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.