New Camera

Panasonic HPX170 P2 Camera and Monfrotto Tripod

After almost four years I finally got a new camera. There were many options. Ok. Not really. There were a few options. My price range was limited to the prosumer line and then my own limitations as far as brand. Much like people with their car I have my camera brand. Which is not to say my choice is better. It’s just what I feel comfortable with. I decided to go with the Panasonic HPX170.

I like Panasonic cameras. Mainly their 24p (shooting at 24 frames per second like film as opposed to normal video at 30 frames per second or fps). To my eye the Panasonic cameras have the most film like 24p within the current prosumer line of cameras. Again, just my opinion. I am a big 24p guy. I don’t like video in relation to narrative. Not to say other people can’t make their film in 30fps. You make your film with whatever you can make it with even if it’s a flipcam. For my projects I need 24p. I love film and the thing that made me switch from being a film person to a video person was I liked what video offered but I hated the look of it. When 24p came along I said there is the answer to my problem. The best of both worlds. The advantage of video with the look and feel of film. The more we get into the digital realm the more it’s less of an issue since cameras are becoming digital not video. Which is the case with the HPX170. It is a digital camera that shoots video. But it records, much like my last camera, the Panasonic HVX200, onto Panasonic’s P2 cards so no tape is ever used. It remains a strictly digital file.

I had considered their new camera, the AF100, but it won’t be released until the end of December which means availability may not be until February. Plus it uses an updated version of a compressed codec. It is supposed to be amazing but until it is out I need to stay with what I know. The AF100 (in camera cards) records HD at around 24MB per second if I remember correctly. You can send it out to an external recorder (like a Firestore) and get uncompressed footage which I am sure will look amazing. However, to get an external recorder on top of the camera itself plus a few other things the price will jump. So for the price of the camera alone I was able to get the HPX170 and a new tripod and a 10 hour(!) battery. Plus the HPX is out and it’s proven in what it can do. With P2 cards and the HPX170 (as was the case with the HVX200) I can record HD at its full uncompressed 100MB per second. Yes, I know there is still some compression involved but it’s compressing it in its native rate as opposed to a fourth of it. Now I am not knocking the new camera. Quite the contrary. I could be kicking myself for not waiting. But the fact of the matter is there will always be a new and better camera. But I need a camera now and am so happy to have, in essence, bought an upgraded version of my last camera. So no real learning curve here. I know it. I know the format. I have a system built around P2. Plus I like working with uncompressed footage with full on 4:2:2 which believe me you can tell.

And yes, much like most people I would have loved to be shooting on the new RED camera, the Scarlet, but it’s not out yet. And it might not be out for another year. It’s hard to tell. I have yet to shoot on a RED camera but would love to. It is just not an option now. And I need a camera that is actually available. One day though. And I will be really excited when that day comes.

Right now I am happy to at least make an upgrade with the new camera. It has a newer chip set with a more light sensitive and cleaner picture. It has more options (like a built in waveform monitor!!!) and of course it has that Panasonic 24p which I love. So the next step in the filmmaking process is done. The camera is here. Now I just need to secure some more locations and of course get this new rewrite of the script out to the actors. Unfortunately the rewrite has become an overhaul. It is quite something. People might think I’m nuts. But at least I have a new camera to record my insanity.

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