QUOTE JAUME “If you compare ANY OTHER 1/3″ sensor camcorder you will realize that HPX301 is less noisy and far sharper (thanks to the full HD sensor).”
When I review a camcorder I also compare the camera against a Sony EX-3. Why ? The Ex-3 performs great at 9dB the maximum noise I will personally accept and is in the £7K sweet spot the watershed between professional affordability and camcorders that need a mortgage just to buy the lenses… Yes the Sony is 1/2″ but does that not tell you something.
In my opinion Panasonic have produced a camcorder to knock the Sony EX-3 off the number one slot in the £7K price bracket and by all accounts the HPX-301 has everything the EX-3 has and a lot more… you nearly had it in fact you reduced the P2 cards by two thirds kicking Sony’s SxS cards ‘off the pitch’ but for one major miscalculation…you crammed far too many pixels onto the 1/3″ chips causing excessive noise which is exacerbated if you switch on the gain. In my 27 years as a cameraman I have never seen this phenomenon “Dancing black dots” in the shadows which you can only see on a 42″ LCD/plasma 1920 x 1080 screen. NOTE. Web presentations even in HD do not show this as there is not enough resolution.
I am a stickler for camera noise, as we all know if a camera performs well at 6-9dB you have a camera worth it’s weight in gold.
Sony decided that although the EX range was cheaper and could potentially affect the upper level pro camcorder market they were not going to compromise on chip noise and picture quality a very good philosophy and has paid off.
Panasonic on the other hand did not want to compromise the dearer 2/3″ camcorders so they took a fatal decision by using 1/3″ chips into the body of an amazing camcorder, this should be the entry level gold star camcorder of all time but unacceptable noise at 6-9dB in all HD modes cripples this otherwise fantastic camcorder.
I dispair Jaume you talk about 1/3″ sensor camcorders but I bet you have not compared the 301 against your very own 151 well surprise, surprise I have, and it kicks the pants off the 301 at 9dB !
Panasonic were thinking of using the 151 chipset for the 301 but decided it would not have enough resolution, fair play, but this means you also know how good the 151 performs if you even considered this. I can’t quite get my head round a company who produces a camcorder for £3K (151 AVCAM) then designs a world beating full featured P2 camcorder (HPX-301) for £7K that has a SN ratio of 47dB.
Don’t bring out an all singing all dancing camcorder if the most important feature… it’s video performance needs to be compromised in the fear of costing sales to your far superior P2 2/3″ range, I have seen this strategy time and time again, the spanner in the works just in case it costs sales. The spanner could have been anything else…but the picture…the most important part of the camera…what else can I say…once again Panasonic have been let down by a poor design decision that could cost this fantastic camcorder sales and credibility amongst the people who judge you the severest…the cameramen and women who spend their hard earned cash to use your fantastic HD video products.
Remember not everything ends up in HD in fact 99% of my work ends up in SD DVD. You do not see any noise in SD mode. In HD mode the noise is very slight if you stick to -3, 0dB and will be helped when Panasonic come back with their new camera settings.
I would like to thank Jaume for replying to my blog… if it proves one thing good old Panasonic are listening and that’s a big thumbs up for them.
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