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Old December 3rd, 2010, 07:43 AM   #1
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Panasonic AJ-HDC27He/Fe ?

Hi guys

I'm not sure whether this is the right forum for this question but I'm sure it will get moved if not.

My question is fairly simple really. Are the Panasonic AJ-HDC27He and Fe models a good purchase considering they are now at available used at the EX3 price level. Also what are the differences other than the He seems more highly regarded.

Usage - The camera will provide me a learning platform for working with large format cameras. (Most of my knowledge is currently with cams like the HD110 / H1 etc. and next year I will also be shooting pro on P2 Varicams) - It will also be used for personal projects and possibly for some commercial work if the fit is right. I am also hopefully getting a Panasonic spx2700 for at least a few days for a 'training period' in the next few weeks, how different am I likely to find the two cameras? (I am familiar with P2 on the HPX171)

Can the material be captured directly from the camera or will I have to have a deck ? - Any cheaper way around this?

Is it still regarded by broadcasters a valid HD source?

Anyway, thoughts feeling and flaming ;-) much appreciated !
Mat
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 09:13 AM   #2
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Hi Mat,
A good overall thought and sensible individual questions.

The F model is to be avoided as it's really old now. Also seem to remember the F had a serious drawback regarding HD SDI out, either it didn't have one or it wasn't a clean output (ie you had data overlaid on it).

Yes it is a good camera for getting used to big broadcast cameras, but saying that pretty much all full-size cameras would be as well - thinking of Sony PMW350 or Panasonic HPX371 for example. With the Panny you'll also have the P2 workflow.

Getting material out of the camera is the real problem. You have no Firewire, only HD SDI. So you can capture with a Kona card or something. You'll be putting wear on the heads though of course. Also there's frame rate issues as the Varicam always records and plays at 60fps, so if you shoot 60 for slomo you need to frame rate convert it. And there's no 50hz setting for sync 25P. It's a real mess! Same situation with the Nanoflash and the Ki Pro, you can sort of getting it working but it's messy. And you're adding 2000 and some cables and more power drain to your setup too.

It is still regarded as a valid HD source, especially for wildlife needing slomo, and it still does make amazing pictures which look great even on a big screen. But, many productions are requesting 1080 now so that would be a worry long term.

Steve
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 01:50 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response Steve. That's a great all round answer. I'm not sure I fully understand the frame rate issues and I'm not sure where it leaves my decision mind you. Getting material out of it is a problem indeed if it costs another sizeable chunk of money to do it ! :-/ hhmmm
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Old December 3rd, 2010, 01:58 PM   #4
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When the Varicam records it does so at 60fps regardless of what frame rate you set. So if you shoot 25fps 60 frames are recorded but 25 of them are "flagged" as the ones that are to be use. When you put this through (in the beginning) the Panny Frame Rate Converter (a 20,000 hardware device) it extracts just the flagged frames. These days Final Cut can extract those flagged frames (sort of), as can the AJA Kona cards, but it's all tricky.
Also you have to factor in 4xbatteries and charger at 2000 (you can get them cheaper but that's a standard IDX kit, it's a pretty power-thirsty camera), tripods and plates, lenses - long lenses in particular are incredibly expensive. Before you know it your 3000 camera could be costing you 6-60000!
Steve
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Old December 4th, 2010, 05:09 AM   #5
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OK....thanks for the heads up. That is frustrating though!
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Old December 4th, 2010, 08:13 AM   #6
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Mat, consider the HPX500. It will use your P2 cards and is a 2/3" CCD chip. It shoots in 1080, 720, even SD. You can undercrank and overcrank. Its menu system is very similar to your 171's, so you should be comfortable using it.
You should be able to pick one up at fairly reasonable prices, about the same as the AJ-HDC27He. It's probably the cheapest 2/3" large format HD cam out there.

I had a JVC HD200 and HVX200a, and going to the 500 was like night and day. Far superior camera.
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Old December 4th, 2010, 08:21 AM   #7
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The HPX500 would allow you to get easy access to the footage too (firewire or a P2 reader), so it is a decent idea. Image quality will be miles behind the tape Varicam though, and the main problem when I used one for a few days was that the viewfinder was awful, just a wild guess at to whether the shot was in focus with a long lens. Just my experience though.
Steve
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Old December 4th, 2010, 10:13 AM   #8
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Hi guys

Ok, yep I can certainly see the benefits of the 500!

Why will the image quality differ so much. Is it data rate/colour space/codec ?
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Old December 4th, 2010, 11:46 AM   #9
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The reason the 500 has such a low price point is because the chips are SD chips, pixel-shifted to create HD - somehow. The image isn't as sharp as true HD cams, supposedly. I'v never compared my 500 to an AJ-HDC27He, so I don't know about the differences in image quality. But there is a lot to be said for true HD chips, even if they're 1280 x 720.

Still, Discovery HD allows the 500 to do full acquisition in their Silver level productions. If money is an issue - and when isn't it? - the 500 is a good way to get into large format cameras, especially if you've already invested in P2 (not clear from your postings if you have P2 now). You can also use cheaper SD lenses with it and get good results.

But the viewfinder does suck on the 500. I have shot stuff slightly off-focus. It cannot be upgraded to an HD EVF, ever.

And, since you used them as a price comparison, if I were to choose between an AJ-HDC27He or an EX3, I'd go for the EX3, no question. It has full raster 1920 x 1080 chips and if you shoot to a Nano or Aja (as you would on the AJ-HDC27He) you'll get very good quality, 100+mbps 4:2:2 video. The workflow is a lot easier, too. The EX3 is not a large size camera, but it isn't too far behind.
Plus, for the same price of the AJ-HDC27He body alone, you can get the EX3, ready to shoot. And you can definitely make income with it.

I have the 500 now and I've shot a lot with the EX3. I'd be happy with the EX3.
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Old December 4th, 2010, 12:48 PM   #10
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Ahh ha....pixel shifted ! Ok, now that makes more sense.

I hear what your saying with the EX3. If it were simply for my own project then that would still be what I'd go for I think. But this was more to get lots of time on varicams because in wildlife it really is the tool of choice! However it seems I may be getting an HPX2700E for while for 'training' so at least if I go crazy with that I should get a good grounding on the format before I have to shoot it in anger next year!

As far as my next personal camera goes....hhmmmm, still undecided I think!
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