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Old March 12th, 2007, 09:22 PM   #1
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HPX500 Teaser

I can't reveal any specifics yet (wait for NAB) however, I can tell you that after reading the pre-production ops manual I can easily say this: If you're an HVX200 fan you're going to absolutely love the HPX500.

The menu options and structure is very HVX-like so getting around the menus will be a snap and, the orientation of the menu navigation buttons makes more sense because of their placement on the camera body.

The 500 also adds much-missed audio controls and features commonly found on ENG-type pro-bodies that the 200 just can't offer not to mention a host of lens and setup goodies that all of us HVX-users have been dreaming about. There are also other features specific to the 500 that will make custom image control presets even more dreamy than the HVX is capable of, not just because it's a 2/3" inch camera but because Panny has added a few key features normally only found on bodies costing more than double the price.

Yes, it absolutely shoots VFR; yes, it absolutely has gamma/WB and other image controls that are HVX-like (many were wondering if it would or not); and yes, it really is the HVX's big brother - and then some.

Again, I'm not allowed to spill specific details on any of this, just know that if you've been considering what the next step-up from the HVX would be or, considering whether or not an HVX-type camera would be for you I'd highly suggest waiting for NAB and all the details that will be released.

As mentioned in another thread I'll be shooting some demo footage this week with the 500 but not sure I'll be allowed to share it prior to NAB. If I can, I will - trust me!!
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Old March 12th, 2007, 11:41 PM   #2
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what is the native res of CCD..?

the biggest issue with the HVX is its lack of sharpness.. just curious how this fares considering its also DVCProHD..
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Old March 13th, 2007, 05:58 AM   #3
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What's the secrecy? The cameras brochure is downloadable and Panasonic have already released a lot of specs, including CCD details in press releases.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 08:32 AM   #4
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As I say, I'm not allowed to release detailed specs until Jan gives the green light but suffice it to say you won't have any sharpness complaints about this camera. Once I'm allowed to post sample clips you'll see for yourself.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 08:44 AM   #5
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But Robert, the CCD specs were publically released ages ago as were most of the other specs. It is even well known that the camera will come with four 16gb P2 cards as part of the package.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 08:52 AM   #6
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So Robert - What lens are you going to buy for yours?

Last edited by Guest; March 13th, 2007 at 09:41 AM.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 09:37 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Simon Wyndham View Post
But Robert, the CCD specs were publically released ages ago as were most of the other specs. It is even well known that the camera will come with four 16gb P2 cards as part of the package.
Prolly coz Pana knows that we'll be waiting another 2 years for 64gb cards to come out..

LOL more than likely, most of the cost of the camera wil be to these cards themselves..
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Old March 13th, 2007, 10:22 AM   #8
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The neatest thing I see so far is the possibility of an all-optical 35mm solution, because of the Chromatic Aberration Compensation (CAC) function. However, now you're pushing into the price range of RED.

Panasonic, give us an HVX-sized cam with CAC, image flip, better audio controls, and better focus enhancement (FE on an ext. monitor?). Price that under $8k. And don't hold back on the 64GB P2 cards.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 04:45 PM   #9
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So Robert - What lens are you going to buy for yours?
The camera has a Chroma Abberation Circuit that allows it to work with CAC lenses. There is a builtin algorithim in the camera for each of these lenses. There are a number from Fujinon and from Canon.

I will say that when we put a prime lens on it, it really popped.

And the secrecy is more about other things and saving the splash for NAB.

Yes I do believe that the Australians released the CCD count, which is a 620,000 PAL SDX900 chip set. To that we add the horizontal and vertical Spatial offset like we do in the HVX and viola, we have this camera. It is a feature rich camera and I think folks will really like it if they are looking for a larger shoulder mount camera.

All the best,


Jan
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Old March 13th, 2007, 05:24 PM   #10
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So Robert - What lens are you going to buy for yours?
I just got the unit this afternoon and haven't had time to shoot it yet, so I won't have an idea about lenses until after this week. However, I don't plan on a heavy investment of HD-spec lenses, instead I'll probably use one of the Canon CAC lenses (like the one this came with) and the rest will be invested in the Zacuto lens adapter system instead so I can get my "film-like" DOF from the body.

I wish this one was "mine" - it's going to be like pulling teeth having to return it to Jan.
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Old March 19th, 2007, 07:40 PM   #11
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Yes I do believe that the Australians released the CCD count, which is a 620,000 PAL SDX900 chip set. Jan
Oh Jan we're not ones to spoil a party! More like helping to get the party started. ;-)

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Old March 20th, 2007, 03:08 AM   #12
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So roughly half the number of pixels of an A1, and only a handfull more than the HVX, what a buzzkill. Hopefully this cam will have awesome low light capabillity like the HVX should have had but somehow didn't. Venting here, but how does a sony 450 have a million pixels per chip for an SD cam and the Panny has 2/3rds that number for HD? I'm over pixel shift, it's a technology that allows manufacturers to put legacy parts in "Cutting Edge" products.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 11:59 AM   #13
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The 500 is designed for those who want the next logical step up from a handheld camera with all the professional 2/3" inch features (especially audio and lens controls) but don't want to break the bank in acquiring it. In order to get a sub-$20k camera compromises had to be made somewhere and pixel-shifting chips is one of the most cost-effective and logical ways to do it.

If you think about it, the 500 is a very unique camera; it is in fact the ONLY 2/3" inch HD cam that will sell for less than $20k. It's closest competitor would be the F350L, but that's 1/2" inch mount, and even though Sony recently lowered the price, it's still a $24k body.

The good news is, if you don't want pixel shifting and instead want native mega-pixel imagers in a 2/3" inch mount you've got the HPX2000; the bad news it's about double the cost of the 500. Mega-pixel HD-spec imagers 'aint cheap, so least Panny is offering two very cost-effective pro-body options that so far, have no direct rival.
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Old March 20th, 2007, 12:36 PM   #14
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So roughly half the number of pixels of an A1, and only a handfull more than the HVX, what a buzzkill. Hopefully this cam will have awesome low light capabillity like the HVX should have had but somehow didn't. Venting here, but how does a sony 450 have a million pixels per chip for an SD cam and the Panny has 2/3rds that number for HD? I'm over pixel shift, it's a technology that allows manufacturers to put legacy parts in "Cutting Edge" products.
Hi,

From your rant, I surmise that you think that a million pixel imager is the way to go and that anything less is a huge trade off and will not make the mark. Well I have to say that pixel count is only a very small part of making an image in a camera, the CCD is an Analog Device. A single chip CMOS with a Bayer filter is not going to give you better resolution or low light handling than a 2/3" CCD. And a small 1/3" million pixel imager will give vastly more artifacts than a 2/3" with fewer. Which is better? Look at the pictures they make should be easy.

I am assuming that with the 450 comment you really mean the Sony XDCAM 350? or am I missing a camera here; it is a 1/2" chip set with a Long GoP recording scheme. I'd be happy to put the HPX500 up against it.

Anyhow I have seen this camera as have others and the pictures it makes will probably sell every one we can make.

Best,

Jan
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Old March 20th, 2007, 05:09 PM   #15
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More Details

Here's some more details about actual camera usage; the following had to be approved directly by Jan, so if you have questions about more specific information than what is listed below you'll have to wait for NAB:

Now that I've had actual shoot-time with the 500 I can tell you a bit more about why HVX users will like it and, why I'd recommend it for anyone thinking about either upgrading or, even making the 500 their first HD camera. Again, I can't go into details about specs or any other info that has not already been publicly published including what the "business side" controls are like, but I can relate the overall experience and imagery results. Keep in mind, this was using a pre-production model - a hand-built from Japan - so I'd expect small details to change prior to production.

First is the menu options and structure which is almost identical to the HVX in both respects. Because this is a full-ENG rig there are many more options for both audio and lens options and deeper controls for setting up custom color/color correction and of course the ability to record to all 4 audio channels not just 2 as in the 200.

I was not able to test audio so I can't comment on that however I did notice the on-camera mic that came with the rig (don't know what model#) had good sensitivity and was very natural sounding.

Of course the big thing everybody wants to know is, "How good is the imagery?" Is it better than the HVX200 - significant enough to warrant the upgrade? The quick answer is a resounding, "Yes". I did not have time to really put the unit through it's paces as I had planned to get some true HD-spec glass or primes mounted to the 500, unfortunately all the true HD-spec glass in my area was either already being rented out or was cost-prohibitive for just a test shoot. Suffice it to say, there is more fine detail, much less noise, better overall color and of course the typical DOF characteristics common to 2/3" inch cameras.

Speaking of lenses, the camera came with a new CAC (Chromatic Aberration Correction) lens from Canon. Like the camera, the new Canon is not yet publicly released and I didn't have a spec-sheet for the lens itself but it was a very good performer for it's intended usage. The Canon had great telephoto range including a built-in optical 2x tele-converter common to ENG lenses and the CAC circuity that talks to the 500 to electronically correct for CA. What was apparent however, was that the camera was capable of better imagery than the supplied Canon was capable of delivering, hence my disappointment that I didn't have better glass to mount up. Being an ENG-type body also means there is no auto-focus option however for someone like myself who prefers manual camera controls AF isn't missed, on the contrary having true manual controls for everything is a bonus rather than the "virtual" focus ring of the 200 which is common among the handheld cams.

It should be pointed out however, that while the 500 uses 2/3" inch lenses and does have better DOF characteristics than the 200 or other 1/3" inch handhelds, it still cannot produce the ultra-shallow "film-like" DOF that most indie producers want without the use of either the P+S Pro-35 adapter or, the upcoming Zacuto Lens Adapter system (which interestingly enough is designed to work with BOTH the handheld cams and the 2/3" inch bodies). At some point when I have my own personal unit I'll be testing things such as custom color and DOF with the 2/3" inch primes but that won't be until late summer.

The camera came with an SD 2" viewfinder similar to what the SDX900 uses and the camera has a "focus assist" button which aids in critical focusing if you're not used to using an SD finder. I found that after about 10 minutes of seeing things in that SD finder that the "focus assist" wasn't required and had it turned off most of the time. Like all ENG finders the one on the 500 has a "peaking/sharpness" control combined with brightness and contrast settings properly adjusted allows for fast and easy snap-focusing.

I've never used any camera that had such near-perfect Auto White Balance; there were several times when I did NOT use a white-card/warm-card and simply let the camera AWB on the actual scene - and it nailed it! That's a first since most of the time getting a good AWB *usually* needs to be done with either a card or, a known reference point, but the 500 was able to find a natural white point on it's own.

The cam shipped with an AB Hytron 120 and on average had about 3 1/2 hours of runtime; the weight of that brick made for a nicely balanced shoulder mount. The quick-release tripod plate was rock-solid and never wiggled once.

In all, the 500 was a dream to use and performed better than I expected. In fact, considering the true capabilities of this new camera I'm absolutely amazed that Panny can bring it to market at such an affordable price-point. Based on it's feature-set alone, I'd have expected the 500 to be at least a $25k body and the HPX2000 to be a $40k body, so to think this will land *somewhere* between $12-15k is a steal, from my perspective.

Most HVX shooters have not ever used a full-on pro ENG rig and as such might feel a bit overwhelmed by stepping up to the HPX500 and all it's manual controls and added pro-level features however, since the menus and other camera operations are very HVX-like the learning curve will be very short and HVX users will find their comfort zone very quickly. Shooters who are used to fully manual operations of pro ENG bodies will be right at home with the 500 and be amazed by it's performance and user-friendly setups.

In short, this camera is a must-have if you're serious about any type of HD work based on a system that you can grow into and not be constantly hitting the wall with a handheld's built-in limitations.

And with respect to cost, here's a perspective to keep in mind: I spent about $25k on my HVX rig with pro-like capabilities (external monitor, Zacuto system, matte-box etc, batts, manual lens controls, etc). That same amount of money would get me a nicely configured HPX500 with far more capabilities, better manual controls and, no external monitor required for critical focus. Now that's a system I can live with for years to come.
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