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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:22 AM   #1
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Leaning heavily towards the AG HPX500....

I have everything in place to purchase a full body HD camera and because of the price point, I'm leaning towards the Pany AG HPX500. I still have several questions and don't neccesarily want to pose these to dealers....

A local dealer has devulged that Panasonic will be parceling out the gear from the Olympics as "b-stock".

1) Should I try to do a package deal (camera and lens) direct from a dealer or wait for NAB “show pricing?”

2) Does “b-stock” gear have a suitable factory warranty?

3) How is the 500 performing next to the 2000? Has the pixel shifting been an issue for anyone matching the 2000?

4) Has anyone heard about any upgrades to the 500, such as more variability in over and under cranking or an upgrade in codec (Intra AVC)?

This seems like the right camera for me in what I’m doing, but it also has to be a camera I can work well for the next 5 years.

Any thoughts are appreciated….
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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:24 AM   #2
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I have had two HPX-500's, one new one B-stock. The b-stock came with a new warranty and in fact is a better camera. I suspect this was because it had been completely speced out by Panasonic.

Paul Hudson
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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:55 AM   #3
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The question is, do you need a camera to shoot with before about Fall of this year? The 500, to me, seems to be overdue for either an update or a replacement. Who knows, but it is possible something could be introduced at NAB in April. But if something new was introduced, there is a very good chance you would not be able to buy it until Fall or even Winter.

If you definitely have settled on the 500, there are some good deals on used ones or B-stock around.

1. Package deal would be a good idea, perhaps a b-stock or discontinued lens? I do recommend an HD lens with the CAC function over a used SD lens.

2. I am not positive but I think I have read that b-stock may not be eligible for the 5 year warranty, I think it just has the 1 year standard warranty but definitely check with your dealer.

3. The 2000 is a whole other ball game than the 500. If you want to see the 2000 in action, just watch the Olympics tonight, about 60% of what you are seeing is being shot on 2000s, with the remainder on 3000s. You can match colorimetry with the 500 and the 2000 but the 2000 image will be sharper and cleaner. The 2000 is a much more sophisticated camera than the 500. The 500 is an HVX200 with 2/3" imagers and a better lens. It is a good camera but the SD viewfinder leaves me cold.

4. If the 500 is upgraded or replaced, it will be AVCINTRA and will possibly be CMOS so to me, that is a mixed bag. If I had a choice, I would rather have a CCD camera. I love the 300 but for certain things that I shoot like red carpets in Hollywood, CMOS, even with the FBC, doesn't cut it.

If you need a camera today to make money, I would buy a 500. If you can wait, I would see what is shown, if anything, at NAB. I would also scout around for used 2000s. They are rare but I have seen some good deals on bodies as low as $10k.

Dan
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Old February 16th, 2010, 12:41 PM   #4
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The 500 is a great toolkit camera since it does just about anything. HD, DV, Pal variable rates etc. Other P2 Cameras don't always match its flexibility even when they are more expensive. I agree with Dan B about the viewfinder, lens advice etc. I have the more expensive 2 inch B+W finder on it but I also use an external a monitor for it whenever possible.
We are fast approaching the don't buy season before NAB unless the job is going to need the gear or the price is irresistible. It makes sense for Panasonic to upgrade the 500 to do battle with the Sony PMW-350 but I would not be surprised either way. The problem for the manufacturers with all of these cameras is the low end is going to eat the high ends lunch in this kind of economy. The enthusiasm for DSLR video is an example.
Last year the prices seemed a little lower on Ebay than this year as the economy is a little firmer.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 02:46 PM   #5
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I bought one of the first west coast 500s three years ago for a particular documentary - the funder specifically requested DVCPRO HD 720/24p and I didn't want to rely on an HVX200 (although I bought one of those as well as a B camera).

Generally these days I get a new camera and by the time I'm finished with the film I upgrade to "the latest and greatest". However I have really been impressed with the 500 and will keep it - for another film or two at least. Here's why...

Despite what some may say, the picture is quite good (I have the Fujinon w/o the extender), it compares favorably in real world use with more expensive cameras - it takes a real eye and a side-by-side comparison on an exquisite monitor to detect any major differences.

Because it is less expensive, I tend to be less paranoid about using it in adverse conditions - and the insurance is less and easier to secure (may seem a small point, but not to me).

I also acquired the (expensive) B&W 16x9 finder which does help because I handhold and monitors are out of the question.. but the stock finder is useable (I shot super16 for years and the finders on some film cameras are pretty bad too).

The camera balances well with an Anton Bauer Dionic90 battery on back and the finder moved forward an inch and a half (simple custom bracket I made myself). The 500 IS way too heavy when you consider what those little Canon and Nikon SLRs are capable of, but those things are worse to handhold because of balance issues. Maybe they'll get it right eventually, but until then...

It holds 4 cards, which is just right - And I really have come to appreciate the value of P2 cards. I have five 16GB cards that I've been using for those 3 years for probably 15-18 short films (plus the feature doc I bought it for) and have never had a single problem and never felt the need for more cards - one purchase and that's it!

You spend zero time explaining your camera to people - It looks and performs like the kind of camera they expect to see.. Another small point, I admit, but I got real tired explaining the benefits of my DVX.

Hope that helps.
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Old February 16th, 2010, 09:41 PM   #6
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All great responses and great information. I have some "gotta haves" on my list for the 500 package and the upgraded VF is definately there as I plan on handholding the camera.
I have recently worked with a client shooting with their EX-3. They have it mounted on the Anton Bauer Shoulder extended but my forearm cramped up bad after just a few minutes. It wasn't natural or elegant at all. I have a Z1 and several outboard devices. It puts the EX3 to shame.

What does the group think about the possibility of a firmware upgrade in the 500 to add the AVCIntra codec? Is that even possible? And what about the possibility of adding or extending the variable frame rates. I think it has 11 steps now. It sure would be nice to crank to any frame rate.

Anyone using the Fuji XA series lens?

Thanks so much for the excellent information.....
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Old February 16th, 2010, 10:20 PM   #7
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Mike:

1. EX cameras are a mess ergonomically. Good pictures and sound but a nightmare to shoot handheld compared to a real broadcast form factor.

2. AVC INTRA comes from hardware. Impossible to add to a camera via firmware or software. The HPX2000 has an add-on board that gives it AVC INTRA. If AVC INTRA comes to the 500, it will be via a camera update/upgrade but not to existing units.

3. Perhaps some 500 owners can chime in here on if the frame rate hack works on the 500? I don't know. It works like a dream on my 170, I have scene files for 2, 4, 6 and 10fps with various shutter angles.

4. In my experience with lenses, I like the Fujinons better as cheap lenses and I like the Canons better for broadcast/expensive lenses. The Fujinon website only shows the HA and ZA series as current for B4 2/3".

Dan
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Old February 17th, 2010, 12:53 AM   #8
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The Fujinon XA17X7.6 series, which is made for Panasonic, is the exact same lens as the ZA17X7.6, except about $5K less. The glass is the same as the HA18X7.6, which is more than twice the price. The XA is a bargain.

I have seen XA17 and ZA17 side by side and compared them to HA18. An XA at $8K or less is a great way to go. CA error is very minor, even without CAC. I've seen low cost Canon glass on a 500 and if it wasn't for CAC, they would be unusable. As Dan says, Canon high end glass is great.

Any of the Canon or Fuji HD ENG zoom lenses will breathe severely, unless they are models with the huge focus barrel, which have cams that make them breathe much less. I don't see any reason to buy HA series Fuji glass, unless they are models that don't breathe.

The HPX2000 also has PAL and NTSC DVC and DVCPRO 50 modes, optional AVC-Intra board.
What I notice about the 2000 or HDX900 over the 500 is a smoother tonality, they aren't so contrasty, plus will resolve wide shots better. The DRS circuit and all the additional menu control are also very nice. An HPX2000 for under $14K with AVC-Intra would be my first choice, if it includes viewfinder--once you add a 2" HD finder to a 500, your are in the $12K range. Problem is finding a 2000 w/Intra option, but Panasonic was selling the 2000 with Intra at no charge for a few months.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
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Old February 17th, 2010, 11:43 AM   #9
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I'm going to NAB this year. Should I wait to make a deal there or make my best deal with a local dealer?
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Old February 17th, 2010, 11:47 AM   #10
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I was in the market for a 2700 this year but I am going to wait and see if panasonic comes out with a camera to compete with the new sony 350.

I may be that a 600/601 comes out with 2/3" cmos chips and avc intra 100!
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Old February 17th, 2010, 03:34 PM   #11
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The HPX 500 can NOT be updated to shoot anything other than it already shoots. Panasonic does not plan on updating this camera.

Using vari frame settings are super simple, even plays back in slomo so you an see your results right then and there.

The view finder is quite small, I have not gotten the 2'' only because I use an external hd monitor all the time.

You need super good glass to resolve wide shots in 1080 with this camera, CU's look amazing, and so do mids, but a good wide shot will need some really good glass. I'm not saying it looks bad, but dont expect it to look amazing either. It kinda looks like you shot a great sharp shot with 720 and the blew up to fill a 1080 frame... the detail isnt as powerful but still nice looking.

This camera will work till you die, great solid camera, works well in the cold, rain... ect.

much lighter than most cameras its size.

it really comes down to what you are shooting, this camera is great for a bunch of different types of things, specially because its PAL NTSC switchable. Also a fantastic SD camera as well. 720p 1080p its got it all... I love shooting with it, and you will never loose a gig because you didnt have the right frame rate, or resolution.

HD-SDI out as well as component Y-Pb-Pr out and standard video out... you really have everything you need and then some.

BUT!

you cannot upgrade this camera, it is what it is, panasonic will most likely come out with something new in this price range within the next year or 2. If they go CMOS or "3-MOS" then its totally not worth it, but if they stay 2/3'' CCD it might be worth waiting...

If you cant wait, buy it now, great deals, if you can wait, WAIT because something is coming... just might be a let down if its cmos.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 05:54 PM   #12
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If you need gear now, buy. If not, wait.

Probably one of the best things with the Hpx500 is the flexibility when it comes down to formats. So far I've done basicly every resolution in the camera, 4:3 SD for SNG link...up to 1080p25 for corporate video, and some 720p in the middle. Luckily for us in PAL country 720p are the way forward for a lot of European broadcasters and there the 500 performs quite good.

The image looks quite good, but it's not a HDX900, 2100 or 3000. You need to take it for what it is, a budget 2/3" hd camera. Luckily image quality is measured in more than effective pixels on the sensors, yes a Sony EX3 might be sharper on the wides...but 2/3" has some strengths that out weighs that for my use. You need to consider what's your need to figure out if a 500 will do.

On the negative side the stock VF is not verygood, but again still to this date the 500 don't have a single CCD opponent from Sony at this price point. And for some of us CMOS aint an option, yet. A better SD one is an ok option, i might add that soon.

Operational it's very well balanced with normal zoom lens, and build quality is very good to.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 12:33 AM   #13
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I have been watching this market a lot over the past few years as I have an HPX-500. And when I start to look at the HPX2000 range, I stop myself and ask, do I want to pay $10,000-12,000 more for a probably 15-20% image quality increase?

The 500 is a great value for what it is. I also think you will like the camera more if your shooting is more 720p centered. At 1080p, there are less expensive cameras that will out resolve it, but at 720p it is tough to see any resolution difference.

As far as a replacement, I believe this camera falls into a hole that nobody wants to step in right now. The camera makers do not want to give 2/3" imagers for $10,000.

Back when the rebate was on, the 500 went in the high $7,000s range. That is a far cry away from the next 2/3" imager camera. So I do not think the HPX-600 etc... will be priced so competitively with the PMW-350 going for $18,000.

Tough choices but it really comes down to what level of quality you are willing to pay up for.
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Old February 18th, 2010, 03:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary Nattrass View Post
I was in the market for a 2700 this year but I am going to wait and see if panasonic comes out with a camera to compete with the new sony 350.

I may be that a 600/601 comes out with 2/3" cmos chips and avc intra 100!
Gary, have you seen that DSVideo are offering an HPX2700 with viewfinder and an HJ11 lens for £30k. Good deal I think.

As for the HPX500, as has been said, it's not in the same league. One other massive problem on one I tried briefly was that the viewfinder was awful, virtually guesswork as to whether focus was OK when on long lenses.
Steve
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Old February 18th, 2010, 05:44 PM   #15
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It really comes down to budget and what you need. I would not go as far as saying the VF is all guess work, but it takes a some time to get used to.

And yes smaller 1080 cameras will out resolve the 500, but in difficult light and low light a 1/3" or 1/2" won't stand a chance. I kind of saved a large part of a event shoot last year...by having a 500 on hand and not a 300 or a Sony Ex1/3.

No camera out there is perfect anyway, regardless of if it's a small consumer camera, 2/3" HD cameras or RED/Arri/Phantom systems. It's all about the right compromises and you need to know what clients want...
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