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Old February 13th, 2008, 12:18 AM   #16
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I take it that this super duper camera won't feature DVCPRO HD compression anymore? More likely to be AVC-Intra based.
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Old February 15th, 2008, 12:18 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by TingSern Wong View Post
I take it that this super duper camera won't feature DVCPRO HD compression anymore? More likely to be AVC-Intra based.
It has both.
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Old February 15th, 2008, 12:50 AM   #18
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Can DVCProHD cope with 10bits + 4:4:4 colour space? I thought it can't - that why AVC-Intra was developed.
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Old February 16th, 2008, 12:36 PM   #19
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Can DVCProHD cope with 10bits + 4:4:4 colour space? I thought it can't - that why AVC-Intra was developed.
AVC-Intra is 10 bit and 4:2:2 (when used in 100-megabit mode). DVCPRO-HD is 8-bit and 4:2:2.
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Old February 16th, 2008, 09:44 PM   #20
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Barry,

If neither DVCProHd or AVC-I can cope with 4:4:4 colour space, what codec does that new Panasonic camera offers that will capture 10 bits at 4:4:4 then?
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Old February 17th, 2008, 10:20 AM   #21
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4:4:4 is available only in an uncompressed format, which if you need that kind of ultimate quality you should be looking at the Viper, F23 or other ultra-high end video system or, one of the direct-capture HD-SDI options to get uncompressed out of the cameras before the in-camera compression is applied.

The entire philosophy behind codecs such as DVCPRO and AVC-I is to get as close to uncompressed quality without the extra-high data rates needed to support uncompressed - which also translates into more computing power to handle it. And for 90% of the jobs out there being shot on video cameras DV100 and AVC-I do it very, very well.

Nothing replaces a true 4:4:4 colorspace just like nothing replaces the organic look of film (yet) but it does pay off to start with the best imagers possible before any compression is applied, which is why both the HPX2000 and 3000 cams are absolutely stunning both in camera output and real-world performance on a timeline.

That said, I think it it's safe to say that when Panny does release the full P2-Varicam the playing field will be forever changed, just as it was with the DVX100.
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Old February 24th, 2008, 05:21 AM   #22
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Panny HDX 900

For the original poster... I would seriously consider the Panasonic HDX 900, kind of the Varicam junior. I have one and could not be more pleased with it. Gorgeous pictures and tons of options, frame rates etc.... only a few things it can't do that a Varicam would... so if you don't need those few capabilities, this might be the camera for you.

I looked long and hard at the HVX 500... and made the jump up to the 900... not looking back, a far superior camera.

One of the great things about it is that it is a tape based rig, but you can also use the firewire port on it to record effortlessly to a Firestore... so you can hedge your bets, and have the option for different clients and projects down the road. Some people record both simultaneously, so they get the instant digital files to import, and instant archival on the tape. Done.

Check it out, this is a very very fine camera.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 12:35 AM   #23
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Varicam 2

Last August, at a Digital Cinema Society event in LA featuring the Panasonic HPX3000, P2, and AVCIntra, Russ Walker of Panasonic mentioned that a working demo of the "Varicam 2" would possibly be shown at NAB this year. Delivery would be 12-18 months away (from last August, so that's late 2008/early 2009).

According to Russ, the Varicam 2 will indeed be a 4:4:4 camera (unlike the HPX3000).

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Old March 26th, 2008, 10:56 AM   #24
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Thanks for all the great feedback guys.

My understanding of the 3000 is, as Dan pointed out, that it is not truly a replacement for the Varicam because it lacks VFR.

I think my first step in this process is to wait and see what Panny announces at NAB this year. I would like to get something sooner, but it is probably worth waiting.

I agree with your comments Robert that P2 is the future, and my biggest hesitation with the Varicam is that I'm investing in a platform that would be obsolete (or at least less useful) much sooner. The truly great thing about P2, at least for the kind of work I do at this time using the HVX, is that I can offer clients a long menu of shooting formats to choose from to accommodate a variety of shoots.

I have been delivering P2 data to most of my clients and they love it. A switch to a tape-based workflow for most of them would actually be a step back, so that is an issue with the Varicam. If I purchased one I would probably need to also have a Firestore to accommodate certain clients. The upside is that for my personal work, documentary, the Varicam is more desirable in many ways to P2.

It sounds like the Varicam has the far superior image, which for the price it should, of course. I am tempted to just get either the Varicam or HPX500 now, but I think I'll muster some self-discipline and hold out for NAB.

Peter
One of the biggest issues with selecting either the Varicam or the HDX900 is that you're stuck with tape (unless you use the Firestore which has it's own issues being a spinning HDD) which means having a very expensive deck just to review and capture. The deck cost alone (studio deck) could easily pay for (2) HPX500's fully rigged.

The Varicam will beat-out the 500 in image quality, period, no contest, but as you point out we're in a weird transitory period where the P2 Varicam will most likely get *announced* at NAB but delivery would still be a year or so away before you could get your hands on one and we still have no idea what else Panny may be introducing (v.2 of the HVX200?) (based on previous release history).

Personally, if you're going to go with a tape-based camera today it absolutely should be the Varicam, used or new. Although the HDX900 is a well-rounded camera it is strictly an ENG rig by design, whereas the Varicam was purposely built to do more than just events & news gathering and do film-type work also - that's why it has VFR.

To date, there are only 3 cameras that have been specifically designed by Panny to be more well-rounded than just a super-duper ENG rig: The HVX200, HPX500 and the Varicam. The HPX2000/3000 cams have beautiful imagers but are still designed around the needs of ENG work (a commercial filmmaker would never use digital super-zoom or super-GAIN, those features were specifically designed to help news crews get a difficult shot).

We all expect Panny to tease us with the P2 Varicam soon, however since there has been no official announcement that means it's not even on the horizon, which means it's going to be a while before you can even dream of owning one, so you could look at this three ways:

1. You could take the money needed to get the Varicam and the supporting equipment (deck, Firestore etc at least (2) HD zoom lenses) and have a really nice, industry-standard system that could shoot amazing footage for years - until you can cough up the dough for what will most likely be a very expensive P2 Varicam or;

2. You could take that same amount of money and have an amazingly rigged HPX500 with 19mm rails, FF, lens adapter and a set of used Cooke S4 Primes (if you really wanted to go all out) etc. etc. or;

3. You could have (2) fully ENG rigged HPX500's.

Which way would I go? Who cares; chances are we shoot completely different material so my needs are different than yours, but either way you've got some amazing potential to choose from.
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Old April 4th, 2008, 09:43 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
2. You could take that same amount of money and have an amazingly rigged HPX500 with 19mm rails, FF, lens adapter and a set of used Cooke S4 Primes (if you really wanted to go all out) etc. etc. or;

3. You could have (2) fully ENG rigged HPX500's.

Which way would I go? Who cares; chances are we shoot completely different material so my needs are different than yours, but either way you've got some amazing potential to choose from.
I was in exactly the same boat. I had aging SD gear that was in need of replacement, but found myself in this transition period where there were really no good options (at least in my price range). So I did as Robert suggests, and picked up 2 nicely outfitted 500's and spent just over $60,000. Yea, I only had the Fuji kit lenses, and the low-light stuff is a little noisier than I would like, but I have to tell you, overall I am really happy with how flexible this setup really is. And even with the lower-end kit lenses, the images are incredible.

I shoot a variety of corporate, local TV commercials, documentary, etc. I don't shoot any theatrical stuff, so I can't comment on that, but for what I need, the 500's have really surprised me.

Now I'm saving my pennies for an HVX200 so I have a hand-held for tighter situations, and it matches up nicely with the 500's. After that I'll be all set for a couple of years.

-Brad
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Old April 4th, 2008, 12:03 PM   #26
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Yeah, like Brad, we bought a 500, and now we're thinking of a 200 (or it's successor) especially for plopping atop a mid-range Steadicam.
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Old April 11th, 2008, 07:01 PM   #27
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Just replying to a previous post about the advanced video codec. There are different levels, just like mpeg2, one of the top levels of avc compression allow for 4:4:4 encoding at 2k DCI-complaint resolutions in intra-frame recording (at something like 220Mb/s. There isnt a current "avc-intra" Panasonic camera that can encode at that level yet, but Im sure you can expect that on Panasonics upcoming digital cinema camera.
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Old April 11th, 2008, 09:15 PM   #28
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Think about what quality level you need for most of the work you do and base your purchase on that. If say half your projects need the quality of a varicam then you might want to lean that way.

How often do you need the variable rates? If you could find a good deal on a used HDX 900 remember that it will blow the doors of a 500 image wise. Rent when you must have variable rates.

Then again if most of your work is fine with a 500 you might wish to do that and just rent when you need something of higher quality. Let your needs dictate the purchase.

One other thought, do you really want to keep up maintenance on tape drives? Remembering multi thousand dollar bills for things like changing drum assemblies on beta decks and camcorders my answer was no which is why I've just kept renting.

K
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Old April 13th, 2008, 02:44 PM   #29
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I believe this answers all the relevant questions:

http://www.studiodaily.com/main/news/9347.html

Last edited by Robert Lane; April 13th, 2008 at 05:10 PM.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 12:01 PM   #30
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Hey guys,

Thanks for all the fantastic feedback. I ended out getting an HPX500 with a Fujinon 13x4.5 BERM lens. Lens is a little overkill, but I'll have it forever. I'm very happy with this lens and the HPX. I would say the images are noticeably less noisy than HVX, and obviously more dynamic range and better low-light sensitivity. The picture doesn't blow me away, but for $10k I think the camera is a deal.

I decided against Varicam because I'm very happy with P2 and my main client likes it as well (I made this purchase before NAB P2 Varicam announcement, of course). Additionally, when I'm shooting my own doc projects, I can get nearly 6 hours of 720p24n on my 4 32GB P2 cards, which is absolutely awesome.

So today I read about new P2 Varicams. The 2700 is enticing. Do we know price point and release yet? Maybe by the time it's actually shipping I'll be ready to upgrade.

Peter
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