diference between Varicam and the 500??? at DVinfo.net

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Old May 5th, 2007, 02:55 PM   #1
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diference between Varicam and the 500???

Can anyone tell me what the difference is between the Varicam and the new 500 cam???
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Old May 5th, 2007, 06:01 PM   #2
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There are many differences, but the key ones I know about are:

- The 500 uses SD chips, altered to produce HD resolution. Varicam is native.
- The 500 records to P2 media. Varicam uses tape.
- Intervalometer feature on the Varicam has many more options.
- Varicam still costs more than twice as much.
- The 500 can record in SD formats (DV50 & 25). The Varicam is HD only.

I'm not sure if the Varicam can do 1080 as well as 720, but the 500 can. The price point of the 500 is surely a bargain. If the image quality holds up to Varicam, that is...
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Old May 5th, 2007, 06:08 PM   #3
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Thanks.

But if i where to shoot a movie for the big screen, would it make any difference in the HD quality???
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Old May 5th, 2007, 06:11 PM   #4
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That's where the question about how good the chips in the 500 comes in. I haven't seen anything recorded with the camera. I'd like to see results of each camera of the same scene shown to me on the same monitor at the same time. I think it's safe to say the 500 won't look as good.
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Old May 5th, 2007, 06:15 PM   #5
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thanks again.

Thanks for the answer. I am trying to choose the right camera for a project that i have. and considered the 500 as a good choice. but i guess its not as good for the laser print.
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Old May 9th, 2007, 09:01 AM   #6
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Dv 25 ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Darling View Post
There are many differences, but the key ones I know about are:

- The 500 uses SD chips, altered to produce HD resolution. Varicam is native.
- The 500 records to P2 media. Varicam uses tape.
- Intervalometer feature on the Varicam has many more options.
- Varicam still costs more than twice as much.
- The 500 can record in SD formats (DV50 & 25). The Varicam is HD only.

I'm not sure if the Varicam can do 1080 as well as 720, but the 500 can. The price point of the 500 is surely a bargain. If the image quality holds up to Varicam, that is...
I thought the 500 only did DV 50 NOT 25. The other element one would have to consider is that the chip set is the same as the SDX 900 Pal with HD capabilities through off-set. Now the 900 is a sweet camera. While the Varicam and the 500 are very different, I'm also interested in getting a serious look at the image quality out-puts. I wouldn't toss this cam out too early on film-out!
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Old May 9th, 2007, 11:00 AM   #7
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The VariCam also has extensive image controls that the 500 doesn't, things like the FILM REC gamma.

The 500 has all the same menus and controls as the HVX200. The VariCam has got substantially more control over its image.

HVX200s and VariCams have been used successfully in the same productions. The 500 is better than the 200 in nearly every way (as you would expect, considering it's about 4x the price) but it's also 1/4 the cost of the VariCam. It's a screaming bargain for a 2/3" camera. It's not "the new VariCam", and the VariCam does many things the 500 doesn't (but the 500 does a few things the VariCam doesn't as well).

The 500 is positioned at the bottom end of Panasonic's 2/3" lineup, and the VariCam is at the top (even though the VariCam is 720p-only, and the 500 is 1080 & 720 & DV/DVCPRO/DVCPRO50, in NTSC & PAL).
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Old May 9th, 2007, 12:02 PM   #8
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Barry: There's a lot of speculation (positive and negative) about the chipset on the 500. do you (or anyone else) have any factual info about what chips they're using...
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Old May 9th, 2007, 06:55 PM   #9
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I have seen quite a lot about these Pana cameras recording in 1080. They do this by" uprezing "an image from at best a 720 imager.
I can take varicam footage and run it though one of several other devices and have it put out a 1080 signal that looks a lot better that any of the voodoo being produced in camera.

Its all about total number of imager pixels when you are trying to produce a movie for distrobution.

If your doing this for profit, have you asked any of the distributors if they will take your product on this format?

Not everyone knocks it out of the park like OPEN WATER, which was done on SD prosumer cameras at best. The amount of money poured into that product to bring it up to release print was quite a lot. Watch the DVDs making of footage,

The 500 might work if your making a piece to self promote. however I feel that most anything shot on this will not make it past the scope when the techies look it over, and if you do have a great gotta haveit product. the distributor will take all of the money out of your side of the deal to correct the problem before you see a dime.

So if it is a for profit product you are trying to turn out. Keep the quality high by spending the money early on by renting the highest quality camera you can, so you can make more of the profit in the deal at the end.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 06:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rosen View Post
Barry: There's a lot of speculation (positive and negative) about the chipset on the 500. do you (or anyone else) have any factual info about what chips they're using...
The Chip set in the 500 is a 620,000 pixel imager that is able to do 60 frames of progressive capture. This is a newly designed chipset, but if you have ever seen the SDX900 blown up to HD, you have a pretty good idea of what it looks like. The nice thing is because of the 2/3" nature of the CCD, there is a beautiful tonality and dynamic range. There is a spatial offset whereby the red and blue channels are phyically offset by 1/2 of a pixel in the horizontal and vertical directions there by covering non-photsenitive areas, the registers. The signals are retimed and combined to gain the extra resolution which is apparent in the luminance area first.

Keep in mind that the output of any CCD is an analog output, and the progressive snapshot that we take of each frame is at 1080P resolution. It is at this point it enters the digital domain. All camera adjustmenst are made at this level and after that we make all other resolutions.

Hope this helps,

Jan
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Old May 10th, 2007, 07:06 PM   #11
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Craig: I make documentaries that often take a year or two to shoot, so rental is out of the question - it would be cheaper for me to buy film and shoot with my super16 Aaton that I've had for 20 years... I just got a doc shot on HDV (Canon XL H1) past broadcast standards (on HDCAM), so I'm not too worried about using DVCPRO HD as a origination medium... But I want something better than the 200.

Jan, thanx for the info on the chips... I have a 500 teetering on order, so now it's just take a breath, jump in and see how cold the water is...
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Old May 10th, 2007, 09:10 PM   #12
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I would be interested to hear if the 500 will be up to the standards of DiscoveryHD?
I know they accept DVCPRO HD from a VariCam (American Choppers) so one could
hope that the 500 with 2/3" chips would be acceptable as well.
And I heard that the BBC will no longer accept 16MM as an origination format.
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Old May 10th, 2007, 11:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Rosen View Post
Barry: There's a lot of speculation (positive and negative) about the chipset on the 500. do you (or anyone else) have any factual info about what chips they're using...
I've almost given up trying to worry about chipsets, because there's simply no way to argue those specs meaningfully. You have to factor in whether it's CMOS or CCD, whether it's interlaced or progressive, densely-packed pixels or large pixels, spatial offset or no, and all sorts of other things. Simple fact is, arguing about these specs is completely meaningless for the extremely vast majority of us, who are simply not educated in the nuances of camera engineering to the point that we can confidently understand the implications of the engineering compromises that go into these things.

I mean, it's like car engines -- we're all guys, we all want to profess that hey, we know cars, and we know that more liters = more power, right? So what happens when Mazda throws a little 2-liter Wankel rotary engine up against the 5-liter Mustang? Er... all of a sudden, comparing numbers doesn't work anymore, right? Or what if you want to compare that 5-liter mustang against a 2.5-liter Mitsubishi EVO? The EVO is quicker, but you'd never guess that from looking at the numbers, if you don't understand the implications of the EVO's turbo. And with the HVX and HPX500, the "turbo" is the spatial offset technology it uses.

Or another example: I have a DVX100 with 0.35 megapixels on it, and I have a Nokia N93 cellphone videocamera with 3.2 megapixels. Almost 10x as many pixels, but do you want to hazard a guess at how many times better the 0.35-megapixel image of the DVX is vs. the 3.2-megapixel image of the N93? Numbers are (almost) irrelevant, unless you're comparing absolutely identical hardware in all other ways -- then the numbers become relevant, and even then they'll impact the technology in more ways than just the obvious.

So instead of obsessing over numbers, I just now look at the images. And I can tell you this: I had the HPX500 and the HPX2000 (Panasonic's current top-of-the-line 1080 camcorder, the same camera head as the HDX900) side by side up at the Iditarod, and I tried my best to calibrate them to deliver comparable results, and the results were nearly identical. Maybe (and I underline "maybe") the 2000 was a tad sharper, but the 500 had a full stop more latitude.

Then I saw the 500 at the NAB booth with the 500 next to the 2000 at the camera comparison. There they had the cameras pointing at the same sets, under the same conditions, with the same monitors, and again if you could see a difference in the images, your eyes are better than mine (and, hey, if you CAN see that difference, go ahead and buy the 2000 if the difference in image is worth the difference in price to you).

You're talking about a 2/3" high-def variable-frame-rate camera that's less than half the cost of its closest competition. Judge it by the images it produces, not by some numbers that (unless you're a trained camera engineer) we're all not really qualified to understand the impact of anyway. :)
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Old May 11th, 2007, 10:26 AM   #14
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Barry: I appreciate your comments, because they are absolutely true... There are a bunch of other analogies I could throw out too (for instance, I drive a 1930 Ford with a 200ci Model B engine - I think you can quess how it would do against a Honda)... The problem is, as you well know, that there are people in places of power who tend to deliver mandates based on cold hard numbers..

Many have posted in the various forums here about the viability of HDV, DVCPRP HD and/or any of the other "less than high end" acquisition mediums and their likelihood of being broadcast or bumped to film... But it is really only a concern if you are contracting to produce for a network, distributor, or developing a series (like American Chopper - not one of my favorites, by the way).

I know from personal experience that if a filmmaker, on his own, makes a stand-alone film and delivers it in a way that complies with standards (ie HDCAM) - and they like the show - they (probably) aren't going to ask what it was shot on...

My question about the chips was based on some comments I read elsewhere by one of those internet "pundits" who said that the chip resolution on the 500 is no better than the 200 because they essentially used the same chips only bigger... That didn't make a lot of engineering sense to me, especially since I know that Panasonic really wants to capture the "indie" mindset.. Steve Rosen
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Old May 11th, 2007, 11:51 AM   #15
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Arguing numbers is a dead-end game though, because a) we aren't necessarily qualified to understand what the numbers mean, and b) the argument slices all sorts of ways.

Here are the kinds of numbers that we should be concerned with:
1) number of stops of dynamic range
2) price tag
3) f-stop sensitivity

etc. As in, things that actually MATTER. Things that make a difference in how you use the product, whether you use the product, etc.

The fun will really begin when Juan Pertierra starts shipping the Hydra, and delivering 2K resolution out of an HVX200. The pixel-counters are going to have a hard, hard time explaining that one. They'll still engage in their "punditry" and expound on how anyone would be silly to buy a lower-pixel-count chip, but ... here's the bigger question: are you buying a camera based on the number of pixels on its chip? If so, you're probably the type who buys a camera based on which one brags that it has the longest "digital zoom" too.

It's tough, because people want to make a logical connection that "more = better". But it doesn't apply that way, and the Andromeda clearly, definitely proves that absolutely and unequivocally. With the Andromeda, Juan Pertierra gets a high-definition image out of the standard-definition 350,000-pixel DVX100, a high-def image that matches and/or exceeds the resolution that can be gotten from its competitors that have 3x as many pixels.

Check out this image:
http://www.icexpo.com/JVCnDVX/ASJ-threecams-res.JPG

That's extractions of a res chart that show a 720x480 DVX100 with Andromeda, a 960x1080 FX1, and a 1280x720 HD100. Can you tell which is which? Is it easy to see which camera has 1/3 (1/3!!!) as many pixels as the other two?
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