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View Full Version : My humble review of the HMC150



Ed Kishel
10-15-2008, 11:57 PM
How I'm liking it....

I have had it for a few weeks now, and it has allot of strengths. But there are deficiencies as well, which do irk me.

This doesn’t mean I don’t like the cam. This is an excellent camera for the price, not perfect, but very very good! My pros and cons:

CONS:
1. 720 24p looks awesome, however 1080 24p is no sharper. Seems to me the 1080 mode was added so that they could say it does 1080, but it’s really a 720p cam IMO. Add the fact that the 1080 mode might actually loose data based on the size to codec- well, this is my main complaint. It has kind of an "upres to 1080" look and feel. So why even use 1080 then? :huh:

I also hooked the 150 and the cam we use at work- a Sony V1U to a 1080p LCD and compared their 1080 24p modes. Both cams at stock out of the box settings... and sharpness goes to the Sony. Tweaking the detail of the 150 got it close, but to my eye resolution still went to the Sony. Now this was a static focus chart, real world shots would probably show less of a difference.

2. The focus assist could use some improvement. The EVF detail helps, but the focus graph only helps if the majority of objects in your frame are to be in focus. A small item in focus against a soft background and the graph will indicate "out of focus". It assumes all your shots are deep focus, and shallow DOF shots will throw it off. Useless for rack focusing against soft backgrounds. This is where Sony and Canon have the edge- the peaking technique that uses a strong colored outline is much more accurate. The enlarge feature will have to do :)

3. The servomotor for the zoom is loud, much louder to my ear than the DVX100A. Slow to medium zooms are tame, but a quick snap zoom and the onboard mic will pick up the motor during quiet shots like nature scenes. This was remedied somewhat by an external mic, but it became an added cost. The OB mic housing is too stiff IMO, and coupled with the added sensitivity of the mic- motor noise is too prevalent.

4. The SDHC door uses and spring and latch design. This may wear down over time, and if it does, and wont stay closed- the cam will give a "door open" warning. The hard covers/doors of most pro cams use a very small magnet to keep it shut. Works for our 20+year-old beta cam.

5. The "3CCD" lettering on the lens is no longer the laser etched embossed decal (like the Panasonic on the LCD door). Now its been painted on? Corner cutting that looks a bit cheap to me. I will admit this is minor though...

6. Lens hood is a joke; it feels like Tupperware with that corny lid. Should I be listening for that trademark "burp"? At least the lens will stay fresh I guess. Come-on panny- is a integrated lens cap too much to ask on a $3500 cam? Or at least give us the old DVX hood.

7. I know its a tough camera, and it has the magnesium alloy used in Panny Toughbooks- but there is still too much hollow plastic covering the cam. Its most evident on the bottom side- where it will see the most wear and tear? :huh:

PROS:

1. The 720p mode is very very good. If you ignore the 1080 mode, this cam's image if gorgeous. Sony may have the edge on sharpness, but Panny has them beat on color.

2. Low-light capability. Interestingly, when I did my little informal shootout with the V1U, I noticed by accident something very interesting. When I shut off the clip lamp lighting up the chart- and allowed only the ambient light in, the Sony's resolution dropped to well under the Panny. The panny kept its resolution under low light and didn’t flinch. Hmmm :thumbup:

3. Low noise. Not noise free, but very good under low light. And the noise is fine and not a splotchy chroma noise.

4. A wide lens. Although I had to get an external mic for the servo noise issue, I did not have to by a wide-angle adapter. Very cool Panny, thank you!

5. Sharp, big LCD in the 4:3 aspect, which allows a less cluttered screen display. The VF when changed to BW is very good as well.

6. The focus ring is dampened and now feels much smoother. Not as "buttery" as a Sony's, but a big improvement.

7. Histogram, which means under controlled sets you, can use it in place of an external screen. Very cool.

8. 1/4 20 mounting threads on top of the handle for accessories, this will be a big help. And on that note, the handle is thick and beefy (oh my) which feels secure when carrying it around.

9. Focus and iris remote port. This will be a big help when on a boom, or to use for rack focusing with the Manfrotto control knob. Can’t wait to get one! :) The Sony V1U has "scene transitions" which allow rudimentary rack focuses using preset speeds, but user controlled is much better.

10. Tweakablitiy. Most cams in this price range cant match the adjustments you can make with this one. The Sony pales in this regard.

11. AVCHD. Yes it’s a pain during post, but the NLE are jumping on board quickly- with Sony, Edius, and Adobe handling it natively. Panning shots don’t turn to mush, as HDV could never handle movement as well. That focus chart showed that the Sony is sharper yes, but a focus chart doesnt move (and HDV looses its sharpness during movement).

12. Global shutter. No I don’t see many flash bulbs going off, but I do pan very quickly. No more rolling shutter as the V1U uses.

13. And my biggest pro is the tape less acquisition via SDHC. 16 gigs for $30! I can’t stress this enough. You can archive on this stuff its so cheap! With the Sony HDV, you had to get a compatible deck unless you wanted to use your cam. Digitizing sucks, and dropouts suck harder and so no longer do I have to worry about such things.

So in closing, I really like this camera although some of its weaknesses will take some getting used to. I would give it an A-.

It’s not perfect- but no cam is. There are always tradeoffs, and I thinking I have made a wise choice. This camera is starting to grow on me.

shameless plug: I finally got some footage up http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?p=1434723#post1434723

ilauzirika
10-16-2008, 12:54 AM
Great review Edweirdo!, I totally I agree with what you said. I loved the comparison between the lens cap and tupperware:thumbup:.
The upper handle is really though!

Tcap
10-16-2008, 01:19 AM
First thing out of the box i thought was "Man this lens hood seems real cheapo, Where is the lever to flip open the hood shutter?" hahah I'm getting use to it though :)

Thanks for the review Ed!

Tony Cap

gint12b
10-16-2008, 01:31 AM
Great and honest review! Thanks!

Also, does anyone know a site to buy a modified lens cover with a flip up barndoor like Sony's. If not will any of Sony's work? This is something incredibly important that we need for our kind of work. Thanks!

VideoMaker
10-16-2008, 02:40 AM
Great review. An additional pro for me is the very bright LCD - easy to work with the menus even in bright sun.

The only other con for me is that I find that many of the knobs are hard to locate when working through the view finder. I really wish the Iris and Push Focus buttons were larger and next to each other to facilitate shooting in manual. Sometimes I even lose the record start/stop button as its kinda tucked up into a corner.

I want to study your comments regarding focus - I have more to learn there.

Also, I am interested in the Manfrotto remote. Are you referring to the 521PFI? I see it is listed for the HVX-200 and DVX-100B. Does it also work for the HMC150?

EDIT: I just remembered one other con - I wish this cam had a LANC port instead of the proprietary one. Then I could just use my existing varizoom remote.


Jerry

Hidef1080
10-16-2008, 03:29 AM
I have to agree with the lens hood...
So much so that I tried to put the lens hood from my FX-1 on the 150 - No dice.

I also can't see much difference between 720 and 1080 but I want to work with native AVCHD before I say one way or the other but for right now with transcoding to DVCPRO I can't see anything major between the 2.

I think you hit the nail on the head here "This doesn’t mean I don’t like the cam. This is an excellent camera for the price, not perfect, but very very good!"
It is a great camera for most and at a nice price point.
It's no Sony F23 but I can't remember the last time I had an extra 150K in the bank!!!

Bassman2003
10-16-2008, 06:29 AM
Thanks for your review.

I concurr on your points.

I have had this camera for a week or so and will share my thoughts:

My experience with Panasonic cameras is that you have to pull the image you want out of the camera. Tweak away on a calibrated broadcast monitor to find detail and lower noise.

I have also found that to get the most detail out of the image, I lower in-camera detail settings and apply a sharpen filter in post.

This results in a cleaner image off of the camera and a more comprehensive sharpen application from the editing software (Edius).

The color is fabulous, but I had to push "Chroma Phase" to +4 to get the reds correct, as I have seen with other Panasonic cameras.

I am fine with a 720p camera for $3,500 that is sharp because 1080p to me not that big of a deal since everything broadcast is 720p.

It is not like we are behind the curve....yet!

Bucknfl
10-16-2008, 06:39 AM
The lens hood doesn't even have a feaking locking pin to keep it in place. If the hood is bumped a little bit it can cause vignetting on wide shots.

Ed Kishel
10-16-2008, 09:03 AM
I want to study your comments regarding focus - I have more to learn there.

Also, I am interested in the Manfrotto remote. Are you referring to the 521PFI? I see it is listed for the HVX-200 and DVX-100B. Does it also work for the HMC150?


Jerry

yes, this one: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/531214-REG/Bogen_Manfrotto_521PFI_521PFI_Focus_Remote_Control .html
I asked Barry if the 150 uses the same jack as the HVX and 100B and it does, so even though the specs dont say HMC150, the controller is
compatible. (It better be, its to be delivered tomorrow) :)

LootSubu42
10-16-2008, 04:28 PM
Thanks for the review, Edweirdo - very helpful to see this all

Justyn
10-16-2008, 08:55 PM
Great review and all in all those are some minor cons to deal with so that's good to hear. I think it's hard to beat this price and the cost of the cards really is awesome. The way I see it, a full day of shooting with the HMC eliminates a P2 runner and that could add to quite a bit of gig money saved over the course of the year.. probably the cost of the camera I'd imagine.


What I want to see is this cam intercut with HVX and 170 footie.. then it's a clear no-brainer for anyone looking to upgrade. Shoot February will be 3 years with the HVX already.. YIKES.


So.. how is the transcoding to DVCPRO for you guys? Does it take forever?

Hidef1080
10-17-2008, 12:36 AM
Great review and all in all those are some minor cons to deal with so that's good to hear. I think it's hard to beat this price and the cost of the cards really is awesome. The way I see it, a full day of shooting with the HMC eliminates a P2 runner and that could add to quite a bit of gig money saved over the course of the year.. probably the cost of the camera I'd imagine.


What I want to see is this cam intercut with HVX and 170 footie.. then it's a clear no-brainer for anyone looking to upgrade. Shoot February will be 3 years with the HVX already.. YIKES.


So.. how is the transcoding to DVCPRO for you guys? Does it take forever?

Using the Panasonic transcoder I find the times are very fast.
I have not timed it to the second but 1 minute of footage takes less than a minute to transcode and DVCPRO HD is very easy to work with on my system.

Still wanting to see what Premiere Pro CS4 has to offer with AVCHD....

ilauzirika
10-17-2008, 01:34 AM
I also use the panasonic dvchd pro converter. But my computer is a bit slower, 5:05 minutes take about 7 minutes, but everything depends on your computer.


Edit: now that I see I was using after effects at the same time thus slowing down the computer, I'll have to try without after effects.....

Barry_Green
10-17-2008, 12:08 PM
I pretty much agree about the 1080/720 question here. On the HVX/HPX170, I definitely endorse 1080p over 720p for many valid reasons. But on the HMC150, I think it's actually the reverse, and I prefer 720p over 1080p. The larger raster of the AVCHD codec comes close to holding all the detail the 150 can generate in 720p mode, so 1080 is only a little tiny bit sharper. But 720/24p seems so smooth and slick, whereas 1080 doesn't feel quite the same.

So why is 1080 mode there? Why not! When the majority of HD networks are broadcasting 1080, it's nice to be able to generate 1080 footage. But I would tend to use 720p on the HMC150 in most circumstances.

Ed Kishel
10-17-2008, 01:37 PM
I pretty much agree about the 1080/720 question here. On the HVX/HPX170, I definitely endorse 1080p over 720p for many valid reasons.

if they both have the same lens and chips, what is it about the 1080 mode on the 170 that is superior to the 720? Is it the codec/bitrate?

thanks,

Barry_Green
10-17-2008, 02:27 PM
Codec, yes. The 170's codec retains all its resolution in 1080 mode and is more lightly compressed.

Whereas with the 150, the opposite is almost true - 720p mode retains almost all the resolution and is the more lightly compressed.

Ed Kishel
10-17-2008, 04:29 PM
I see. How would you compare the 1080 modes of both cameras; a night and day diff that warrants a $1500 price jump? In terms of resolution. I understand there are many ofther features for the price increase.

I understand this might be a hard question to answer without side by side shootout, but what is your general impression?

Carlos Corral
10-17-2008, 04:50 PM
Not just a $1500 price jump. Don't forget about the P2 Media.

Alan Bradley
10-17-2008, 07:13 PM
yessss......p2 is not cheap. if you can afford it, then it is nice indeed. I sold my hvx200a simply cause i needed the long record time. on the fly. without ingesting, etc. the hvx200a was and is awesome. but the hmc's image is also pretty sweet and the media...well...it's cheap enough. it is the dvx in HD. that's enough for me. my humble 2 cents.

Justyn
10-17-2008, 07:17 PM
that's what i think. It's the media that the killer.. and if I were to do an important shoot and had like 10 hours of footage, the media is so cheap that I could leave it all on the cards for as long as necessary and also have it on the harddrives. Can't do that with P2.. that is too Obama gives all American's a free 16 gig P2 card..

Thomas Lew
10-17-2008, 07:26 PM
that's what i think. It's the media that the killer.. and if I were to do an important shoot and had like 10 hours of footage, the media is so cheap that I could leave it all on the cards for as long as necessary and also have it on the harddrives. Can't do that with P2.. that is too Obama gives all American's a free 16 gig P2 card..

lol............. got a serious chuckle out of me on that last one

impressive creations
10-17-2008, 07:43 PM
Ha, that is funny.. So if someone can give me a little heads up on this. So, 1080 vs 720. They are both HD, we all understand that. But let's say the image quality, codec, and all that techy stuff was the same, would you want to choose 1080 over 720? I do mostly weddings so really it seems like 1080 should be better because it's bigger. But 720 is still considered HD right? Kinda weird, kinda confused. Am I making any sense? I understand the the 150 is better at 720, but the 170 is better at 1080. What if the 150 was the same at both 720 and 1080. Which would you choose and why.

Thanks

b.p.

Bassman2003
10-17-2008, 08:58 PM
Well, all broadcast is at 720p or 1080i, so It is not like your client is going to come to you and say "you only shot this in 720p!"

Unless you are going to the big screen, I don't see a need to go away from 720p.

Heck, a lot fo stuff is still delivered on DVD.

When I watch HD it is light years ahead of SD.

I don't think you could say that about 720p vs. 1080p.

impressive creations
10-17-2008, 10:39 PM
I don't think you could say that about 720p vs. 1080p.

Thanks Bassman.. So are you saying 1080p would rule over 720P, The 150 can shoot in 1080p right?

Thanks,
b.p.

Selling a 100B with 40 hours if anyone is interested. I put more info in the market palce post...

Hidef1080
10-18-2008, 12:10 AM
Yes the 150 can record 1080p as well as 720p.
Many people are saying that the 170's sweet spot is 1080p and the 150's sweet spot is 720p.


I've seen 1080 HD and 720 HD and I for one cannot tell the difference. I have never been able to look at HD TV or HD DVD's and say “oh, that's 720” or “that was shot in 1080” so when I compare the PH 720 and 1080 modes they look about the same to me.
I think that is the nature of 1080 and 720... Unless you're looking at specs or charts I doubt many people can tell.


Now can we see a difference between a 5K HD camera and 150K HD camera?
Yep...

ullanta
10-18-2008, 12:43 AM
Yes the 150 can record 1080p as well as 720p.
Many people are saying that the 170's sweet spot is 1080p and the 150's sweet spot is 720p.


Right... but not in all circumstances! The difference beteen the "sweet spots" of the two cameras is because of the CODEC, not the sensors or optics. Common wisdom shows the Panny prosumer HD cams tend to resolve a bit more than DVCProHD 720p can deliver, somewhat less than DVCProHD 1080p.

The 170 shoots DVCProHD, which uses non-square pixels, so 720p is 960x720; 1080 is 1280x1080. Each of the three actual pixel-shifted sensors is 960x540. There's a lot of argument about the exact benefit of pixel-shifting, but certtainly the cams can generally resolve something more than 960 pixels horizontally. So, for 720p, DVCPro HD's 960x720 resolution is likely a limiting factor. If we guess (as is common) that pixel shifting adds about aq 30% resolution increase, then the 1280 pixels of DVCPro HD's 1280x1080 mode should be able to handle all the resolution the sensors provide.

The 150, on the other hand, shoots AVCHD, which in most modes (all but the lowest-quality mode) provides full-raster square-pixel HD - 1280x720 and 1920x1080. So, the 720p mode has as much horizontal resolution as DVCProHD's 1080p mode, and is likely to be able to handle all the resolution the camera can deliver. Further, at slower frame rates (24p and MAYBE* 30p), 720p footage is much less compressed than 1080p footage (since the frame size is smaller but the data rate is the same).

So, for this reason, in many situations, the sweet spot of the HMC is 720p, while the sweet spot of the HVX/HPX170 is 1080p.

HOWEVER, DVCProHD provides 4:2:2 color, while AVCHD provides only 4:2:0 color. So the color resolution of the HVX/HPX in 720 is better than the HMC in 720, and better in 1080 than the HMC in 1080. And, though 720p on the HMC seems sufficient for the camera's intensity resolution, it doesn't provide all the color resolution the camera can deliver. So, for situations where color resolution is of great importance (e.g., for keying), 1080p on the HMC will be a better choice.

So, on the HVX/HPX170, you can trade space (recording time on P2 cards) for resolution; the compression ratio will stay constant. On the HMC (in PH mode) you can trade compression ratio for color resolution; the intensity resolution will stay pretty constant.

Cheers,
Barry


* not sure 'til we see about 24p being "native" and 30p being "over 60", and whether the codec can handle the "over 60" 720/30p footage efficiently...

Hidef1080
10-18-2008, 05:01 AM
Thanks Ullanta.:thumbup:

MikeGunter
10-18-2008, 05:21 AM
Hi Edweirdo,

I've been following the review and thread and realized I failed to drop a note to say that I appreciate the review - thanks a lot.:beer:

Bassman2003
10-18-2008, 08:18 AM
Thanks Bassman.. So are you saying 1080p would rule over 720P, The 150 can shoot in 1080p right?

Thanks,
b.p.

Selling a 100B with 40 hours if anyone is interested. I put more info in the market palce post...

Actually I am saying the opposite.

I don't think the difference between 720p and 1080p is going to be that large in a real world application.

People will notice the difference between HD & SD if the HD is delivered on Blu-ray, but I don't think they will be able to tell or care if the Blu-ray was shot on 720p or 1080p.

You have to factor in a lot of folks might have 720p televisions and are used to watching 720/1080i broadcast signals which look great.

I think of it like the megapixel race in still cameras.

More resolution has diminishing returns after a while.

impressive creations
10-18-2008, 02:02 PM
Thanks Bassman and Ullanta.. OK. Makes much more sense to me now. I thought if you have more pixels, well, you must have a better picture. Yeah, I am beginning to understand how the compression can work against 1080 on the 150. So, if 720 is the best for weddings and slow mo's. There you have it.. Ordering mine this week. Maybe two of them if I can sell my 100B with 40 hours on it. Yeeee haaa.

I really appreciate everyone on this board. What an incredible resource. Praise the Lord!! and I mean that!!!

B.p.

johnnyha
10-20-2008, 03:08 AM
Great review Edweirdo. I am finding as I use the camera more - it is a lot more sensitive than the DVX100. The cinelike effects seem to be magnified in this camera. I'm sure a lot of this is due to the HD quality - you can get just a FANTASTIC shot, but you really need to dial it in. Love it so far, especially the ease of tapeless/headless recording and editing.

Jan_Crittenden
10-20-2008, 04:09 AM
The lens hood doesn't even have a feaking locking pin to keep it in place. If the hood is bumped a little bit it can cause vignetting on wide shots.

It does lock into place, if your lens hood is freely moving you have not given it the last "sap" into a locked position. From this position you could not inadvertantly bump it and have it shift out of place and vignette the footage.

Best,

Jan

jeff9329
10-20-2008, 09:07 AM
Ha, that is funny.. So if someone can give me a little heads up on this. So, 1080 vs 720. They are both HD, we all understand that. But let's say the image quality, codec, and all that techy stuff was the same, would you want to choose 1080 over 720? I do mostly weddings so really it seems like 1080 should be better because it's bigger. But 720 is still considered HD right? Kinda weird, kinda confused. Am I making any sense? I understand the the 150 is better at 720, but the 170 is better at 1080. What if the 150 was the same at both 720 and 1080. Which would you choose and why.

Thanks

b.p.

An indirect answer to your question.

1. I don't see much difference between 720 and 1080 image quality on the HMC150. It's there, but remember we are talking about pixel peeping.

2. 720P is certainly HD and easily looks good on screens up to 50". I have had a JVC 720P camera since 2004 and I can tell you 720P looks good and there is essentially no way anyone can tell the image from a 1080 image.

3. I shot a wedding this last weekend with the HMC150 in 1080i. I shot 1080i because it looks great and it matches my b-camera (Canon XH-A1) output format.

As far as what format to shoot in, it dosent matter too much, but you may want to match it to your final project native delivery format. For example, I am still authoring HD-DVDs. For this I need 1080i, 720P will not work with my software. For Blu-Ray, 720P will work, but 1080(i) is easier. For this last wedding, they want NTSC DVD, so it just dosent matter.

accelv
10-21-2008, 07:39 PM
3. I shot a wedding this last weekend with the HMC150 in 1080i. I shot 1080i because it looks great and it matches my b-camera (Canon XH-A1) output format.


How good is the HMC in low light? Does it match the A1? Z1? EX1? How does it cut with the A1?

Evro
10-21-2008, 08:13 PM
I'd be interested in knowing how well it matches the Canon XH-A1 as that is our main cam at weddings.

Mike Harvey
10-21-2008, 09:24 PM
^I think somewhere in the footage section there area screen shots of the HMC vs the A1

sewolla
10-22-2008, 12:11 AM
I too have an A1, and like its look.
Now I find myself in need of a second (and perhaps third) cam, and was looking at the HMC150. Its drawback, from my standpoint was that I would need tom buy two, as I don't believe it's possible to cut A1 footage with HMC footage in the same project, they are different formats.
I use Premiere Pro CS3, and I'd love it if it were really a do-able do. Am I wrong here in my assumptions?

Evro
10-22-2008, 02:11 AM
Sewolla, I believe you are right - Canon cameras always seem to have the sharpest & flattest image. We were cutting DVX & XH-A1 footage together for a while and it was very obvious to me although our clients couldn't tell unless we pointed it out.

After we got rid of our DVXs we were inter-cutting XH-A1 with JVC ProHD footage and I have to say that the JVC's image was a lot closer to the Panasonic look. There's something sterile about the XH-A1's stock image but it's still been a workhorse of a camera for us just like our DVXs (takes a beating but keeps on ticking!) I just hope the HMC150 is the same!

jeff9329
10-22-2008, 08:08 AM
3. I shot a wedding this last weekend with the HMC150 in 1080i. I shot 1080i because it looks great and it matches my b-camera (Canon XH-A1) output format.


How good is the HMC in low light? Does it match the A1? Z1? EX1? How does it cut with the A1?

The HMC is pretty good in low light. Better sensitivity (seems like 1 stop) and less noise than the XH-A1. Because of this, I wouldn't try to use low light A1 shots cut with HMC150 shots. There is too much difference, the A1 noise pattern becomes very obvious and the picture appears darker. It took a week to match presets to get the cameras looking very close to each other in good light. Basically, you have to tone down the HMC150 dramatically to match the flat look of the XH-A1.

Im selling the A1s quickly before an A2 comes out and destroys their value. Im going to get a second HMC150, A1 matching is too much trouble.

Note: the XH-A1 is still a very fine camera and beats the HMC150 in a few areas, like the onboard mics. Those onboard A1 mics have been very useful for an ambient or backup track. When a tapeless A2 with an improved sensor block comes out, I may switch back to Canon.

jeff9329
10-22-2008, 08:17 AM
I too have an A1, and like its look.
Now I find myself in need of a second (and perhaps third) cam, and was looking at the HMC150. Its drawback, from my standpoint was that I would need tom buy two, as I don't believe it's possible to cut A1 footage with HMC footage in the same project, they are different formats.
I use Premiere Pro CS3, and I'd love it if it were really a do-able do. Am I wrong here in my assumptions?

A1 1080i and HMC150 1080i footage work on the timeline fine and create the same size picture. HDV 1440 uses non-square pixels to create a 1920 X1080 actual image size.

I have authored several A1 & HMC dual camera projects in HD, NTSC DV & NTSC DV widescreen and they technically work and look fine. I use Sony Vegas 8.0c.

You are in a dilemma, I wouldn't buy another A1 right now because an A2 is bound to be coming very soon. However, using two different cameras, batteries and media is a pain too.

mitteg
10-22-2008, 08:36 AM
A1 1080i and HMC150 1080i footage work on the timeline fine and create the same size picture. HDV 1440 uses non-square pixels to create a 1920 X1080 actual image size.

I have authored several A1 & HMC dual camera projects in HD, NTSC DV & NTSC DV widescreen and they technically work and look fine. I use Sony Vegas 8.0c.

You are in a dilemma, I wouldn't buy another A1 right now because an A2 is bound to be coming very soon. However, using two different cameras, batteries and media is a pain too.

Hello,

I have some questions regarding your text:

1. How does Sony Vegas handle AVCHD files? Smoother than HDV or not?
2. How does it compare the Canon A1 vs the HMC-150 in terms of picture quality and flexibility?
3. With HMC-150 720/50p mode, is it possible to shot high quality slow motion footage?
4. I have been told that Panasonic gives you a software that transcodes your AVCHD files to DVCPRO-HD, is that true? How fast is the transcoding ? How much faster is the editing process ? Do you recommend that workflow: shot AVCHD, transcode to DVCPROHD, and edit DVCPRO-HD ?

Thanks for your help!

jeff9329
10-22-2008, 04:56 PM
I have some questions regarding your text:

1. How does Sony Vegas handle AVCHD files? Smoother than HDV or not?
It handles it just as well but is slower to render to other HD formats. There is obviously no smart render. You can mix HDV & AVCHD clips on the timeline with no problem too.

2. How does it compare the Canon A1 vs the HMC-150 in terms of picture quality and flexibility?
They are different but roughly equivalent. See some of my other posts.

3. With HMC-150 720/50p mode, is it possible to shot high quality slow motion footage?
I haven't tried, not sure if mine will do 50P.

4. I have been told that Panasonic gives you a software that transcodes your AVCHD files to DVCPRO-HD, is that true? How fast is the transcoding ? How much faster is the editing process ? Do you recommend that workflow: shot AVCHD, transcode to DVCPROHD, and edit DVCPRO-HD ?
There is a free downloadable software. Im not sure why you would do this step. With Vegas 8.0c I just add to the timeline and edit natively. No problem.

SteveNunez
10-22-2008, 06:14 PM
Excellent thread......I'm still torn between a new Canon 5D Mark II or HMC150....I'm just looking for the cleanest, sharpest video and it's between those 2 I'm considering.
Thanks to all whom posted- excellent info.

ullanta
10-22-2008, 06:46 PM
You are in a dilemma, I wouldn't buy another A1 right now because an A2 is bound to be coming very soon. However, using two different cameras, batteries and media is a pain too.

I don't know... unless you have some hard information... of all the prosumer camera manufacturers, Canon tends to have the least-frequent product updates, by far. I'd expect the A1 to be around, unmodified, for a long time. I don't think it'll be losing value any time soon.

I mean, look at the GL2! Or, look at a timeline of camera introductions from Panasonic, JVC, Sony, and Canon, and see the frequency of updates/replacements!

accelv
10-22-2008, 07:04 PM
Canon HDV products have been eclipsed by the EX1 and HMC, so it's time to upgrade to AVCHD and maybe 1/2" ccd's to get an edge.

Hidef1080
10-23-2008, 02:11 AM
Canon HDV products have been eclipsed by the EX1 and HMC, so it's time to upgrade to AVCHD and maybe 1/2" ccd's to get an edge.

Actually I think ALL HDV cameras have been surpassed by higher bitrate AVCHD.

I'll take 1/2 chips but only if the price is right.:thumbup:

mitteg
10-23-2008, 02:47 AM
1. How does Sony Vegas handle AVCHD files? Smoother than HDV or not?
It handles it just as well but is slower to render to other HD formats. There is obviously no smart render. You can mix HDV & AVCHD clips on the timeline with no problem too.

Slower than what? Slower than HDV ?


3. With HMC-150 720/50p mode, is it possible to shot high quality slow motion footage?
I haven't tried, not sure if mine will do 50P.

PAL version does 720/50p whereas NTSC version does 720/60p I guess. I just wanted to know if shotting at 50p/60p we can get REAL 50% slow motion. If so, what are the advantages of the variable frame rate of the HPX171 over the HMC-150 ? Why would someone shot 42p or 21p for example?

4
. I have been told that Panasonic gives you a software that transcodes your AVCHD files to DVCPRO-HD, is that true? How fast is the transcoding ? How much faster is the editing process ? Do you recommend that workflow: shot AVCHD, transcode to DVCPROHD, and edit DVCPRO-HD ?
There is a free downloadable software. Im not sure why you would do this step. With Vegas 8.0c I just add to the timeline and edit natively. No problem.

Edit natively= no quality loss, as long as you simply do straight cuts. Every single transition would need to be decompressed, rendered, and compressed again, so picture will degrade.
Go to an intermediate format: DVCPROHD or better yet, cineform or prores422. You would end with much bigger files, but editing should be smoother and you will not loose quality. All of that is in theory. Could someone confirm these workflow steps in a real world scenario?

Thanks !

Bassman2003
10-23-2008, 07:04 AM
I am using the HMC-150 with Edius 5 and transcoding into Canopus HQ with the fine quality setting.

Image is great.

Files size - about 65GB per hour of footage (720p60)

Takes some time, but the transcoder is multithreaded, so four files are done at the same time on my dual-core.

The files edit like DV once transocded...

jeff9329
10-23-2008, 10:37 AM
I don't know... unless you have some hard information... of all the prosumer camera manufacturers, Canon tends to have the least-frequent product updates, by far. I'd expect the A1 to be around, unmodified, for a long time. I don't think it'll be losing value any time soon.

I mean, look at the GL2! Or, look at a timeline of camera introductions from Panasonic, JVC, Sony, and Canon, and see the frequency of updates/replacements!

Canon certainly does move extremely slowly with the video line. They were 2 years behind everyone else with the introduction of a HDV camera (A1=Nov 2006 vs JVC HD1=June 2004). Kinda strange Canons digital camera line is just the opposite with a 6 to 9 and 12 month at the longest product cycle.

The A1 is now 2 years old. A lot has happened in those two years. For Canon to wait another full year or especially 2 would be crazy IMO. By the April 2009 NAB, at the latest, I bet the A1 successor will be announced. I wasn't willing to wait that long. And no, I don't have any hard information.

Also, the GL2 timeline has nothing to do with the modern HD camera variants timeline. DV camera development is over and has been for a few years. The GL2 was long in the tooth 2 years ago and is archaic by todays standards. It's still a great DV camera, but there will never be a GL3. Im not sure why anyone would ever buy a DV camera that is not native widescreen anymore.

mcsmooth
10-23-2008, 03:41 PM
PAL version does 720/50p whereas NTSC version does 720/60p I guess. I just wanted to know if shotting at 50p/60p we can get REAL 50% slow motion. If so, what are the advantages of the variable frame rate of the HPX171 over the HMC-150 ? Why would someone shot 42p or 21p for example?
Of course you can, the formulas should work for any camera that does 50/60p. DVCPROHD does variable framerates a little different and allows for all those extra settings. Why would you want other framerates? Maybe you don't want to do 40/50% slow motion, maybe you just want to slow it down or speed it up a tiny bit. Although they don't get used as much as the highest framerates (for slowmo) by most users, they are just more creative options you have to use.


Edit natively= no quality loss, as long as you simply do straight cuts. Every single transition would need to be decompressed, rendered, and compressed again, so picture will degrade.
Go to an intermediate format: DVCPROHD or better yet, cineform or prores422. You would end with much bigger files, but editing should be smoother and you will not loose quality. All of that is in theory. Could someone confirm these workflow steps in a real world scenario?
As soon as you have transcoded to any format other than uncompressed, you have already lost quality. With a solid intra-frame codec like you mention, you would not lose further quality when doing straight cuts and only have minimal degradation with modification to the pictures.

Native does only mean that you are starting with the original pictures, not necessarily ending with them. You would need to re-encode or transcode the final output. Results may vary (many variables in play), but I wouldn't say final quality is certainly going to be better or worse than using the initial transcode method. Smooth/quick editing will be more difficult to do natively for now though. Figure you have 2 workflows to choose from and most people without a proper hardware/software setup will need to transcode first.

The exception to the above would be a program that can natively edit and will also "smart render" final output. This would allow the exact same quality output with the exception of a few frames near each transition (figure no more than a second on each side of cuts can have degradation). This is ideal when you want to simply cut up footage and be done with it. Then you have all the good source material in one spot for further editing down the road.

Are there any programs that can do this properly yet? I've been trying a bunch of the consumer software that have been touting native AVCHD editing for a while but none so far will smart render (if they even recognize the files). I've heard Nero Vision can, haven't heard or tried if HMC footage will work yet. If you have to re-encode anyway, native editing loses most of its purpose while making editing a pain.

ullanta
10-23-2008, 10:20 PM
Also, the GL2 timeline has nothing to do with the modern HD camera variants timeline. DV camera development is over and has been for a few years.

That's not the point... compare the GL line to other manufacturers DV lines. The HD stuff has been similar. Canon always maintains a VERY small prosumer product line, and the products tend to live very long lives.

Finally... with Canon's prosumer dept. not being very into "change for change's sake" - what needs to change in the A1? It's still a great value, and among the top choices for prosumer cameras. It has a long lifetime left, ESPECIALLY if the market is moving towards solid-state; those with an investment in a tape-based workflow will keep buying them for a long time. Further, there are HD and solid-state accessories fr a tapeless workflow with these; such alternative (e.g., tape/HD) solutions (at a reasonable price/convenience) don't exist for todays solid state cameras....

Seriously, what needs to change in the A1 to make it a better product?

Gabriel Berube
10-24-2008, 06:17 AM
Well, Canon could improve the A1 by putting native-progressive CCDs into instead of interlaced CCDs. It's been proved in some shootouts that the 24f Canon uses in the XL-H1 and XH-A1 loses vertical resolution compared to other native-progressive chip cameras. It doesn't mean it becomes bad resolution, just that they could improve visual quality.

They could also improve low-light sensivity too while they're at it, since most new cameras are more light-sensitive with amazingly lower noise than before.

I personally hope they drop the HDV codec and move on to the new, much more promising AVCHD codec. Tape-based might be great for some, but for most, tapeless will be the way to go.

Just my 2 cents...

BobDiaz
10-24-2008, 09:46 AM
Well, Canon could improve the A1 by putting native-progressive CCDs into instead of interlaced CCDs. It's been proved in some shootouts that the 24f Canon uses in the XL-H1 and XH-A1 loses vertical resolution compared to other native-progressive chip cameras. It doesn't mean it becomes bad resolution, just that they could improve visual quality.

They could also improve low-light sensivity too while they're at it, since most new cameras are more light-sensitive with amazingly lower noise than before.

I personally hope they drop the HDV codec and move on to the new, much more promising AVCHD codec. Tape-based might be great for some, but for most, tapeless will be the way to go.

Just my 2 cents...

You have hit upon an area that has bugged me about Canon, the use of interlaced chips in the camera. If they changed to a 30/24 Progressive (25 Progressive in Europe...), chip this would be a real improvement to the camera.

Bob Diaz

ullanta
10-24-2008, 11:53 PM
Hmmm.... depends on Canon's target market. But yeah, that would be an improvement for some... though not if it reduces the quality of the "mainstream" interlaced footage (like on the HVX).

Anyway, my point is... read through these threads, and other forums. Frequently, addressing tapeless workflow issues, people say something like "I'd rather just grab an A1 and have (some benefit of tape)". I'm nopt commenting on the overall tape/tapeless workflow (I'm pretty tapeless) - but when the comparison is made these days, the tape camera is almost always an A1. It's the epitome of the Prosumer HDV camera world... and that means it's still got legs.

Barry_Green
10-25-2008, 08:45 AM
If they changed to a 30/24 Progressive (25 Progressive in Europe...), chip this would be a real improvement to the camera.
Not necessarily. It would be a change. You wouldn't get something for nothing. If Canon changed to a true progressive chip, all other things being equal, the very first thing that would happen is that you'd see a 1-stop drop in sensitivity, and a doubling of the amount of noise in the image. Are you sure everyone would classify that as an improvement?

The only way Canon got acceptable performance out of such a densely-pixel-packed chip was to use interlaced mode. Interlace scanning results in an increase in sensitivity and a decrease in noise. Without that interlace scan system, the A1 would be a very different performer.

Each of the manufacturers chose a compromise to get their priorities accomplished. There is a tradeoff involved in all manufacturing decisions. For Canon, the marketing advantage of "1440x1080" was too strong to ignore, so they went with it - even if it meant having to use interlaced chips and a "24F" scan system.

For Panasonic, the color and gamma and the variable frame rates were most important, and that meant a progressive chip was mandatory. So they had to employ a lower pixel count and spatial offset to accomplish satisfactory noise and sensitivity.

For JVC, "native 720p" was their clarion call, they wanted to have "native resolution". Fine, except it's impossible, so they had to actually divide their chip in half because you can't have a million pixels on a CCD and read it off at 60fps without starting a fire. So dividing the chip up was a clever solution, but it also meant having the dreaded split-screen side effect.

For Sony, they didn't care about progressive scan so they went with an interlaced, spatial-offset chip in the FX1/Z1. It resulted in great-looking 60i, but lousy progressive.

So now Sony's new approach is CMOS. Their new mantra is "FULL HD" so they have to cram as many pixels as possible on a chip, which is impossible with a CCD at this small size, so that forces them to CMOS. And the tradeoff there is sensitivity and rolling shutter. With the EX1 they had to go to 1/2" chip size to get the sensitivity up.

There is no free lunch. People who clamor for the Panasonic to use "native res" chips don't necessarily seem to understand that the only way to get there would be to go CMOS. You cannot have a 1920x1080 progressive-scan CCD in 1/3". It's impossible.

So, pick your compromise. Look at the results. Decide what your priorities are, and understand that there's no free lunch and no simple solution.

BobDiaz
10-25-2008, 11:42 AM
Hi Berry,

I guess I should have defined the parameters of this hypothetical camera....

First we know that the 1/3" CCD of the JVC camera would generate too much heat by trying to read all of the 1280 x 720 pixels in 1/60 of a second: 1280 x 720 x 60 FPS = 55,296,000 pixels per second. Thus, the number of pixels have to be split in 1/2 with a left side and a right side: 27,648,000 pixels per second.

The Canon A1 & H1 read 1440 x 540 pixels in 1/60 of a second: 1440 x 540 x 60 = 46,656,000 pixels per second. I'm guessing that this must be the upper limit for a 1/3" CCD, because the JVC could not do it with a single A/D converter.

Now with my hypothetical 30P or 24P Canon, it would need to read 1440 x 1080 pixels in 1/30 (or 1/24) of a second: 1440 x 1080 x 30 = 46,656,000 pixels per second. 1440 x 1080 x 24 = 37,324,800 pixels per second. Both are within the A1's & H1's upper limit for pixels per second.

It's tempting to think of of CCDs with 1440 x 540 and a vertical offset of the green chip. Yes, a loss in vertical resolution, but a gain of 1 F Stop...

As ullanta had pointed out, this hypothetical camera would be outside the parameters of the A1's market. Very true, but would now start to attract the low end film market.


I'm sorry, but I've gone WAY off topic of A Humble Review Of The HMC-150.


Bob Diaz

Barry_Green
10-25-2008, 12:49 PM
It's tempting to think of of CCDs with 1440 x 540 and a vertical offset of the green chip. Yes, a loss in vertical resolution, but a gain of 1 F Stop...
Which is why Sony did that, but in the other direction. They did 960x1080 with a horizontal offset of the green. Vertical res is more important than horizontal res; almost all HD compression codecs (up until now) have had no qualms about pre-filtering down the horizontal, but they always stored the full vertical. HDCAM, HDV, DVCPRO-HD, early AVC-HD, and 720p AVC-Intra all pre-filter the horizontal but record the full vertical.

So 1440x540 + spatial offset probably wouldn't happen, but similar numbers are gotten from 960x1080 + spatial offset, and that's what Sony did for the FX1/Z1.

Humanoid Typhoon
10-25-2008, 02:42 PM
The HMC is pretty good in low light. Better sensitivity (seems like 1 stop) and less noise than the XH-A1. Because of this, I wouldn't try to use low light A1 shots cut with HMC150 shots. There is too much difference, the A1 noise pattern becomes very obvious and the picture appears darker. It took a week to match presets to get the cameras looking very close to each other in good light. Basically, you have to tone down the HMC150 dramatically to match the flat look of the XH-A1.

Im selling the A1s quickly before an A2 comes out and destroys their value. Im going to get a second HMC150, A1 matching is too much trouble.

Note: the XH-A1 is still a very fine camera and beats the HMC150 in a few areas, like the onboard mics. Those onboard A1 mics have been very useful for an ambient or backup track. When a tapeless A2 with an improved sensor block comes out, I may switch back to Canon.

Mind sharing the scene file for the 150 and/or the preset file for the A1?

Thanks :)

scoemlek
10-26-2008, 02:13 AM
Wait for HMC150 B..

Carlos Corral
10-26-2008, 01:42 PM
Wait for HMC150 B..

I gotta wait another 2 years :(?

ullanta
10-26-2008, 01:50 PM
Vertical res is more important than horizontal res; almost all HD compression codecs (up until now) have had no qualms about pre-filtering down the horizontal, but they always stored the full vertical. HDCAM, HDV, DVCPRO-HD, early AVC-HD, and 720p AVC-Intra all pre-filter the horizontal but record the full vertical.

I've always assumed this was because interlacing gets ugly with vertical scaling... that is, nothing inherently more important about vertical res. In Bob's hypothetical progressive-only camera, it might not be an issue...

jeff9329
10-27-2008, 08:13 AM
Well, Canon could improve the A1 by putting native-progressive CCDs into instead of interlaced CCDs. It's been proved in some shootouts that the 24f Canon uses in the XL-H1 and XH-A1 loses vertical resolution compared to other native-progressive chip cameras. It doesn't mean it becomes bad resolution, just that they could improve visual quality.

They could also improve low-light sensivity too while they're at it, since most new cameras are more light-sensitive with amazingly lower noise than before.

I personally hope they drop the HDV codec and move on to the new, much more promising AVCHD codec. Tape-based might be great for some, but for most, tapeless will be the way to go.

Just my 2 cents...


Don't forget the A1 needs a wider angle lens. The HMC150 is significantly wider than the A1. It really makes a big difference when you need it. Of course, the A1 has a much longer lens which may be more beneficial to some users.

BobDiaz
10-27-2008, 08:45 AM
Don't forget the A1 needs a wider angle lens. The HMC150 is significantly wider than the A1. It really makes a big difference when you need it. Of course, the A1 has a much longer lens which may be more beneficial to some users.

This gets into some subjective judgment here, but for me wider is better. With weddings, it seems that I'm always getting into areas where I need a wider view. At the other end, the maximum telephoto is almost never needed.

I guess that someone who shoots nature films will have a different take on what a lens should have.

Bob Diaz

johnnyha
10-27-2008, 08:53 AM
The lens is so wide that there seems to be a slight fisheye distortion effect. Anyone else seeing this? It's especially apparent when you pan.

ilauzirika
10-27-2008, 08:57 AM
I love the wide angle capablity of the hmc.

Hidef1080
10-27-2008, 09:38 AM
The lens is so wide that there seems to be a slight fisheye distortion effect. Anyone else seeing this? It's especially apparent when you pan.

I too have noticed this... Mostly out to the edges when zoomed all the way out.

Evro
10-27-2008, 03:02 PM
I agree with Bob, I think it's better to have a wider range without having to attach a wide angle lens on the front further degrading the image because I too find myself in cramped conditions often having to share a space with a stills photographer/s at weddings.

Nobody has said anything about the digital zoom extender... what's it like, is it a useless consumer style feature that has no place on a prosumer camera (like that film grain effect on the early XL2)?

Barry_Green
10-27-2008, 03:41 PM
The digital zoom is fairly worthless; it just magnifies the central portion of the image so you have a corresponding resolution loss. Now, if you're not doing any editing and you need a punch-in and you're delivering standard-def anyway, it's not that bad at 2x, but at 5x or 10x it's pretty bad and I don't really see the point at all.

jeff9329
10-27-2008, 05:53 PM
I agree with Bob, I think it's better to have a wider range without having to attach a wide angle lens on the front further degrading the image because I too find myself in cramped conditions often having to share a space with a stills photographer/s at weddings.

Nobody has said anything about the digital zoom extender... what's it like, is it a useless consumer style feature that has no place on a prosumer camera (like that film grain effect on the early XL2)?

I posted a few stills from my digital zoom tests in one of the threads. I pretty much agree with Barry. For any DV, in good light shooting, I think the 2X zoom is very usable. The 5 & 10X are bad.

I did a lot of comparison shots with the XH-A1 at full zoom. On full zoom & 2X the HMC150 has a slightly longer lens, but is certainly not as sharp as the A1 when viewed on my 51" monitor in HD, but not too bad.

About the wide angle. The distortion you see at full wide during a pan is called perspective distortion and is not a lens fault. The HMC150 obviously uses a rectilinear lens. A fisheye lens is a wide angle curvilinear lens which gives a very wide angle at the expense of a distorted perspective.

Wide angle pans should be shot parallel to the ground and/or the target to minimize perspective distortion. The further the distance to the target, the less the perspective change is apparent.

mitteg
10-29-2008, 08:38 AM
About the wide angle. The distortion you see at full wide during a pan is called perspective distortion and is not a lens fault. The HMC150 obviously uses a rectilinear lens. A fisheye lens is a wide angle curvilinear lens which gives a very wide angle at the expense of a distorted perspective.

Are you saying that with the HMC-150 lens it is possible to get the "wide effect" of a rectilinear wide angle lens ? That wide angle effect would not be possible to get with another camera plus wide angle attachment lense because it would be curvilinear lens, right ? Professional ENG or EFP broadcast wide angle lens are always rectilinear, right?

Could someone post a pan shot where we can see the type of wide distorsion of the HMC ? Thanks a lot!