Monday, September 28, 2009

Panasonic HPX2700 P2 Varicam at SSV

The new Panasonic HPX2700 P2 Varicam HD camera is now renting at SSV! This camera is the true successor of the original, highly popular Varicam. What we noticed is that our HDX900 was renting with FireStore FS-100 on-board hard drives most of the time. So, our clients seemed to prefer tapeless, edit ready, file based recording vs. having to rent an expensive studio VTR or paying by the hour to transfer footage in real time.

We also have seen our Panasonic HPX170 DVCPRO HD P2 Camcorder become very popular since we first brought it to the SF Bay Area in late September of 2008. The P2 memory card format has proven to be a very reliable acquisition format with a proven, convenient work flow.

So, that got us to thinking, "what if we offered a 2/3" high end CCD camera that surpassed the great images of the HDX900, but with in-board, solid state memory, file based recording? What if this camera could record for 6 1/2 hours on five 32Gb P2 cards? What if, in addition to DVCPRO HD, it also offered the option to record on the new AVC-Intra 100 I-Frame, 10-bit, 4:2:2, full raster codec?" This is quality that has never been available previously in a one-piece camcorder, with high ASA 640 sensitivity, low noise and a latitude of 10 f-stops, plus the well known Film-Rec gamma found in the original Varicam, except now at up to 600% dynamic range as well as a three step Dynamic Range Stretch(DRS) feature for very high contrast scenes, and the famous variable frame rates of 1-60 fps in one frame increments for off-speed specialty shots. All this, with the same day rate as our HDX900/FireStore.

The HPX2700, in combination with our Letus Ultimate and B4 Pro 2/3" relay lens using 35mm SLR and PL-mount motion picture lenses, provides a filmic, shallow depth of field when wanted. With AVC Intra 100 being a 10-bit, full sample, low compression codec, you can still apply lots of grading and color correction without worrying about noise and banding that would become evident with 8-bit, low bit rate, Long GOP, 4:2:0 codecs found in low cost cameras, be they prosumer palmcorders or video DSLR 35mm cameras, which record at 18-25Mbps vs. 100Mbps for DVCPRO HD or AVC Intra 100.

Panasonic P2 cameras have been proven by news organizations for years, and this reliability and ease of use has transferred to all types of productions. In-board, long record time, solid state recording, with unsurpassed quality and contrast ratio handling for a one-piece camera, makes for a safe, efficient means of field acquisition that pays dividends to the bottom line for most projects. Given the cost of a typical production, why compromise on the camera and recording format?