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-   -   HPX2700 or PMW350? (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/general-hd-720-1080-acquisition/469669-hpx2700-pmw350.html)

Glen Vandermolen December 19th, 2009 12:01 AM

HPX2700 or PMW350?
A friend of mine is in the market for a 2/3" HD camera. He's looking in the 20-grand price range. So far, he's narrowed his choice between the HPX2700 (with a 2/3" camera trade-in special deal) or the Sony PMW350. The cameras will be used for a variety of tasks, whatever jobs a freelance camera operator can get. He will edit onto the latest version of FCP.
So, any recommendations? Obviously, the Sony isn't even out yet, but the special deal on the Panasonic expires at the end of this year. So, time is of the essence. Does he buy a proven workhorse, or wait for the newest Sony? Which camera has the superior codec? Better features? Which would you prefer, if it were your decision?

Alister Chapman December 19th, 2009 03:11 AM

Well I'll lay my cards on the table first and state that I'm a fan of Sony kit, so consider that when reading my answer.

In codec terms, this has been debated many times on many forums. There is little to choose between them from the image quality point. There are pros and cons to both and one will outperform the other in differing scenes. One thing that is indisputable though is that AVC-intra at 100 Mb/s uses 3 times more storage than 35 Mb/s XDCAM. With the high price of both P2 and SxS this has to be considered. The large file size on the Panasonic system also slows down the workflow as everything takes much longer to copy.
I think you also need to consider the fact that P2 is based on the now out of date PCMCIA connector while SxS uses the new Express card slot found on many new laptops.
The other nice thing about the Sony EX's is that they can use both SxS cards and via adapters a range of other much cheaper memory cards. Sony now have an adapter for Memory sticks and several companies make adapters for SD cards. Personally I would only use SD cards as a backup for emergencies where you run out of SxS, but at least that option exists.

What about broadcast acceptability? Out of the box the Panny 2700 probably currently has the edge here. AVCIntra and DVCPRO HD at 100Mb/s are widely accepted for HD broadcast, while 35Mb/s XDCAM is currently less widely accepted. This may or may not change in the future. You can get around this very easily by using a NanoFlash on the 350 to record at 50Mb/s or even 100Mb/s but this adds cost to the XDCAM package. However it should be remembered that the 2700 is a native 720P camera and a high percentage of HD broadcasters are trying to phase out the use of 720P in favor of 1080i/P, so over time 720P cameras will becomes less acceptable. In the longer term I think the 2700 will become less acceptable while a bare bones 350 will become more acceptable. As I said adding a NanoFlash to a 350 makes it fully acceptable in all respects.

What about usability? Both are very useable and offer similar feature sets. The 2700 has CCD's so will not exhibit any skew or flash band issues. The 350's new CMOS sensors on the other hand are very sensitive (1 stop more than 2700) and produce an incredibly noise free picture, so you can use more gain before the picture becomes unuseable. Skew is IMHO very over hyped. Sure it exists but in 2 years of shooting with EX's I have never had a shot that has been spoilt by it. Flash band can normally be corrected using Sony's clip browser tool. One particularly strong point with the PMW-350 is that it has a really good color viewfinder.
Another 350 strength is its remarkably low power consumption. Batteries will last 3 to 4 times longer on a 350 than a 2700, so you need fewer batteries which will save you money.
Overall I think the 350 offers better picture quality. It is lighter, lower power and has that wonderful color viewfinder. It is also native 1920x1080. With a NanoFlash you can record at 50Mb/s or higher so it ticks all the boxes for current and foreseeable future HD broadcast work. If you by the 350K which comes with a surprisingly good 16x8 HD lens it represents remarkable value.

I think you do have to ask yourself why exactly have Panasonic felt the need to discount the 2700 so heavily? Could it be because they can't sell them? If that's the case you need to work out why they aren't selling. I think it's because no-one wants to invest in 720P anymore, certainly not at this price point.

So there you have it. My opinion, go for the PMW-350 OR look out for a used PDW-700. I'm sure there will be a few coming on to the market as some people switch from the 700 to 350.

Christian Magnussen December 19th, 2009 08:09 AM

I would say it depends a lot of what the clients demand, in the past do they prefer 1080 or 720? I would look back and see what the clients demanded before, maybe some even demand sd..

If his work include shooting say news or other projects where you deliver directly to a client with no time to fix flash band in post I would consider if a cmos camera is a good choice at all. I don't think the skew will be a big issue, did not look bad on the Ex1 I used last year.

The 2700/3700/3000 all can be used with Panasonic's color VF, although not cheap. So the panny 2700 might be a more expensive to run with color VF, batteries needed and P2/bitrates.

Alister Chapman December 19th, 2009 08:39 AM


Originally Posted by Christian Magnussen (Post 1462133)
I would say it depends a lot of what the clients demand, in the past do they prefer 1080 or 720? I would look back and see what the clients demanded before, maybe some even demand sd..

Surely you must look at the future not the past. While clients may have used 720 or SD in the past, this does not mean they will continue to do so in the future.

Flash band does not necessarily make pictures unusable, just different. Most end viewers won't know why or even care that the pictures look a little different. If you shoot strobe lighting on a daily basis then it may be an issue. I shoot a lot of lightning, but can still get excellent results with CMOS by using the slowest possible shutter speed. At night I shoot with a 2 frame shutter and in the day at 25P or 24P with no shutter.

Daniel Epstein December 19th, 2009 09:35 AM

I too am in the same process of trying to decide if the 2700 deal is worth executing or not. In truth the 2700 is going to be 24K US once you add the B+W viewfinder. You also need a lens so you are looking at a much more expensive purchase than the 350 which seems to be coming in at street price of 19K with lens.
As far as the merits of the cameras and delivery to clients a Nanoflash makes sense as a straddle for either unit. If you client wants Sony style you could deliver files in the Sony format from the Panny. The Sony will never deliver P2 but the Nano lets you deliver some higher quality signals if needed.
In my opinion the differences between the pixels at this level on the sensors is not as critical as some people think as long as the files can be delivered in 1080 or 720. Unless you are shooting side by side on the same subject I think most people will see a good picture from either camera with differences based on other parameters.
At this point the question is almost one of commodity. Is the 2700 going to be the camera which brings in a higher rate of return or the 350? Or neither as we all look at DSLR's with video as the subversive element. I haven't been able to decide on a future course of action because the work has been all over the map with no clear pattern

Jeff Regan December 19th, 2009 10:32 AM

A large investment like this has to take into account what one's clientele is looking for. Unfortunately that is a moving target more so than ever. We have an HPX2700 in our rental inventory, but also an EX1, HPX170, Sony DSR and BVP SD cameras.

My take on the HPX2700 vs. PMW-350:

2700 is Panasonic's second from the top 2/3" camera, 350 is at the bottom of the 2/3" range. 2700 rents for around $900/day, I wouldn't expect a 350 to rent for much more than half of that, and many clients would just stay with the EX1 or EX3 for half of that.

Panasonic is known for their colorimetry and Film-Rec gammas, now at 600% dynamic range, which records all the dynamic range available from the CCD's.

2700 w/AVC-Intra 100, Film-Rec 600 has 11-stops of latitude and an ASA of 640.

Varicam name is known for high-end production, has frame ramping during recording.

Yes, 2700 discounted by 50%, ditto the 3700, a full raster camera, so it's not the 720p issue.

I prefer CCD's over CMOS, but recognize there are pros and cons to each.

2700 records in full sample 1080X1920 by scaling from 720P via very high bit depth processing.

AVC-Intra is 10-bit, that's 4X more shades of gray than any 8-bit codec, plus 4:2:2 vs. 4:2:0, I-frame vs. Long GOP for XDCAM EX, the lowest spec of XDCAM(much prefer XDCAM 422 at 50Mbps).

AVC-Intra is a true Progressive, Native codec, when shooting at 720/24PN, that is only 40Mbps, not 100Mbps. The 1080 frame rates are also Native, so a bit under 100Mbps, except for 60i. AVC/MPEG4 codec is generally twice as efficient as XDCAM MPEG2.

With 5)64Gb P2 cards, that's 800 minutes of recording in 720/24PN, 400 minutes in 1080/24PN--no need to change cards during the shoot. SxS cards cost more than E series P2 cards, albeit have more record time due to low bit rate XDCAM-EX. SDHC cards are not recommended for 60P or any overcranking, take three times as long to download as SXS, but SXS does download faster than P2, unless E series via PCD35 reader into PCIe slot.

Yes, PCMCIA slots are gone on most computers, much like new Mac Book Pro 13" and 15" models are missing an Express Card slot. This is no reason to compromise on your codec.

My rental clients would not allow me to put a $1600 lens on a high-end 2/3" camera. We use HA series Fujinon glass only.

At Varicamp, nobody could tell the difference between a full raster HPX3700 in 1080P and a 2700 in 720P on HD CRT, LCD or Plasma monitors, except the 2700 was a stop faster. To get the most from a full raster camera, the lens must be very high end, like DigiPrimes, Fujinon 10X10 Cine zoom, etc. NOT $1600 ENG zoom lenses. Chromatic aberration compensation correction can't make a lens resolve more detail.

To have to buy an external recorder for a brand new model camera is a band aid. P2 cards, with built-in mini-Raid arrays, 1.2Mpbs throughput, great durability and news proven reliability since 2004 is what the 2700 offers, in addition to a superior codec in AVC-Intra.

There is no more reliable, high quality record media/codec to be found in a one-piece camcorder than AVC-Intra--speaking of looking at the future, 8-bit 4:2:0 is not part of it. I'd rather buy a used HPX3000 than a new 350.

As far as video DSLRS, lousy latitude, lousy super compressed low bit-rate codec, aliasing and moire on edges, resolution nothing special, lousy audio, lousy monitoring, little control of image parameters, ergonomics from hell, shallow DOF to the point of being unusable on a narrative, no smooth zooms, no one lens does all without severe f-stop ramping.

But hey, video DSLR's are trendy and hip and, most importantly, cheap. Most young filmmakers these days have never used 2/3" cameras, don't know what they're missing.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video

Thierry Humeau December 19th, 2009 10:42 AM


Excellent, well balanced analysis. I would have put a bit more emphasis on the weight factor. The 2700 is quite heavy and because of the power comsuption will require large capacity and heavy batteries. The F350 is a much lighter beast and use three times less power and is rated at a mere 15W. The F350 will be a much better camera to use when traveling and when shooting gun and running style or in tight spaces.


Jeff Regan December 19th, 2009 11:05 AM


I'm assuming you're not posting about a PDW-F350, but the PMW-350?

Power consumption with viewfinder on the 350 is 18W, 2700 is 38W, so yes, that's a big difference, but with a Dionic 90 battery, the 2700 is still good for approx. 2 hours.

The 350 body weighs 7 lbs, 2700 body is 10 lbs.

350 measures 5"WX10 5/8"HX13 1/8"D, 2700 is 5 7/16"X8 1/4"X12 9/16", so the 350 would seem to be taller and longer and less than 1/2" thinner--meanwhile the 2700 can hold 5 cards vs. 2 for the 350. Also, the 350 viewfinder is huge, not so easy to travel with.

I see absolutely no advantage in shooting in tight spaces, assuming similar lenses and battery sizes.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video

Steve Phillipps December 19th, 2009 11:25 AM

I think the cost has to be a factor. With the Varicam I've found you need pretty good lenses for it to look good, so you'll be talking about 10k+ for something decent, making the Varicam close to twice the price of the Sony.
Alister, quite a claim that the 350 will have better image quality, I'm sure there are many out there who would dispute it! Presumably you mean in 1080 mode and not in 720 (ie when able to use overcrank as you can in Varicam)? Even in 1080 I'd be dubious, but no way in 720. Can't give any scientific proof tho.

Alister Chapman December 19th, 2009 12:37 PM

The PMW-350 has full raster 1920x1080 sensors. It resolves at least 1100 tvl in both H and V with all detail enhancement off. This is about as high as you would ever want from any 1080 camera, any higher and you will have bad aliasing. It has the lowest noise figure of any 2/3" HD camera that I know of, 59db! This can clearly be seen in the video from the camera, it is very, very clean which will make it a delight to work with in post. In 720P mode this noise should be even less noticeable due the the pixel averaging that takes place. It is also very sensitive at F13. This will be a bonus when shooting at high frame rates or in low light. Subjectively 12db of gain on the 350 looks no worse than 6db of gain on a F900R.

It has the full range of Scene File and paint settings as found on the F900R etc. It can be set to use the Sony Hypergammas that permit 600% D-Range recording. My latitude tests indicated between 11 and 12 stops of dynamic range. There are 6 different colour matrices to choose from plus a user matrix and the ability to mix a standard matrix and user matrix to roll your own colorimetry. Highlight handling is very smooth and natural.

Those that claim that there is little difference between 1080 and 720 really need to look at how they are viewing the material. To my eyes, on a big screen the difference is very distinct. Where I have intercut 1080 and 720 footage from my EX's in the same production on any full resolution display larger than around 40" there is a noticeable softening of the image each time you go to the 720 material. Consumer screens are getting bigger and bigger. The use of full HD projectors is become more common place. On corporate events we often work with 4K Sony SXRD projectors with 30ft screens. At these scales the difference between 1080 and 720 is huge. Again you have to look to the future. Material you shoot today may be used for many years to come. How big will the average consumer TV be in 5 years time?

The 350 is a very light camera for it's size, the weight including the VF is 3.5kg. Because it uses so little power you only need a 90Wh battery for 4 hours of continuous use, this keeps the complete package weight way down. The viewfinder is not particularly big. It's design and shape is different but not excessively large like the EX3 VF. It is detachable. For many jobs you would only need 2 batteries for a days shoot and if you travel a lot, especially by air, this is a big deal. For me it means I can travel with the camera, lens and 2 batts broken down and packed in a single regulation carry-on size bag. A small dual channel charger could then go in a laptop bag leaving my checked baggage allowance for tripod, lights, clothes and everything else. If you get the kit lens the full package with a battery comes in less than 7Kg so you can also comfortably use a fairly light weight tripod.

The new 32Gb SxS-1 cards are almost exactly the same price per Gb as the P2 E series cards. While AVC-Intra may well be 10 bit, what is often forgotten is the 30% recording overhead that introduces. Many people seem to forget that AVC (and Mpeg4) is simply a further development of Mpeg2. It is not really a "new" codec, the basic methods and coding technologies are largely the same. Quite how Panasonic have managed to take a codec designed from the outset to use long GoP's, then thrown away the key thing that make it efficient, the long GoP, and then still claim it to be 2 times more efficient than a very similar codec being used in it's most efficient form I do not know.

Steve Phillipps December 19th, 2009 12:47 PM

I'm sure all that's correct Alister, but the fact is that the 2700 wouldn't have been chosen for these megabucks series if it wasn't the producers could have got a better camera for half the cost! We're talking about producers like Mark Linfield who with Alan Roberts set up the Planet Earth camera kits - he knows his stuff and is using the 2700 for Frozen Planet and not the 350. Same with the new Discovery America series with a bigger budget than Planet Earth even, they've got 5 2700s and a 3700, the EX cams never came up in the discussions. Again, they must have had their reasons.
Oe thing the 2700 has over the 350 even in a paper exercise is that it's 10 bit vs 8 bit. I suppose also CCD vs CMOS could be a factor.

Simon Wyndham December 19th, 2009 01:08 PM

Depending on how things go this coming year I intend to look seriously at the 350. There are other pieces of equipment I want to invest in first that add far more to a production than a new camera though, so it'll have to wait a bit. I would definitely buy one with a Nano.

However as per always it is just down to the work you do. The 350 probably wouldn't suit what Steve does due to the CMOS and the requirement to use extreme telephoto lenses. While I haven't generally had any issues with CMOS, I did notice a slight wobble on my Severn Bore footage taken from a boat when I was zoomed in all the way. It didn't ruin the footage, but any more telephoto and it might have been an issue.

It's a trade off as to which features of a camera are more valuable to any one individual operator or production. Personally I think that the advantages that CMOS sensors give for lower priced cameras far outweigh the disadvantages. In my own situation most of the types of shoots that I do don't cause CMOS attributes to show themselves. I haven't had a problem on any of the high action stuff that I have shot.


Those that claim that there is little difference between 1080 and 720 really need to look at how they are viewing the material. To my eyes, on a big screen the difference is very distinct. Where I have intercut 1080 and 720 footage from my EX's in the same production on any full resolution display larger than around 40"
I notice it even on smaller 24" displays. I think the myth came about because of minimum viewing distances. The difference between 960x720 and 1920x1080 is pretty huge. 960x720 isn't far off SD.

David Heath December 19th, 2009 01:12 PM

Regarding resolution, then the more resolution you start with, the less you're likely to need any detail enhancement. And the less of that you need, the more natural (ie "filmic") it's likely to be in that respect. Having full raster chips is going to give any camera a big headstart in that respect.

Originally Posted by Jeff Regan (Post 1462186)
Power consumption with viewfinder on the 350 is 18W, 2700 is 38W, so yes, that's a big difference, but with a Dionic 90 battery, the 2700 is still good for approx. 2 hours.

The real difference is when you start adding accessories to either camera though. Radio mic, camera headlight, maybe even a radiocam transmitter if used for broadcast news. It then becomes less an issue of how long will a battery last, but if it's capable of delivering the required power at all without shutting down. There are ways round it (some IDX batteries can be doubled up, for example) but at very least it's likely to mean extra expense and weight for a 2700.

Talking of radio mics the PMW350 will natively accept either the standard slot-in receivers and/or the new two channel (highly desirable) digital systems. I don't know what the situation is in the rest of the world, but in the UK there are plans to take away the current frequencies used by radio mics and force everybody to move to different frequencies. (The argument now is not if, but how much compensation users will be given.)

In terms of broadcast acceptance, neither of them ticks all the boxes for full future spec approval - the 2700 fails due to chip resolution, the 350 due to codec. As many others have said, there's no retrofit to get round this with a 2700, but you can add a nanoFlash to a 350 to make the latter fully approved. To Jeff, yes, it does smack of being a band-aid solution - I've made no secret on another thread that I'd prefer to see it with the 50Mbs codec - but pragmatically, I feel better to be able to apply a band-aid than put up with the "open wound" of the 720 chips of the 2700.

As far as the current offer goes, then I also agree with Alister, you have to ask why Panasonic are making such an offer. Would they be doing it if the cameras were flying off the shelves? And come the New Year, will the price simply go back up to where it was? How many 2700s do you think will get sold then!? So my own feeling would be not to get rushed into a hasty decision because of that.

If the purchase can be delayed, my feeling is that a version of the 350 is likely with the 50Mbs codec, hopefully for not too much extra, and that then really becomes the one to go for. And could the heavy discounting of the 2700 be a sign that it's about to be superceded itself?

Jeff Regan December 19th, 2009 01:34 PM


I have no doubt the 350 makes lovely images and I know my EX1 is very clean, so would expect 2/3" CMOS sensors to be even cleaner and faster. Any of these cameras bury a RED One in sensitivity and low noise.

The full raster 2/3" CMOS chip set can only resolve what the lens allows. I would be concerned about the MTF on a $1600 ENG zoom lens.

I have had a 1080 DLP front projection system with a 100" wide screen since 2006. I can't tell the difference between satellite and off-air delivered HD that is 1080 and 720, I can't tell the difference between 720 and 1080 out of my EX1.

I prefer shooting 720PN with its frame rate flexibility, work flow convenience and it doesn't require the uber-glass to get the most out of it, but still very good glass.

A three pound heavier body is not a big deal, power consumption is due to CCD's vs. CMOS.
The body is about the same size, yet holds 640Gb of memory vs. 64Gb.

I agree that it is unlikely for AVC-Intra, being 4:2:2, 10-bit, I-Frame to be twice as efficient as MPEG2 Long GOP 4:2:0, but there are many years in between when MPEG2 and MPEG4 were developed. Obviously the above specs are the reasons why AVC-Intra 100 needs a higher bit rate in 1080 than XDCAM EX.

A 2700 recording in full sample 1080P, AVC-Intra 100 looks plenty sharp to me. I find Sony HD cameras to look too video like out of the box and prefer the Panasonic's more organic, filmic, look and colorimetry, but recognize that any of these digital cameras with fantastic menu control can be made to look the way one wants--that is the point of a high end digital camera, unlike those that record in RAW and depend upon post to get the look.

The new series Pro Media SxS 32Gb cards are $750 USD vs. $600 for E series 32Gb P2 cards. I like being able record on five cards vs. two in the camera, but yes, one would need to carry four batteries vs. two.

Bottom line for me is that the codec is superior, I prefer not ever having to worry about CMOS artifacts, I prefer the look of Panasonic cameras, but haven't seen the 350 yet. I do think the 700 is lovely. The 2700 at $40K was overpriced, ditto the 3700 at $60K, but for my money, literally, the 2700 at $20K is a fantastic opportunity(plus VF, lens, plate, mic, case, P2 cards). I guess if a $1600 lens can look good on a full raster camera, it should look good on a 720P camera? I guess Fujinon and Canon should stop building high-end HD lenses if true.

To me, the biggest problem with the 350 is that it shares the same codec with an EX1 and 3, has no more card slots, 1/2" to 2/3" sensor size difference not that huge, but costs $20K vs. an EX1R for $6500. We know there are some worthwhile differences, just not sure about producers.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
Shooting Star Video

Jeff Regan December 19th, 2009 01:45 PM


Originally Posted by Simon Wyndham (Post 1462227)
I notice it even on smaller 24" displays. I think the myth came about because of minimum viewing distances. The difference between 960x720 and 1920x1080 is pretty huge. 960x720 isn't far off SD.

Simon, I don't see the difference between 720P and 1080P on a 100" screen. 720P via AVC-Intra is full sample 720X1280, not 720X960 as it is with DVCPRO HD.

David, the HPX3700 had the same 3700 half-off sale, that's a full raster camera, one that did very well at the ASC/PGA camera assessment tests. No camera is flying off the shelf, with the exception of RED One and Canon 5D and 7D. I'm dubious as to whether a 350 will fly off the shelf.

Mark my words, Sony is NOT likely to make an SxS camera with 50Mpbs capability--that would affect sales of the 700 and 800. Meanwhile, Panasonic has put its best codec in its very affordable HPX300 at an EX3 price.

Again, the Varicam name means something to many filmmakers, as does the CineAlta name, I would just say that to me, the codec compromise in the 350 is a deal breaker for, which a 720X1280 CCD chip set is not. I certainly understand if somebody feels the opposite.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
Shooting Star Video

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