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New Panasonic AG-HPX370 and the state of digital cameras


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#1 Freya Black

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 11:56 AM

Apparently Panasonic will shortly be releasing the HPX370 which from what I can tell is something like a HPX300 with an upgraded sensor. The camera should have better low light performance, lower noise and improvements to compensate for the rolling shutter effect to some extent. Maybe this will appear at Nab or something, (whenever that is).

What surprises me is that I'm not hearing about much else so far and this seems kind of like a minor upgrade.
I was kind of expecting there might be a 3mos version of the HPX170 by now but maybe they are trying to sort out the issues with their existing 3mos products first.

It does seem like development in camcorders has slowed to a crawl lately however.

Has anyone else heard any news?

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 12:48 PM

Apparently Panasonic will shortly be releasing the HPX370 which from what I can tell is something like a HPX300 with an upgraded sensor. The camera should have better low light performance, lower noise and improvements to compensate for the rolling shutter effect to some extent. Maybe this will appear at Nab or something, (whenever that is).

What surprises me is that I'm not hearing about much else so far and this seems kind of like a minor upgrade.
I was kind of expecting there might be a 3mos version of the HPX170 by now but maybe they are trying to sort out the issues with their existing 3mos products first.

It does seem like development in camcorders has slowed to a crawl lately however.

Has anyone else heard any news?

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I wonder when Panasonic is going to start committing to using 1920 x 1080 sensors in their 3-sensor prosumer cameras, like the EX does, rather than uprezzing barely-over PAL sensors. They seem to trying to corner the 720P market, which is a bit silly. Considering how Panasonic was at the forefront of the whole solid-state recording movement in camcorders, it's odd how backwards they are in terms of sensors.
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#3 Freya Black

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Posted 15 March 2010 - 02:50 PM

I wonder when Panasonic is going to start committing to using 1920 x 1080 sensors in their 3-sensor prosumer cameras, like the EX does, rather than uprezzing barely-over PAL sensors. They seem to trying to corner the 720P market, which is a bit silly. Considering how Panasonic was at the forefront of the whole solid-state recording movement in camcorders, it's odd how backwards they are in terms of sensors.


It does seem really odd. However they have released the HMC-40 which is a 3mos based camera which is a bit like a HMC-150 only 3mos based, smaller and without XLR inputs. It's an interesting little camera that competes with the small JVC camera that records the same codec as the EX3 (can't remember the name of it off hand hm100 or something?). The HMC-40 is actually kind of interesting I think but they have also managed to drive people away by adding liscensing conditions that it can't be used for professional purposes which is just plain daft really. I guess they are worried it's still a bit too much like their higher end P2 cameras.

I suspect that their 3mos releases havn't gone too well. Theres been a lot of talk about rolling shutter issues etc and I think people don't feel the panasonic offerings stand up at all well next to cameras like the EX3.

Personally I quite like the Panasonic look, and I'm also interested in something that would be good for chroma key. From this point of view the HPX171/170 seems quite nice as it is 4:2:2. The HPX300 also seems nice but way out of what I could afford any time soon but having full H.D. sensors would be a big bonus. Tho I'd also like something a bit smaller/lighter than the HPX300 personally. A HPX171 with 3mos HD sensors and AVCIntra as well as the older codecs would be fabulous however.

Having said that I think Panasonic have a problem now in that Sony have set the barre with the EX1 and EX3 cameras and people are expecting Panasonic to trump that. I'm not sure even a super HPX170 would satisfy people for that.

Presently panasonic seem to have really lost their way. As you say it is quite strange given that they have been so succesful in the past.

It's all a bit moot but I don't think it's a good thing when things seem to stagnate like this.

However perhaps there are some exciting developments coming I don't know about yet?!

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#4 Jeff Regan

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 04:38 PM

I think Panasonic will provide some answers at NAB. I fully expect them to embrace full raster CMOS cameras going forward. The HPX370 is already their second generation full raster CMOS camera. I have sources who tell me that Panasonic will show a large sensor AVCCAM camera at NAB--this could be 2/3", micro 4/3's or?

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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 07:04 PM

I've never been a fan of the panasonics, they're just too too noisy, and I think that comes form the up-reszzing they have to do. they Really will need to start offering better senors and ergonomics to keep pace not only with Sony and JVC, but also the looming threat RED could pose with the Scarlet line. As for the pannys being better to key off of then other prosumer cameras, I havn't found too big a difference between their offerings and my own EX1, which I just spend 9 hours with on a fabric green screen which pulled quite well. So long as it's a properly exposed green screen, that is.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 07:35 PM

After being innovative with the DVX100 (first prosumer SD camcorder with 24P) and the HVX200 (P2 card recording & multi-format), Panasonic seems to have fallen a bit behind the times. The SDX900 was a great 24P SD pro camcorder, one of the best, but it came out in the waning years of pro SD. The HPX3700 is also a great camera, but it was a pretty late entry into the 2/3" 1080P market. It didn't occur to Panasonic that just because there was (and is) a 720P market that more and more people were going to shoot in 1080P so that they had more flexibility in posting in 1080P, 1080i, or 720P. And they seemed to miss the boat that people were not going to keep putting up with low pixel count sensors being uprezzed.

So their latest offerings have mostly been about introducing more solid-state recording cameras -- which is good, but once Sony came out with the EX1 XDCAM, they set a very high bar for prosumer camera gear.

And Canon has similarly been short-sighted in their prosumer gear, flogging interlaced-scan cameras to death -- while even their consumer VIXIA cameras have true 24P!

Personally, as popular as large sensor cameras are now, I don't see the market for smaller sensor cameras disappearing, not when they allow very small-sized bodies with tiny zooms. The Canon DSLR's are small, of course, but the zooms to cover those 35mm sensors aren't, and it would be even worse if they made an ENG-style zoom in terms of size.

But on the other hand, I say leave 1/3" and smaller sensors to the consumer crowd -- sensors for prosumer gear should start in the 2/3" range.

The 2/3" Scarlet is really the upcoming camera to beat for the under-$10,000 crowd of prosumer camera users. If Canon really wants to serve that market well, they should be thinking along those lines, either that, or increasing the processing speed so that full-sensor RAW recordings at 24, 25, 30 fps is possible with the DSLR's, and then design some lenses and servos for ENG-style or prosumer-style focusing. Anything in the 2/3", micro 4/3, or even S35 size range would be great for the prosumer shooters, assuming the lenses are designed for live focusing during a shot, which is increasingly harder as the sensors get larger. Panasonic, Sony as well should be thinking in those terms. The next generation of EX1/3 should at least jump to 2/3" sensors -- at least then it opens up the possibility of using the wealth of B4 video lenses out there.

As much as DSLR's look like the future of video, let's keep in mind that they are actually pretty crappy at things that any decent prosumer cameras does quite well, like focusing & zooming during a shot! And the line-skipping or pixel binning has to stop, it's atrocious. To take a great 18MP sensor and crap it out to 2MP and then convert it from RAW to RGB is heartbreaking, and then compress the heck out of it on top of that...
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#7 Jeff Regan

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 07:47 PM

I've never been a fan of the panasonics, they're just too too noisy, and I think that comes form the up-reszzing they have to do. they Really will need to start offering better senors and ergonomics to keep pace not only with Sony and JVC, but also the looming threat RED could pose with the Scarlet line. As for the pannys being better to key off of then other prosumer cameras, I havn't found too big a difference between their offerings and my own EX1, which I just spend 9 hours with on a fabric green screen which pulled quite well. So long as it's a properly exposed green screen, that is.


I think it depends on which Panasonic cameras you're speaking of. When it comes to codecs, DVCPRO HD and especially AVC-Intra 100 are superior to 4:2:0 Long GOP formats. Intra is 10-bit, 4:2:2, full sample, I-Frame, 100Mbps. You've got to step up to HDCAM SR to get that with Sony, about a $100K difference vs. HPX300. Most Panasonic cameras are CCD, which are not as sensitive, usually not full raster, and not as quiet as the newest CMOS sensors. CCD's do not have CMOS rolling shutter artifacts, however.

Regarding ergonomics, it is hard to imagine a camera with worse ergonomics than an EX1, and when I think good ergonomics, RED does not come to mind either. I'd much rather shoot with a proper ENG camera like the HPX300, 500, 2000, 2700, 3000, 3700 cameras. The 300, 2000, 2700, 3000, 3700 do not pixel shift. The 300, 3000 and 3700 are full raster 1080 cameras. For around $8K, the HPX300 offers full raster, 10-bit, 4:2:2, I-Frame, 100Mbps recording. If you want any of those things, you've got to spend a whole lot more with Sony. The new HPX370 will be better in low light and have less noise than the 300, while keeping the superior AVC-Intra 100 codec.

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#8 Steve Phillipps

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Posted 11 April 2010 - 04:54 PM

I wonder when Panasonic is going to start committing to using 1920 x 1080 sensors in their 3-sensor prosumer cameras, like the EX does, rather than uprezzing barely-over PAL sensors. They seem to trying to corner the 720P market, which is a bit silly. Considering how Panasonic was at the forefront of the whole solid-state recording movement in camcorders, it's odd how backwards they are in terms of sensors.


I'm not sure I understand what you're saying - you are aware that the HPX300 and the new 370 are 1920x1080 full raster 2.2million pixels no up-rezizng?
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#9 Corey Steib

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Posted 27 April 2010 - 10:39 PM

That I am not sure of but I have a HPX300 and its a kick but camera. I would rather shoot with the 300 any day over a sony cause at the end of the day I have many different formats that I can shoot and I do not lose any data and keep my 100mb res or what ever format the client wishes or I choose.




I'm not sure I understand what you're saying - you are aware that the HPX300 and the new 370 are 1920x1080 full raster 2.2million pixels no up-rezizng?
Steve


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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 02:24 AM

I think the issue with doing an 18MP raw DC camera is that until fairly recently the technology simply didn't exist to do it properly (and I'd cite Red as an eloquent example of that). Certainly no part of an EOS DSLR was ever intended to do that and the reason they don't is clearly simple engineering limitations.

I suspect Canon are probably more than capable of doing it, if they want to. There's nothing I'd like to see more than a low-cost 18MP raw camera.

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#11 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 03:22 AM

But on the other hand, I say leave 1/3" and smaller sensors to the consumer crowd -- sensors for prosumer gear should start in the 2/3" range.

The 2/3" Scarlet is really the upcoming camera to beat for the under-$10,000 crowd of prosumer camera users. If Canon really wants to serve that market well, they should be thinking along those lines, either that, or increasing the processing speed so that full-sensor RAW recordings at 24, 25, 30 fps is possible with the DSLR's, and then design some lenses and servos for ENG-style or prosumer-style focusing. Anything in the 2/3", micro 4/3, or even S35 size range would be great for the prosumer shooters, assuming the lenses are designed for live focusing during a shot, which is increasingly harder as the sensors get larger. Panasonic, Sony as well should be thinking in those terms. The next generation of EX1/3 should at least jump to 2/3" sensors -- at least then it opens up the possibility of using the wealth of B4 video lenses out there.


Certainly at least 1/2" makes sense, it may come down to how Sony perceive the market. The downside of the 1/3" sensors once HD took off has been the lack of sensitivity, the advantage being even the out of focus, wall sharper than the subject was "usable"; an unfortunate effect found even on broadcast programmes, even those made by major broadcasters. It would interesting to see if this marks a return to greater use of craft camera people, rather than using the researcher/director/producer.

The another question is how well RAW will fit into workflows requiring fast turnarounds? The Scarlet should be a great tool, but on the other hand on some of these productions they shoot everything that moves and make decisions in post, which is an extremely time consuming process just viewing the rushes, never mind making use of the material in the edit.
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#12 Freya Black

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 03:26 AM

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying - you are aware that the HPX300 and the new 370 are 1920x1080 full raster 2.2million pixels no up-rezizng?
Steve


I think David was thinking more in terms of a replacement for the HVX200, HMC150 and HPX171 etc.
Panasonic have been pitching the HPX300 and 370 at the broadcast news market.

As I say there is now the HMC40 which has a full res 3mos sensor. I don't know loads about it tho. It is a very low end camera that pits against the JVC HM-100. It's not been setting the world alight. It looks very nice for the price being asked however.

More exciting is the coming AF-100 which is a based around the same sensor as the GH1 camera but re-engineered to work at 1080p. It's a 4/3 mount camera, taking interchangeable lenses and having a sensor size closer to 35mm film. It's expected to cost about $6000 and be released in December 2010. It has a lot of people excited and looks very interesting but we will have to wait and see. The one thing that is upsetting people a lot about it is the use of AVCHD rather than AVCIntra but on the other hand that does mean cheaper media. A lot of people are thinking nanoflash in any case, which may be a more economical way of going about things.

Sony are making murmurings about a similar kind of camera with removable lenses and a large sensor but theres not loads of info yet. I think their camera is further away although it still suggests that Panasonic need to get their skates on.

Panasonic seemed to really lose their way after the HVX200. That camera was already sadled with expensive P2 cards and when the EX1 arrived with cheaper media and real full res sensors they were just left in the dust.

I'd love to see panasonic make a return.

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Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 28 April 2010 - 03:28 AM.

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#13 Freya Black

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 03:51 AM

The another question is how well RAW will fit into workflows requiring fast turnarounds? The Scarlet should be a great tool, but on the other hand on some of these productions they shoot everything that moves and make decisions in post, which is an extremely time consuming process just viewing the rushes, never mind making use of the material in the edit.


Yes! For me the problem with the cost of cameras like the Red is not just the cost of the camera itself (although that would be way prohibitive) but the cost of the whole post process. It's a different world over here tho.

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#14 Freya Black

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 03:30 PM

I've never been a fan of the panasonics, they're just too too noisy, and I think that comes form the up-reszzing they have to do. they Really will need to start offering better senors and ergonomics to keep pace not only with Sony and JVC, but also the looming threat RED could pose with the Scarlet line. As for the pannys being better to key off of then other prosumer cameras, I havn't found too big a difference between their offerings and my own EX1, which I just spend 9 hours with on a fabric green screen which pulled quite well. So long as it's a properly exposed green screen, that is.


This seems to be becoming a popular viewpoint. I've heard a few people say they found it easier to key off the ex cameras than off the older P2 panasonics because of the noise level.

Last year when I was asking ppl seemd to have the opposite opinion tho. I'm guessing that means that they are both good enough for the job at that level.

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#15 Peter Emery

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 10:23 AM

I have just bought a HPX371.

Broadly speaking it's superior to the EX cameras on every level. When comes to build quality it makes an EX3 look cheap. Only a little more expensive and the newer P2 cards, although expensive, aren't much more than Sony's sxs cards.

However I have found one issue. It seems to smear on very fine complex detail when panning. Most of the time it's lost in motion blur, but it is an issue. It seems to be a problem on all formats whether 'I' or 'P'. Has anyone else found this?
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#16 Freya Black

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Posted 03 August 2010 - 04:30 PM

I have just bought a HPX371.

Broadly speaking it's superior to the EX cameras on every level. When comes to build quality it makes an EX3 look cheap. Only a little more expensive and the newer P2 cards, although expensive, aren't much more than Sony's sxs cards.

However I have found one issue. It seems to smear on very fine complex detail when panning. Most of the time it's lost in motion blur, but it is an issue. It seems to be a problem on all formats whether 'I' or 'P'. Has anyone else found this?


I suspect the smearing might be the cmos jello effect which even the EX series suffer from to a slight extent. The previous version, the HPX301 supposedly had much worse issues with "jello". The whole thing is a bit of a none issue for anything I would want to do in the short term I suspect.

The Ex3 is a slightly strange camera as personally I don't feel that it adds enough to warrant the extra expense over an ex1 or ex1r. Once you are into that realm I would personally be considering other cameras. The HPX371 being one of the more obvious ones.

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Freya
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