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Old January 24th, 2008, 04:16 PM   #1
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HPX500 or used Varicam?

taking the P2 workflow out of the equation, which would you go for? Which has the prettier images? Used Varicam's are going on ebay for about $20k. For sake of argument, price is not an issue. Thanks!

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Old January 24th, 2008, 05:16 PM   #2
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Varicam! Especially if you can get a great and competitive price on it, but make sure you check it out in person and run a tape through it etc... Even if the tape transport or heads need servicing, you're still looking at a FANTASTIC camera that puts out top-notch pictures in an established workflow.

The HPX is a great little camera, and a definite leap ahead of the HVX-200, but it can't touch the Varicam image-wise.

P2 can be a great workflow for some, but the majority of productions that I've encountered require an archival copy of the footage. You can go around trying to find long-lasting drives or LTO tapes and try to convince your potential clients that they should adopt YOUR archival system... or you could shoot to tape, and simply hand them over as-is. DVCPRO-HD and HDCAM are the industry standards for tape formats, whereas P2 must usually be dubbed over to a master format (speaking of policies right now). Obviously tapeless is the wave of the future, but for a good long while (at LEAST 5-10 years) tape will still play a large role in archiving video footage. Bottom line - if you're looking for a top-end acquisition camera, the Varicam still provides stunning pictures (with good lenses and smart operating).
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Old January 24th, 2008, 07:18 PM   #3
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How much to rebuild the scanner on a Varicam?
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Old January 25th, 2008, 01:41 PM   #4
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Thanks Jaron! I was checking out the Panny website and see they have dropped the price of a Varicam by $20k -- to $45,000. Still a lot of money, but seems like a good deal.

My only hesitation on the Varicam are its relative lack of shooting formats compared to what the P2 cameras offer. If only there was a "P2 Varicam". Truthfully, for my personal work the Varicam is perfect, but I have clients sometimes ask for other formats, which it couldn't accommodate. I think I'll wait to see what's announced at NAB this year and then make a decision. I assume no one has heard of a "P2 Varicam" being announced any time soon? Or an HPX500 on steroids perhaps (VFR, but with native HD chips and an HD viewfinder).

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Old January 25th, 2008, 03:38 PM   #5
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The current lineup of P2 cams, especially the HVX could be considered the first-step in creating the path to a truly tapeless world, however as pointed out the lack of a true P2-based Varicam has left many staying with tape mainly because the commercial industry (outside of broadcast) hasn't begun to fully adopt the tapeless workflow - yet.

However, if Panny does introduce a *real* P2 Varicam that would be the first major step into getting tapeless adopted into commercial workflows, mainly because the media cost would become negligible when compared to the required re-cost of new media and the ultra-expensive decks required to capture/playback the content.

If Panny doesn't introduce it's P2 Varicam at NAB then the current Varicam is by far a well-rounded investment depending on workflow and client media delivery needs.
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Old January 25th, 2008, 03:41 PM   #6
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The p2 varicam is already out. its the 3000 series.
used varicams can be one of three software versions, the first two are no longer supported and in the rental world are not even rentable.
the H version blows the doors off any footage shot on the 500.
the 500 actually uses a chip block from the SDX900 SD camera, and achieves its HD files by doing voodoo with the pixels.

My hope is that someone will come out with a hard drive unit that would take the HDSDI which is on the varicam and allow for off the block recording.

this type of product would also help out the aging Canon H1, which has a smoking sharp image off the HDSDI port. much sharper than the HVX200 even.
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Old January 25th, 2008, 05:47 PM   #7
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The p2 varicam is already out. its the 3000 series.

Hi Craig:

The HPX-3000 is not really considered the successor to the Varicam precisely because it does NOT have VFR. Variable frame rates were the unique, big deal feature of the original Varicam.

I have heard something about how they could not do VFR with the 2000/3000 series because encoding for the AVC Intra codec was not possible with variable frame rates yet.

Kinda lame that the HVX and HPX, the two bottom of the line can do VFR and the two big brothers that cost many times more cannot.

Best,

Dan
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Old January 25th, 2008, 07:33 PM   #8
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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
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Old January 25th, 2008, 08:19 PM   #9
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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
Just keep in mind that if it bows at NAB, you are typically 6-9 months out from when you can actually get your hands on it. So realistically, you'd be near a year away from being able to make your purchase (if NAB brought something you just had to have).

Dan
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Old January 26th, 2008, 01:01 PM   #10
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Thanks Dan -- hadn't really thought of this. I guess if there was something announced that was really worth waiting for then I'd consider it.

On the used varicam front, what sort of things should I look for in considering one? I'm guessing the "h" version of the camera is important. Can anyone recommend trusted retailers of used gear like this? Anything else? Thanks!

Peter
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Old January 27th, 2008, 04:53 AM   #11
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My hope is that someone will come out with a hard drive unit that would take the HDSDI which is on the varicam and allow for off the block recording.

this type of product would also help out the aging Canon H1, which has a smoking sharp image off the HDSDI port. much sharper than the HVX200 even.
Can this help? Convergent Design's Flash XDR ??? Takes HD-SDI and outputs to Compact Flash? Not sure if product is out yet ... but it does cost US$4,995 !!!
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Old January 27th, 2008, 10:00 AM   #12
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Can anyone recommend trusted retailers of used gear like this? Anything else? Thanks!

Peter
Try the forum Sponsors; I can personally vouch for Abel Cine LA, Omega Broadcast and ZGC.
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Old January 27th, 2008, 06:53 PM   #13
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Try the forum Sponsors; I can personally vouch for Abel Cine LA, Omega Broadcast and ZGC.
Thanks Robert!
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Old February 2nd, 2008, 07:33 PM   #14
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As has been said, the 3000 is most certainly not a VariCam replacement, because it doesn't have any "vari" in it. Last time I was in Aus the Panasonic boss there said that there will be a new VariCam, it will be P2-based, and it's probably 12 to 18 months away. That was about 2 months ago, so the ticking clock should be 10 to 16 months away. 10 months away? Sounds about right for an NAB announcement two months from now, so -- could make for an interesting NAB...
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Old February 13th, 2008, 12:01 AM   #15
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HDCAM SR Killer

Yes, rumors indicate true full frame 1920x1080p sensors, 10bit, 4:4:4 color space and variable frame rate. Sony HDCAM SR killer?
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