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How Good is the HVX900P?


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#1 Chiron Forsyth

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 10:20 AM

I am trying to achieve a cinematic look in an ultra-lowbudget HD horror movie (feature length). Renting the Varicam may be out of our budget range. How does the HVX-900P compare? If not, what would be the "next best" choice? Also, how does the Sony HDW F900/3 compare?

-- Mike Forsyth
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#2 Ralph Oshiro

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 12:18 PM

I am trying to achieve a cinematic look in an ultra-lowbudget HD horror movie (feature length). Renting the Varicam may be out of our budget range. How does the HVX-900P compare? If not, what would be the "next best" choice? Also, how does the Sony HDW F900/3 compare?


I've shot with the F900/3, F900/R, SDX900 (standard-def Panasonic predecessor to the HDX900), but never a Varicam. There is no "HVX900P" in Panasonic's line-up. You may be thinking of the HDX900 720p DVCPRO-HD tape-based camera. Although I haven't shot with it, think of it as a "high-def" SDX900. I don't think you can go wrong, image-quality wise with any of Panasonic's pro 2/3" 24p line-up.

Panasonic HDX900

Here's Panasonic's current 2/3" 24p HD line-up, from best to less-best:

HDC27H (Varicam) DVCPRO-HD tape-based
HDX900 DVCPRO-HD tape-based
SPX800 P2-based

Most noteworthy, however, is Panasonic's upcoming HPX500. Think of it as a 2/3" HVX200. Expected to be shown at NAB2007, and presumably shipping later this year, the camera is only priced at about $18K USD without glass. It's really the poor man's Varicam (or rich man's HVX200) since it's the first pro camera in Panasonic's line-up, aside from the Varicam, to come with variable frame rates (under- and over-cranking). If it weren't for my standing RED reservation, the HPX500 is the camera I would've bought this year for creating digital cinema.

Panasonic HPX500

To sum up, just get the best rate you can on any of these cameras, F900/3, F900/R, Varicam, HDX900, SPX800--they're all great image-making machines.

Actually, if I were you, I would be very interested in trying out either the HDX900 or SPX800, since they're both brand-spankin' new models, with perhaps a few new wrinkles up their sleeves. They just may be harder to find as rental stock. Also, there are sensitivity differences among all of these models. For example, the 900/3 is among the slowest and oldest models I've mentioned (e.g., the 900/R is faster than the 900/3). If you have low-light requirements, the newer models are your best bet. Hmm . . . I just checked--the SPX800 is FAST: f/13.0 at 2000 lux.

A small correction: The Varicam specs out at f/12 @ 2,000 lux, which is QUITE fast! I don't remember what the F900/3 specs out at, but I believe it's the slowest camera of the ones I mentioned, possibly something like f/9 or f/10 @ 2,000 lux (but don't quote me on that).

Edited by Ralph Oshiro, 06 March 2007 - 12:20 PM.

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#3 Ralph Oshiro

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 12:59 PM

Here's Panasonic's current 2/3" 24p HD line-up, from best to less-best:

HDC27H (Varicam) DVCPRO-HD tape-based
HDX900 DVCPRO-HD tape-based
SPX800 P2-based

Oh, I forgot about the HPX2000:

Panasonic HPX2000
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#4 Mitch Gross

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 01:43 PM

The HDX900 uses the same imager as the Varicam and it actually has a higher bit rate DSP, so the image is as good if not better than the Varicam's. The only drawback is a limited number of frame rates (24, 25, 30, 50, 60) and no FilmREC mode, qlthough there are some gamma controls that come very close and I wouldn't recommend FILMREC to someone who wasn't very familiar to how it functioned anyway. The SPX500 uses the sensor from the SDX900 and uprezzes the image, so I would certainly call it a lesser-quality image. But you get what you pay for and it does a lot for the price.
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#5 Chad Stockfleth

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 01:58 PM

I would second from experience that the HDX900 being 14bit is generally less noisey than the 10 and 12 bit Varicams. Especially noticeable in the blacks. Varicam excels in tweakability, but the HDX is quite nice. Remember too that you can always shoot at a 30 or 60fps and slow it down in post, although as Mitch said, much more limited.
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#6 Ralph Oshiro

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 03:37 AM

The HDX900 uses the same imager as the Varicam and it actually has a higher bit rate DSP, so the image is as good if not better than the Varicam's. The only drawback is a limited number of frame rates (24, 25, 30, 50, 60) and no FilmREC mode, qlthough there are some gamma controls that come very close and I wouldn't recommend FILMREC to someone who wasn't very familiar to how it functioned anyway. The SPX500 uses the sensor from the SDX900 and uprezzes the image, so I would certainly call it a lesser-quality image. But you get what you pay for and it does a lot for the price.

Mitch:

As I recall from visiting Panasonic's booth at NAB2006, either the HPX2000 or the SPX800 (can't remember which one) was NOT going to have 24p capability, and was designed specifically for the ENG market. Did Panasonic change the design of one of those models to ADD 24p capability?
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#7 Michael Nash

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 04:09 AM

As I recall from visiting Panasonic's booth at NAB2006, either the HPX2000 or the SPX800 (can't remember which one) was NOT going to have 24p capability, and was designed specifically for the ENG market. Did Panasonic change the design of one of those models to ADD 24p capability?


Both do 24P.

SPX800

HPX2000
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#8 Ralph Oshiro

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 06:25 AM

Yeah, I know they both do now. But originally, 24p capability was absent from the NAB2006 press release for I think, HPX2000.
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#9 Mitch Gross

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 05:04 PM

The SXP2000 was always going to have 24p, just not the Native variety that saves 60% of the P2 storage space. After some yelling & screaming (including from folks like me) Panasonic added it to the camera. But they couldn't get the firmware done in time, so it will be a free upgrade for anyone buying the camera before August. After that it is included in the camera.
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#10 Michael Nash

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 05:14 PM

The SXP2000 was always going to have 24p, just not the Native variety that saves 60% of the P2 storage space. After some yelling & screaming (including from folks like me) Panasonic added it to the camera. But they couldn't get the firmware done in time, so it will be a free upgrade for anyone buying the camera before August. After that it is included in the camera.


Do you mean the HPX-2000? I'm just trying to keep all these models straight! I was under the impression that the SPX800 recorded 24 with the 3:2 pulldown.
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#11 Mitch Gross

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 05:23 PM

Sorry, yes, HPX2000. Long day.
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#12 Ralph Oshiro

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Posted 08 March 2007 - 07:43 PM

Thanks for the info, Mitch!
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#13 mrbill762

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 05:22 PM

I just shot for a week with the HDX900P and it is an awesome camera.
It was my first experience with HD and what an experience it was. :)

Bill
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#14 Walter Graff

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 05:47 PM

I am trying to achieve a cinematic look in an ultra-lowbudget HD horror movie (feature length). Renting the Varicam may be out of our budget range. How does the HVX-900P compare? If not, what would be the "next best" choice? Also, how does the Sony HDW F900/3 compare?

-- Mike Forsyth


Whatever happened to the simple answer toa question?

Yes this camera will do exactly what you need and look just as good, that is if the person behind thelens is talented.
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