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Panasonic HC Series Camcorders
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Old September 22nd, 2020, 04:20 AM   #1
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HC-X1500 compared to Sony FDR-AX700

I only became aware of the HC-X1500 yesterday. I thought I did enough due diligence two months ago when I chose the FDR-AX700 as a reasonable camcorder for my needs. They seem very close in price and control layout but the HC-X1500 has 4:2:2 and 10 bit, plus 60 fps in 4K, as far as I can determine reading specs, none of which the Sony sports.

How is Panasonic keeping the price down at the same level or what don't I know?
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Old September 22nd, 2020, 12:23 PM   #2
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Re: HC-X1500 compared to Sony FDR-AX700

Charlie - Wasn’t aware of this cam myself and given the 2-rings and 4:2:2 features and the fact that Panasonic also makes the Lumix brand (based on a little purse-sized camera my wife bought several years ago that I was impressed with), I did a quick search to find out more about it. The Amazon site didn’t have many reviews but there was one customer review by “Eric B” that was quite thorough as he has has used it for a couple months, and since his previous cam was the venerable AX100 (cir. 2014 - my, how time does fly), the review made some comparisons which was helpful.

Bottom line: The smaller sensor means it is not that good in low light but then it is better for rolling shutter and the audio wasn’t very good but he used a Tascam recorder for that. So while on the surface, the features seemed good but as the reviewer said, “it does come down to picking the right tool for the job”. A couple sayings come to mind: “All is not gold that glitters” and “different strokes for different folks”. Some more research is in order to verify the reviewers remarks and see if there is a deal-breaker.

Depending on ones needs and whether this is the right tool, the AX700 does have a good sensor and audio section. For on-board audio input, I’ve been using the Røde mic like the reviewer, or, for XLR inputs, the Tascam DR-44WL which has more features than the cary handle.

Stabilization comments: these can get kinda personal and fall into the “different strokes” and “right tool” categories. No comment here except to say that I’ve got 3 cams and 2 gimbals for those situations, if that hints anything.

Bottom line: The AX700 is a good cam, 4:2:2 is nice but may not a deal breaker (for me - next cam), but, as they say, “Your mileage may vary” and if it doesn’t then don’t beat your self.
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Old September 22nd, 2020, 03:14 PM   #3
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Re: HC-X1500 compared to Sony FDR-AX700

Here are my casual observations, opinion, and comments, for whatever they are worth.

It appears that the Panasonic is actually only 4:2:0 when shooting 4K 60 fps. But who needs 60 fps anyway? Most television production is 30 fps and movies are 24 fps. 60 fps is not mainstream and mainly only useful for use as slow-motion. I have several cameras that can shoot 60 fps -- but I don't use it.

The differences between 10-bit 4:2:2 and 8-bit 4:2:0 is generally only going to be visible for stuff like green screen or when heavily graded in post. I would defy anyone to see the difference between 10-bit 4:2:2 and 8-bit 4:2:0 99% of the time in a blind test with footage straight out of the camera. The AX700 offers some pretty sophisticated paint menus, so dialing-in the look of the camera is easy and thus avoids the need for very much adjustments in post. I don't know how the Panasonic compares in this area.

Being able to record decent quality audio onboard the camera ought to be a mandatory specification of any camcorder. If it can't do it, that is a deal breaker.

I was involved in some camera testing/evaluations last year for a major sports production and one of the cameras was the AG-CX350. It was awful in lowlight and was immediately eliminated from the rest of the testing. Is the 1500 better than the CX350? I doubt it. The cameras that were chosen over the CX3500 were two dozen Sony Z280s and twenty Z90's (which is basically the same thing as the AX700) even though the 25 primary cameras were Panasonic Varicam LTs. The small Sony's exceeded the the performance of the small Panasonics by a wide margin.

That's my two-bits, but of course I'm biased since I own a Z90.
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Old September 23rd, 2020, 01:52 AM   #4
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Re: HC-X1500 compared to Sony FDR-AX700

LOL Doug, I don't have a problem with your "bias" since it comes from hard experience under production circumstances. One of my most depressing camera shopping trips was when I was looking forward to some guidance from the sales person on 35mm film SLRs and he only offered, "They're all good." sigh..

I am watching your full series on the Z90, NX80 and AX700 repeatedly - I guess I'm still a little slow on the uptake with my AX700's features and camera basics in general. Baby steps.

FWIW, this subscriber of yours went with the AX700 because a local (Toronto) source had the AX700 and no other models at an incredible price so that cinched my pick. I was already blessed with finding a mint Tascam DR-70D - for Cdn$100 incl 90 day warranty. I couldn't justify paying for the XLR handle when I had that already. I'll put a stereo feed into the AX700 via the 1/8" jack so I can sync but I'll probably use the DR-70D card's tracks on the timeline. Two 256 GB Kingston Canvas Go! Plus cards round out the initial setup. When someone pays me, I will be looking for a proper tripod and head.
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