Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Panasonic P2HD / AVCCAM / AVCHD / DV Camera Systems > Panasonic HC Series Camcorders

Panasonic HC Series Camcorders
4K and HD consumer camcorders with professional interest.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old July 26th, 2013, 07:52 PM   #1
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: San Diego, Califonia
Posts: 1,330
Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

I bought an x920 last month for under $900 from B&H, and have been so impressed with the quality, I wanted to share my experiences.

I actually purchased an x920 as well as a Sony 710v at the same time, with the idea to test the two side by side and keep the best one. The Sony suffered horrible CA, so it got returned, but the Panasonic had so many other things going for it, the choice was pretty easy.

I am a photog at a local news station, and we air 720-60p. The x920 has become my new "go to" camera for anything in the day. I use a Panasonic SPX800 for anything shot in the dark. The picture quality provided by the x920 was more than I expected. None of our editors are even aware I am shooting my stories on a sub $1000 "handycam"! :D

The best part of the x920 is the manual controls, and how quickly they can be accessed. In breaking news, with perishable shots coming and going right and left, you need to be able to adjust settings within seconds, or you miss the shot. The x920 has a large ring around the lens, and a large "manual selector" button on the left in front of the flip-out LCD. Pushing this button toggles through four ring functions, focus, W/B, shutter, and iris/gain. Focus selects AF/MF, which I rarely use unless I am shooting a face telephoto off center, or want to rack focus off some yellow tape.

The W/B settings are great. You get like 4 standard day and night preset's, which are roughly 3000k, 3200k, 5600k, and 6300k. There are a couple of other ones with icons I don't know for, but you get to set your W/B manually as well. It only takes a few seconds to toggle to this feature, point at white/grey, and you get real W/B. AWB is also provided, but I have found it is only accurate for me in the day, and at night it gets confused around red and blue emergency lights, orange streetlights, and florescent lighting.

Next is the shutter speed. This is best used as a sort of ND filter. I just leave it set at 1/30 all the time since most of my shooting runs into twilight.

Last is the gain/iris. Once I have my W/B and shutter set, this is the only control I need or use while shooting. The large ring acts as an iris until it gets wide open, and then it begins adding gain. Gain is displayed in db, just like a real camera. 3, 5, 9, 12, 15 and 18. While these are displayed, there are actually several gain steps in between, so think of this like the iris display in a pro camera viewfinder. The 18db gain setting does something horrible to the picture. For some reason, that last gain up click looses all color and contrast, and gets soft. The extra 1db or whatever lost by staying at the upper end of the 15db setting is very much preferable.

A usable zebra pattern is also available. Unlike the Sony I tested, it has fine lines, which are not huge diagonal bars. The dynamic range of the camera is pretty good, and I am not afraid to of letting the zebra spread when I need to brighten up my main subject. The dynamic range is about as good as your typical ProSumer cameras. I can shoot a brightly lit convenience store at night and see just as much in the dark parking lot as with my broadcast camera.

Audio was also a pleasant surprise. I read all sorts of reviews about wind noise, and seeing the basic "grill" pointing up, I thought I would be lucky to hear anything other than low flying aircraft. The camera has 5.1 and stereo settings. It also has manual audio controls, with or without AGC. I leave it on stereo turned all the way up with AGC as a limiter. The viewfinder has a working audio level meter, so you can see if the guys voice your interviewing is "pumping" above ambient sounds such as loud fire trucks in the background. I leave the low-cut simply to bring out the voices in SOT's, and the stupid little mics actually work surprisingly well.......not as well as a shotgun, but not what I expected from simple grills pointing upwards.

CHROMATIC ABERATION: What CA......seriously, this camera has none......it's better than my Canon J22x7.6 eifXS lens......i'm not kidding. The lens is so sharp, I won't put a wide angle converter on it for fear or de-sharpening the picture.

What's not to like? I don't like car taillights that look almost orange. I don't like the very slight "rippling" effect I get on edges, the Sony didn't do that. I don't like the "rocking" on a boat effect that I see sometimes, due to the 500 way axis stabilization. I really HATE the zoom, as it goes from creepy crawl to high speed with almost nothing in between. As something approaches you, you can ramp up the zoom to match their approach, you pretty much have to be prepared to select a fixed zoom rate and get used to how to move the lever to get that speed. I don't like that I can only access slower than 1/30 shutter speed by spending 30 seconds going into the menu to select dedicated night mode. I don't like that you loose all sharpness and saturation adjustments when you switch to FULL AUTO mode, which is necessary when you need AWB or such very quickly. I don't like the color fringing on bright white sky when your opened up to see a house or such in the shade. Of all the little gripes, the only one that really is noticeable and irritates me on a daily basis is the zoom issue.

12x zoom is a bit limiting, 20x digital is available. I "downconvert" from 1080-60p to 720-60p, so the loss of resolution in digital zoom is not that big a deal, but you can still see artifacts as the steadyshot manipulates pixels.

The x920 also does passable still photos......it looks pretty to shoot slow speed shutter shots at night, and the steadyshot actually works very well. If you test this camera out, be advised, the steadyshot only goes into full functioning after it begins recording....the shot will actually tighten up as the red light comes on.

Tripod use......ummm......I have laid it on top of my huge Sachtlers tripod plate a few times. It tends to want to look floaty unless locked down and not touched for a few seconds with the steady shot on. With the steadyshot off, breathing slightly anywhere near the camera causes jitter.

All in all, a passable (if your used to JVC 790's!) news camera, with very acceptable picture quality and enough instantly accessible manual control options to keep an experiences shooter from feeling underequipped. Video I shoot with this little camera airs daily on my local network affiliate station, and I wouldn't use the darn thing if it weren't up par. :)
Paul Anderegg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 27th, 2013, 12:42 AM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Cambridge UK
Posts: 2,835
Re: Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

Great report. Thanks! These little Panasonics have been pretty amazing the last few years and it sounds like the X920 is maintaining that trend.

Very interesting to read about your audio experiences in particular. Seems that the inbuilt mics have been improved since, much as I love my little TM900 - the top end model from a couple of years back - the mics pick up significant wind noise.... even in the slightest hint of a breeze. This is regardless of the Wind Cut being activated or not.

This makes capturing/using ambient noise on most outside shots with the "bare camera" often useless.

I only ever have the audio set to Stereo (never 5.1) and that's not bad indoors or perhaps on a totally windless day - rare in England. Otherwise various Rode mics (mono or stereo) get used.

On the basis of your report, if my TM900 ever dies I would immediately go and buy a X920. Incidentally, the wider (yet by the sounds of it still optically superb) lens would be welcome too as the TM900 is only 35mm at its widest.
__________________
Andy K Wilkinson - http://www.shootingimage.co.uk
Cambridge (UK) Corporate Video Production
Andy Wilkinson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 27th, 2013, 12:53 AM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: San Diego, Califonia
Posts: 1,330
Re: Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

Andy, before I got my camera I was fully prepared to glue a small patch of thin foam over the mic "vents" for wind protection....hehe.

Also, while the mic is passable for quick run and gun interviews, I am interested in popping a small shot-gun on my x920. What mic would you recommend? I was looking at the Panasonic model off-hand, but anything very small with a simple directional capability would be fine. Not looking to break the bank, just think cameras should record audio of the scene being recorded! I don't understand why they don't put the mics on the front side. A cheap uni-lav head poking out of the front, or even a cell phone mic hole would be fabulous.

Paul
Paul Anderegg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 27th, 2013, 01:44 AM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Cambridge UK
Posts: 2,835
Re: Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

Smallest shotgun I have is Rode Videomic Pro. But on TM900, with its "slide in" accessory shoe position near the front of the camera, this will appear in shot at full wide if you put a dead cat on it - often necessary outside I find.

Only way I have got around this is to mount the mic further back, via a Rycote accessory shoe bar - works but its a bit inelegant.

A better solution for me is using an old 1960s L-shaped flash gun bracket, which screws into the tripod mount under the cam. This provides a shoe out to the l/h side and further back. This actually works really well as the additional grip improves ergonomics (allowing easy two handed holding when needed) and reduces that "rolling" motion that you often see in handheld footage from these little cams.

The lead on my Rode VMP is only just long enough to reach the mic socket though!

I think X920 has a similar shoe position/arrangement, and bearing in mind its got a wider lens, I think you'll need to consider a much smaller/shorter mic for any direct mounting to the cam type solutions.

Anyone got any experience with any?
__________________
Andy K Wilkinson - http://www.shootingimage.co.uk
Cambridge (UK) Corporate Video Production
Andy Wilkinson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 27th, 2013, 01:53 AM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: San Diego, Califonia
Posts: 1,330
Re: Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

The x920 does indeed have the lame side/forward thrusting shoe bracket. I attempted to use my large 100 watt light on it, and all was well until I tried to use the lens ring. The weight of the light was enough to cause the shoe bracket to touch the ring, rendering it inoperative. :(

Here is a quick RAW clip I uploaded to YouTube. The noise you hear is a very loud fire truck 10 meters off to my right. This was an SOT I was just running for information, so don't base the quality of the camera on this clip. I stopped recording short because I didn't think the camera mic could pick up her voice.


Paul

Last edited by Paul Anderegg; July 27th, 2013 at 05:05 AM.
Paul Anderegg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 27th, 2013, 10:06 PM   #6
Space Hipster
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 1,593
Re: Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

Quite a few local TV news stations are going to one-person "multi-media specialists" instead of separate reporter/photog crews. Smaller cams like the x920 are used for news productions now.
Expect to see a lot more of these cameras in the hands of TV journalists.
Glen Vandermolen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 5th, 2013, 07:36 PM   #7
New Boot
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Bettendorf
Posts: 7
Re: Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

Nice info, Paul. I work for an Army command PA office, and I recently purchased two X920s to do weddings, personal histories and other projects. We recently had a Best Warrior competition, and, as a test, I decided to shoot everything with the X920 instead of the command's HV-HGX200s we normally use. I was outside and in, bright sunshine and inside a thickly forested area. Lots of natsot. It performed extremely well. Not as stable as a shoulder-camera, but heavier than most home camcorders, so I was able to keep the shots still, even when not using a tripod. I bought one of those cheap stabilizers with the overhead handle, and was able to use it to get some good low angle shots while keeping the picture stable. I also use a Vello LCD screen shade, so I hardly ever used the viewfinder. I wish the viewfinder was "tiltable", but I can't have everything I want. I also have a news background, and "one-man-banded" it on many occasions. I would put picture quality up against the pro model without any hesitation. 1080p 60fps is hard to beat. Normally we shoot 720p, so downsizing when editing is no problem at all. I don't care for the onboard mic. Too tinny for my tastes. I bought a Rode VideoMic Pro and I love the sound. All in all, I'm very happy with the quality, and look forward to using it extensively. I also would like more information on the digital cinema mode. It says it's supposed to enhance colors for a cinematic effect, but I don't see it. Could be I'm using it incorrectly. Once again, however, I'm very happy with it. Would love to see what other "artistic" folks are doing with the X920, with tips on how to achieve whatever look they're going for.
Greg Wilson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 7th, 2013, 05:52 AM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: LIncolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,051
Re: Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

With reference to the onboard mics, I don't have the 920 but I do have two SD700s and an SD750 that have been used continuously for the last 3 years with superb results and the 920 is pretty much the same layout.

The quality of the onboard mics is surprisingly good, but as has been pointed out, are horrendously susceptible to the slightest wind. I film a lot of weddings and want to pick up the ambient sound, so came up with a very effective solution. The dead cat on a hot shoe mounted mic gets in the FOV, but the principle of using a furry material to break up the air movement is what does the wind suppression work. I bought half a square metre of fluffy toy making material from a local haberdashery shop for 2.50. It is a fairly loose weave on the non fluffy side and a quick test recording showed that placing some over the mic grid made little difference to the level and quality of sound capture. A patch about 35mm square is enough to glue over the grid, with a small line of glue around the perimeter.

I fluff the material up for stronger winds and the suppression in wind noise is staggering. I have no problem at all in winds up to the strength that even a Rycote wind guard would start to struggle. It takes less than a minute to cut a piece and glue it on and I would recommend it to everyone to try. I have enough material to keep me going for about 50 years :-)

Roger
Attached Thumbnails
Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY-camera-1.jpg   Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY-camera-3.jpg  

Roger Gunkel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 7th, 2013, 01:34 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Reading Berkshire UK
Posts: 827
Re: Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

This heavy duty form of Blu tack called black tack is great for securing all manor of things:

Black Tack 19mm x 1m, high strength adhesive putty for: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

I use it to fasten lavs onto objects etc. It would also work for Roger's homemade wind guard if you do not want to make a permanent attachment.

Pete
Peter Riding is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 7th, 2013, 04:41 PM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: LIncolnshire, UK
Posts: 2,051
Re: Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

I used Pritt stick to attach the fur to two of the cameras, as it is quite easy to remove from the camera body if needed. Having said that, one of my cameras has had the fur in place for two years as it doesn't seem to affect indoor pickup.

Roger
Roger Gunkel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 10th, 2014, 04:34 PM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Port Townsend, WA
Posts: 445
Re: Panasonic x920 BROADCAST QUALITY

Post deleted...
__________________
Al
Upper left hand corner of the map
Al Bergstein is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Panasonic P2HD / AVCCAM / AVCHD / DV Camera Systems > Panasonic HC Series Camcorders

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:43 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network