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HDX900 vs. HPX3000


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#1 Tim Pipher

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 12:46 PM

I'm deciding which cameras to purchase to put into a three camera studio configuration, with recording to an external deck. These will be usually used in-studio for greenscreen work.

I'd also like my cameras to be excellent on location for 24p TV and movie work. For on location shoots I'll be recording into the camera.

I was sold on Red and have three reserved, but now it turns out that the 1080 outputs won't be activated soon, if ever, making Reds not usable for my studio work.


The HDX900 will cost condsiderably less than the HPX3000. In your opinion, is the HPX3000 worth the extra money?

If nothing else, will the perception that the HPX3000 is more valuable or better (since it costs more) likely to carry more weight when convincing outside users to choose my facility for their productions or for networks to choose my programs since they were produced using higher end or more "prestigious" cameras? (I know -- the story, photography etc. of the shows are more important than the cameras used, but assume equal story, equal cinematography, equal crew, equal talent etc. with both cameras). In my experience, so much of any sales effort boils down to how much sizzle I can generate in my pitch -- can I generate more excitement in my pitches with the HPX3000 vs. the HDX900 to justify its added expense?

Thanks for any input or ideas.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 01:34 PM

The question is whether you need 1080P or not, or whether 720P/1080i is fine with your clients. I think for broadcast work, the HDX900 will be fine.

As for the RED camera, I'm not sure why it isn't suitable for studio work -- you just need to convert the RAW files into HD on a computer.

Maybe you can afford to get the HVX900 and a RED for the cost of a HPX3000... ;) You never know whether future clients will be asking for a 1080P camera or the RED camera... the RED covers you both ways and the HVX900 covers you for now.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 04:07 PM

The HPX3000 records to onboard P2 cards, and the HDX900 records to DVCPRO-HD tape. For field work you'll need to consider what extra gear you'll need or want to make it work (a DVCPRO-HD deck back at your studio or P2 cards and a reader/recorder of some type for the field). If you really want to compare apples to apples, the HPX2000 is the P2-only version of the HDX900 camera (the HDX does have a firewire output that allows for recording the DVCPRO-HD stream to an external device).

The HPX3000 is Panasonic's latest and greatest, and offers several significant improvements over the HDX. The biggest being the fact that has full 1080x1920 chips and can shoot and record 1080/24p. That puts in direct competition with the Sony F900 in terms of image capture. Other Panasonic cameras like the HDX and Varicam use 720x1280 chips, the HDX offering the option to record that as 1080 interlaced. For feature film production the added resolution of 1080 chips is a real benefit, but for broadcast it doesn't make as much difference.

The HPX3000 also includes the new AVC-intra recording codec, which is supposed to be a significant improvement over DVCPRO-HD (the HPX2000 now includes AVC-intra as well). I haven't heard the latest but Apple has been promising to support AVC-intra within Final Cut Pro, and you can record in the DVCPRO-HD codec in the mean time. Both codecs are 4:2:2.

The HDX900/HPX2000 can record 720/60P, which is useful for slow motion. The HPX3000 does 24/25/30P and 50/60i, all at 1080.
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#4 Walter Graff

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 06:17 PM

I consult on a lot of such configurations for stuidos/networks/etc. My question is why waste the money on a Panasonic with deck/P2 when you are doing a studio configuration with external recording. You're paying for stuff yo don't need and you are wasting a lot of money. Why not an Ikegami HDK-79E which will blow both of these cameras away? Ike invented the look that Panasonic now uses. Your trying to count pixels and the like when there are far more important considerations than a few numbers. Why not contact me and I'll give you some free advice that will give you some better considerations and remedies?
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#5 Tim Pipher

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 06:43 PM

The question is whether you need 1080P or not, or whether 720P/1080i is fine with your clients. I think for broadcast work, the HDX900 will be fine.

As for the RED camera, I'm not sure why it isn't suitable for studio work -- you just need to convert the RAW files into HD on a computer.

Maybe you can afford to get the HVX900 and a RED for the cost of a HPX3000... ;) You never know whether future clients will be asking for a 1080P camera or the RED camera... the RED covers you both ways and the HVX900 covers you for now.


The RED won't be suitable for studio work because it has come to light that RED won't be offering outputs for line recording anytime soon, if ever. It turns out that the 1080 output won't work until 1080 recording is enabled on the camera, and 1080 seems to be out of fashion to RED's way of thinking, so it may never happen. On the other hand, I started a thread on Reduser.net about the output problem and possibilities for solutions, and I think RED is now understanding that a lot of us need an HD-SDI output -- maybe they'll make something happen.

However, you might have a great idea -- go with the HVX900's, and use the savings to get a tricked out RED with lens.
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#6 Tim Pipher

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 07:25 PM

I consult on a lot of such configurations for stuidos/networks/etc. My question is why waste the money on a Panasonic with deck/P2 when you are doing a studio configuration with external recording. You're paying for stuff yo don't need and you are wasting a lot of money. Why not an Ikegami HDK-79E which will blow both of these cameras away? Ike invented the look that Panasonic now uses. Your trying to count pixels and the like when there are far more important considerations than a few numbers. Why not contact me and I'll give you some free advice that will give you some better considerations and remedies?


Hello Walter. I looked quite closely at the HDK-79E when I started this process almost two years ago (I've had massive red tape to deal with from my local government concerning my building construction causing the delay), but I ruled them out because I'd like to do on-location shooting with my cameras in addition to the studio work, and I kept hearing F900, Viper, F950, Varicam etc.

However, David's suggestion to save a few bucks on the studio cameras and buy a RED for field production makes sense. Two years ago the Ikegami's were big money -- I assume they still are. Any ballpark guess of their price? Also, those cameras were introduced a number of years ago, so I assume I'd lose the "latest/greatest" factor -- do they still carry the "prestige"?

Finally, would a producer or cinematographer ever request the Ikegami's for shooting a movie or dramatic TV show?

Thanks for your comments/answers!
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#7 Walter Graff

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 07:32 PM

Best of luck in whatever you choose!!
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#8 Tim Pipher

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 08:02 PM

Best of luck in whatever you choose!!


Thanks Walter. Sorry -- those were questions, not comments. I've heard great things about those cameras. Would you use those Ikegami's for movies and narrative TV? And any guess as to their price (I just found a couple used for $55,000 each including 790A CCU) and their "sizzle" factor?

Thanks again,

Tim
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#9 Tim Pipher

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Posted 25 November 2007 - 10:08 PM

The HPX3000 records to onboard P2 cards, and the HDX900 records to DVCPRO-HD tape. For field work you'll need to consider what extra gear you'll need or want to make it work (a DVCPRO-HD deck back at your studio or P2 cards and a reader/recorder of some type for the field). If you really want to compare apples to apples, the HPX2000 is the P2-only version of the HDX900 camera (the HDX does have a firewire output that allows for recording the DVCPRO-HD stream to an external device).

The HPX3000 is Panasonic's latest and greatest, and offers several significant improvements over the HDX. The biggest being the fact that has full 1080x1920 chips and can shoot and record 1080/24p. That puts in direct competition with the Sony F900 in terms of image capture. Other Panasonic cameras like the HDX and Varicam use 720x1280 chips, the HDX offering the option to record that as 1080 interlaced. For feature film production the added resolution of 1080 chips is a real benefit, but for broadcast it doesn't make as much difference.

The HPX3000 also includes the new AVC-intra recording codec, which is supposed to be a significant improvement over DVCPRO-HD (the HPX2000 now includes AVC-intra as well). I haven't heard the latest but Apple has been promising to support AVC-intra within Final Cut Pro, and you can record in the DVCPRO-HD codec in the mean time. Both codecs are 4:2:2.

The HDX900/HPX2000 can record 720/60P, which is useful for slow motion. The HPX3000 does 24/25/30P and 50/60i, all at 1080.



Hello Michael. Thanks for your camera summaries. Sorry to muddy the waters further, but do you have any thoughts on the Panasonic AG-HPX500? It's certainly cheap and appears to have a lot going for it.
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#10 Michael Nash

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 12:11 AM

Hello Michael. Thanks for your camera summaries. Sorry to muddy the waters further, but do you have any thoughts on the Panasonic AG-HPX500? It's certainly cheap and appears to have a lot going for it.


The HPX500 is basically a glorified HVX200, the same basic camera re-packaged to fit on your shoulder and sport a B4-mount lens. It has 2/3" chips, but the native image resolution and image controls (540x960 chips, uprezzed to 1080 or 720). That's really a completely different strata than the HPX300 or 2000.

Since you're asking about a wide range of cameras and you also mention the "sizzle" factor in marketing the gear to clients, it sounds like you might benefit from finding out a little more about what your target client base wants and demands. If it's feature films then 1080 on up to 4K with cine-style functionality might be best; but if it's mostly broadcast then ENG-style and 720 HD might be the better investment. You want to provide what the market demands at a price they can afford, rather than provide them with gear that doesn't measure up to their expectations or is priced out of their range.
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#11 Mitch Gross

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 04:06 PM

Michael already gave a lot of great answers here, but if you're looking for any further info then we at Abel would be happy to help you find your way.
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#12 Mike Brennan

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 05:17 PM

Michael already gave a lot of great answers here, but if you're looking for any further info then we at Abel would be happy to help you find your way.


I have a 3000 on loan for two more days, anyone have any ideas for loops to put it through?

1st generation picture quality is best I've seen in a EFP style camcorder.
But will wait to put the pictures through an edit to see how AVC I behaves.

After years of losing pixels and bit depth we are back on track. Next step less compression!

If the client likes P2 then you would be wise considering the highest quality HD camera you can afford, 3000 doesn't add that much to total kit package and you'll be taking the high ground with full res and 10bit recording.
If you need HDSDI out, time lapse 11x or +22x lenses, camera remotes in the near future then 2/3inch camera is the way to go now. In a years time depending on RED development the decison will be different as there is a 35mm size sensor camera on the way from Sony as well as more tricked out smaller cams.



Mike Brennan
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#13 Michael Nash

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 05:40 PM

I have a 3000 on loan for two more days, anyone have any ideas for loops to put it through?


Speaking as a DP, I would be interested in trying to push the dynamic range, sensitivity, and color correction as far as I could until I found the "breaking point" where images become unacceptably noisy or artificial-looking. Especially with the new codec. To that end, I would test different gamma settings and combinations, as well as over- and under-exposure to see what detail you can hold and what can be recovered. Same thing for color; I would try different white balance settings and extreme color correction in camera to see what noise you get when you try to correct to normal.
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 07:02 PM

Does the 3000 use the DVCPRO-HD codec when recording to P2 cards? If so, is there a 1080/30P limit due to the 100 Mbps limit of that codec, which is normally for 720/60P?
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#15 Tim Pipher

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 07:15 PM

I have a 3000 on loan for two more days, anyone have any ideas for loops to put it through?

1st generation picture quality is best I've seen in a EFP style camcorder.
But will wait to put the pictures through an edit to see how AVC I behaves.

After years of losing pixels and bit depth we are back on track. Next step less compression!

If the client likes P2 then you would be wise considering the highest quality HD camera you can afford, 3000 doesn't add that much to total kit package and you'll be taking the high ground with full res and 10bit recording.
If you need HDSDI out, time lapse 11x or +22x lenses, camera remotes in the near future then 2/3inch camera is the way to go now. In a years time depending on RED development the decison will be different as there is a 35mm size sensor camera on the way from Sony as well as more tricked out smaller cams.



Mike Brennan


Just a note to say thanks for your comments on Reduser.net concerning the RED/Output drop situation -- I suspect your assessment is bang on.
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#16 Tim Pipher

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 07:19 PM

Michael already gave a lot of great answers here, but if you're looking for any further info then we at Abel would be happy to help you find your way.


Thanks Mitch. I actually saw you at NAB and hung around for a few minutes to say hello and thank you for your valuable posts to this forum. You were mobbed, though, and when I noticed the crowd around you had finally dissipated, I was told you had just left for lunch!
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#17 Tim Pipher

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 07:54 PM

The HPX500 is basically a glorified HVX200, the same basic camera re-packaged to fit on your shoulder and sport a B4-mount lens. It has 2/3" chips, but the native image resolution and image controls (540x960 chips, uprezzed to 1080 or 720). That's really a completely different strata than the HPX300 or 2000.

Since you're asking about a wide range of cameras and you also mention the "sizzle" factor in marketing the gear to clients, it sounds like you might benefit from finding out a little more about what your target client base wants and demands. If it's feature films then 1080 on up to 4K with cine-style functionality might be best; but if it's mostly broadcast then ENG-style and 720 HD might be the better investment. You want to provide what the market demands at a price they can afford, rather than provide them with gear that doesn't measure up to their expectations or is priced out of their range.


I know I'm all over the place on this. I was sold on RED and was just waiting for my January delivery, and now I'm scrambling to find the right cameras with HD-SDI outputs.

I still thought the HPX500 sounded pretty good, especially since they'd be mostly used in-studio, recording to a Wafian 2 deck (presumably creating better images than the camera's on-board recorder), and with my Orad 3D HD virtual studio system adding a 35 mm DOF to my backgrounds.

Add in David's idea of using my savings for the purchase of a RED for on-location shoots, and I thought my product might be pretty good with that combination.

A Panasonic salesman today, though, recommends the HPX2000 for me. The most compelling argument he made was that national cable networks like Discovery and National Geographic won't accept programs produced on the HPX500.

However, a person who I think is very much in the know from a message board says that that's nonsense due to the 500's 2/3 inch chips -- that only 15% of their programming can come from 1/3 inch chip cameras like the HVX200 -- but that the networks have no problem whatsoever with HPX500 produced content.

Who is right about the network requirements -- the salesman or the guy from the message board?

One final alternative I could undertake, proving even more that I'm all over the place:

Two of my three cameras will be tracked in my greenscreen virtual studio productions using encoded jibs, so my cameras can have lots of movement. Maybe I could go with two HPX3000's on jibs and skip a third studio camera, and give up the RED for location shoots too (using the HPX3000's in studio and on location). Any sense of how well I could cover studio shoots with two cameras on jibs and dropping the third?
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#18 Michael Nash

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 11:02 PM

Does the 3000 use the DVCPRO-HD codec when recording to P2 cards? If so, is there a 1080/30P limit due to the 100 Mbps limit of that codec, which is normally for 720/60P?


I'm sure Mitch can answer this much better, but as I understand it the AVC-I codec is much more efficient, which allows for more info at the same data rate.

The 3000 can record to P2 cards in three codecs, with variations: AVC-I 100 for full quality; AVC-I 50 for DVCPRO-HD quality but at half the bit rate; DVCPRO-HD; and standard def with DVCPRO-50.

http://catalog2.pana...mp;displayTab=O
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#19 Michael Nash

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 11:08 PM

Who is right about the network requirements -- the salesman or the guy from the message board?

One final alternative I could undertake, proving even more that I'm all over the place:

Two of my three cameras will be tracked in my greenscreen virtual studio productions using encoded jibs, so my cameras can have lots of movement. Maybe I could go with two HPX3000's on jibs and skip a third studio camera, and give up the RED for location shoots too (using the HPX3000's in studio and on location). Any sense of how well I could cover studio shoots with two cameras on jibs and dropping the third?


I can't speak for the networks' requirements, but the fact that the HPX500 uses 2/3" chips instead of 1/3" really doesn't make any difference to the image coming out the other end -- except for maybe some improvement in signal-to-noise and highlight response. The quality is essentially the same as the HVX200.

Since you're the one with the design for producing your programming on virtual sets, it's really hard for us to estimate the value of 3 cameras over 2 in that situation.
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#20 Jay Nemeth

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Posted 26 November 2007 - 11:36 PM

I can't speak for the networks' requirements, but the fact that the HPX500 uses 2/3" chips instead of 1/3" really doesn't make any difference to the image coming out the other end -- except for maybe some improvement in signal-to-noise and highlight response. The quality is essentially the same as the HVX200.

Since you're the one with the design for producing your programming on virtual sets, it's really hard for us to estimate the value of 3 cameras over 2 in that situation.


I'm so tired of the networks saying which camera can be used or not used. They're not qualified to make those decisions. A camera is simply a hammer used to construct our projects. As the DP, I will decide which tool is the right one, and there are many more considerations than the pixel count of the imager. There is so much processing going on in these cameras that it's now possible for a "lower" pixel count CCD to have the same impact, snap, and apparent resolution as one with a higher native pickup, and I'm not talking about EE as being a factor.

I shoot primarily film, and a good amount of Hd with the f900 and I'm very impressed with the picture from the HPX500. I've done 4 shoots with the 500 and the editors and colorists have a hard time telling whether my footage came from the 500 or the f900. So how are some network QC people going to say that the 500 is unacceptable? And in fact, how do they even know what a project was shot on when we deliver everything to them on D5 or HDCam tape? I'm not convinced that Discovery and National Geo ever made that statement. I wonder if this wasn't some "upsell" tactic of the Panny salesman.

Also, even thought the 200 and 500 cut together very well, there is a noticeable amount of increased detail in the HPX500.
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