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Panasonic P2HD / DVCPRO HD Camcorders
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Old August 18th, 2008, 08:05 AM   #1
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Panasonic or Sony

At outset, I am not interested in starting any pro or contra thread Sony vs. Panasonic so please let's not go in that direction. This is my case: I will soon start a new project after being absent from documentary production for a while. In the meantime (I am an oldtimer!) there has been considerable change in terms of formats and gear. So, I have to go HD in this project and will have to buy new gear to do so. My choice came down to Sony EXDCAM or Panasonic P2 sysytem. Am considering EX 3 or Panasonic 500 camcorder. It is midbudget documentary project with extensive travelling involved. My foremost doubt is how effective the two formats are in postproduction. (I will also have to decide which NLE to employ. I edit both on Premiere and Avid, never worked with final Cut, but have no problem to do that either).
So, I would appreciate is people with experience would advice and share their experience. How good are these formats supported in mentioned editing programs? Naturally, i do not expect someone else to decide for me, but it would be a great help to consider other people's experiences and recomandations. Many thanks.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 06:37 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Daniel Ridicki View Post
So, I would appreciate is people with experience would advice and share their experience. How good are these formats supported in mentioned editing programs? Naturally, i do not expect someone else to decide for me, but it would be a great help to consider other people's experiences and recomandations. Many thanks.
I have used both systems, here are my impressions:

* EX-3 will definitely be sharper than the HPX500. 500 looks like a soft HD image to me, EX-3 is definitely very sharp, to the point of looking very video-ish. You can dial that down, though. Personally, despite the extra sharpness of the EX3, I find the HPX500 to have a more pleasing image out of the box. Still, I wish the 500 were a bit sharper.

* You'll get a shallower depth of field from the 2/3" 500 vs. the 1/2" EX. That matters for interviews in my book. But you could put a Letus 35mm adapter onto the EX, for 35mm depth of field, and still have a fairly sharp image. An adapter would cost more though, and lead to more set-up and maintenance head-aches, and more equipment to lug.

* HPX-500 is bigger, but more functional in that you can carry it on your shoulder. EX3 (and 1) are ergonically pretty bad, I couldn't see comfortably carrying them around for more than several minutes. You can buy shoulder supports, but they aren't as good as an old fashioned shoulder mount camera.

* I feel like both cameras are comperable in low-light.

* DVCPRO HD (from the 500) is easy to edit on just about any NLE, from a computational hardware standpoint. I find that the EX's XDCAM long-gop codec needs beefier hardware to work with smoothly, and then it takes longer for renders and exports.

* EX-3 now has 32 GB cards (equal to highest capacity P2 cards) and they store more video than the 500 if you're shooting 1080 (100 MBPS vs 35 on the EX). At 720, both cards store about the same. But Panasonic is a month or two away from releasing 64GB cards. The HPX can hold 4 at a time, meaning you could really shoot all day at 720 without having to worry about a data off-load.

Those are the main data points that come to mind. Personally, my dream camera would be an HPX500 that was sharper (true 720 imager), but near the same price. The HPX2700 is almost shipping, but sadly it costs far more.
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Old August 18th, 2008, 06:55 PM   #3
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I own an EX1, but if your documentary will include footage that typically cause problems for CMOS or rolling shutter (I won't rehash that here) then you really need to be looking at the Panasonic or other cameras.


Best of luck.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 02:35 AM   #4
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Thanks for replies

These are very helpful info. Much appreciated!
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Old August 19th, 2008, 04:22 AM   #5
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I agree with all of the above pretty much. I tried the HPX500 and agree with Ellis, both that it looks pretty soft, but that the actual look of the image is very nice, sort of gentle and rich (due to the 4:2:2 maybe?).
As Perrone hinted at I have issues with the EX cameras' motion look, but like him I won't go into that again either!
Have you thought about the XDCam HD cameras like the F355?
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Old August 19th, 2008, 05:25 AM   #6
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Yeas, I thought about it.

What I like about EX3 is the size, as there will be lot of travelling and situations where I would not want to be too noticable. I have shoot couple of times with sony PD 150 and I loved the 'I am just a simple tourist' apearence about it. On the other hand, small cameras has their obvious limitations. Am actually considering buyin both, normal size and a small camcorder to be able to have the best available options.
What about motion artefacts in XDCAM codec with F355? Will it apear as well as with EX3?
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Old August 19th, 2008, 07:21 AM   #7
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Haven't seen the same artifacts with the F355 as the EX camera, no problems at all. It does have a few negatives though; not quite as sharp as the EX1 (though still sharp enough), and the image does look a little lifeless (again, the Pannys all seem to have a richness). The disc-based workflow is fantastic though, the best there is I think.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 10:05 AM   #8
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Daniel,

The mistake I see people make all the time when considering equipment is they consider the camera first, the workflow last. The question you should be asking yourself first: What is the final output?

If you're going out to broadcast then you'd want to stick with a broadcast format. All the Panny cams shoot DVCPRO-HD which is a broadcast standard. XDCAM has made inroads into the broadcast world via Discovery networks but it's still not considered a standard and most post-houses do not have XDCAM decks or capable workflows. If the EX series was shooting HDCAM then it would be a more fair comparison on which way to go since HDCAM is also a broadcast codec.

if you're going out to DVD then you can shoot whatever format you want since your final encode will be forced to the DVD spec anyway.

If you're doing any film-transfer, keying or anything where having the most color information is critical then stick with DVCPRO 4:2:2 whether it's DV50 or DV100.
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Old August 19th, 2008, 10:27 AM   #9
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If you're going out to broadcast then you'd want to stick with a broadcast format. All the Panny cams shoot DVCPRO-HD which is a broadcast standard.
HD broadcast standard, or SD broadcast standard?
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Old August 20th, 2008, 03:19 AM   #10
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Robert

I hear you, and you made legitimate point. In my particular case, the investor will go either way, XDCAM or DVCPRO, that is why I have to select one. This reminds me of an old Woody Allen joke: the guy says to a shrink 'Doc, my brother thinks he is a chicken'. Doc says 'Well, bring him in to my institution'. 'I would - says the gus - it's just that - I need the eggs!'
So, I am (to a point) aware of EX format limitation, but I like its size. Anyway, I am almost sure I will go for Panasonic, exactly because what you have pointed out. Thanks.
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