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Old June 5th, 2007, 11:53 AM   #1
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HPX500 vs XDCAM HD (vs Varicam)

Has anyone compared an HPX500 to an F350?

In the UK, the pricing is pretty comparable.

I'm guessing that the 350 would be sharper but that the 500 may have other picture advantages like latitude.

I am particularly interested in a camera that performs well in low-light. I would also prefer to have the wider choice that 2/3" chips/lens offers.

...but the XDCAMHD workflow has the bonus of being non-destructive and client deliverable. The 350 is already approved by The Discovery Channel and Sony traditionally have greater market share in the UK.

I'd also be interested how the 500 compares to the Varicam. 2nd hand, it is also comparable in price.

Is anyone able to do a F350/HPX/Varicam side-by-side?
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Old June 5th, 2007, 12:34 PM   #2
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My feeling is that quality issues are likely to be second order compared to practical issues.

I think a lot may depend how quickly you want and need to make a purchase. A lot of people seem to be adopting a "wait" policy to see how the market develops, and Sonys recent announcements about a 2/3" HD XDCAM camera and SxS XDCAM in the pipeline make me think waiting is a good idea if you are able.

What I really want to see is a 2/3" camera (mainly for lens compatability reasons) with the ability to record to XDCAM disc and/or SxS.
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Old June 5th, 2007, 02:56 PM   #3
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I have been following these two cameras lately as well.

Right now, I use 1/2" chip 4:3 cameras, so spending $20,000 to "upgrade" to another 1/2" chip camera seems like a bit of a lateral move for me.

The Panasonic seems like a better value, but P2 might take care of any price difference!

The XDCAM EX might sway my choice as the camera family will intercut very nicely since the chips are the same.

Choices, choices, expensive choices.
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Old June 6th, 2007, 01:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Marriage View Post
Has anyone compared an HPX500 to an F350?

In the UK, the pricing is pretty comparable.

I'm guessing that the 350 would be sharper but that the 500 may have other picture advantages like latitude.

I am particularly interested in a camera that performs well in low-light. I would also prefer to have the wider choice that 2/3" chips/lens offers.

...but the XDCAMHD workflow has the bonus of being non-destructive and client deliverable. The 350 is already approved by The Discovery Channel and Sony traditionally have greater market share in the UK.
You're doing the same thing I am...

For me there are two big things - workflow and price. In the USA the HPX500 is a little over half the price of the F350. Over here they are the same price. I'm probably flogging a dead horse here, but that doesn't seem right to me.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 06:31 PM   #5
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you are right ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Leith View Post
You're doing the same thing I am...

For me there are two big things - workflow and price. In the USA the HPX500 is a little over half the price of the F350. Over here they are the same price. I'm probably flogging a dead horse here, but that doesn't seem right to me.
It doesn't seem right at all. I suggest you fly over to NYC and get the camera, dirty it up a bit, fly to Amsterdam or Paris, take the train and cart it home as your own! That would be much cheaper!
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Old June 7th, 2007, 08:37 PM   #6
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I havenít used the HPX500 or the F350, but I found the HPX2000 pretty disappointing.
The quality surely doesnít seem to go up proportionally with the price. It looked better (after really close inspection, I mean really looking, with it on pause and all), but not that much better than the 1/3Ē cameras. Surely not $20,000 or 4x better.
Unless I had a need dictated by format or a network (for broadcast), I would never pay that much money for any of those cameras (HPX500, HPX2000, Varicam, F900 and the like) in this day and age when cameras like RED, SI and others are on the near horizon for approximately the same or even less, especially not after what I saw from the HPX2000. When I saw the footage I thought it was HVX200 footage. Not really a compliment to the HVX but rather a critique to the HPX. Iím just posting it because I was really, really surprised/disappointed by it. It took the guy some convincing to make me believe that was footage from a $27,000 camera (body only). I really thought he was pulling my leg or something and it was just HVX footage. I guess the 1/3Ē cameras have closed the gap so much that I may have got spoiled. I havenít looked at Varicam footage from a long time now, but Iím suspecting that I would feel the same as I felt for the HPX200.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 09:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Michael Maier View Post
I havenít used the HPX500 or the F350, but I found the HPX2000 pretty disappointing.
The quality surely doesnít seem to go up proportionally with the price. It looked better (after really close inspection, I mean really looking, with it on pause and all), but not that much better than the 1/3Ē cameras. Surely not $20,000 or 4x better.
Unless I had a need dictated by format or a network (for broadcast), I would never pay that much money for any of those cameras (HPX500, HPX2000, Varicam, F900 and the like) in this day and age when cameras like RED, SI and others are on the near horizon for approximately the same or even less, especially not after what I saw from the HPX2000. When I saw the footage I thought it was HVX200 footage. Not really a compliment to the HVX but rather a critique to the HPX. Iím just posting it because I was really, really surprised/disappointed by it. It took the guy some convincing to make me believe that was footage from a $27,000 camera (body only). I really thought he was pulling my leg or something and it was just HVX footage. I guess the 1/3Ē cameras have closed the gap so much that I may have got spoiled. I havenít looked at Varicam footage from a long time now, but Iím suspecting that I would feel the same as I felt for the HPX200.
Don't know about the HPX-2000, but I saw the HPX-500 both at NAB as well as the Panasonic event in Baltimore.

If you can't see the difference between the 500 and the 200 on a good monitor then you need glasses.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 11:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Maier View Post
Unless I had a need dictated by format or a network (for broadcast), I would never pay that much money for any of those cameras (HPX500, HPX2000, Varicam, F900 and the like) in this day and age when cameras like RED, SI and others are on the near horizon for approximately the same or even less, especially not after what I saw from the HPX2000.
In addition to what Matt wrote about quality, RED, SI is lacking the professional support, if my camera breaks down here i Norway i need to get i fixed ASAP, TODAY not in a few weeks. Thats regardless of warranty issues or just plain destruction form the user side, without any service network at all RED and SI can't compete if your work puts a lot of wear and tear at your equipment.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 12:11 PM   #9
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I agree with Christian. When you buy a professional camera you're not just purchasing a camera head... you're also buying into a support network, a workflow, familiarity of operation, and predicatability in terms of product and manufacturer history, etc.

Of course you want to get the best you can for your money, technically speaking, but essentially the whole craft is about telling stories that people would want to watch even if it was shot on a PXL 2000.

In the right hands any camera can look great.
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Old June 8th, 2007, 12:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Maier View Post
I haven’t used the HPX500 or the F350, but I found the HPX2000 pretty disappointing.
The quality surely doesn’t seem to go up proportionally with the price. It looked better (after really close inspection, I mean really looking, with it on pause and all), but not that much better than the 1/3” cameras. Surely not $20,000 or 4x better.
Unless I had a need dictated by format or a network (for broadcast), I would never pay that much money for any of those cameras (HPX500, HPX2000, Varicam, F900 and the like) in this day and age when cameras like RED, SI and others are on the near horizon for approximately the same or even less, especially not after what I saw from the HPX2000. When I saw the footage I thought it was HVX200 footage. Not really a compliment to the HVX but rather a critique to the HPX. I’m just posting it because I was really, really surprised/disappointed by it. It took the guy some convincing to make me believe that was footage from a $27,000 camera (body only). I really thought he was pulling my leg or something and it was just HVX footage. I guess the 1/3” cameras have closed the gap so much that I may have got spoiled. I haven’t looked at Varicam footage from a long time now, but I’m suspecting that I would feel the same as I felt for the HPX200.
Michael, there is much more in that price tag difference than a cursory inspection of the image would suggest. Start with simple device physics. A 2/3 sensor has a lot more latitude/sensitivity than a 1/3 sensor with the same pixel count. There is also the overall quality of the parts going to the inside. People who spend this much money on a camera, are counting on it to work when it has to...day in and day out, in a variety of situations. Then there's the quality of available glass to put on the front of a 20,000 camera. Great lenses often cost as much or more than the camera body. You would also find that the menus for image manipulation run much deeper as well as other camera operational parameters.

Can you get a great image from a smaller camera? Yes you can. There are many situations where you could put the HPX2000 and the HVX200 side by side and yield a very similar image from the two. But not in all the situations that you would find the typical 2/3 shoulder camera working in. A 2/3 camera can see in darker areas where a 1/3 camera would be blind. That's just simple device physics. Even my 1/2 XDCAM HD has theoretically half the contrast ratio that a 2/3 sensor would provide (300% vs. 600%).

I implore you to do more research on the all the differences between larger and smaller cameras before dismissing the larger as being way overpriced.

To everyone else: This thread is about the HVX500 and XDCAM HD cameras. Let's not drag the thread off topic by introducing other cameras and pontificating about how they compare.

-gb-
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Old June 8th, 2007, 09:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Maier View Post
I haven’t used the HPX500 or the F350, but I found the HPX2000 pretty disappointing.
The quality surely doesn’t seem to go up proportionally with the price. It looked better (after really close inspection, I mean really looking, with it on pause and all), but not that much better than the 1/3” cameras. Surely not $20,000 or 4x better.
Unless I had a need dictated by format or a network (for broadcast), I would never pay that much money for any of those cameras (HPX500, HPX2000, Varicam, F900 and the like) in this day and age when cameras like RED, SI and others are on the near horizon for approximately the same or even less, especially not after what I saw from the HPX2000. When I saw the footage I thought it was HVX200 footage. Not really a compliment to the HVX but rather a critique to the HPX. I’m just posting it because I was really, really surprised/disappointed by it. It took the guy some convincing to make me believe that was footage from a $27,000 camera (body only). I really thought he was pulling my leg or something and it was just HVX footage. I guess the 1/3” cameras have closed the gap so much that I may have got spoiled. I haven’t looked at Varicam footage from a long time now, but I’m suspecting that I would feel the same as I felt for the HPX200.
Michael,

I'm out of topic here, but please...

I've seen a HPX2000 next to a HPX500 and a HVX200 last week in Montreal.

...let me say that the HPX2000 puts out the very best picture of these 3 cameras, not a single doubt. HPX2000's picture is clearly, very clearly superior. It's amazing how good, smooth, refined it looks.

EDIT:

BTW, The HPX2000 looked better than all Varicam's footage i've seen so far. And we were many to agree on that.

Last edited by Antoine Fabi; June 8th, 2007 at 09:14 PM. Reason: forgot to say...
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Old June 9th, 2007, 05:21 AM   #12
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I have to agree; the HPX2000 looks the best with the HPX 500 a close 2nd. I think it depends on the environment when comparing cameras. In a well-lit outdoor or indoor scene, the HVX 200 might look close to the HPX models; however, shoot in low light, and that's where the HPXs' 2/3 inch sensors really shine. Of course, if viewed on poor monitors, it might be hard to tell the difference, also. Anyway, when it comes to choosing a camera, it really comes down to how much camera you need to get the job done. Higher end projects require better cameras.
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Old June 9th, 2007, 10:50 AM   #13
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Exactly!

This is not to say that the HVX is not good. It IS good. So is the XLH1 and
the HD100.
But in high contrast environment, low light, the HPX500 IS better, and the HPX2000 is encore even better.

Let's say you want to shoot a very dark scene, something between 0 and 40 ire, the HVX (like any others 1/3 cameras) will not look very solid.

The HPX500 is much better to do this, and then the HPX2000 is so composed, defined and quiet in this situation, very impressive.

It's not only about chips size, it'a also about DSP i "think".

The HPX2000 in very low light situation showed perfect gradation and definition.
I'm still very impressed by what i saw from this camera.
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Old July 16th, 2007, 10:37 AM   #14
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Has anyone compared the HPX500 and F350 side-by-side yet?
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Old July 16th, 2007, 10:14 PM   #15
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They had a comparison at NAB between P2 HD and XDCAM HD and the results were very clearly in Panasonic's favor (of course we were at Panasonic's booth.) They were comparing recorded footage of running water in a stream, among other examples, and the XDCAM footage had noticable compression breakup while the P2 HD recording was very clean with no noticable breakup at all. And believe me, I checked for quite a while!

What bothered me was that they weren't giving model numbers for the P2 HD camera that had recorded the footage. One person I asked said the 500 another said the 2000. But there wasn't any definite answers. So I went to the camera display that they had setup. They had the 500 in between the Varicam and the 200 on display. There was a definite difference between the 500 and the 200 in my opinion. The 200 looked flat - it was VERY noticable that the 500 was much better. But when I stood back and compared the Varicam to the 500 . . . I was amazed! There wasn't much of a noticable difference. Sure, you can argue pixel-shifting all day long but the fact is this: I saw the two side-by-side and there wasn't much of a noticible difference like there was with the 500 and the 200. You would think that they would want the Varicam and the 2000 to look better but they were on par with the 500.

So I thought to myself, these are of course tweaked by top engineers and we're looking at the HD-SDI signal before any recording is involved. So I made it my quest to find something recorded on the 500. Finally (on day 2 of NAB) we found someone to help us and it turned out to be Jan. She had footage on a P2 card from the 500 and popped it into the one on display . . . Let me put it to you this way . . . I purchased the camera when I got home. And my clients (and I) couldn't be happier so far.

Sony had a prototype of the new 2/3 inch XDCAM HD camera on display. It was impressive, I won't lie. The image was very crisp . . . but because it was a prototype there wasn't any recorded footage and it is only a 50M/bit codec. Better than XDCAM's old 35M/bit but no where near as good as DVCPROHD 100. And I'm an old Sony guy. I really wanted XDCAM HD to work for me! It's nice to have physical discs not files on cards . . . but after using the camera in a real world experience there isn't any reason for me to not use P2. It works.

I would love to see some side-by-side comparisons just to see what the results will be . . . but I couldn't be happier with the 500. It works for me, but that's just my opinion.

Hope this helps a little.

John
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