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Old October 12th, 2008, 11:14 AM   #1
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The ecomomics of P2 Cards

I'm considering a 170, along with a Sony product. I'm having difficulty justifying the economics of the P2 system give the fact that you can record so much more onto an SxS card than the P2. I understand this is a function of codec and bit rate.

There are features of the 170 that make it very appealing to my style of shooting, so I don't want to remove it from consideration just because of the media issue. I cannot afford to have a bagful of P2 cards.On the other hand, I'd prefer not to have to stop and dump a card every 15 minutes.

Is there something I'm missing here? Is there an alternative to the P2 cards or a workflow method that will allow me to shoot for about an hour without having to stop and offload?

Thanks
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Old October 12th, 2008, 12:05 PM   #2
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I'm considering a 170, along with a Sony product. I'm having difficulty justifying the economics of the P2 system give the fact that you can record so much more onto an SxS card than the P2. I understand this is a function of codec and bit rate.

There are features of the 170 that make it very appealing to my style of shooting, so I don't want to remove it from consideration just because of the media issue. I cannot afford to have a bagful of P2 cards.On the other hand, I'd prefer not to have to stop and dump a card every 15 minutes.

Is there something I'm missing here? Is there an alternative to the P2 cards or a workflow method that will allow me to shoot for about an hour without having to stop and offload?

Thanks
Firestore and or larger P2 cards. The new 64GB cards that are due any day, think about it. If you can live with 720 24PN, you could fit 168 minutes onto one P2 card, over three hours! If you can't shoot 720 and must shoot 1080, that's still over an hour on one card. Plus your 170 will come with a 16GB card that will get you 42 minutes of 720 24PN or 16 minutes of 1080.

Personally, I don't trust the FireStore at all, I shot with it a few years ago when our rental house gave me one to evaluate. If you shoot very sedately, sitting down for interviews and around an office, it is probably fine. If you are out tramping through rivers and jumping into helicopters as I have been a few times in the past few years, I would not use a FireStore, too flimsy and you are shooting to a spinning drive. Others will report differently, that they have used their Firestores for everything with no glitches. Different strokes.

For me, it's a non-issue. I guess if I shot events or weddings and needed to shoot hours upon hours of footage, I would consider the 150 and use SD cards. SxS cards aren't exactly cheap either although they do hold more. One of the side effects of the XDCAM EX codec is that you lose a lot of detail any time you move the camera. Do you shoot handheld much? If you mostly shoot sit-down interviews, the EX-1 is superb but if you shoot a lot of movement, the EX-1 is not as good.

What is your end product and do you really need 1080? For me, most of the stuff I do ends up on 1080 D5 or HDCAM SR for the studios. My Kona 3 uprezes the 720 to 1080 and it looks superb if it is shot well. Based upon tests, about 90% of viewers cannot tell the difference between uprezed 720 vs. natively shot 1080 and I love variable framerates far too much to not shoot 720. The EX-1 is much sharper than the 170 but sharpness is not everything. Featurewise and ergonomically, I am in love with the 170, it is an outstanding tool.

Dan
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Old October 12th, 2008, 12:27 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Bob Kerner View Post
There are features of the 170 that make it very appealing to my style of shooting, so I don't want to remove it from consideration just because of the media issue. I cannot afford to have a bagful of P2 cards.
Then consider instead the Panasonic AVCCAM AG-HMC150. It has most of the features of the HPX170
and HVX200, but it records on common SDHC cards, which are much more affordable than P2 cards.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 01:00 PM   #4
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Thank you both. But the 150 creates m2t files..no? Which are a PIA to work with!
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Old October 12th, 2008, 01:03 PM   #5
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The SxS cards are not cheaper than P2 if you look at the cost of the newest cards.

Of course you could go with say the new 150 if you need to shoot long hours and don't have the opportunity to offload, but then you end up with AVCHD which is about as which have the editing efficiency equivalent to driving an oil tanker around town...

I'm kind of in the same boat...HPX 170 vs. Ex1. Havn't used 170/200 before, but used the Ex1 for one weekend. Apart from the images beeing very good of the camera, the ergonomics of the camera is a complete disaster. Although "only" about 1kg heavier than the 170, when you add large batteri, mattebox+rails and filters it all adds up and it's not the most comfy camera to use for a 8hour working day...

With the upcomming 64gb cards I will be able to shoot for about 2 hours if I need to shoot 1080 and for me that will be enough.

Still you should also take into consideration that the only way of shooting HD in other forms than hard compressed HDV/AVCHD is on tape, and you could buy a good amount of P2 cards what either renting of buying an higher end HD deck.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 01:54 PM   #6
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Bob, you are not alone.

The EX-1 has the rolling shutter, not an issue for all, but for some.

The HPX-170 has P2 cost, not an issue for all, but for some.

That 64gb P2 card might wind up costing the same as the HMC-150!
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Old October 12th, 2008, 02:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Christian Magnussen View Post
you end up with AVCHD which is about as which have the editing efficiency equivalent to driving an oil tanker around town...
Christian:

Great quote, I will have to remember that one. I agree, unless you are a PC person and have one of the editing solutions that support AVCHD natively. I am a Mac so AVCHD is out at the moment as far as efficiency but the camera looks really nice, nice features, although the lack of variable frame rates does it in for me.

Dan
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Old October 12th, 2008, 04:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bob Kerner View Post
I'm considering a 170, along with a Sony product. I'm having difficulty justifying the economics of the P2 system give the fact that you can record so much more onto an SxS card than the P2. I understand this is a function of codec and bit rate.

There are features of the 170 that make it very appealing ..............

Is there something I'm missing here? Is there an alternative to the P2 cards .........
Others have already pointed out the missing thing, and it has to be the HMC151. Same basic front end as the HVX170, with the big difference being it's AVC-HD instead of DVCProHD, and SDHC cards instead of P2.

The codec change seems as broad as long. Much more efficient, but at the cost of being like treacle to edit natively. The benefit is a far lower data rate than DVCProHD for comparable quality. My own feeling is that the editing problem can be overcome by transcoding to an NLEs native codec, such as HQ in Edius. The time taken to do this can be largely offset by a much faster ingest time - the lower data rate means only 20% of the DVCProHD file size, so only 20% as many GB to import per recorded minute as DVCProHD.

AVC-HD has another big plus, and that's that it's 720p mode is full raster 1280x720, which suits the camera front end quite nicely. Use the 170/200 and you either have to put up with losing 1/4 of the resolution due to DVCProHD subsampling to 960x720, or use 1080 mode just to get a horizontal res of 1280!

As far as SDHC versus P2, it seems a one horse race. If you've got a P2 camera and P2 cards, fine, no real reason to change. If you're buying from scratch, there seems little reason to go with P2. Apart from cost, nearly all modern laptops have SD and Express Card slots, but few have PCMCIA. You can use adaptors - but why if you don't have to?

I can make one very good value for money case for the HMC151, and another equally good one for an EX1, but I can't even begin to see why anyone should go for an HPX170 in preference to either of those, or P2 instead of SxS or SDHC. As a "B" camera to a 2/3" P2 camera maybe, but not as a main camera with no legacy issues.

As far as the EX v HMC151 goes, two of the biggest pluses of the EX are nothing to do with picture quality, but the quality of the viewfinding and the EX having a true manual lens. But then again, the HMC151 is cheaper, both in terms of the camera, and in terms of media.

Regarding Dans comments about downloading times etc, one of the real beauties about SDHC cards to me is that they are cheap enough to be treated like tape. Shoot for a client, hand the card over at the end. Shoot for yourself, just put it on the shelf for as long as needed - no hard drives, no backing up time. For a lot of people that alone makes SDHC a much better option than either SxS or P2.

It's worth mentioning that the price differential between HMC151 and EX1 packages (camera plus memory) have been severely eroded by people finding out how to use SDHC cards in an EX1 via an adaptor. The 151 is still the cheaper option, the EX is still the better but dearer one, but the price gap has got a lot smaller.

The irony here is that the biggest competitor in this market range to P2 and the HPX170 comes not from Sony, but Panasonic, and one of the biggest new attractions for the EX (use of SD cards) has happened not because of, but in spite of Sony. A strange world.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 04:33 PM   #9
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Thanks David. You've given me more to think about.
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Old October 12th, 2008, 04:39 PM   #10
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Hi Bob,

Buy what you can afford, and best suits your clients will dictate that, the format is secondary, You cannot make a judgement from others that may not be in your situation, I would reccomend you look at shooters that do the same workflow as you and check their gear.
Cheers
TomK
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Old October 12th, 2008, 09:02 PM   #11
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Theory and maths are one thing, the real world often is another. I'm not shure if this subsampling is hurting the image as much as it looks on paper. DvcproHD, HDcam to mention some, of course HDcam being a complete different class of camera and codec than avchd but it still uses subsampling and it don't look like its hampered to much by that.

And about SD cards, I'm not sure if I'm ready to trust that say 5 sd cards with footage on can take as much abuse in my pocket as P2 or SxS cards. Break one SD card with valuable stuff on and at best you need to get a data recovery firm to fetch the data for you and the often come with a five figure price tag. The robustness of panasonic/sonys tapeless systems is something you might want to pay for if you want to trust it to take the abuse that professional use put on production gear.

But Tom has a point...
Buy what suits your budget and needs, not what fits my annoying work flow where the minutes lost with EX1 and re-wrapping is a big pain in the...and where the flimsy plastic SD cards might physically break when used in below -15 degrees Celsius.
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Old October 13th, 2008, 04:58 AM   #12
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Theory and maths are one thing, the real world often is another. I'm not shure if this subsampling is hurting the image as much as it looks on paper.
In this case, I think it is, and as evidence I'd give how current HVX200 users see a big resolution improvement between 720p mode and 1080p mode, and I'd suggest that's largely due to the horizontal recording resolution. But to get that 1280 horizontal with DVCProHD, they have to go to 1080p - and lose high progressive frame rates, varispeed, lower data rates of 720pn/24 etc.

AFAIK all other 720 recording systems are square pixel, full 1280x720 raster - JVC HDV, XDCAM 720p, and now AVC-HD from Panasonic. I'm not suggesting DVCProHD 720 will therefore look rubbish, but that if a better option now exists, why not use it? The origins of 960x720 are buried in history, original designs having to use 4 DV codec chips in parallel, and it's time to move on. (One pair gave 2x 720x480 (960x720), using two pairs together enabled progressive.)

Subsampling 1080 systems like HDCAM is one thing, subsampling 720 is quite another.

As far as the comments about the relative flimsiness of SDHC cards goes, well, it's a good point. With the HMC151 there's not a lot that can be done about it, but at least with the EX there's the option of either using proper SxS cards in extreme conditions, or having a Kensington adaptor for every SD card - still vastly cheaper than P2 or SxS. In another thread more than one user has cited SDHC as being a tipping point in favour of getting an EX, and my personal hope is that the SDHC solution will prompt Sony/Sandisk etc to bring out a certified, lower spec, lower cost card. They'll realise that what they lose in expensive card prices, they gain in far more cards sold and increased camera sales.

I see the move to solid state from tape as happening in three stages. First, able to do it at all, second, able to shoot for at least a day without on location downloading, and the final stage being able to not have to download at all. P2 pioneered the first stage, is now reaching the second stage (depending on user), but can never be suitable for stage 3. You'll get ever bigger P2 cards, but never get a smaller card for $20-30 in the way you can SD cards at the moment.
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Old October 14th, 2008, 06:40 PM   #13
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A P2 Presentation at Abel Cine today revealed that 64GB P2 cards should be on the shelves by Thanksgiving, and the price would be anywhere between $2200 and $2800.

I really hope Panasonic prices them lower than that...
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Old October 14th, 2008, 08:41 PM   #14
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A P2 Presentation at Abel Cine today revealed that 64GB P2 cards should be on the shelves by Thanksgiving, and the price would be anywhere between $2200 and $2800.

I really hope Panasonic prices them lower than that...
Yikes! That is disappointing...

I was hoping this would drive the 32s down to around $1,000.00. Doesn't look like that will be happening for a while. 64GB is expensive but how fun would it be to shoot over three HOURS of 720/24PN on one card? A pair of these and I would be set for life with the HPX170.

Dan
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Old October 15th, 2008, 07:10 AM   #15
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Makes the Sony solution look all the more appealing. I'm not trying to provoke a fight but this is what I was affraid of: that for the cost of a couple of media cards, you're on your way to the price of another camera.
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