just rented HVX200...pros and cons... at DVinfo.net

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Old February 4th, 2006, 12:28 PM   #1
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just rented HVX200...pros and cons...

I've read so much about this camera that I just had to rent it the day it arrived in Boston. Having used the Panasonic DVX100 already, I was very interested to try out the one everyone has been talking about so much for nearly a year. I will soon be posting some clips of what I shot.

Along the way, I will be making some comparisons with the Sony Z1 which I also tried out a while back.

What I loved!!!
- Multiple recording formats. Did some shooting in 1080p, a lot of shooting in 720p, especially 720 24pn (progressive native).

- Variable frame rates in 720p mode. Shot at 12fps , 48fps, and 60fps. The slow motion look at 60fps was magnificent!!! It's given me so many ideas.

- P2 cards: Importing P2 footage into FCP 5 was a snap. Wonderful to be able to skip the whole log and capture part!!! No problems at all!!!

- Switching between Camera mode, playback mode, and hard drive mode is also effortless.

- Camera was also easy to hold, shorter and wider than Sony Z1, so not as nose heavy.


What I didn't like:

- Camera's performance in low light. Still ok at 6db. But at 12db, noise was atrocious. I found I often had to use the 1/24 shutter speed setting to get a brighter picture. I got a cleaner low light picture with the Sony Z1.

- Chromatic aberration: I found the HVX200 to suffer from the same chromatic aberration issue that afflicts the Sony Z1 / FX1 in wide angle mode when zoomed out all the way. Point this camera at a door frame and you can see the door frame curve outward. OK, let's not forget that this not a $100,000 camera with a $40,000 lens. It's $6,000 camera and gives a magnificent picture for the price. Maybe it's just a question of zooming in a little to avoid the chromatic aberration issue.

- Low-rez LCD screen makes it hard to focus accurately. Here again, I found it a lot easier to focus with the high-res LCD screen of the Sony Z1. I wish Panasonic had given us a high-res LCD screen. They should definitely do this in the next version.

- Complex menu navigation: Takes a while to get used to, and the navigation buttons can be confusing.

- Battery performance: Fully charged batteries ran out quite fast. I was given three fully charged batteries, two CGP-D28s and a CGA-D54s. The CGA lasted about about an hour, and the CGPs lasted half an hour each. I had the LCD screen always open when shooting.

Conclusion: the HVX200 will clearly give you options no other camera has: recording to P2 cards, every conceivable recording format available, uncompressed audio. I am so happy I got the chance to rent it. But as a documentary film maker, I do not need the film look so much. So for my next project, I will be using the Z1.

However, I have a short dramatic 2 minute film in mind, and I know this camera would be ideal in terms of the film look and variable frame rate.

I will soon be posting some clips.

Last edited by Nicholas Natteau; February 4th, 2006 at 10:58 PM.
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Old February 4th, 2006, 12:57 PM   #2
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Thanks for your review.

It is a 1/3" CCD camera.

I don't believe you'll find many of us (if any) using any gain on any 1/3 camera.

My concern is noise at 0 dB. From what I hear, it's just as good as the rest of the 1/3" except for the Sony which has lower noise.
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Old February 4th, 2006, 03:09 PM   #3
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Hi Steven,

At 0db, it's fine, even at 6db. The problem is only at 12db.

Just another follow up here. You can truly get beautiful pictures with this camera, and the look it's definitely very filmic. The P2 card is definitely what I enjoyed most. It saves so much time not having to log.

I must say, the slow mode at 60p in 720 24pn is stunning!

Last edited by Nicholas Natteau; February 4th, 2006 at 04:51 PM.
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Old February 4th, 2006, 05:52 PM   #4
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What kind of batteries did they give you? The CGR-D54 lasts a good three or three and a half hours...
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Old February 5th, 2006, 01:07 AM   #5
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Is that with or without the LCD open?
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Old February 5th, 2006, 12:00 PM   #6
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Yes correct, with the LCD open.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 01:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicholas Natteau
Yes correct, with the LCD open.
thanks but I was acctually asking Barry. Sorry I wasn't clear. I am trying to determine ehy there is such a huge difference in battery life.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 01:12 PM   #8
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Just wondering, how did you copy from the P2 card to your Mac? Were you on a PowerBook with PCMCIA slot or were you on a desktop with a deck of some sort?

in terms of chromatic abberation, you seem to have it confused with barrel distortion which will usually occur with most wide angle lenses.
CA is a colour fringe that occurs in high contrast areas and is usually the result of a low quality lens - I would be surprised if the lens used on the HVX had that.

thanks
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Old February 5th, 2006, 01:24 PM   #9
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So sorry. You're right. Please disregard what I said about "chromatic aberration", I meant "barrel distortion". Don't know how I got that wrong.

What I meant was that I noticed the same barrel distortion issue with the HVX200 as with Sony Z1.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 06:03 PM   #10
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Confirmation

Forgive my english, I'm french, but I've touched the HVX200 for two days. And I totally agree with Nicholas.
-I confirm that low light performance is worst than on Z1. Maybe because of HDV compresses data as "blocks", noise is less visible than on Intra Coding recording formats. (just a suggestion). the good point is that there is a little bit more details on picture.
- I confirm that LCD is poor, poor, poor (as bad as on JVC HD100...)
- About the complex menu navigation : for myself, it's because of the bad place for the buttons which are turned 90° from screen and under the handle.
- About battery life: mine was Ok for 2 hours shooting.

What I loved too:
Same points than Nicholas: enthoutiastic!
I just add that I tried to downconvert and that is quiete the better downconverting I've ever tested from HD to DV.

About Editing:
-I work both on Premiere Pro (wich is not supported), FCP and Edius with a bęta of the Broadcast version for P2. I prefer Edius in the way of FCP "converts P2", ( I think the english word is warping to say it encapulate in QT), a thing that doesn't do Edius: you can directly Edit without a second to wait.
-FCP doesn't like network import(for exemple you copy P2 "content" directory on PC and you want to store on a NAS). FCP displays that P2 files are corrupted. Edius does without a problem. But as Edius still misses a lot of abilities. Editing P2 is not yet OK for me. I need a mix between the two softs.
-I was deceived by the time to copy files: 4GB on P2, 4mn to copy on my drive. You'd rather Edit directly on p2 card.
So, as everybody, I wait for larger P2 cards.

Conclusion: this camcorder is the only product to give such options. It's really innovative too and give excellent results. After hours, I was really really enthousiast. But a little time as to pass, just for the editing tool to be ready, or just to have the ability to buy a Cineporter and edit with it.
Regards from Paris.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 07:58 PM   #11
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Eric, have you bought the Ntsc version? Why? Do you think it works well for Pal users (or secam like in France?)
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Old February 5th, 2006, 08:17 PM   #12
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I didn't bought

It was just a sample on test for a review. There's a lot of differences in modes (50i instead of 60 and so on) but with HD coming, only analog devices stay in Secam but all of our Hit is Pal compliant. The only limitation I met is with the downconversion. I had to set my DSR 11 in NTSC to digitilize into my editing soft. But that's all.
But Pal user should buy model. ;-)
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Old February 8th, 2006, 06:23 PM   #13
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The DV Tape really is only MiniDV

I recently got my HVX200... the recording quality is great to P2 cards and even to the MiniDV. I was disappointed to learn that the MiniDV had no HD capabilities (playback or record), which meant that for 720 and 1080 modes, I am limited to P2 and (presumably) Firewire. Not being able to record HDV mode to tape is very disappointing since the P2 cards fill up quickly.

Maybe next year's model will have an HDV tape drive (and of course a better LCD display).
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Old February 8th, 2006, 09:42 PM   #14
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Panasonic is not a member of the HDV consortium, therefore they will not have an HDV tape transport in their camcorders. I suppose they can always choose to join the HDV group, but I doubt that will happen.
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Old February 8th, 2006, 09:48 PM   #15
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Chris, sorry if this is off topic, but do you know which other manufacturers are part of the DVCProHD consortium? I remember reading somewhere that Canon and other manufacturers were a part of it, but if they were, wouldn't they utilize it?
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