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Sony PMW-EX3 or Panasonic AG-HVX200A


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#1 John Michael Zervoulei

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 12:31 PM

Hi,

I'm looking to invest in a new camera set-up and am trying to decide whether to go with the Panasonic AG-HVX200A or Sony PMW-EX3 cameras. I do freelance videography and editing on FCS2 and would appreciate hearing from any experienced users of either camera which one delivers more bang for the buck and would be the better long term investment for a fellow video professional.

Thanks,
JM
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 12:49 PM

EX is newer, and I feel has better images plus can multi-cam more easily. The problem is with rolling shutter- though primarily that only comes up with flashes/strobes. Also EX has longer run time per GB on it's cards than the HVX; though it's more compressed, but a more advanced compression. It's more expensive too! If it wasn't a money thing I'd go with the EX3, but that's just my personal preference and primarily linked to it's native 1920/1080 1/2" chips as opposed to the HVX 960x520 1/3" (i think it's x520...)
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#3 John Michael Zervoulei

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 06:20 PM

Yeah, the $3K difference is the part that is making this such a difficult choice. I think option-wise and ease of use wise, the sony looks better, though the compression rate does have me a little worried. Sony's 35 mega-bits/sec to pan's 100 is a pretty big difference. Do you know anyone who has used the EX3? and, if so, do the say the rate creates issues with picture quality and HD editing?

Thanks



EX is newer, and I feel has better images plus can multi-cam more easily. The problem is with rolling shutter- though primarily that only comes up with flashes/strobes. Also EX has longer run time per GB on it's cards than the HVX; though it's more compressed, but a more advanced compression. It's more expensive too! If it wasn't a money thing I'd go with the EX3, but that's just my personal preference and primarily linked to it's native 1920/1080 1/2" chips as opposed to the HVX 960x520 1/3" (i think it's x520...)


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#4 Alan Lasky

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 06:55 PM

Do you know anyone who has used the EX3? and, if so, do the say the rate creates issues with picture quality and HD editing?

Thanks

Ahoy John,
I recently purchased an EX-3 and I am very happy with it. The 1/2" sensor definitely makes a big difference in my humble opinion. I really like the SONY/Apple integration and workflow quite a bit, it is quite an elegant process in comparison to some of the other solutions I have used. I have yet to encounter any heinous artifacts but to be fair I have not really shot anything where potential rolling shutter and compression artifacts would creep in (ie. no whip pans, fast tracking, etc). That being said I am very impressed with the picture quality and if I ran into anything that necessitated less compression there is always the HD-SDI out and potentially an HDCAM, HDCAM-SR, sTwo or Codex solution for recording higher bandwidth signals.

The camera is definitely at the heavier end of the 'camcorder' scale but the features that Sony packed into the EX-3 make up for it. I don't do a lot of hand-held material so I have not felt the pain of the weight all that much. The SxS cards are pretty cool, but sort of expensive, especially as you increase capacity. The 32 gig cards are listing for $1450.00 US and I have yet to see them discounted, which definitely knocks the wind out of me when I think about buying two to fill the slots. As you probably know Sony is going to release a 60GB hard drive for the camera, but since it is proprietary I am sure it will be pretty pricey as well.

Overall I am quite happy with the EX-3, it definitely is the last stop on the HD highway before you get to MUCH higher priced camera systems. I hope some of this helps. If you have more specific questions I will try to answer those as well.

Alan Lasky
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 07:06 PM

It's lower data-rate, but a newer codec which makes up for it. I haven't had any issues with the compression on the camera yet. It is far less noisy than the HVX as well from what I've experienced (I have an EX1, which is basically the same as the EX3 sans a few features). My workflow is with AVID and I like it. It's not native (yet) but I don't mind going through the sony clip browser software.
The biggest benefit of the HVX is it's current market penetration. People are familiar with it already but it is the last generation of camcorders; so might not last much longer in the field. Panny is bringing out replacements, from what i'm told, this year.
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#6 John Michael Zervoulei

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 07:20 PM

Have you had any experience with the Panasonic. I've been hearing great praise from users of both of these cameras, which is why they're the top two on my list to choose over. The new technology on the sony sounds enticing, but I'm not completely sold if the extra bells and whistles are worth the extra 3K price. It looks like the memory cards are about the same price range, though the sony holds more video because of the higher compression, no? Also, I've heard the body is a bit more fragile as far as most cameras go. How does it handle the wear and tear of basic shoots? I'd hate to decide to make the extra investment and then worry that I'll accidentally break it with a little on the go throwing around.

Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it.

JM



Ahoy John,
I recently purchased an EX-3 and I am very happy with it. The 1/2" sensor definitely makes a big difference in my humble opinion. I really like the SONY/Apple integration and workflow quite a bit, it is quite an elegant process in comparison to some of the other solutions I have used. I have yet to encounter any heinous artifacts but to be fair I have not really shot anything where potential rolling shutter and compression artifacts would creep in (ie. no whip pans, fast tracking, etc). That being said I am very impressed with the picture quality and if I ran into anything that necessitated less compression there is always the HD-SDI out and potentially an HDCAM, HDCAM-SR, sTwo or Codex solution for recording higher bandwidth signals.

The camera is definitely at the heavier end of the 'camcorder' scale but the features that Sony packed into the EX-3 make up for it. I don't do a lot of hand-held material so I have not felt the pain of the weight all that much. The SxS cards are pretty cool, but sort of expensive, especially as you increase capacity. The 32 gig cards are listing for $1450.00 US and I have yet to see them discounted, which definitely knocks the wind out of me when I think about buying two to fill the slots. As you probably know Sony is going to release a 60GB hard drive for the camera, but since it is proprietary I am sure it will be pretty pricey as well.

Overall I am quite happy with the EX-3, it definitely is the last stop on the HD highway before you get to MUCH higher priced camera systems. I hope some of this helps. If you have more specific questions I will try to answer those as well.

Alan Lasky
People's Republic of California


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#7 Michael Belanger

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 07:30 PM

Sony's 35 mega-bits/sec to pan's 100 is a pretty big difference


It's actualy the difference between 35mbps and 40mpbs. The Panasonic camera uses a set amount of data per FRAME. 100 mbps only applies to 60i. At 24p the HVX-200 uses only 40 mbps. I find that the full-HD chips, the 1/2" chip size, and the modern compression algorithm more than make up for the 5 mpbs lower data rate.

You should also consider the Sony EX1 and the Panasonic HVX-170 (did I get the Pany model number right?). They're both lower-priced alternatives with most of the same features.

M.
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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 07:51 PM

If you're asking me if I've used the HVX, then yes, I have. For it's time It was a damned good camera; but I do think it's time to be put to pasture. That's opinion, of course.
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#9 Alan Lasky

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 07:52 PM

Have you had any experience with the Panasonic.

JM


Yes,
A good friend of mine owns the Panasonic system. To be honest I was never that impressed with the images, they were a bit noisy and muddy for my tastes. That is of course purely my subjective opinion. The workflow into FCP with the Panasonic system is really good, and definitely opened the door for the SxS pipeline. You have to understand that most of my experience is with systems that require more 'heavy lifting' on the back-end post side such as DALSA, RED, Viper etc. (Actually some of them require 'heavy lifting' just to get the cameras on the head :D ). Again, for my purposes I have not found the EX-3 to be too fragile. I definitely wouldn't treat it like an Eyemo, but it seems no more or less fragile than the Panasonic system. The viewfinder might be a bit on the fragile side, but it is so good that it makes up for it.

The price is definitely the sticking point, certainly with the macroeconomic meltdown in full swing. I totally understand where you are coming from on that one. Nonetheless I thought the EX-3 would be a good investment, especially for the kind of content I am using it for these days. I also ordered a Canon EOS 5D Mark II for shooting HD, but it hasn't shipped yet (God knows when it will). As you can see I am definitely trying to keep the acquisition footprint as SMALL as possible, which is the main motivation for the EX-3/EOS 5D combo. I think the ability to have equipment that supports quick set-up without sacrificing image quality is often under-rated these days. My Mac Pro laptop acts as the "lab" in the field, but the same would be true of the Panasonic system.

If you are near LA I would certainly have no problem letting you shoot with the EX-3 so you could get a feel for it.

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#10 John Michael Zervoulei

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 09:35 PM

Unfortunately I'm in NYC, but thanks for the offer. I'll probably head to B&H photo over here for a closer look this week.

What does anyone think of the EX1, since it's been mentioned, as the cheaper alternative to the EX3. How does it hold today and in comparison with these two? Obviously, I figure it has fewer options than the EX3, but how does it hold up in comparison to quality, ease of use in the field, and whatever options it does come with compared to the pan and EX3?


If you are near LA I would certainly have no problem letting you shoot with the EX-3 so you could get a feel for it.

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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 10:53 PM

Same image quality overall from same images. The biggest miss is the ease of multi-cam without the Genlocks. Also it's far less ergonomic; so it can be a pain to hand hold. Personally I havn't yet minded; but a shoulder support does help (and can be had pretty cheaply). Fixed lens isn't a problem for me as often it is used with a Letus adapter for ultra-low budget things. It's a nice nice camera; though some of the buttons are in slightly odd locations. Like any camera, once you get used to it, all else is down to the skill of the operator.
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