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Old May 31st, 2007, 12:08 PM   #1
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Lower Cost Alternative to P2

I'm in the market for a new camera, and I'm deciding between one of the XDCAM HD camcorders and the HPX500...

The thing holding me back from the HPX500 is that the P2 workflow will not work "comfortably" for me - that is to say I could get it to work, but it would be considerably less convenient than the Sony Professional Media (unless I spend huge amounts that I don't have on P2 cards)

So, with ExpressCard Flash Memory already available for considerably less than equivalent sized P2 cards (and supporting presumably adequate write speeds of more than 170mb/s) is there any way that one could use an adaptor such as this: http://www.elandigitalsystems.com/expresscard/eca16.php to bung a more economically priced bit of memory into the camera?

I know P2 cards have a little RAID of flash cards going on inside, but I don't remember whether P2 is a totally proprietary interface or not...
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Old June 1st, 2007, 10:37 AM   #2
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Alex:

As pointed out elsewhere, there is more to the p2 cards than a RAID and a controller.

You might want to consider a FS-100 from Focus.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 10:47 AM   #3
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hm, interesting if it works in the future.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 11:10 AM   #4
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Alex,

You cannot use any media adapter into the PCMCIA type-II slots in the P2 cameras; the P2 cards themselves have controller software that the camera is looking to communicate with.

If media type alone is your main concern then wait for the next-gen of XDCAM cameras to be released as see what you think, but regardless if it's the current crop or the new SxS-memory camera that's coming there is still a world of difference between the HPX500 and any XDCAM system with all the major benefits in favor of the 500.

Without making this thread painfully long, research these differences between the cameras and systems:

- Long-GOP vs. "i"-frame codec
- Lens choices - or the fact that the new XDCAM is a fixed-lens camera
- Formats available on the camera
- Methods for getting your footage off the either the memory cards or Blu-Ray disks
- Color space.

This is a good start.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 02:33 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input guys.

This really is a challenging decision...

I love the XDCAM (disk) workflow. The image from the F330/F350 looks great. I have no problems with long-GOP (I've worked with both XDCAM and DVCProHD and from experience I know the image quality and ability to pull keys is actually VERY similar) and I like the fact that XDCAM HD takes up less storage space.

On the other side I absolutely adore the Panasonic colorometry and gamma curves. The ability to under/over-crank is very desirable. I hear the focus assist is exceptionally good (especially given the challenges with the viewfinder on the F330). And the 2/3in CCDs provide greater dynamic range and shallower depth of focus.

If I go for XDCAM I get great image and better workflow.
If I go for DVCProHD I get better image but less convenient (for me) workflow.

Unfortunately Panasonic in the UK have pitched the camera CONSIDERABLY more expensive than it is in the US...

F330 (body only) = 7,300GBP ($14,450)
F350 (body only) = 10,500GBP ($20,800)
HPX500 (body + 4 cards) = 9,915GBP ($19,650)

So I have to REALLY want this camera (which I do, bar the P2 workflow)...

This is tough!
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Old June 1st, 2007, 03:14 PM   #6
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I must admit I'm having a hard time finding how the XDCAM workflow is in anyway easier than P2; both are tapeless, re-usable-type media, one is spinning disk the other solid-state. XDCAM requires either using the camera or a deck to get your footage, P2 doesn't require either and in fact has several more options to getting your clips. I could mention a host more but I'd need to understand your objections to P2 before I could offer solutions.
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Old June 1st, 2007, 03:40 PM   #7
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My problem with P2 is that for many projects (documentary and instructional guides) I may be working 12 hour days, averaging 2 to 3 hours recorded footage per day.

There are rarely long breaks, and when we're not filming I'm setting up, striking, or traveling. I rarely have an assistant and my producer is usually focussed on scripts or the talent, we're often abroad (so travelling a light as possible), and I'm usually too knackered at the end of the day to start reviewing or transferring footage.

Often I will work 3 5 days like this, sometimes arriving home with more than 20 hours of recorded footage!

20 hours of XDCAM HD disks = 400 GBP ($790)
extra 19 hours of P2 cards = 38,000 GBP ($75,300)
extra 2 hours of P2 cards + 10 x 120GB HDs = 4,600 GBP ($9,100)

If I want to work with P2 I have to modify the way I (currently) work. It may be possible, but it's a decision I have to make about where I am comfortable making compromises, and given that the HPX500 is barely cheaper than the F350 over here in the UK, adding an extra 5kGBP for media pushes the price way up!
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Old June 1st, 2007, 06:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Leith View Post
My problem with P2 is that for many projects (documentary and instructional guides) I may be working 12 hour days, averaging 2 to 3 hours recorded footage per day.

There are rarely long breaks, and when we're not filming I'm setting up, striking, or traveling. I rarely have an assistant and my producer is usually focussed on scripts or the talent, we're often abroad (so travelling a light as possible), and I'm usually too knackered at the end of the day to start reviewing or transferring footage.

Often I will work 3 5 days like this, sometimes arriving home with more than 20 hours of recorded footage!

20 hours of XDCAM HD disks = 400 GBP ($790)
extra 19 hours of P2 cards = 38,000 GBP ($75,300)
extra 2 hours of P2 cards + 10 x 120GB HDs = 4,600 GBP ($9,100)

If I want to work with P2 I have to modify the way I (currently) work. It may be possible, but it's a decision I have to make about where I am comfortable making compromises, and given that the HPX500 is barely cheaper than the F350 over here in the UK, adding an extra 5kGBP for media pushes the price way up!
Playing devil's advocate, you wouldn't go out with 75 grand of P2 cards. You would factor in backing up each day/night to firewire drives on location. I have the same issues, but buying 20 hours of P2 cards is not even practical to be considered.

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Old June 1st, 2007, 09:51 PM   #9
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For anyone who's shot super16mm film at $134 per 10 minute roll plus about $400 for processing and transfer to BetaSP (not even taking account transfer to, say, HDCAM) the cost of these cards isn't all that prohibitive... We are talking about professional production after all - and the cards, unlike film, are reuseable...

Of course I will welcome the day when the costs come down and the capacity goes up, like everyone here - meanwhile the price of shooting film is going up at a geometric rate.. so latching onto this technology shouldn't scare anyone from an economic point of view... It should be built into the budget, like tape cost...

The real worry comes when investing in a technology that may be eclipsed by another cheaper or more promoted, but not necessarily better technology - the old "VHS vrs Beta" - or HD DVD vrs BlueRay - So now it's P2 vrs whatever it is Sony's pushing - that's the part I hate because we're the suckers whoever wins...
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 02:24 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Peter Corbett View Post
..You would factor in backing up each day/night to firewire drives on location...
Yes, I agree - and that's one of the compromises in my workflow that I'd have to make if P2 is the way to go...
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 02:47 AM   #11
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...latching onto this technology shouldn't scare anyone from an economic point of view... It should be built into the budget, like tape cost...
I think you're right. Of course this technology is cheaper and more convenient than film. And I totally agree that as professionals we shouldn't be under-budgeting or charging artificially low rates as it cheapens the value of our craft. However, many of the projects I work on are worthy, but part self-funded so I'm looking for economy, and I'm sure you'd agree that adding almost $10K above a $20K (over here) camera just to get enough media to get through a normal shooting day is fairly high when coming from a tape background.

I'm looking for two things in the workflow I use: convenience and economy. XDCAM HD has both of those - the disk are cheap, random access, archivable and hold about an hour of footage; P2 is also random access and easier to transfer than tape, but it's not cheap and the run times are still relatively short (compared to prosumer formats).

I want the HPX500. But Panasonic have priced it at 1 times the US price, which means I can't afford it and a days worth of media to "set myself up" at this level. Sony products (on the other hand) now appear to be cheaper over here than in the US... so you see this is a tough decision, with economy leaning heavily towards the F350.

Anyway, that's probably off topic. The question was whether there was any way of self-constructing cheap alternatives to P2 cards. And the answer is "no". Rats!
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 03:58 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Robert Lane View Post
I must admit I'm having a hard time finding how the XDCAM workflow is in anyway easier than P2; ......... I'd need to understand your objections to P2 before I could offer solutions.
I go along with all the comments that others have posted above, but it all presupposes that one person deals end to end with the workflow, which is far from always the case. When a freelance cameraman is employed to shoot the material, with post work done by a third party, the advantages of an XDCAM workflow over P2 become obvious - just hand over the disc(s) at the end of the shoot. I'm sure solutions could be offered to enable the use of P2, but I can't think of any that are more straightforward than simply using XDCAM in the first place! (Which also creates it's own backup/archive as you go.)

But when one person does have end to end control, I agree that solid state has many attractions, so what I would like to see is a hybrid XDCAM camera - disc AND SxS card. Then use the media most appropiate to the job. It was a horses for courses 50-50 argument when it was disc(XDCAM) v solid state(P2). That is all set to dramatically change since Sonys announcement of future products using SxS.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 04:18 AM   #13
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The trouble with XDCAM (at the moment) is that when the 355 is released in a few months, I can see the 330 and definitely the 350 being EOF'd. Plus the 2/3" next year will only diminish the current "value" of the 1/2" XD's.

And if you ever want to use just about any other camera on the market as a hire for a specific job, you're stuffed. That's includes Varicam, HDCAM, Digi Beta, SP, most DVCAM's, Infinity, Ikegami, whatever. A 1/2" lens is really only much use if you'll only ever use XDCAM HD (if you buy a 330 or 350). You could always buy a 4.5mm wide HD zoom and use the 2/3" adaptor, but the glass will cost you much more than the camera.

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Old June 2nd, 2007, 10:34 AM   #14
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Alex, is Red not an option for you? Just curious.
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Old June 2nd, 2007, 11:03 AM   #15
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I really dont understand why people keep saying "what about red?" How can anyone base a project from a camera that has yet to be proven in the real world and also not releasing until sometime in 2008? I dont mean to pick on you Gene its just a comment I read alot.
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