The present and future of post production business and technology

Panasonic announce P2 Camcorder

Panasonic generated a lot of buzz at NAB with the announcement of the AG-HVX 200 multi-format camcorder expected to sell for $5949?? without media. The AG-HVX 200 camcorder is a small-form-factor unit with a built in DV deck for DV25 recording and P2 solid state media support for DVCPRO 50 and DVCPRO 100 recording. Reportedly the FireWire output is also active for recording DVCPRO 50 or HD to a tethered FireWire deck. Panasonic are talking with Focus to develop support for the FireStore HD.

The camera itself is an impressive, multi-format, multiple frame rate device. In DVCPRO HD it supports 1080 i at 30i (60 fields), 1080 p at 24 frames/sec, 720 P at 60 or 24 Progressive frames. In 720 P mode is supports variable frame rates like the Varicam to the P2 media. It has 3 x 1/3″ native 16:9 CCDs.

Panasonic plan a bundle with two 8 GB P2 memory cards for US$9999 – an indication of just how far we have to go before solid state media becomes a viable proposition outside news gathering and other niche markets. While P2 media can be used directly as a source in many NLEs- Final Cut Pro adds native support for this media – it’s not viable to retain the P2 memory cards during editing. Most commonly the card’s contents is immediately dumped to hard drive. Panasonic announced a unit specifically for the purpose recently: the AJ-PCS060 portable hard drive with a P2 card slot. [Hub news February 14th]

Having the media on hard drive makes it instantly available for editing, but does not address the need for archive. Either the hard drives need to be permanently retained for archive or the media needs to be copied to another format for archive. This is more handling than most people are used to.

The AG-HVX 200 won’t ship until some time in the fourth quarter of the year, leaving JVC and Sony a long lead time for the competing HDV to become established. With 37,000 FX1 and Z1U units sold, according to the Apple presentation, in just the first six months, that’s a huge lead for Panasonic to catch up with, particularly since JVC will be shipping their KY-HD100U nearly six months ahead.







7 responses to “Panasonic announce P2 Camcorder”

  1. Ron

    While the HDV cameras from Sony and JVC may have considerable lead time over the Panasonic offering, the DVCPro HD format is significantly higher in quality. The HDV format is a highly compressed MPEG-2 stream based on a consumer level product – similar to how the Hi8 format was “pushed” by Sony to become a professional field production format back in the 80s. It died on the vine.

    As a professional video maker, I will wait for the higher quality format from Panasonic – unless JVC or Sony (or even Canon) introduces a similar Firewire output option that would bypass the “bit-starved” HDV tape format.

  2. Trouble is Ron, the Panasonic doesn’t have manual lens control or manual exposure control making it a much less professional camera despite the lower compression on DVCPRO HD. Seems that there’s not yet a “perfect” choice.

    Higher quality recording but less-than-professional control (not suitable for “run and gun”) or professional camera features (JVC GY-HD100) but heavier in compression on tape.

    I still have concerns on the workflow with P2 – just seems to be problematic in the context of what many people do during normal production.



  3. “the Panasonic doesn’t have manual lens control or manual exposure control making it a much less professional camera despite the lower compression on DVCPRO HD”

    What do you mean by that Philip?? It’s fully manual in the sense that you can turn off auto-iris and adjust it yourself, and turn off auto-focus and adjust it yourself. The iris is on a dial, just not on the lens barrel itself. The zoom is fully manual, and although the focus doesn’t have end stops, it is fully repeatable and can have a follow focus attached if you want that extra degree of end control. The focus is not the Sony style “wet potato” feel type of focus that doesn’t do anything unless you spin it fast enough – the Panasonic uses some kind of dead reckoning system to make it repeatable.

    I fully agree that P2 doesn’t fit in with a normal workflow, but then again, neither did NLE when it first arrived. You’ve got to adapt your workflow to get the advantages of the new technology, and indeed, I think direct to hard drive will be available with the camera from a 3rd party and be a parallel recording option for people needing longer takes.


  4. ronald

    Ok the Panasonic AG-200…
    What what about the JVC GY HD 100/101
    Could anybody give me a reason not getting the JVC?
    in regards Ronald…

  5. I rather like the JVC GY HD100. The only slight cavaet at the moment is that some NLE software doesn’t fully support the 720/24P format (like Final Cut Pro). But they will soon so that’s only a small point.

    If you like the JVC, go for it.


  6. ronald

    Could you get more kongret why you rather go for the JVC… Thanks for that last fast reply!! in regards R.

  7. Removable lens, 720P (I have a strong bias to progressive source) and a more pro camera.

    But there are a lot of great choices now.