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HPX3000 vs. RED


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#1 Tim Pipher

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 08:12 PM

I've been excited about the RED camera since I found out about them two years ago, and ordered three of them at this year's NAB, with delivery scheduled for late January. I thought the camera was fabulous -- and still do.

However, in now appears the the RED won't work for me. Because they dropped their 1080 recording, they're not able to offer HD-SDI outputs. HD-SDI outputs are crucial for my studio configurations. I've been now forced to choose new cameras. I think my choice is the HPX3000.

Like RED, the HPX3000 looks like one fantastic camera. But I'm worried about my switch to it for two reasons:

1. They're a lot more expensive

2. I was really excited about RED's 35 mm DOF.

Here are my questions:

1. Do you feel that there will be a higher rental demand for the 3000's (and/or higher rental rate) than
the REDs to help cover the additional cost?

2. Do you personally think that you'd usually prefer the 3000's 2/3 inch DOF with a good quality 2/3 inch lens, or would you prefer that the 3000 be rigged for 35 mm DOF for most applications, achieved using a B4 35 mm adapter and RED 18-50 zoom lens?

Any comments will be greatly appreciated.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 09:20 PM

I'm not much of a believer in 35mm adaptors for 2/3" cameras -- it's only a 2.5 stop difference in depth of field that you have to compensate for, so just get some fast lenses and shoot them wide-open. You'll then also get the benefit of working in lower light. F/2 on a 2/3" lens is like f/4-5.6 split, which on a longer lens, is shallow-focus enough in most cases.

It makes even less sense to put slow 35mm zooms on the adaptor, not that the RED zoom is that slow, but you are limited to an f/2.8, so that's only 1.5 stops less equivalent depth of field than a f/2 on a 2/3" zoom. Plus you get to work at an f/2 instead of an f/2.8, not to mention the additional stop lost using the adaptor.
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#3 Matthew Rogers

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 10:31 PM

However, in now appears the the RED won't work for me. Because they dropped their 1080 recording, they're not able to offer HD-SDI outputs. HD-SDI outputs are crucial for my studio configurations. I've been now forced to choose new cameras. I think my choice is the HPX3000.


Unless I missed something, I believe that in the end (when all the features are enabled) 1080P will be available over dual link HD-SDI on the camera. I would still like to have the option in camera to shoot scaled 4k to 1080P:)

Matthew
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#4 Michael Nash

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Posted 27 November 2007 - 10:59 PM

However, in now appears the the RED won't work for me. Because they dropped their 1080 recording, they're not able to offer HD-SDI outputs. HD-SDI outputs are crucial for my studio configurations. They're a lot more expensive

2. I was really excited about RED's 35 mm DOF.

Any comments will be greatly appreciated.


Wait a minute -- aren't you doing virtual sets on a greenscreen stage? Why would you need extra-shallow depth of field? I would think you would want your subjects in focus for a clean matte edge, and then you can blur your virtual backgrounds as much as you want...

In any case, the hype surrounding these 35mm adapters is starting to become a pet peeve of mine. They are a tool for a specific job, namely getting shallow depth of field for 1/3" cameras that typically can't. But there's a big tradeoff in image quality in the form of sensitivity, sharpness, contrast, even screen illumination, etc. etc.. David's right, with 2/3" chip cameras and good glass you can get very pleasant and cinematic images when shooting around f/2.0. Put some Zeiss Digiprimes or a good cinestyle HD zoom on your camera and you'll be very pleased with the quality. Besides, why would you want to handicap the superb image quality of the HPX3000 with a relay-lens system? That's like putting budget tires on your Ferrari before you take it out on the track...
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#5 Mitch Gross

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 12:01 PM

I agree that a 35 adaptor would be hampering your setup more than it would be aiding it. The adaptor (the only current model is the P+S Technik Pro35) is also prohibitively expensive, significantly more than an entire RED camera!

The HPX3000 is a terrific camera, with a true 1080p 2.2 million pixel (photosite) imager. The rental rate will be significantly more than the RED One's rental rate for quite some time to come. You won't find thousands of HPX3000 cameras flooding the market in the next six months like you will the RED. We have the HPX3000 available for sale & rent.
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#6 Tim Pipher

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 12:34 PM

I agree that a 35 adaptor would be hampering your setup more than it would be aiding it. The adaptor (the only current model is the P+S Technik Pro35) is also prohibitively expensive, significantly more than an entire RED camera!

The HPX3000 is a terrific camera, with a true 1080p 2.2 million pixel (photosite) imager. The rental rate will be significantly more than the RED One's rental rate for quite some time to come. You won't find thousands of HPX3000 cameras flooding the market in the next six months like you will the RED. We have the HPX3000 available for sale & rent.


Thanks Mitch. What's your guess of a ballpark HPX3000 vs. RED rental rate?

Also, what would you recommend as a jack of all trades zoom lens for the HPX3000, suitable for as wide a range of in-studio and on location shoots as possible. Also, for maximum utility, would you go with a cine or broadcast zoom lens?

Thanks!
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#7 Tim Pipher

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 12:41 PM

Wait a minute -- aren't you doing virtual sets on a greenscreen stage? Why would you need extra-shallow depth of field? I would think you would want your subjects in focus for a clean matte edge, and then you can blur your virtual backgrounds as much as you want...


Thanks Michael. Good points about the clean matte edge and virtual background blur for a 35 mm DOF effect. I do want to use these cameras on location, too, where I thought the 35 mm characteristics would be to my advantage.
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#8 Mitch Gross

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 02:25 PM

Thanks Mitch. What's your guess of a ballpark HPX3000 vs. RED rental rate?

Also, what would you recommend as a jack of all trades zoom lens for the HPX3000, suitable for as wide a range of in-studio and on location shoots as possible. Also, for maximum utility, would you go with a cine or broadcast zoom lens?

Thanks!

I've been hearing a $500/day base rental rate for the Red. With basic accessories that would probably bump up to a bit under a grand. We currently rent the HPX3000 with 32G worth of P2 cards for $1200/day. Add lens, tripod and other basic accessories and you're talking around $1800 or so. That's double the rental rate of the Red but I don't know what Red cameras are really going for (there's a lot fewer out there than people expected right now so they may be at a premium) and I certainly would expect this pricing to change over time. So those numbers should come closer together after a while, but that is likely to be six months to a year from now before there is any real change. And of course those are list prices, which doesn't reflect the real world we live in!

We really like the Canon 4.7x11 for a wide and the Canon 7.5x21 for more telephoto. 7.5mm is still fairly wide so that might be your best bet as a "jack of all trades" lens, although here in the tight spaces of New York clients really like the wide end of the 11x. For general use I would probably go with the ENG-style broadcast lens as the servo offers a number of uses that are not available with the cine-style.

Tim, feel free to contact me directly if you'd like to discuss this further, although I have no problems sharing on the forum. There are certainly some aspects that are better one-to-one.
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#9 John Sprung

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 02:36 PM

I'm not much of a believer in 35mm adaptors for 2/3" cameras -- it's only a 2.5 stop difference in depth of field that you have to compensate for, so just get some fast lenses and shoot them wide-open. You'll then also get the benefit of working in lower light. F/2 on a 2/3" lens is like f/4-5.6 split, which on a longer lens, is shallow-focus enough in most cases.

I'd certainly agree that the adaptor is a kludge. It's sort of like a video tap on steroids -- shooting a 35mm size ground glass image with the 2/3" camera.

There is, however, another issue to keep in mind. Any three chip camera is limited to no shallower than f/1.45 by the geometry of the optical block. Applying the 2.5 stop difference, that's equivalent to a f/2.8-4 split. Granted, a lot of great movies were made in the 1930's - 40's when lenses weren't much faster than that.

If you really want to go shallower than that, the adapter is one way to get there. Genesis, D-20, Dalsa, Red, etc. would be better choices. What the individual cinematographer should do is test the affordable options, and make a decision based on their own subjective opinion of the image, rather than on the elegance or lack thereof of the technology that produced it.




-- J.S.
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#10 John Sprung

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 02:52 PM

Like RED, the HPX3000 looks like one fantastic camera. But I'm worried about my switch to it for two reasons:....

My advice would be to rent before you buy, and perhaps instead of buying. One thing we sometimes lose sight of is that the rental companies insulate us from the instability of the technology market. Perhaps the biggest value they bring to the table is that they eat the depreciation on all this stuff. They take the risk that today's big ticket item will be tomorrow's hazardous electronic waste, and that they'll have to pop for tomorrow's big ticket item in order to stay in business. Obsolescence insurance is part of what we get from rental companies.




-- J.S.
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#11 Tim Pipher

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 10:15 PM

David's right, with 2/3" chip cameras and good glass you can get very pleasant and cinematic images when shooting around f/2.0. Put some Zeiss Digiprimes or a good cinestyle HD zoom on your camera and you'll be very pleased with the quality.


Could the same images be produced using the equivalent broadcast HD lens instead of cinestyle? It's my understanding that the optics of both lenses are the same. Does the difference in image (if any) come from the more precise focus control of the cine lens, meaning with the proper skill you'd be more likely to get the perfect shot?
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#12 Michael Nash

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 11:41 PM

Could the same images be produced using the equivalent broadcast HD lens instead of cinestyle? It's my understanding that the optics of both lenses are the same.


No, they're not, not really. In general ENG zooms are designed to be all-purpose workhorse lenses, which means they can't excel at everything. In addition to the difference in focus rotation (and markings), ENG zooms typically breathe a lot more than cine-style lenses, and exhibit other shortcomings like ramping and CA in the effort to have a broad zoom range, small size, and speed. I suspect you'd still see a difference in performance between cine- and ENG-style zooms that are supposed to be optically the same "under the hood," but you'd have to take that on a case-by-case basis. And naturally, primes can outperform zooms in things like sharpness and breathing, as well as a little bit of speed.

That's not to say that you can't get very good looking images out of an ENG zoom, but it's hard to get ENG-style flexibilty and cine-style performance out of the same lens. One's an SUV, one's a sports car -- you have to decide which type of performance you need.
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#13 Bruce Greene

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Posted 28 November 2007 - 11:46 PM

Could the same images be produced using the equivalent broadcast HD lens instead of cinestyle? It's my understanding that the optics of both lenses are the same. Does the difference in image (if any) come from the more precise focus control of the cine lens, meaning with the proper skill you'd be more likely to get the perfect shot?


The broadcast lens will look exactly the same as the cine style lens. The cine style lens just has different gears on it and a much longer turn of the focus ring to make it easier for an assistant to focus by distance. The cine lens also has no zoom motor (you supply your own) nor a 2x tele extender built in. You would think that they would charge less for the cine style lens, but it actually costs thousands more than the eng style version ;)

If anyone is interested in the "look" of the 2/3" camera without a pro35 adapter, i.e.. clean (for depth of field etc.) I have a montage from a movie shot with the Varicam on my site at click here!

-bruce
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#14 Michael Nash

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Posted 29 November 2007 - 12:21 AM

The broadcast lens will look exactly the same as the cine style lens.


Like I said you have to take it on a case-by-case basis. Some lenses from a single manufacturer are made in both ENG- and Cine-style configurations, and may share the same optical characteristics. But there are many lenses that are exclusively cine-style or ENG, so not all ENG lenses perform the same as cine-style lenses.
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#15 Mitch Gross

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 03:41 PM

For an example of what Michael is saying, the Canon 11x and 21x zooms are available in ENG or Cine-style, and they are optically identical. But there are lenses such as the Fuji 10-100 that are not made in anything other than cine-style and there is no ENG equivalent.

Back to my original recommendation, for a multi-camera studio setup and all around work, I would say to go with the Canon ENG style zooms. The versatile way to go, IMHO.
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#16 Tim Pipher

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 04:56 PM

For an example of what Michael is saying, the Canon 11x and 21x zooms are available in ENG or Cine-style, and they are optically identical. But there are lenses such as the Fuji 10-100 that are not made in anything other than cine-style and there is no ENG equivalent.

Back to my original recommendation, for a multi-camera studio setup and all around work, I would say to go with the Canon ENG style zooms. The versatile way to go, IMHO.


Thanks Mitch. What do you think about Panasonic's CAC feature that comes with the HPX3000? According to the Panasonic brochure, using a Fujinon or Canon Lens that's CAC enabled will result in images virtually the same as using good quality primes. If you like that CAC feature, would the Canon HJ22ex7.6B work as a jack of all trades lens? Sorry to keep grilling you -- but do you have a ballpark price for that lens?

Finally, I'll be phoning you soon. I know your company handles rentals and sales -- do you work both departments?

Thanks again,

Tim
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#17 Mike Brennan

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Posted 03 December 2007 - 06:47 PM

Thanks Mitch. What do you think about Panasonic's CAC feature that comes with the HPX3000? According to the Panasonic brochure, using a Fujinon or Canon Lens that's CAC enabled will result in images virtually the same as using good quality primes. If you like that CAC feature, would the Canon HJ22ex7.6B work as a jack of all trades lens? Sorry to keep grilling you -- but do you have a ballpark price for that lens?

Finally, I'll be phoning you soon. I know your company handles rentals and sales -- do you work both departments?

Thanks again,

Tim


Tim,
There is a trick to make the CAC work after it has loaded the lens CAC file. Apparently one has to zoom and rotate focus to their end stops to activate it.

Only found this out after I handed the camera back last week.

In UK Fuji lens fles were loaded in the camera but no Canons.

Mitch have you been able to see CAC working?
Does it reduce prism fringing evident with the use of wide lenses or is it purely counteracting lens induced aberrations.

Tim, the 3000 is an excellent package and in its class the highest quality 2/3inch EFP style camcorder on the market.

With a small caveat to wait and see how AVC I 100 flows through the post production pipe.



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#18 Mitch Gross

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Posted 04 December 2007 - 10:45 AM

I've seen CAC in action and it really does do quite a lot, including chromatic aberration on wide angle. It's not really about prism alignment as it is about lens optics, but my experience is that it does help some in this area as well. I don't know about that specific Canon zoom per se to issue a judgement.

Tim, I'm in the rental dept. but am constantly enlisted into aiding sales related questions all the time. You can certainly talk to me but understand that I'll steer you towards a sales associate and then consult. Team Abel is happy to work with you.
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#19 Steve Phillipps

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 02:43 PM

I've seen CAC in action and it really does do quite a lot, including chromatic aberration on wide angle. It's not really about prism alignment as it is about lens optics, but my experience is that it does help some in this area as well. I don't know about that specific Canon zoom per se to issue a judgement.

Tim, I'm in the rental dept. but am constantly enlisted into aiding sales related questions all the time. You can certainly talk to me but understand that I'll steer you towards a sales associate and then consult. Team Abel is happy to work with you.


Old thread I know, but for anyone who's interested I just tried a Fuji HA18x7.6 with the CAC function on my HPX2700 and the difference was minute re CA, virtually imperceptible, and it does exhibit a fair bit of it.
Steve
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#20 Jeff Regan

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 07:46 PM

Old thread I know, but for anyone who's interested I just tried a Fuji HA18x7.6 with the CAC function on my HPX2700 and the difference was minute re CA, virtually imperceptible, and it does exhibit a fair bit of it.
Steve


Steve,

Same situation with my 2700 and HA18X7.6, CAC is not making a perceptible difference, neither did it help an XA17X7.6, although that lens had less CA error. I've seen CAC work well with HPX500 and low end Canon HD zoom, as well as with HPX300 and included low end Fuji lens. Was really hoping to see the circuit do some useful error correction.

Going to Varicamp next week, will check out 3700's and 2700's there for CAC improvement.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
www.ssv.com
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