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Sony PDW-F800, PDW-700, PDW-850, PXW-X500 (XDCAM HD) and PMW-400, PMW-320 (XDCAM EX).


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Old May 26th, 2006, 05:58 PM   #1
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XDCAM vs. P2 article.

XDCAM vs. P2 article for magazine.

I'm writing up an article entitled "XDCAM vs. P2" for a magazine.

I am carrying out a survey and would like unbiased opinions from both camps of Sony's XDCAM disc based system and Panasonic's P2 card based..

So if there are any XDCAM users here who are familiar (even vaguely) with Panasonic's P2 system, how about pointing out things that are better about XDCAM over P2.

I'm gathering information from various places to put together a head-to-head contest between the two.

Thanks guys and girls
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Old May 26th, 2006, 09:30 PM   #2
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Which magazine, Steve?
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Old May 27th, 2006, 12:31 AM   #3
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It is not apples to apples IMHO... it is not just the medium but the CODEC that is at issue. I personally like the non-destructive nature of XDCAM discs as would most people but currently that tech is tied to MPEG. Most people prefer to acquire with a better codec, DVCpro or DVCproHD which is currently only available on P2 as far as tapeless and not direct to HDD.

My perfect world? DVCproHD to burnable blueray discs... you could fit almost an hour of 1080i on a $30 disc that is its own backup. Compare that to P2 where 8 minutes of 1080i costs $1500 on destructive media that must be backed up... currently the best to back it up is oddly enough... blueray data discs.... too bad all the companies cant play better together.


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Old May 27th, 2006, 12:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Williams
I'm writing up an article entitled "XDCAM vs. P2" for a magazine. [...] I'm gathering information from various places to put together a head-to-head contest between the two [...]
I had an interesting conversation with Barry Braverman at NAB on P2 and I asked him about P2 vs. XDCAM and he has some interesting things to say:
Quote:
XDCAM requires a playback device, you need a disk reader, a piece of hardware to play it back. Whereas the P2 card requires only a Cardbus compliant card slot. You can buy a card reader at a CompUSA for $30.00. There’s a quantitative difference in terms of orders of magnitude between the [cost of] integrating P2 into an IT based workflow and the integration of XDCAM into a workflow. Having said that, the advantage of XDCAM includes [being able to] offload disks at very high speed, and you can upload them to a server, but you still need a rather expensive disk player. Theoretically out of the camera you can upload through ethernet to a server, otherwise, you have to deal with the hardware of a disk reader. I love what Sony did with the disk, they are very robust, very well engineered, very resistant to heat and humidity, and actual live moisture, because the disk spins off any excess moisture that builds up on the disk. Either route (P2 or XDCAM) in terms of technology makes sense to me. With the P2 route you have lower capacity to start with, the challenge of P2 is the lower capacity, whereas with XDCAM you have 23 GB on a disk, you have a much higher capacity out of the box.
The complete transcript of the conversation may be found at: http://kino-eye.com/2006/04/30/to-p2-or-not-to-p2/ I myself have used P2 on several shoots, including 4 days of intense documentary shooting going through 51 card ingests in 3.5 days which I'm happy to talk about. I plan to take XDCAM HD out for a spin in the near future on another project for direct comparison.

From my experience using P2 in a real-world failure-is-not-an-option project where the stakes were high, the thing that stood out the most for me in terms of P2 is the "fragility" of the workflow, which requires a lot of work on your part (or on the part of a media manager) to assure the integrity of your media as you ingest and archive it. Now as someone comfortable with information technology I was able to establish a workflow to assure the integrity of the data, but it took some work to design the workflow and time/effort to implement it. Not something producers/filmmakers are use to.

With tape we always had the archive copy the monent we were done shooting. P2 requires you to make both your working copy and archive copy. XDCAM, on the other hand, is more consistent with the tape-based workflow that producers are very familar and comfortable with. XDCAM media is cheap enough to be used as an archive copy. P2 media is so expensive that it can only be used as a transport medium for moving data from camera to a storage device.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 04:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
but you still need a rather expensive disk player. Theoretically out of the camera you can upload through ethernet to a server, otherwise, you have to deal with the hardware of a disk reader.
The camera can be the disc reader. If you own the camera then you have the disc reader. Buying a seperate disc player is only needed if you don't want to tie up the camera doing this. But there is no penalty for using the camera as a reader/player. Although the dedicated players do have a faster transfer rate.

I don't have a deck, I use the camera with FAM transfer.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 05:35 AM   #6
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Steve,
no real experience with either here but I think a problem you'll face is much of the input is going to come from HVX 200 users and that's a bit misleading. P2 in it's original incarnation, a camera holding 5 cards, makes for a way more viable workflow. Comparing a $20K XDCAM + deck to a HVX 200 isn't even apples and oranges. Who you need to get input from are those using Panny's ENG P2 cameras.
With those the cost of ownership is more on par with XDCAM and the various trade offs are more easily compared.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 06:00 AM   #7
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I know what you mean Bob, but there is no high-end ENG section here. Do you know of a forum that covers this higher area of P2?

Thanks
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Old May 27th, 2006, 08:10 AM   #8
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Steve, our P2 forum is targeted at the entire P2 spectrum. Most of the traffic seems to be oriented toward the HVX200 because more folks go online to discuss it than any other P2 camera. But we certainly encourage any and all P2 adopters here no matter what level they're at, including the higher end professional.

And I have to ask again... for which magazine are you writing, please?
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Old May 27th, 2006, 08:23 AM   #9
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I understand Chris, I figured this forum was aimed at all P2, just with a lack of ENG high-end camera users around.

In answer to your 'magazine' question. None in perticular, I'm simply compiling this information for personal format decisions, but I am also writing up a feature on these two formats pointing out the pros and cons of both. As for which magazine, once finished I'm going to pitch it to several of the higher end mags. I'm doing a lot of research into these two formats right now by speaking to the manufacturers technical guys and working professional cameramen who are using both, as well as the odd post on forums like this; hope you don't mind. People are not fully aware of XDCAM or P2 and their full capablilites and drawbacks; hence my reason for doing this.

Me personally, I recently bought a HVX200 just to play around with, I'm not convinced myself. However, I'm not convinced with XDCAM either, but I know a lot less about the latter than I do about P2 as I don't own one or have not spent any time with one.

I also can't base my negative experiences with P2 around the HVX200 as the HVX200 is more in the prosumer camp than the professional one, IMO anyway. I fully intend getting my hands on high end XDCAM HD and P2 cameras so I can get a lot more personal insights into them, as opposed to simply gathering information from professionals, Sony, Panasonic and forums.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 08:36 AM   #10
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Thanks Steve. I've always attributed the lack of ENG high-end camera users around here or anywhere else on the net to the possibility that they're just too busy shooting to talk online that much. That's how I justify it to myself anyway.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 10:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Williams
..........how about pointing out things that are better about XDCAM over P2.

I'm gathering information from various places to put together a head-to-head contest between the two.
It's worth making a distinction between Standard and High Definition. In the former case, there is no distinction between codecs for the two media (at least at 25Mb), whereas for High Definition there obviously is - 100Mb DVCProHD v 35Mb MPEG2.

If we stick to talking about the media only, and ignore the codec issues, I suspect it becomes a lot simpler. In my experience, P2 is the more elegant of the two (smaller, lower power consumption, no moving parts, and can be used with a computer with no need for a separate drive) BUT the cost of the cards means they can't be considered "consumable" in the same way as tape or an optical disc. The consequences of that may be just a nuisance if it just means archiving has to be "active", or may kill the system stone dead for scenarios in which a freelancer may shoot for a client and want to just hand over the material at the end of the day. (And none of the scenarios I've heard even comes close to the simplicity of taking a physical item out of the camera, and handing it over.)

In an article such as you consider, it may be worth at least mentioning such as what the Grass Valley Infinity promises, which is no less than the best of both worlds. I await to see what it's like in real life, but even the prospect makes me think that a starightforward head-to-head XDCAM/P2 comparison is ignoring a vital point.
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Old May 27th, 2006, 01:21 PM   #12
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I know what you mean Chris, professionals are just too busy for forums.

David, good points and I agree and understand what you are saying. I'm after the basic pros/cons of the workflow from production to post production to final distribution and archiving.

Grass Valley Infinity does look good and the whole Red system (made by sunglasses people ;)) seems even better, when they get them going on the production line that is. The Red camcorder is the one reason that would hold me back from buying a XDCAM HD or higher end P2 camera to be honest.

But for now I want to concentrate on what has been around for the past few years e.g. P2 and XDCAM. Grass Valley is not really going yet with Infinity and Red havn't even gone into production. Perhaps in a year a side-by-side pros/cons of Infinity vs Red would be better.

Thanks again guys.

Great site Chris; a superb resourse for the more seriouse end user.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 06:52 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hurd
[...] I've always attributed the lack of ENG high-end camera users around here or anywhere else on the net to the possibility that they're just too busy shooting to talk online that much. [...]
That may be true in many cases, however, one place where you'll find discussion of high-end cameras going on is in mailing ists like cml-hd-pro (HDTV discussion - F900 - Varicam - XDCamHD & Infinity) and cml-video (Cinematography and standard resolution Video) that are part of CML: The Cinematography Mailing List, a mailing list (which has evolved into a collection of lists over the years) for professional cinematographers started by Geoff Boyle, a U.K. based director of photography. The lists each cater to a very specific niche, and discussion is highly focused. I think as we see cameras like the Infinity do things at the $20K price-point that used to require $60K cameras, you're going to find more and more high-end camera users converging with mid-range camera users, I say that considering how Sony's 1/2" XDCAM HD camera straddles the two areas. I certainly like the discussion board format better than the mailing list format. I used to shoot with 16mm film or ENG Camcorders (from Betacam SP to Digital Betacam to Varicam), and now I'm shooting my own work (mostly) with the likes of the AG-HVX200, AG-DVX100, and HVR-A1U, the capabilities of the "little cameras" are converging with those of the "big cameras," and that will bring the two worlds closer together.
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Old June 13th, 2006, 04:00 PM   #14
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I think the most obvious would be the price of P2 media (vs. XDCam costs). There are a few high-end ENG users, (high end being cams such as the D600 and The PDW550?)

I just got off of a gig shooting mountain climbers on the both the full size and hadycam P2, I dont like having to switch every 8 or 4 minutes... but it's cheaper, which is why many news operations have gone to P2 (but many agains the cries of the photographers) - but many others have gone to XD also (CBS, ABC, NBC)
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Old June 13th, 2006, 04:29 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Steve Williams
[...] Grass Valley is not really going yet with Infinity [...]
Grass Valley showed prototypes at NAB and John Naylor (Director of the Infinity Program, with overall responsibility for the camcorder, the media, and the field recorder) told me during an interview at NAB that, "Initial units will be going out in the June/July timeframe, we expect the first ones [will go to] strategic accounts, this will consume our production for some time. If you buy from a retailer, then we’re [expecting to deliver in the] September/October time frame..." I would suggest that's not the same as "not really going yet," (you can read a transcript of the interview at: http://kino-eye.com/2006/04/28/john-at-infinity/). I suggest the Infinity approach is an indicator of things to come and should be included in any meaningful discussion of alternatives to tape. It's really about proprietary media transport formats like P2 and XDCAM that were developed specifically for video applications and commodity IT formats like Rev disks and Compact Flash cards, which Grass Valley has embraced.
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