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Old July 8th, 2011, 09:05 AM   #1
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are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

are you a knowledgeable hpx170 users? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

every camera has its strengths.

every camera has characteristics that could be better.

for those who are knowledgeable hpx170 users, what would you consider the camera's spot spot?

"best" recording format-720p or 1080p/i?

the lens' "best" f/stop?

a single attribute that still makes the hpx170 a valuable tool?

does anyone really care that the hpx170 doesn't "really" shoot 1920x1080? (dvcpro hd 1280 x 1080)

lastly, how many hours can the hpx170 perform before needing a tune-up?

i know these are very general questions, but i'm interested in creating conversation about the qualities which make the hpx170 such a lovely camera while still being a camera that is now three years since its release.

thanks in advance to any who care to share their thoughts.

be well

rob
smalltalk productions
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Old July 8th, 2011, 10:01 AM   #2
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re: are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

I've been using the HPX170 since it came out and as I see it the camera has several key features which endear me to it, even though I could have chosen other "better performing" cameras in terms of image resolution like the Sony EX1 (which I also really like). What I like best about the camera and what makes it special in my mind (which I think will remain true for it's replacement, the HPX250, see: new camera: Panasonic AG-HPX250) is basically the following. I can't boil things down to a single attribute, what makes a camera right for a particular use us usually the result of a combination of attributes. Here are eight:

(1) On-camera microphone records to channels 3 and 4. As someone who does a lot of verite documentary shooting, I find having stereo ambience in addition to the audio (from wireless mics or a shotgun) into channels 1 and 2 to be a big help when I'm doing dialog editing and the sound mix. I've purchased a Rycote softie for the on-camera mic, since especially outdoors this on camera recording can be useful. Last summer I spent five days shooting an art encampment in the Boston harbor islands and having this extra ambience track made the sound editing and mixing much easier. It's amazing to have four channels to work with, ch 1 and 2 for dialog, ch 3 and 4 for ambiance (though the movement of the camera makes it tricky to use, but it's way better than nothing).

(2) The spot meter, ability to set two zebras, one as low as 50IRE, and the waveform monitor makes setting perfect exposure easy

(3) The Panasonic look that result from their CIne Gamma settings is really nice

(4) The Audio Pre-amps are clean and the audio limiter works quite well. I can often set the levels and leave them alone and let the limiter handle the occasional peak, not all cameras have such clean preamps and such a good limiter.

(5) I like the ability of having variable frame rates at my disposal

(6) It's just the right weight for handheld work

(7) The wide lens setting is wider that many other cameras in the prosumer range, it's a big plus for handheld documentary work

(8) The DVCPRO HD media cuts like butter without having to be converted to ProRes or some other intermediate editing format. The compression artifacts are quite gentle with this Codec.

at the moment, I'm very happy with it. I do shoot with other cameras (e.g. D-SLR) when I need shallower depth of field, but for my verite work the extra depth of field provided y the 1/3" chips is a blessing.

My only gripes are the cost of the P2 cards and the fact it's not true 1080p, but I've found if my focus is good and the lighting is right, images from this camera hold their own compared to other cameras within it's price range. I wish Panasonic would make it possible to bring external audio into channels 3 and 4, for example, using two small TA-3F Mini-XLR connectors, for example.
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Last edited by David Tamés; July 8th, 2011 at 02:32 PM.
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Old July 9th, 2011, 08:11 AM   #3
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re: are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

I've been using this camera for the past year. I'm generally pleased with it. Out of all things in my opinion the biggest plus of this camera is it's picture that comes from the cine-gammas. I like it very much. It's not the cleanest picture (noise/grain) but when handled correctly it can produce very cinematic looking picture.

Other things that matter the most to me:

- DVCproHD
I can't and won't ever shoot with a long GOP codec.

- P2 system
I love it. It's robust and works very well with Avid. Don't care about the price.

- Camera weight
The camera is very light. It can also be used with cheap camera stabilizers.

- Waveform meter
Can't imagine shooting without it!

- Wide angle lens


Regarding resolution: yeah, it's not really sharp. The fact that it's compressed to 1280 doesn't really matter, because that's the cameras realistic sharpness. If you would compare the 1280 output of your 170 with 1440 of my 171 you couldn't tell the difference.

I always shoot 1080p even if I'll deliver in 720p. Don't shoot in 720. The camera doesn't have lot's of resolution to toss around - so shot in 1080 and then downconvert to 720. I also found that shooting in 720p introduces aliasing.
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Old July 12th, 2011, 11:46 AM   #4
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re: are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

I've used this camera since it came out, and the HVX-200 before that, primarily for indoor sports events. Strong points of the HPX-170 (IMO) : outstanding color recording, easy operation, very good lens, easy to edit with Edius, easy to transfer P2 card contents to laptop using a PCMCIA port, lightweight, good focus control. I only shoot in 720p (progressive is better for action shots), but would like 1080p. Am planning to upgrade to the HPX-250 when it is available. I've had best quality results using the BPRESS gamma - much less noise than other gamma options. Cons : could be more light sensitive, marginal performance indoors unless lighting is very good or external lighting is available. P2 cards aren't cheap, but they perform extremely well. Lens could have a little more telephoto capability (this has been extended to 21x in the HPX-250). In all, the HPX-170 is a great camera !
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Old July 12th, 2011, 03:51 PM   #5
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re: are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

I did a lot of pixel peeping when we first got an HPX 170 at work, and my thoughts are this:

If doing green screen work, especially if coming out of the HD-SDI output to a seperate recorder, the 720p mode has far less artifacts than any of the 1080 modes. Basically, turning of all in camera sharpening, taking an SDI feed at 720p, then doing further sharpening in post after the footage had been key'd produced the best results.

In general I prefer the 720p to the 1080 in camera for a lot of reasons - firstly it introduces less artifacting than, secondly for projects where you are going to be mixing variable frame rate shooting you'll have a more consistent look across the project. Also, for down conversion to PAL, 720p50 is a better format than 1080i if you use a workflow that downresses at 50p, and then blends the fields to 50.

The wave form is great for green screen work also.
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Old July 12th, 2011, 07:02 PM   #6
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Re: are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

The audio is indeed quite excellent, and the 1080 mode for me works decently alongside DSLRs as I always convert using Cineform.

One other major plus for the HPX is when using the 10 second cache recording feature when filming documentary style footage. If something happens, hit record and you've automatically recorded the last ten seconds before hitting the button. Of course you should be generally pointed in the right direction...

I like the auto focus for its ability to generally get the right subject without hunting.

I also really like the very generous recording time of using two 64GB P2 cards in the camera.

One other major like: it's ability to dump to a LaCie Firewire drive without using a laptop. I have done some major trips using the camera and drive for downloading and love the interface. I also like the battery power out of the big Panny batteries. The eBay lithium battery of similar size also lasts a long time.

Great camera, and very tough physically. This thing has survived long trips on the back of a dirt bike inside a Tenba backpack.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 04:15 AM   #7
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Re: are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

@Thane:
You can do what!?:) Transfer data from the card simply by attaching a disk directly to the camera??
How does that work?
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Old July 14th, 2011, 02:14 PM   #8
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Re: are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

Sanjin:

You've had your 170 for how long and never knew this ;-)? RTFM, RTFM, it's too many steps and button pushes to type it out here, that's what the manual is for. If you have a pro piece of gear, you should know how every single feature of the camera works. You may not need all of the features, but you should know, just in case it ever comes up.

It's not difficult, there are few limitations but I have done it in a pinch. But don't forget, you can't shoot while you are transferring to the drive so it is of limited use to many.

Dan
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Old July 14th, 2011, 02:49 PM   #9
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Re: are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Brockett View Post
RTFM, RTFM
Dan
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Old July 16th, 2011, 12:15 PM   #10
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Re: are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

You're a good guy Sanjin, I'm just holding you accountable. I know you love your 170, you just need to know how to use everything you paid for.

Dan
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Old July 17th, 2011, 08:26 AM   #11
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Re: are you a knowledgeable hpx170 user? if so, what is the hpx170 "sweet spot"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sanjin Svajger View Post
I always shoot 1080p even if I'll deliver in 720p. Don't shoot in 720. The camera doesn't have lot's of resolution to toss around - so shot in 1080 and then downconvert to 720. I also found that shooting in 720p introduces aliasing.
It's not as simple as that. You can't really say "shoot in 1080", you have to say shoot in 1080p/25, 1080i/25 etc

In progressive mode at 24/25 frames per second, then 1080p/25 is indeed worth it - albeit at a much higher bitrate. If you want smooth motion, and the choice then becomes 1080i/25 v 720p/50, the decision is not so clear cut.

The cameras resolution is based on 960x540 chips, with pixel shift giving a luminance boost of maybe up to 1.5x overall - so sq rt 1.5 on each axis, or 1.2. That works out to about 1150x650 (which is roughly what can be measured). Hence 1080p recording gives no advantage in the vertical direction over 720p, but horizontally DVCProHD 720 records a 960x720 raster - DVCProHD 1080 records 1280x1080.

So definately able to record a little more horizontal detail - but at a big hit in terms of datarate and hence recording time.
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