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Panasonic P2HD / DVCPRO HD Camcorders
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Old May 29th, 2006, 10:33 PM   #1
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Long Form Review "not so good"

I had a last minute small wedding to shoot, so I decided to use it.
I have the FS-100 also so decided to shoot it in HD. I set the camera to 720p 24f and shot at different frame rates for the setting shots. Even tho you can't play back in camera to see the actual slow or fast motion at least I knew that I had good shots.
The wedding was by the beach at around 6:30PM so lighting was great. Everything was fine until I try manual focus for the procession. The focusing ring has a very electronic feel to it and it is hard for someone use to shoulder cameras to get use to. I tried the auto focus and then camera constantly went to infinity. The good thing is that with the 1/3" ships everything looked in focus. For the rest of the shoot I used it in manual focus. The viewfinder and LCD are totally useless for focusing in a run and gun situation. The only way to do fine focus is by zooming in all the way and use the focus assist.

I also had a problem with the FS-100. As the ceremony ended and the Bride & groom passed by me someone bumped into me and the FS-100 stopped recording. I couldn't get it back working until I reseted everything in the FS-100.

The "90 minute battery" was only good for about 30 minutes of actual recording even tho I turned it off every time that I wasn't recording.

A weird thing also happened, at a point when I was shooting the establishing shots the focus ring was controlling the iris instead of focus. I had to shut down and re-start the camera get it back to normal. I don't know if the FS-100 had anything to do with it or if it was the camera.

I thing that the camera is good for some weddings, but this one was a one camera shoot and it had to be hand held all the time due to the little room to work with. There are a lot of things to drag around and the camera is not exactly easy to hand hold for such long time.

Changing from the FS-100 to the P2 or to tape is not easy either. You can't have the tape in the tape mechanism in order for the FS-100 to work. I was told that you can have the P2 in the slot and still record to the FS-100, but I haven't been able to do it myself.

There are a lot of things that could me better, but I love this camera for what it does good. I like the DVCPRO HD format, the variable frames and the 24P.
For the coverage at weddings I provably stick with my Sony FX1's and use the 200 for special shots.

I love to hear your comments and recommendations if you have a different experience with this camera.
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Old May 29th, 2006, 10:56 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Villalba
The viewfinder and LCD are totally useless for focusing in a run and gun situation.
Did you have the EVF DTL function on? It helps quite a bit, although the only way to really know is to use the focus assist.

Quote:
A weird thing also happened, at a point when I was shooting the establishing shots the focus ring was controlling the iris instead of focus. I had to shut down and re-start the camera get it back to normal. I don't know if the FS-100 had anything to do with it or if it was the camera.
Actually this is a function you can assign to one of the user buttons. It's called FOCUS RING, and if you have the camera in autofocus mode and press that user button, then yes the focus ring will control the iris instead of the focus. Not exactly high on my list of features, but at least you know what caused it now.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 06:51 AM   #3
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I'm working a lot with this camera, and the only good thing I can find about it is its image quality. I just hate to work with it, the DVX is much better to handle. This one is heavy, you have to carry around a laptop and an external hard drive for backups, you can't attach the FS100 to the camera when hand helding because it becomes even heavier and unbalanced, the focus is bad, the zoom is too fast at the slowest speed and too slow at full speed, the VF is too small, too bad in low light... and it looks like a brick (just my opinion).

I'm using it for a documentary but we started shooting with the HD100 for uncontroled situations. We're using the HVX mostly for interviews and when we can use a tripod. Users should be aware that this is not a versatile camera, it's meant to be used under specific situations.

By the way, I lost 2 takes from the P2 cards, I think it happened when one finished and started recording on the other. It happened only once, but I recommend you to check your footage when ever you can. Also, I was told not to disconnect the firewire cable from the FS100 with the camera turned on.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 07:22 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Barry Green
Did you have the EVF DTL function on? It helps quite a bit, although the only way to really know is to use the focus assist.


Actually this is a function you can assign to one of the user buttons. It's called FOCUS RING, and if you have the camera in autofocus mode and press that user button, then yes the focus ring will control the iris instead of the focus. Not exactly high on my list of features, but at least you know what caused it now.
Even with the DTL on it is totally useless to try to focus. The best you can do is manually set the distance by calculating footage.
I am so glad to hear about the focus ring feature, not because I would purposly use it but at least I know it is not broken.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 07:43 AM   #5
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"Actually this is a function you can assign to one of the user buttons. It's called FOCUS RING, and if you have the camera in autofocus mode and press that user button, then yes the focus ring will control the iris instead of the focus. Not exactly high on my list of features, but at least you know what caused it now."

Id say that this feature is a legacy from the DVC30.. I remember getting confused on that unit.. lol

as for the longform versatility, clearly at this time, its NOT a viable camera for this type of project (which is why so many people are jumping ship to JVC land... and teh reason why im biding my time.. ). The uncontrolled environments, as well as duration of requried recordings just doesnt cut it and thats been a known fact for now.. hopefully this will change.. hopefully 3rd partis will get in on the act..

As for the FS100, I have personally trashed the idea of a D2D (for the DVX and Z1) as i have had nothing but probelms with every Firestore ive ever used. The only ones which didnt give me trouble was the FS3 for my DSR570 (havent tried anything else and ot be frank, i dont have the time to deal with issues)
but even with all this, one still requires a storage medium.. imagine shooting a big european wedding, and coming home with 8 to 12 hours worth of raw footag across 2 cameras... now THAT would be a nightmare...
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Old May 30th, 2006, 09:23 AM   #6
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The HVX from it's inception has been hampered as a run-and-gun type camera or anything long-form because of the aforementioned issues.

In reality, these "issues" are really nothing more than characteristics of the camera itself, not problems per se. No camera on the market, video or still, is has a perfect match-to-job functionality for EVERY type of work. It's impossible. (however the RED camera might change this adaptability)

If I had to shoot a wedding with any compact HD/HDV body it would be the Z1 or H1, hands down. However, if the Cineporter were available I'd use my HVX and FOXI focus controller.

As for the Firestore, I concurr with Peter: The Firestore is a problematic device at best and lacks 100% reliability and professional grade functionality.

Focus Enhancements has done a great job of marketing their FS line of products by partnering with all the camera manufacturers, but in real world useage they fall short of the quality and durability of the very cameras they are being co-branded with.

Honestly, if I were Panny, Canon, or JVC I'd have cut direct ties with Focus long ago and forced them to go back to R&D and perfect the FS product line before I'd allow my cameras reputation to be associated with it.

Until the Cineporter arrives and proves itself the only 2 tapeless paths currently available - that work reliably and have good support - are either the P2 or XDCAM systems.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 07:48 PM   #7
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I had better experience with the FS100 than with the P2 cards. It seemed reliable to me, not like the cards that failed on the first hours of usage. As I said on my last post I lost 2 entire takes from them, the files were there but damaged. I tried the repair function but nothing happened.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 10:14 PM   #8
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Diogo,

You might want to hit up Jan from Panasonic up on this one. Most of the time, when I've seen reports of damaged or corrupted files it's been due to user error, not a hardware issue.

That may not be the case in your situation, but to be sure you should have the people at Panasonic look at both your camera and P2 cards to be sure, and have one of them go over proper camera operation to make sure you're not causing the errors caused by improper use.

There are some conditions where you can easily create corrupted P2 files, such as:

- removing the cards while they are "in use"
- turning the camera off during recording
- removing cables or power supply during recording
- attempting to access menu items during recording
- not properly formatting cards prior to use in the camera (many users have improperly formatted cards directly in the PC and then tried to write to them in the camera. It's always best to have the camera do the formatting - when possible)

Like I say, these conditions and others may not apply to your situation but you should have a Panny tech go voer your hardware just to be sure everything is OK.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 03:40 AM   #9
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Hi Diego,

I don't own this camera but it sounds like some of these issues will work themselves out as you aclimate to the camera.

Reading it though I can't help but wish that a boy hvx200 and a girl hd100 would get together and have a HD200 child. It'd combine the best of both cameras.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 06:21 AM   #10
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Brian, that would be a lovely child. lol... actually, I work with both and using the HVX is just a matter of specifications, I can't find much difference on their image quality, just a little more resolution on the HD100.

Robert, thank you for your advices. I made everything by the book, I'm sure it wasn't my mistake. We're waiting for 8GB cards because we're using 4GB ones that Panasonic lent. It happened only once but we will report to Pana if it happens again with the new cards.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 11:17 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Diogo Athouguia
Robert, thank you for your advices.
Be careful. Sometimes it's not too hard for Robert to give you . . . the wrong advices.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 11:20 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Ryan Maes
Be careful. Sometimes it's not too hard for Robert to give you . . . the wrong advices.
Anything in particular come to mind, Ryan?
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Old May 31st, 2006, 11:38 AM   #13
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Be careful. Sometimes it's not too hard for Robert to give you . . . the wrong advices.
C'mon.

This is about information sharing, not making personal comments about a poster who contributes immensely to this board and others.

It also is against board rules.

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Old May 31st, 2006, 04:50 PM   #14
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i found the fs-4 to be very reliable, and well worth the money, but the firestore is probably not the best piece of equipment for beginners, people who aren't technically competent, or those who simply don't have time to mess around with cutting-edge equipment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Villalba
I also had a problem with the FS-100. As the ceremony ended and the Bride & groom passed by me someone bumped into me and the FS-100 stopped recording. I couldn't get it back working until I reseted everything in the FS-100.
more than likely that bump hit the stop button, or it caused your finger to hit the rec button, or it caused the firewire cable to come unplugged... all of which are fully preventable situations.

if you doubt the reliability of your fs-100, run a controlled recording test with it... set up everything on a test bench, so that there are no external influences.
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Old May 31st, 2006, 05:29 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dan Euritt
more than likely that bump hit the stop button, or it caused your finger to hit the rec button, or it caused the firewire cable to come unplugged... all of which are fully preventable situations.

if you doubt the reliability of your fs-100, run a controlled recording test with it... set up everything on a test bench, so that there are no external influences.
I am almost sure that FW cable got loose since I had the FS-100 in my belt clip. It had the keys locked so I know that it wasn't the keys.
I am sure that in a control situation it would work fine as it would in most wedding situations. This was an out of control situation so if something was going to happen, this was the perfect time to happen. :)
I have a question tho. Is there a way to adjust how long the clips are when recording long clips?
I don't know how long my clips were but I know that they were exactly the same length. That may be related to 2Gb limit or something.
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