pictures and XLR audio as an option without resorting to Beachtek-type boxes.

In answer to your questions:

"1. How wide does the HMC40 lens get? I've played with the HMC150 and enjoy the lens on that, so how would the hmc40 compare?"

About 41mm. Not very wide at all, but that's what you get from most smaller camcorders. It isn't a huge problem for me, and a wide angle converter can be added relatively cheaply due to the small 43mm filter size. The Panasonic 0.7x appears to be the best.

"2. Are there any built in ND filters?"

Yes and no. There's a crazy automatic ND that you can't control, that kicks in depending on the "iris" setting. No switchable ND1/2/3 like other larger cameras, or even ND on/off like the JVC HM100. I have a couple of screw-on ND filters that I keep handy, and I also now have a Matteblox foldable mattebox that I intend to get some NDs for.

"3. Is the touch screen decent? I don't expect an iPhone quality touch screen, but is it usable without a stylus?"

My fingers are like a bunch of bananas, and I can manage it - I find it better than my Android phone! They supply a little grey plastic pointy device that youc an use if you prefer.

"4. How long does the standard battery go for at full 1080/30p at highest quality?"

Erm... hours! The supplied "tiny" battery that came with the camera is 2640mAh, and ran all dayon a filming trip for me - that was a 6 hour day, with about 3 hours of shooting. It really is crazy how long it lasted.

My camera was bundled with a larger IDX battery, SSL-VBG50, which is 5000mAh. In static tests, it recorded on auto for just over 7 hours.

"5. What kind of case would you recommend storing this in? I have a preference of hard cases. I intend getting the XLR adapter, a small shotgun mic, extra battery, and 2 memory cards. Being able to fit it all in one case would be great. Any recommendations?"

Can't comment on this. I use a Kata R-102 rucksack and keep the camera in it all the time. The top handle can stay on, but the mic and XLR unit have to come off. I added a Kata W-92 Waist Pack which I can add if I need the Mattebox and a few more luxury accessories that I don't need if I'm out climbing hills.

I have a larger Kata CC-193 semi-rigid shoulder bag that I can use if I don't want to keep taking the XLR unit off and on all day.
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Old October 31st, 2010, 05:15 PM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply! It's upsetting to learn about the lack of a "real" ND filter - it's such a handy feature to have. But it's a big plus to learn about the awesome battery life. Maybe I don't need to buy a second battery right away :)

Thanks for the answers.
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Old November 1st, 2010, 11:16 AM   #4
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I love my HMC40 but ... your questions touch on my single biggest beef with it. The HMC40 has two stops less ND filtration available, compared with a HMC150. Consequently, I find that if I want to shoot at 1/48 (for 24P) on a sunny day without cloud, I cannot quite retain detail in my highlights unless I add an ND filter.

The thing is .... I also like to shoot with a wideangle adapter, since the HMC40's lens goes much less wide than the HMC150's (which goes to 28mm equivalent, I believe). And my adapter (the $200 Panasonic, which is good quality), has no external filter thread. It is possible to mount an ND filter between the camera and the adapter ... ... but then the adapter vignettes at wide angle.

This drives me crazy!
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Old November 1st, 2010, 11:22 AM   #5
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Thanks for the reply. Without an ND filter, could i shoot at f/11 (or whatever the smallest iris there is) and maintain the shutter fairly low?
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Old November 1st, 2010, 11:28 AM   #6
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I find f11 at 1/48th is not quite able to cope with full sun. And the next click down on the iris control closes the lens completely!

By the way, be aware the the smallest physical aperture of the HMC40 is around f2.8, as smaller apertures cause diffraction problems. When the camera says "f11" what it is really applying is f2.8 plus 4 stops of automatic ND filtration.

Last edited by Graham Hickling; November 1st, 2010 at 06:48 PM.
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Old November 5th, 2010, 08:48 PM   #7
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I'm doing some price comparisons now and found a good deal off ebay. The seller seems reputable, but I'm curious to know, are there any negatives with going via ebay rather than a more established source like b&h?

For example, i heard that dell only honors their warranty if the computer was purchased through an authorized re-seller. Does a similar policy or other policies apply for panasonic?
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