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Old June 11th, 2007, 01:52 PM   #1
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HPX500, day 3

I received my 500 on Saturday morning and spent a day setting it up before even shooting anything... Out of the box, the CINE settings in the Scene File create a very yellow/green image - don't know if that's just my camera.. Took me several hours (going through my 3+ year old DVX notes) to finally come up with something I'm pleased with..

I'm shooting 720/24pN, because that's the main reason I got the camera.. In answer to my own question from a previous post, it appears that when set at 24p the shutter defaults to 1/24th - I can't find any information to confirm that (if someone knows where/how to look, please tell me) - but my initial shooting was disappointing to say the least - very stroby.. I manually adjusted the shutter to 1/50 (1/48 isn't an option) and the image improved considerably...

For HVX users the camera will be very heavy and awkward - in my case I shot with a DSR300 for three years, so it wasn't a shock.. The body is about 4 inches longer than the DSR and about 2 inches wider - maybe about 2lbs heavier.

I got a Varicam mini-rod base that wasn't a perfect fit (so you might want to wait until there's one specifically for the 500). I modified it and one of my matte boxes this morning and got them working..

The B&W viewfinder is fine - I was afraid I would need to get the 2" 16x9 - but the way Panasonic puts all the junk in the letterbox helps a lot.. It is a little difficult to check the LCD for color balance, because of it's position (I shoot handheld), but I leave it facing out and turn it off with the SAFE switch. I do wish there was a way to turn all the display info off though, like you can do simply in the Canons...

They have back-ordered the tripod plates, so I'm using my Sony plate, which works, but the back pin is a little loose top to bottom and allows some movement.

All-in-all it doesn't blow my mind, but it's a pretty decent camera - I'm still getting used to 720/24p though...
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Old June 11th, 2007, 02:25 PM   #2
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You can turn all the display stuff off with a button press. Use the DISP/MODE CHK button.

As for the shutter, you can set 1/48.0 by using the Syncro Scan function when in VIDEO CAM mode. If you're using FILM CAM mode, set it to 180.0 degrees and it'll be 1/48.0. That's the default in 24p modes.

On the DVX and HVX, turning the shutter "off" results in a default shutter speed being assigned; in 24P on the DVX that was 1/50, on the HVX it's 1/48. But on broadcast cameras turning the shutter "off" means that it's actually turning the shutter completely off, so yes you'd get 1/24 in that case.

So that's not what you want to do. Don't turn the shutter "off", turn it to Syncro Scan. The default Syncro Scan shutter speed is 1/48 when you're in a 24p shooting mode.
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Old June 11th, 2007, 02:43 PM   #3
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Thanks Barry - it would be nice if this kind of information was readily available in the manufacturer documentation.. but then you wouldn't have a reason to write another book...
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Old June 11th, 2007, 03:44 PM   #4
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Oh, by the way - I had tried that Display Check button but I hadn't realized that you need to just touch it momentarily for the info to go away - I had been holding my finger on it too long...
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Old June 12th, 2007, 10:01 AM   #5
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My day three

I picked up my camera about the same time you did, Steve. Iím seeing the same yellow/green ugliness out of the box. At first I thought it was the monitor, but nope, it is still calibrated correctly. I would be interested to hear your tweaks to get an acceptable picture. For me, it was mostly a phase and coring adjustment to get something acceptable.

I agree with your initial impressions of the camera. I skipped the whole HDV and HVX200 generation and waited for something that held fewer compromises. I think this camera fills the bill. The pixel shift technology is really good. Iíll take it in place of 20 large any day, but thatís just my situation. I think itís very impressive.

Picture quality will be debated here for a long time, but Iíll just throw this in. CAC might help, but itís certainly no panacea. In limited testing, Iím still seeing a lot of CA if the contrast is high (blown out window edges, etc.). As always, you need to keep your eyes wide open.

There has been one big positive surprise for me. I might be fooling myself, but I think the sound quality recorded onto this camera is quite good. I am comparing it to a DVX100A as a base, but the audio dynamic range seems to be increased for the mics I use on a day to day basis. Folks on this board might be more interested in the video signal, but I think the sound quality is quite remarkable and just as important.

Last, I have to agree with you about the supplied documentation. To provide a user manual for a camera with this level of complexity without an index is just plain inexcusable. I get the sense that this manual layout worked for Panasonic in the days when the reader was simply a shooter and could spend his/her ďspare timeĒ studying the manual. Times change, however, and I think the typical owner of this camera wears many hats. There is no ďspare timeĒ, consequently the manual becomes an aggravation. You MUST invest hours reading the whole document over and over to glean whatever information you need. Somebody at the home office needs to look at this with fresh eyes. If anyone needs specific examples, Iíve got plenty.

I have to complement the Panasonic engineers for making such a quiet and efficient unit. I have 95kWh batteries that give me about 3.5 hours usage each. I couldn't ask for more than this.

Last, although this has probably been covered a thousand times, I want to talk about transfer times. All times are my testing on a full 16Gb card:

1. 1394 to 7200rmp external drive: 28 minutes
2. PC Card slot to internal HD (5400 rpm): 12 minutes
3. PC Card slot to USB external (7200 rpm) HD: 12 minutes
4. PC Card slot to internal (7200 rpm/40Mbs) HD: 6.5 minutes

The portable used was a three year old Dell latitude with (in example four) an upgraded internal HD. Although times on a Mac will be different, these results caused me to rethink my workflow for capture and transfer.
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Old June 12th, 2007, 10:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bryan Poffenberger View Post
I have 95kWh batteries that give me about 3.5 hours usage each.
Only 3.5 hours out of a 95 kilo-watt/hour battery? Better return them and get your money back. (grin)

I think you meant 95 watt-hour, at which point 3.5 hours seems about right.

Just a little good natured ribbing, Bryan. Glad you're liking your new camera.

-gb-
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Old June 12th, 2007, 10:17 AM   #7
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Bryan: I'm finding the color shift happening in the Cine Matrix.. If I chose Normal1 or Normal2 it is better, still testing though... With Cine Matrix on, I dialed Chroma Phase all the way up to +7 - not the best way to fix things - and the color was better - but really weird if I shoot something like a computer monitor.. try it, you'll hate it!

I agree with your comments on CA, it is noticeable when you're looking for it - what must it be like w/o CAC?.. In my work (documentaries) it's not a problem, but it could be for green-screen folks.. I use a 1/2 SoftFX almost all the time and it tends to turn CA into a soft romantic edge (not a sophisticated fix maybe, but it works - I did it all the time with the XL H1 too).

This is my first experience with "tapeless" and I'm having to fight old habits.. for instance in film I always shoot a short burst between takes (to allow room for the negative cutter) and in video I've always run the camera occasionally during long pauses so the camera wouldn't sleep - not a good plan with limited card space...

I shot for many years with Eclairs, Arris, BetaCams and more recently a super16 Aaton (which I still have) but during the past few years I've gotten used to the little cameras like the DVX and the XL2, XL H1.. and, boy, is it a shock to hoist this monster up onto my shoulder and walk through a doorway... I'm getting it back though (back to free weights at the gym though)...
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Old June 12th, 2007, 11:04 AM   #8
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I take it back...

I just did a series of interior and exterior tests and the Cine Matrix IS way superior, but you do have to fool with the Chroma Phase (+ #s) to get it to your liking.. It may be better to do it in Color Temp, but I haven't had the time to experiment with that yet and I've got a shoot in half an hour... maybe someone else can suggest a setting?

Also, I've found that Coring needs some + numbers too - I would expect that with the HVX, but it surprises me with 2/3" chips...
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Old June 12th, 2007, 11:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Poffenberger View Post
I picked up my camera about the same time you did, Steve. Iím seeing the same yellow/green ugliness out of the box.
This does not surprise me as my DVC-200 seems to favor the yellow/green side of things.

I think this is the Panasonic "look" from the factory.

Lack of clear documentation and excellent audio sound like what I am used to as well.

Scary how these manufacturers are consistent on all points!

Interested to hear more about your experiences with this camera as it is a nice option.
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Old June 12th, 2007, 01:05 PM   #10
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standing on the edge of knowing what I'm talking about....

I see a possible fix for your negative cutter, but it causes other issues.

I think you are shooting in 720/24pn, is that correct? One possible, although inelegant way to approach this is to switch the camera over to PAL, shoot 720/25p and turn on the prerec function. There are several approaches to transfer shooting this way, none of which are perfect. Or you could shoot in NTSC 30p with prerec and deal with the conversion to 24P later. At least you get three seconds of preroll. On second thought, both of these are really bad ideas.

Panasonic has disabled this function in several shooting modes including the one you choose to use (me too). I guess this is one of those ďfeaturesĒ that a more expensive camera may afford. It could come in a future firmware release, but Iím not holding my breath. Iíd use this feature all the time, regardless of the recording format selected, were it available.

On the green/yellow issue: I found that changing the phase to +3 and the color balance to +2, I shifted the color toward magenta and blue. The results looked a lot more acceptable. Coring at +2 helped for other reasons. My time with this has been very limited, however, so others may find an approach that works better.

I had to laugh at your description of the camera on your shoulder. I felt pretty stupid banging the battery into a door jam the first time through! Of course, with a 95kWh battery and a ten ton crane to lift it, it was a tight fit. ;)

Computer screens are an issue, since most of them put out a high K temp. Try putting up a virtual grey card on the monitor and manually white balancing to that. Even if the computer screen isnít calibrated, youíll get within shouting distance of something usable. At least it works for me.
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Old June 12th, 2007, 03:19 PM   #11
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Get with the Program

No pre roll/wake up time necessary ! This is the age of instant-on. During long interviews, I'll momentarily start/stop camera btw answers during opportune moments so I'll have a seperate clip for each answer. I'm not sure FCP likes really long continuous clips.
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Old June 12th, 2007, 07:37 PM   #12
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You know, Chris, when you've been shooting the same way more or less daily for over 30 years, you don't just "get with the program" over night.. Old habits die hard...

Oh, and the new Log and Transfer window in FCP6 allows you to break up your clips as you're logging them, so it doesn't really matter how long the takes are (although I do stop for questions - film habits you know)..

The PreRec function would be nice so as not to lose those first few words sometimes, but I've always been able to edit around it in the past... On key interviews, when I have a soundperson, he records audio on a Tascam HD P2, so I don't need the PreRec then...
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Old June 12th, 2007, 10:26 PM   #13
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Steve,
I was being a little facetious and should have inserted a smiley in my post.
I'm still getting up to speed myself and often find I'm out of sync with the latest technology.
Do we still have to record bars & tone whilst recording onto P2?
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Old June 13th, 2007, 10:22 AM   #14
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I don't know why the thing even comes with a Bars & Tone generator, except maybe to set up the LCD or, of course, an external monitor... I recorded a minute from the camera and put it in my permanent clip archive as a reference, but I don't think I'll ever record a burst again...
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Old June 13th, 2007, 11:48 AM   #15
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Have you been calibrating your new cameras on HD monitors? Just wondering what you are using to make your color adjustments.
The new Panny 8" LCD 80 monitor w/optional SDI out will cost about $200 more than their 17" HD monitor. Both can run off 12v in the field as well.
I might have to get a stronger Israeli arm to mount that puppy on top of my camera.

Won't need to wear my glasses, either.
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