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Old March 5th, 2012, 02:26 PM   #1
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A couple of questions about Panny HPX170/250 cams

After finally accepting that Canon will never sell an ungraded XL XF line camera in a shoulder mounted style (XL) camera, I'm jumping the Canon ship and headed to Panasonic gear, namely a combo of A/B cams consisting of the HPX250 (A camera) and HPX170 (B camera). My only experience with Panasonic cameras was many years ago with a few weeks work running a DVX100.

I'm hoping someone with real world experience with the HPX line can answer a few questions I have?

From the specs on the HPX170, I'm not seeing that the viewfinder or the LCD is high res.
If this is the case, how do you pull a good focus?
Can an external monitor be setup to help with focus?

What issues if any have you had with using SD cards in the P2 adapters?

On the HPX250, what kind of battery life are you getting with the high capacity batteries?
I edit in Final Cut Studio 3, any issues with importing footage or other issues I need to be aware of?

Thanks ahead of time for your input!
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Last edited by Tyge Floyd; March 5th, 2012 at 06:18 PM.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 07:06 PM   #2
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

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Originally Posted by Tyge Floyd View Post
What issues if any have you had with using SD cards in the P2 adapters?
Biggest issues are you can't!

The adaptors I think you're thinking of are for the Sony cameras, allowing SD cards to be used in the SxS slot.

You may also find the HPX170 and 250 not matching too well, as the 250 has full 1920x1080 chips and the 170 has 960x540. I'd suspect the 170 to look soft compared with the 250. (And the 170 is DVCProHD only - the 250 is really designed to be used with AVC-Intra.) Let alone for the 170 being CCD, the 250 being CMOS.

If you're familiar with Canon, have you looked at the XF300 and 100 as an A/B camera combination? Not shouldermount, true, but no worse handheld ergonomics than what you're considering, and the 300 does have a true manual lens - zoom and iris on the 250 are by servo.

And the Canons don't even need an adaptor to take consumer memory, they accept Compact Flash natively and both have the same fully broadcast compliant codec.
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Old March 5th, 2012, 10:17 PM   #3
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

Thanks for pointing out and clearing up my confusion on the media adapters.

I was leaning toward the HPX250 mainly because of the codec, 100mbs at 4:2:2 is delivering an incredible image. I've seen footage shot on both cameras and the Panny footage blew me away. I have shot a bit with the XF100 and was impressed with it for such a small camera.

Just playing around a bit on B & H today using the wishlist function really didn't settle the argument between the Canon or the Panny. There is less than $1000 difference in a complete rig with 4 hours of memory and batteries. The deciding factor may well end up being the full manual lens on the Canon though. Dang it! I'm right back to second guessing ANOTHER camera upgrade it seems.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 11:14 AM   #4
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

Hey Tyge,
HPX-250 works fine in both DVCPRO 100 and AVCIntra. Matching cameras is interesting (not easily perfect) as the menu controls are different between the HPX-170 and the 250 so you can't just go by numbers with the same adjustment in all cases. Also the difference between chips may show up in color response. Both cameras have HDSDI out and can use/need larger monitor for focusing. Battery Life is a little shorter on the 250. Ratio is about 3 batts on the 250 camera for 2 for 170. Still decent compared to my HPX-2000 which is very demanding.
As far as Final Cut Studio 3 and AVC Intra Intel machines only. Here is a link for what you are looking at

Final Cut Pro 7 Professional Formats and Workflows
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Old March 6th, 2012, 06:58 PM   #5
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

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I was leaning toward the HPX250 mainly because of the codec, 100mbs at 4:2:2 is delivering an incredible image.
Codec wise there's nothing to choose between the HPX250 and the XF305. The codecs are different - but both considered by the EBU to be "quasi-transparent" for acquisition, and both considered fully broadacst compliant. Put more simply, that means that what you record onto them is what you'll see off them without any changes. They won't be responsible for imparting any "look" to a picture, they'll just (accurately) record what's given to them.

Also remember that (as Daniel says) whilst the HPX250 does record AVC-Intra 100, the HPX170 does not - only DVCProHD. And that is only 1280x1080 in 60Hz land.

Nowadays any "look" to a camera is more likely as much down to lineup as physical features. Differing manufacturers tend to favour differing "looks" out of the box - but a reline up could make camera A look as if it was a camera B out of the box.

That may not apply to the 171 though because of the 960x540 chips. Compared to modern cameras that will look soft when intercut with something like the 250 or an XF305, and the temptation may be to enhance detail level - which is what gives the "video" look.
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Old March 6th, 2012, 09:10 PM   #6
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

I appreciate the replies and from the over 48 hours of deep research and cost comparisons not to mention the truly manual/faster lens I think I've made my mind up to stay with Canon and go with the XF300. I wish it would be available in an XL style camera as I know I'm going to truly miss the shoulder mounted aesthetics of that platform but alas, Canon has left me no choice but to shoot the XF300.

You can bet your sweet petunias that as soon as I submit my order for the XF300 to B & H the Canon XL XF1 will be announced within days! hahaha

Thanks again folks, great community here.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 02:10 AM   #7
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

It's a real shame that Panny didn't put a better lens in front of the HPX250. And in "better" I mean manual. Most of the time the only reason that people opt for the XF300/5 instead of the HPX250 is because of the lens. I wonder if they're banging their heads over at Panasonic because of this. Maybe they'll learn something out of it. They've never actually put much effort in their sub-10k cameras market lens department. One thing that I hate about my HPX171 is the lens. It losses focus if zoomed out and zoomed back in and I hate the serve focus ring!:)

I have shoot with the Canon XF305 though and I must say that I hated it's zoom! It's awful. It feels kinda semi servo like. And if I would have to chose between the zoom ring on the XF or the zoom on the HPX I would chose the zoom on the HPX in a heart beat. When shooting with such a small sensor I would rather have a nice zoom ring than a nice focus ring - if I would have to chose. When shooting with a big sensor vice-versa.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 06:11 AM   #8
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

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Originally Posted by Sanjin Svajger View Post
It's a real shame that Panny didn't put a better lens in front of the HPX250. ......... I wonder if they're banging their heads over at Panasonic because of this. Maybe they'll learn something out of it.
Speculation mode on.

I suspect the front end of the 250 was really primarily designed for it's AVCCAM range, in the AC130, and in terms of price/performance that's pretty well what I'd expect overall. I also suspect that they are aware that whilst P2 is less of a problem in the higher ranges, that is not the case at the lower end of the range. They COULD have made the 250 with a better lens - but it would likely have added a lot onto the price, especially with regard to development costs.

As Tyge found out with his comparisons: ".....is less than $1000 difference in a complete rig with 4 hours of memory and batteries". If Panasonic had developed the 250 with a better lens, it would have almost certainly have made it not viable versus the XF300. The purchasers most likely to buy the HPX250 are those who are heavily invested in P2 systems, and want a small camera to go with their shouldermounts. For them, the 250 fits the bill well. If (like Tyge) you're buying a complete outfit of mid range cameras with no legacy issues, the XF300 must be a better bet.

The real question is what you may expect in the future. My personal guess is that it should be possible to now record 100Mbs reliably to modern SDXC cards, and if they were to bring out a new camera with manual lens, and AVC-Intra to SDXC, they may be able to compete against the XF300 on a more even footing. That may be seen as something of an abandonment of P2, and the problem may be it would adversely affect higher end sales. And there is a recession on, so we'll see.

Speculation mode off.

To Tyge. I fully agree with what you say about form factor - the XF300 is not good in this respect, at least hand held. But the 250 isn't any better........ What about the EX3? Not as good as true shouldermount, but a bit more XL like, maybe?
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Old March 7th, 2012, 07:27 AM   #9
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

I agree. If I didn't have batteries and P2 cards left from the 171 I would definetly buy the XF300.
XF300 cost 1k more but adding P2 cost to the equation adds up. But you get the benefit of a totaly reliable media and a 100Mbit I-frame codec. People seem to forget that when talking about the price of P2 versus CF. If this doesn't mean anything to the producer then CF is the way to go. Othervise go with P2. But this has been discussed to death so no point in discussing it again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
To Tyge. I fully agree with what you say about form factor - the XF300 is not good in this respect, at least hand held. But the 250 isn't any better........ What about the EX3? Not as good as true shouldermount, but a bit more XL like, maybe?
I agree. If he's looking at something similiar to XL series of cams EX3 is in all intends and purpuses the upgrade to the XL series he is waiting. The only difference being that the upgrade didn't came from Canon but from Sony.

Tyge, you really should consider EX3. You can get a good deal on a used one probably.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 08:41 AM   #10
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

I looked at the EX3, even rented one for a local shoot last year just to see if it would work for me. I really like the 1/2" chips on that camera but several features on that camera helped me scratch it from the list of replacements for my XL H1a.

Number one is the "shoulder mount". It's not a shoulder mount. It almost is, but you still need to buy an additional gadget to add to the camera to make it more like what I'm used to shooting. Quite frankly I think Sony really missed the boat on this camera's form factor. It's less than impressive.

Secondly was the SxS cards, they are the most expensive pro media format available. I considered using the SD card adapters to save some money on memory but decided that could become a headache. If I'm going completely tapeless (Been running a Sony MRC1 recorder for 2 years with the XL H1a), I want a more secure media in the camera, like compact flash/P2/SxS.

But the real deal killer for me on the EX3 is the lens. It just doesn't have enough reach for me. I shoot 95% of all of my video outdoors and coming from 3 generations of Canon XL cameras with 20x optical zoom I knew I would be hating life if I only had the 14x of the EX3.

Thanks again for the discussion on these cameras. You guys rock.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 12:14 PM   #11
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

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Originally Posted by Sanjin Svajger View Post
But you get the benefit of a totaly reliable media and a 100Mbit I-frame codec. People seem to forget that when talking about the price of P2 versus CF
Sorry, but I just don't accept that P2 media is any more intrinsically reliable than CF. (As long as you get your memory from a reliable source and don't go for unbranded cheap deals.) Compact Flash has been the norm for professional stills for years now, with exceptionally low failure rates. I know one photographer who washed his trousers with a CF card in the pocket - not only was the card OK, but so were the images. There is also a tale of a camera rescued by a scuba diver after a year in salt water. Not surprisingly, the camera was a write off, but the memory card was still OK, and because the data was still readable it got reunited with it's owner! ( Google+ helps camera find its owner: Markus Thompson British Columbia Canon EOS 1000D | Mail Online ) And that was SD, not even CF!

And you seem to think I-frame only is a good thing? In practice, the main implication is that it means a much higher data rate to get the same quality - so you need even more memory for the same run time, and it needs to be higher speed, so more expensive per GB.......

Long-GOP may have got a bad name at low bitrates, but above a certain level it's a totally different story. It takes advantage of frame by frame redundancies to give better quality and/or lower datarates than I-frame only
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyge Floyd
I really like the 1/2" chips on that camera but several features on that camera helped me scratch it from the list of replacements for my XL H1a.

Number one is the "shoulder mount". It's not a shoulder mount. It almost is, but you still need to buy an additional gadget to add to the camera to make it more like what I'm used to .........
Before you do anything irrevocable, have you looked at the Sony PMW320? It's bit more expensive than the EX3, but is proper shouldermount. Like the EX3, it's also interchangeable lens (which the XF300 and HPX250 are not) so if you really wanted a tight lens there are always the options of using still camera lenses with an adaptor. Yes, more expense still ( :-) ) but just a thought.....!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyge Floyd
.......the SxS cards, they are the most expensive pro media format available
Worth remembering that even if that's true on a per GB basis, it's different when you look at them on a runtime basis. (This is the advantage of long-GOP) So to get an hour of AVC-Intra 100 on P2 you need a 64GB card,to get the hour on SXS at 50Mbs you only need a 32GB card.

And with the EX codec a 16GB card will give about 50 minutes.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 12:21 PM   #12
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

I would love to shoot a PMW 320 but unfortunately the going daily rate in my industry the camera doesn't make it into the budget financially.
(Thanks to every Tom, Dick and Harry in the country now owning an HD camcorder and calling themselves cameramen thus diluting the cameraman market. LOL)
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Old March 7th, 2012, 12:33 PM   #13
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

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Sorry, but I just don't accept that P2 media is any more intrinsically reliable than CF. (As long as you get your memory from a reliable source and don't go for unbranded cheap deals.) Compact Flash has been the norm for professional stills for years now, with exceptionally low failure rates. I know one photographer who washed his trousers with a CF card in the pocket - not only was the card OK, but so were the images. There is also a tale of a camera rescued by a scuba diver after a year in salt water. Not surprisingly, the camera was a write off, but the memory card was still OK, and because the data was still readable it got reunited with it's owner! ( Google+ helps camera find its owner: Markus Thompson British Columbia Canon EOS 1000D | Mail Online ) And that was SD, not even CF!

And you seem to think I-frame only is a good thing? In practice, the main implication is that it means a much higher data rate to get the same quality - so you need even more memory for the same run time, and it needs to be higher speed, so more expensive per GB.......

Long-GOP may have got a bad name at low bitrates, but above a certain level it's a totally different story. It takes advantage of frame by frame redundancies to give better quality and/or lower datarates than I-frame only
If I have the option, I rather shoot with I-frame then long-gop. But it all depends on the type of work you're doing and the budget. Tyge didn't say what he intend to shoot with the camera. Narrative, ENG, docu, weddings, events, etc... ?

Reliability means a lot to me as a producer when it comes to recording media. I still think that no matter what anybody says about CF vs P2, I say that P2 is more reliable. But probably not so much more that it justifies it's cost. P2 is meant for high end. It's where it belongs. It doesn't belong in the sub 10k market if you ask me. CF and SSD disks and SD belongs there. Why Panasonic has such a high-end media in such a cheap camcorder, well that's another discussion altogether. I think they made a mistake when they introduced it in the HVX. All that they got now is legacy problems with people heavily invested in P2. They could have introduced 2 HPX251 versions. One with CF and the other with P2 if you think about it.
An HPX250 with CF would probably sell very nicely. Even if would cost the same as the P2 version it would still probably trump the XF line of camcorders in sales revenue...

Tyge: you can always get an extender and put it on the front end. But if the form factor doesn't suit you then there's no point.
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Old March 7th, 2012, 01:24 PM   #14
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

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Reliability means a lot to me as a producer when it comes to recording media.
But as a final thought from me as we're getting off topic, then just consider how a cameraman may make use of his material. In the days of tape, it was simple, the tape was handed over and the cameraman and producer parted.

With solid state it all starts to get more complicated, and yes, everybody's requirements are different. But with 50Mbs and CF, it starts to become feasible for a producer to own his media for the cameraman to shoot onto and then hand back at the end of the day. It's back to the simplicity of when working on tape. That's feasible with 50Mbs and CF - much less so with 100Mbs and P2. Whatever the physical reliabilities (and I'd say P2 and CF are both very good here), it's a far more reliable workflow than transferring data and reformatting cards in the field.
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Old March 8th, 2012, 03:16 PM   #15
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Re: A couple of questions about Panny XPX170/250 cams

I would say that my experience with Compact Flash with my Canon 7D and P2 with HPX500, HPX 170, HPX 2000 and HPX 250 is in favor of P2 for reliability. Have had different cards in my 7D with issues so I wouldn't want to rely on the producers card nor want to use a new one without testing it first. No major foul ups but enough things to tip the balance towards P2 on that score.
It would be nice to be able to hand off the cards to the producer and just charge them like we did with tape but I think copying the footage and giving it to them has become a pretty inexpensive cost compared to tape so it will likely continue for a little while longer.
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