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Old December 22nd, 2010, 03:49 PM   #1
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Handheld P2 Camcorder wishlist

Since its nearly Christmas, I would like to start a short wish list for the next successor to the HVX-200 / HPX-170 formfactor camcorder. Please try to make your wishes practical, and hopefully Santa Panasonic will consider the suggestions. My first few wishes would be : switch to at least full raster for 720p (roughly 1280x760) if not all the way to 1280p (roughly 1900x1200), increase the light sensitivity by about two F-stops , switch to a 16x lens rather than a 13x, and enlarge the viewfinder by about 30 %. I think its asking too much to go to AVC-intra due to the heat dissipation factor. I would also like to see increased data transfer speed from the in-camera P2 cards to an external computer, but this may be rate-limited by the P2 card. A USB 3.0 terminal would be a nice touch. What say the rest of you ?
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Old December 22nd, 2010, 10:11 PM   #2
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Mark:

Hate to sound Scrooge-like, but based upon conversations with certain people with Panasonic, analyzing their strategy and recent higher end SD card-based products like the AG-3DA1, it is my opinion that the lowest end P2 camcorder moving forward will be the AG-HPX370. I don't foresee any further small, handheld P2 camcorders coming from Panasonic.

Even today, even with the huge price reductions of P2 cards, most people in the demographic that these cameras are aimed at still piss and moan that P2 is too expensive. I could be wrong, but I think that the under $8k crowd will be mostly pacified with AVCHD cameras, I don't think generally that these users feel that the value of P2's reliability and robust quality is warranted enough for them to pay for it.

With the speed advances represented by the SDXC card format, I think that AVC-I could be supported on SDXC cards. I am sure that if that is possible, this would allow Panasonic to hit a low-end price point while including AVC-I.

I do think that the AG-AF100 will be a HUGE success and I do foresee a P2/AVC-I version of it probably becoming available but probably not for under $8-9k and very possibly it will cost around $10k.

These are just my opinions on what Panasonic may do going forward, I could be totally off base but if you trace the product development of the under $10k Panny cameras for the past ten years, I think that my hypothesis holds water.

Dan Brockett
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 08:19 AM   #3
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Thanks for your thoughts, Dan. I looked at the AG-AF-100, but I'm not yet convinced that the image quality will be the equal of the HPX-170. It will be interesting to see what the technical folks find when they do a comparison. My other question on the AF-100 is, how much does a HD quality 13-16x lens cost for this camera ? The 14-140 lens is a 28-280 equivalent 35 mm lens, and if my math is right that is only slightly less than 6x.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 09:07 AM   #4
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The AF-100 is a cinema-like video camera. I don't foresee any 13x or 16x video-like lenses being made for it, you would want an ENG camera or a Canon if extreme zoom range is important to your work. If you think that the 170 is the ultimate in picture quality, you would be happier with the HPX370. Although the 170 is CCD and the 370 is CMOS, the general picture quality is similar, although the 370 is much sharper. I think that it is safe to say that the low end CCD-based camera also will die with the 170, all small, under $8k cameras from this point forward will probably be CMOS.

My math may be off but wouldn't a 14-140 be a 10x lens? The comparisons to 35mm FOV seem to be irrelevant to me, even though I shoot with the 5D MKII, which is a still camera that shoots video. I also shoot S16 and very occasionally 35mm motion picture film, the AF-100 FOV is very close to S35.

I should be receiving an AF-100 for review next week and I own and really like the 170 so I will be putting the AF-100 through it's paces. I don't know, to me, the AF-100 should have considerably better picture quality than the 170, it will be better in lower light, will have much higher resolution and more latitude. Supposedly the CMOS artifacts like jello and skewing have been highly reduced on the AF-100, I think it will look considerably better than the 170.

Dan
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 10:58 AM   #5
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Perhaps the AF100 is going to be the hand held camera that will replace the 170 and 200a? Maybe Panny will decide there won't be a market for a small 1/3" camera.

But if not, then I can see a hand held P2 cam as a companion for the 370. Why not use the same imagers? That would be full raster 1920 x 1080 CMOS chips (sorry, gotta go to CMOS chips - they'll run cooler). If you can add AVC-i to the small body - would using CMOS chips offset any heat issues? - then it would be a natural evolution of the 170. Fixed lens, of course. Add an HDMI port, eliminate Firewire. Keep the price under $6,000.

So, a fixed lens, hand held cam with a true broadcast codec, 4:2:2 color, very large LCD display, full raster 1920 x 1080 1/3" CMOS imagers recording to memory cards. Sound familiar? Canon already has it in the XF300/305, albeit a little more than $6,000. So, it can be done.
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Old December 23rd, 2010, 11:03 AM   #6
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I'll be looking forward to reading your impressions of the AF-100. Perhaps that is the direction that I will go as well. A 14-140 lens is a 10x lens, but I believe that the "neutral" point point is around 25, so that there is some wide-angle component as well as some telephoto. Again, you may be one of the first to determine all of this. Thanks Dan.
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Old December 24th, 2010, 10:42 AM   #7
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I am actually way behind the curve on the AF-100 because I have wanted to wait for an actual production line camera to test. If you check out the forums elsewhere, you will see that people have been shooting and reviewing the AF-100 for months, albeit, they have been using early prototypes, not the cameras that we will all actually be buying. Lots of good impressions and feedback so far, I predict that the AF-100 will be a monster hit on the level of the DVX100 and HVX200.

Dan
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Old December 24th, 2010, 10:52 PM   #8
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Dan - I read a bit more about the AF-100, and I guess my major concerns are the 24 Mbps data rate, even though it is AVCHD, and the 4:2:0 colorspace. I also see a lack of high-quality lenses that are fast enough to do telephoto at a reasonable aperture. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up against the HPX-170. By the way, have a Merry Christmas !
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Old December 25th, 2010, 01:45 PM   #9
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As someone who has really enjoyed the DVCPRO HD codec on my 170 and the AVC-I on the HPX300/370, I too shared the same thoughts. That is why I will be keeping my 170 even if I purchase the AF-100. If you think about it though, the only situations where I would see that 4:2:0 codec possibly not being good enough would be for heavy greenscreen/compositing work or if your broadcast outlet requires you to shoot 4:2:2. Not sure if you have shot a decent AVCHD camera before, but the picture quality on the HMC-150 is quite good. Good enough for about 80% of my work, although I occasionally deliver for broadcast or theatrical release where it would not be good enough.

I would say that a good 50% of my work is mainly seen in SD DVD or on the web where the AVCHD codec will be more than good enough. For people who don't feel that they can live with that codec, there are several outboard recording options like the KiPro, AG-HPG20, NanoFlash, etc. that will work really well with it so I wouldn't let that codec stop you from considering the AF-100.

They way I look at it, one of the best photographed shows on television is Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, (won the Emmy for best Cinematography in 2009?) which is shot on HDV. HDV is a horrible codec, much worse than AVCHD and what ZPZ Productions does with that lousy looking HDV codec after massaging it in post and applying a great colorists skills assuages my fears about the AVCHD codec. Resolution and color space can be important but not nearly as important as your skills as a DP and in post. The majority of people who are complaining about the 24Mbps AVCHD will have most of their work viewed on YouTube or Vimeo or SD DVD, few will be releasing on Blu-ray, in theaters or for broadcast. Just depends on your requirements, where does your work get seen?

I shot a feature last year that was shown in the IMAX theater in Copenhagen off of their 4K TI Data Projector. It looked great, even on a curved screen hundreds of feet wide. I shot it with my 170, in good old DVCPRO HD. We tweaked the signal a bit in post and I was surprised at how great it held up in a theater and a HUGE and WIDE theater at that. But I had a full crew, grip truck, studio, great lighting and it looked amazing. Would a RED or Alexa or even HPX2700 have looked better? Of course, but the 170 delivered the goods. I am confident that I could have probably even delivered something better looking if the AF-100 would have existed when we shot.

As far as long, fast lenses, not sure what focal length you are considering long but they definitely exist in the Canon, Nikon realm. Something like the Nikon 300mm 2.8 would fit that bill nicely or the Canon or Nikon 70-200 2.8 zooms. I foresee no lack of fast, long glass for the AF-100, if you can write the check. Fast, long glass is not cheap but is definitely available.

Dan
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