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Just Got an HPX300


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#1 Tim Tyler

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 10:57 PM

I had the chance to test out a HPX300 about a month ago on a live performance shoot and was pleasantly surprised with its build, feature set, and low-light capabilities. The 300 definitely exhibited CMOS rolling shutter "jello" issues in 1080, especially at 24p, but we were shooting 720p/30P so it wasn't a problem.

I made some calls last week and learned that Panasonic allegedly has a soon-to-be-released firmware update in the works, so I crossed my fingers and bought a package from Abel Cine in L.A., the only place I could find that had one ready to ship. Even my local Panasonic rep couldn't get me one right away.

I haven't had a lot of time to play with it yet, but I'll be running it through the paces on a basic corporate shoot tomorrow, some web-video interviews next week, and a commercial next weekend.

My first impression of the 300 is very positive. It's a lot of camera for the money. I've used an HVX200 pretty regularly over the last couple of years shooting PBS docs for WNET and on other corporate projects, and I feel the HPX300 is a natural step-up from the HVX. It resolves all the shortcomings the HVX has without costing a fortune.

Besides a real lens and the pro form factor, I think the features that will make the biggest difference to me will be the four-channel audio control, SDI monitoring, quality viewfinder and LCD, and the true 1080 sensor. The video noise on the HVX has always bothered me, and I find the blacks much cleaner on the HPX300.

I wonder about the sensor(s) though. Panasonic's literature claims "a 3MOS sensor" while info elsewhere speaks of "three CMOS sensors". Anyone know what 3MOS is exactly?

I also can see that the rolling shutter "jello" seems more obvious in the viewfinder than on an external monitor. Is that possible, or am I seeing things?
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 11:11 PM

It could be possible the jello is worse in the VF than in reality if the VF itself isn't refreshing fast enough. As for the 3MOS, could just be the catchy panny way of saying 3-CMOS which makes a lot of sense ya know?
Anyway, good luck with it Tim let us know how it is.
OH, as for Jello is it there as bad when you're watching it on playback after you import it and edit?
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#3 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 11:34 AM

My only beef with the HPX300 is that it employs a 1/3" imager set. Why in the world would anyone build a full size camera with a 1/3" chip, especially when it offers the highly touted AVC intra codec? This issue is twofold, the smaller size chip means more (non-film-like, consumer toy-camera) depth of field and those of us who already have 2/3" lenses simply cannot realistically use them on that camera . . .

Sony had a slightly better idea with the 1/2" chip on the EX1, EX3 and F-350. At this day and age when some developers are rushing out with bigger and bigger sensors on smaller cameras (think RED Scarlet, which will reportedly have 2/3", S-35 and FF35 sensors available on the same body) Panasonic, Sony et al will find themselves limping along as they try to compete. Sad, but it looks like RED has indeed slowly but surely started to set the standards which other more established manufacturers will be compared against . . .
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#4 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 11:47 AM

My only beef with the HPX300 is that it employs a 1/3" imager set. Why in the world would anyone build a full size camera with a 1/3" chip, especially when it offers the highly touted AVC intra codec? ...


Hi Saul: Just a guess on my part, but I suspect the cost & availability of larger imaging chips might have something to do with it.

Panasonic _might_ design a HPX300-like cam with 1/2" image sensors, but they'd probably have sell it for more than the HPX300, too. For example, "add" all the features & form factor of the HPX300 to the Sony EX3 ... you'd probably get a cam which costs considerably more. It's also possible suitable 1/2" chips aren't currently available to Panasonic.

Although 1/3" chips can be less useful in many shooting situations compared to larger sensors, for just as many other productions the deep DOF is a big plus -- and keeps the cam cost down.

- Peter
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#5 Tim Tyler

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 08:46 PM

I really do wish it had a larger sensor. On today's two-camera (one subject) interview I had a 200a w/Letus + 50mm lens shooting a medium wide, and the 300 shooting a tight. It was too bad the 300's haircut shot had more DoF than the Letus' waist-up shot. It is difficult to throw the focus out with a 1/3" sensor. Of course, there's always the HPX2000 for $25k.

Otherwise the 300 was a pleasure to use.
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#6 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 10:24 AM

Hi Tim,

It'll be interesting to hear your results using the HPX300's various codec choices, especially for chromakeying in post.

I'm wondering if in actual practice the camera's AVC-Intra 100 codec transcoded to Final Cut's ProRes codec is a better combo for keying, compositing, and so forth -- compared to using DVCPRO-HD 100 & ProRes.

Good shooting!

- Peter
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#7 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 04:52 PM

Tim: Are there any frame grabs of HPX300 footage you may be able to post? I think it would benefit the thread. Thanks.

I imagine the 300 produces good looking images _since the HDX 200 and its variants produce adequate pictures_ and the ENG style lens must be better than the fixed lens on its smaller siblings.

Despite my fondness for small format cameras, 1/2" is a small as I like to go - especially for a larger ENG style camera. The JVC HB200 and similar cameras never appealed to me for that same reason, and the 300 is even bigger. Unless it is a smaller camera that I can keep close at all times for B-Roll gathering, personally I have very little use for cameras with tiny apertures. But I do travel frequently for filming, so that explains part of my reservations with the 300.
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#8 Tim Tyler

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 04:03 AM

Tim: Are there any frame grabs of HPX300 footage you may be able to post?


If you can process AVC-INTRA-100, I've uploaded a few seconds of raw P2 in 720 and 1080 to https://rcpt.yousend...7568a2cfd312ffb
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#9 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 05:54 PM

FYI: Panasonic published the following press release today which should be of interest to AG-HPX300 users & those interested in CMOS rolling shutter artifacts:
http://www2.panasoni...162009021155613

- Peter
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#10 Tim Tyler

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 07:13 PM

FYI: Panasonic published the following press release today...


I'm disappointed with the announcement as it does not appear the firmware update will address skew issues.
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#11 Walter Graff

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Posted 19 April 2009 - 08:58 PM

I'm disappointed with the announcement as it does not appear the firmware update will address skew issues.


A little spoken fact when it comes to the jello is that Panasonic cameras do it the worst of all cameras made. Some use the phrase "intolerably bad". Seems everyone knows but no one says this out loud.
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#12 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 01:58 PM

Just an FYI: Jan Crittenden Livingston, product manager for Panasonic Broadcast and TV Systems, posted these HPX300-related comments on DVXUser.com today:
http://www.dvxuser.c...t=168764&page=3
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#13 Walter Graff

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 04:22 PM

Just an FYI: Jan Crittenden Livingston, product manager for Panasonic Broadcast and TV Systems, posted these HPX300-related comments on DVXUser.com today:
http://www.dvxuser.c...t=168764&page=3


Once again trying to save face. Sony would not have to move out of MPEG2 as she states, and she stats it as if it's the anti-christ. It's not. Sony is using it at high data rates with great success. Never trust what a manufatuer says. As much as they want to sound fair, they are out to sell products. Truth is Sonys new line of camera is selling like hot cakes at places like BH, etc. It's a super camera series and in my opinion puts the 'equivilent' versions of Panasonic to shame.
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#14 Peter J DeCrescenzo

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Posted 25 April 2009 - 07:56 PM

Hi Walter,

A few points:

- Jan C-L took time out on a Saturday to respond to posts made on a public online forum. Repeat: On a Saturday. Not just any Saturday, but the Sat. immediately following NAB, her industry's largest US trade show. My understanding is that (as per usual) she put in long hours working at that show. I've worked NAB & other trade shows myself, so I would be surprised if she & her co-workers weren't exhausted. Despite this, she spent time today communicating directly with customers & potential customers online. I've read Jan's frequent & often helpful online posts for years.

It goes without saying that Jan's "trying to sell products". Really, what difference does that make, and why fault her for it? Why treat her efforts with disrespect?

- Compared to Jan C-L's online efforts as a Panasonic employee, I can't ever remember seeing posts anywhere online from _anyone_ employed by Sony, let alone a senior Sony product manager, who clearly identifies themselves as a Sony employee. Why is that? Why does Sony so studiously avoid direct "modern" public communication with their customers? I think it reflects very poorly on the company.

I suspect Sony-employed shills may post regularly here & there, but I can't ever recall a self-identified Sony employee (or someone who takes payments from Sony & says so) posting online in a public forum. There might be exceptions, but if there are it apparently happens infrequently or on video/film-related public forums I'll willingly admit to being unaware of.

Marketing-hype or no, I think posts from folks such as Jan C-L (Panasonic), Jim J (RED), and other company reps are incredibly valuable. In these posts they tell us what's important to _them_. They also read & react to what we write. They're the toolmakers; what they say comprises data points for us to evaluate.

So, put on your crap-detection hearing aids & listen up, but don't give 'em a hard time for doing their job. In fact be a least a little grateful they see part of their job responsibilities includes participating in public forums. We don't have to believe everything they say, but we owe them more respect.

- A product's value as a tool -- or appropriateness for a given task or situation -- isn't necessarily proportional to its popularity. Just because some Sony product are "selling like hotcakes" doesn't mean other products made by other companies are necessarily less valuable. There are camcorders made by companies other than Sony which are excellent values given their individual feature sets & costs.

Your repeated flag-waving for Sony, often without caveats, at times seems almost shill-like in its stridency.

- Concerning the HPX300: I'd hope anyone contemplating purchasing a camcorder for use in their profession would research its basic technology (in this case, CMOS imagers) and its tech's well-documented performance issues (including skew & partial frame exposure artifacts) before a purchase. And buy from a dealer (such as B&H) who allows product returns, so you can test the cam for a few days before deciding whether or not to keep it.

Realizing a particular CMOS-based cam design has CMOS-related issues weeks after buying it is unfortunate, but given how widely these issues have been discussed, it seems odd to fault the manufacturer so harshly. A few minutes of hands-on testing would show the HPX300's CMOS-related deficiencies. It's the customer's responsibility to do that before it's too late.

All CMOS-based cams exhibit CMOS-specific imaging artifacts to a varying degree. Even the highly-touted Sony EX-3 has these issues, perhaps not as much as some, but they're there. But CMOS artifacts aren't news, and aren't difficult to learn about or test for.

That being said, it'll be great if Panasonic is able to provide a firmware fix to address the HPX300's skew issues, but I'd be surprised -- and doubt -- if it'll happen, regrets.

As always, buyer beware & YMMV.
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