The Panasonic PX270 Video Review explained (Updated with video stills)

Categories: Miscellaneous 27 Comments

Explained

I keep getting asked to explain my conclusions within the Panasonic PX270 Video Review and why I reject AVC I Frame over AVC Long GOP.

If you read the specs about I Frame over Long GOP you will convince yourself that I Frame is the clear winner but although I had downloaded Panasonic’s white paper about AVC ULTRA it was a bit heavy going, I am a practical person I prefer to go on what I see rather than make my mind up with what other people think in theory.

My first footage shot on the PX270 was 1080 50p AVC I100, clearly the best Panasonic had to offer…but looking at it back on my 50″ Panasonic plasma via the camera itself gave me a different picture a rather noisey look, not what I was expecting. (PS. I also looked at AVC LongG 50 footage on the same TV and looked stunning in comparison).

i-frame-300x LG-at-300x-copy-v2

It may be down to a level of sharpening that I am seeing in one picture against another as these 300% pictures show but the LongG 50 codec does produce cleaner pictures.

I remembered my conversation with Rob Tarrant at BVE who told me that 1080 50p LongG 25 was cracking but LongG had not been initiated at that time so I was stuck with 1080 50i and recorded footage onto an SDHC card at the show.

The footage looked very good in my edit suite (FCPX 10.1.1) but I was actually watching proxy footage as it turned out. Apple’s FCPX is way behind Adobe on the LongG front as Premiere CC can playback AVC LongG footage. I do realise I had the option to import into Premiere then export over to FCPX but decided not to do that.

I had one option to get LongG footage via the cameras HDSDI socket into FCPX, Ultra Studio Express from BlackMagic Design comes with a smashing app called Media Express but once again limited to 1080 25p, 1080 50i or 720 50p as I am no fan of 25p or interlace I chose 720 50p.

As an aside it was 720 50p AVC Intra 100 footage that put me off buying the Panasonic HPX250 camcorder at the time.

After ingesting the footage the old fashioned way via the SDI socket I was armed with 720 50p AVC LongG 50 footage converted to ProRes 422 I fired it into FCPX and was amazed at the quality far less noisy than AVC I100…why ?

422-10bit

I started to question everything even my green screen footage but good old Adobe gives you a detailed properties window and there it was 10bit 422 AVC LongG.

I phoned Panasonic to tell them my findings and was told that other people had reported the same results, this certified my findings so the review was filmed and edited mainly at 720 50p AVC LongG 50.

The other major news was you had a P2 camcorder that gives its best results onto SDHC cards saving you a fortune on micro P2 cards what a winner for both Panasonic and the end user, the only camera to date producing 10bit 422 footage onto SDHC cards…fantastic.

Why was this a winner for Panasonic…simple, they will sell many more PX270’s on the back of this information, Alastair who you saw on the review has bought two PX270s to mix and match with his Sony EX-3s.

As per the video Panasonic would prefer you to use at least one micro P2 card for belt and braces just in case you have a power failure or a corrupt SD card.

slack-VF

Since my review  I have passed on 2 requests to Panasonic…

Firstly if they could re design the VF to enable the cameraperson to lock it in position or make it more ridged while filming as it has a tendency to move easily.

Secondly like the AC160 the 2x digital zoom is quite usable but you have to toggle through 5x and 10x to get it off, could we have a limiter in the menu so you can choose to only have 2x and off rather than toggle through the other two useless magnifications.

Ref-monitor-V2

Just before you all send further emails I also have a JVC DT-V21G11 reference monitor to view my footage on.

When I got the Panasonic PX270 I was looking for Panasonic’s newest codec the AVC ULTRA codec not realising that AVC ULTRA is the overall name that encapsulates AVC Intra, LongG, DVCPRO HD, DVCPRO 50 and DV.

I hope this makes a wee bit more sense as to my findings with the Panasonic AJ-PX270.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

27 comments on this post

  1. john says:

    Very interesting review and thanks for the extra info.

  2. Frank says:

    http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/digital-video-industry-news/518930-panasonic-ag-px270-3.html

    Quote from above site:

    Originally Posted by Michael Warren View Post
    I’ve done some research and discovered that these formats don’t relate to the bit-rates in the way I expected. I expected Intra100 to always be approximately 100Mb/s, no matter what frame size or rate. This is not the case. AVC-Intra100 at 50p runs at a whopping 222Mb/s.

    I’m getting a little confused here!

    HDW : Frank pictures tell the story, this industry is full of bullshitters and knowitalls telling you AVC Intra 100 is top dog and LongG is crap…do they use either of these codecs…no…its all what they read on the internet.

  3. Frank says:

    Thanks! This why I follow your website and enjoy your reviews. Keep up the the wonderful work.

  4. SMD says:

    Nice added info! Thanks. You inspired me to pick up two of these guys. They come in 2 days. Really excited to see first hand how it compares to previous Panasonic camcorders. Thanks for your input, videos, and responses!

  5. I don’t quite understand. When you shoot in 1080 50p, will your customers then view their films you make for them, also in 50p?

    It seems a bit odd that the rest of the world is viewing mostly 24, 25 or 30p on their TV’s or the internet.

    What’s your philosophy with wanting to shoot 50p all the time?

    HDW : Filming in 25p all your moving shots are staccato, sport/fast action looks terrible shot at 25p and filming at 50p looks far more natural and converts fine to 25p via the internet. Quality is my aim and 50p is double the amount of frames for a start and is far superior for graphics…my DVDs look far better filmed at 720 50p…need I say more.

  6. They’re the same resolution…1920 x 1080…. you’re seeing twice as many frames per second,, but the resolution doesn’t change.

    DVDs are all 25p or 50i in the UK and whether you convert it or the DVD software does, it’s still getting converted…. and the internet can play any frame rate you like… not all of it is 25p. I shoot plenty of moving shots in 25p, i just use a faster shutter speed.

    I can see that for TV news type things and some corporate jobs might prefer it, but in general, it’s almost ‘too real’… hence why so many people didn’t like ‘The Hobbit’ at 48 fps instead of the usual 24…

    HDW : Thanks Sean its been a long day.

  7. Ron Evans says:

    It seems a bit odd that the rest of the world is viewing mostly 24, 25 or 30p on their TV’s or the internet.“

    Most TV`s in the world were set up to receive interlace signals as is DVD and Bluray for the most part. So in PAL country this would be 50i and NTSC 60i these are the same temporal motions as the progressive forms of 50P and 60P. Timecode confuses people in that 50i or 60i( 59.94 ) timecode is 25 or 30fps( 29.97 ). 50i or 60i have the same number of exposures as 50P or 60p they are just fields( half the vertical resolution) not full frames and so the timecode increments every 2 fields ( 2 fields is a frame). Most broadcast TV is still interlace so people will be watching 50i or 60i. The improvement with technology is now 50P or 60P. Lots of low cost cameras may be limited to 30P for cost reasons and to differentiate from the higher end models. 24P is used as means of going to film but for most TV`s over the world has to be modified to show on TV or PC as 24 needs pulldown cadence to be shown. 24 does not divide into 50 or 60 one needs a refresh rate a multiple of 24 like 72 ( some plasma tv`s) or 120 etc like a lot of LCD`s
    Refresh rates on PC`s are also the same as TV`s so have to double the frames when they come from 30P videos from Youtube as an example. The reason we got 24fps for film and now get 30P from the internet is simple …COST

    I agree with HDW and shoot everything I can at 60P in my case.

    Nice review.

  8. I can totally see the need for higher frame rates with sports shooting. The motion blur of 50th second shutter and 25p frame rates, can make looking at fast moving action tiresome on the eyes. I was just curious if your customers noticed the difference.

    HDW : My corporate clients certainly notice a difference and frequently comment is how good the quality is and i’m not going to change my recipe if it works.

  9. Mel says:

    Choosing a frame rate can be a technical or artistic decision. It is going to depend on geographical factors (Europe PAL or North America NTSC), media distribution (Television, Theater or Internet), and workflows, since it is possible to convert from one frame rate to another (some work better and are easier to convert than others). You can even have one frame rate over a higher frame rate; two examples: 25p over 50i (2-2 pull down), 23.98p over 60p (2-3 pull down), and still maintain the same “look” as the lower frame rate. This would be similar to the telecine process, and that is why movies still look like movies when you watch them on TV/Cable.
    The general consensus is that interlace is bad (it wasn’t always that way), so we are moving toward a progressive future. Personally I like the high frame rate when watching Live Events, News, Sports, Concerts, and Travel shows. The “Hyper-realistic” look makes me feel like I’m eye-witnessing the action in person. For Movies, Music Videos, and Episodic Television, I prefer the low frame rates to preserve the “dreamy and poetic” look (for lack of a better term) we are accustomed to. Lower frame rates are necessary to make movie props and visual effects look believable. Things get complicated when you bring into the equation other factors like, shutter speed, refresh rates and motion modes on the newer tvs. All those can affect the visual and psychological aspect of how our brain perceive what we are watching. Using high frame rates during acquisition is going to give you the most flexibility in post, either to create fluid slow motion or the “video” or “film” look that people love and expect.

  10. George says:

    After reading this report on the noise issue in AVCIntra-100
    with the PX 270, I’m given pause whether I will seriously
    consider to purchase the camera.
    If this is a real issue I would hope Panasonic rectify this.
    And the loose EVF is a bit disturbing.
    The camera seems so promising in many ways, I hope
    these issues don’t ruin it.
    Yes, ‘The Devil is in the details.’

    HDW : Its not loose as such…I would prefer to lock it in position but the pictures in the VF alone make up for any minor failings.

  11. SMD says:

    Just got the camera. Can you clarify two things for me (please feel free to be detailed):

    1) What exactly is the High Sensitivity option on this camera? In your review you left it simply at “don’t use it. It just adds noise.” But I just got the 270 and I see it doesn’t increase the gain readout but it does brighten up the image quite a bit. I’m wondering what’s ACTUALLY going on and if this is similar to the HPX250’s PAP1/PAP2 setting?

    HDW : This increases the cameras sensitivity in low light the only way it can do this is to add gain…gain = noise !

    2) I noticed that to focus on things closer than a few feet away you actually have to hit the Macro button. In my previous Panasonic camera, the macro focus would engage automatically when you get close to something. Is this normal and does it hurt to just leave it on macro mode all the time since it still continues to focus on things far away?

    Thanks.

    HDW : The only problem with leaving the camera set to MACRO is that you are giving the camera a chance to falsely focus on a near object that may creep into the bottom of frame this could ruin an important interview for example.

  12. Frank says:

    Hello SMD have you noticed the AVCIntra-100 noise issue? Would be helpful to have another input, since you have the camera in your possession. Please give us your review!

    HDW : I had a 250 for a couple of days about a year ago and it had the same problem, 720 50p was not good, noisier than I was expecting. I think its in the DNA of the codec. I had an AF101 for about 6 months and by switching to norm 2 Gamma Cine V you had a less noisier picture…I tried this on the 270 at AVCi100 with no effect.
    I don’t see why you have an issue as long as one of the codecs gives you a cleaner picture and remember this may also be particular to my camera though I have my doubts. Panasonic admit various sources are finding LongG 50 a cleaner picture and I was not aware of this before getting the 270.
    Though I would be keen to hear from SMD on this issue myself. I also had a colleague who assessed the camera who was interviewed in the review he confirmed my findings but went onto buy two PX270 camcorders, he will also use them in LongG mode.

  13. SMD says:

    I haven’t noticed the issue but I haven’t tried it. I’m shooting 1080p60 using the LongG25 codec so I never even planned on exploring the AVCi side. If I have time I’ll try to compare the two and let you know.

    I do agree with the review here that the EVF loupe is a bit loose. Not bad, but it could be a bit more rigid. But that’s being REALLY picky. So far I like it a lot.

    HDW : Its simple its the best 1/3″ 422 10bit camcorder on the market so enjoy.

  14. Mel says:

    “HDW : Its simple its the best 1/3″ 422 10bit camcorder on the market so enjoy.”

    What other 1/3-inch camcorders record 422 10bit video?

    HDW : There is only one other 1/3″10bit 422 camcorder on the market the Sony PXW-Z100 4k camcorder but in order to record 10bit you need to record onto expensive XQD cards and its shocking in low light…the Panasonic PX270 is the ONLY camcorder to date to record 10bit 422 50Mbps onto SDHC cards and thats where every other camera manufacturer is missing the point.
    The PMW-300 also records 10bit 422 50Mbps but its 1/2″ and once again relies on expensive SxS cards.

  15. Mel Feliciano says:

    “HDW : There is only one other 1/3″10bit 422 camcorder on the market the Sony PXW-Z100 4k camcorder but in order to record 10bit you need to record onto expensive XQD cards and its shocking in low light…”

    Yes, I thought about the Sony PXW-Z100 but it has a slightly bigger single sensor (1/2.3 vs 1/3 inches), so it would be like comparing apples and oranges. The other camera would be the Sony PXW-X180, but that one is not out yet.

    HDW : The 1/3 and Sony’s 1/2.3 is a nats whisker but low light at 0dB the PX270 is way out front.

  16. Has there been any developments on the PX270 codec front since April 16? 1080 50p AVC I100 “ought” to look better. Has Panasonic responded?

    HDW : AVC I100…Ought to and in real life no, the LongGOP 50 is still king, personally the LG is a far newer codec and it shows in the end result, my only crib is the fact that we still can’t ingest this straight into FCPX.

  17. Frank B says:

    I just attended a seminar on the Sony PWX-x180 here in Toronto. Excellent quality!
    Have not been able to make up my mind on which camera to purchase the Panasonic PX270 or Sony PWX-x180. Below are some of the specs. for the sony camera. Several recording formats including. The only thing I see missing is XAVC-Intra 59.94p, 50p Any comments to help me in my purchase would be greatly appreciated.
    3 x 1/3″ type Exmor CMOS sensor
    G Lens with 25x Optical Zoom
    Electronic Variable ND Filter
    Dual SxS Memory Card Slots
    XAVC-Intra
    1920×1080 59.94i: 111 Mbps max
    1920×1080 50i: 112 Mbps max
    1920×1080 29.97p: 111 Mbps max
    1920×1080 25p: 112 Mbps max
    1920×1080 23.98p: 89 Mbps max
    1280×720 59.94p: 111 Mbps max
    1280×720 50p: 112 Mbps max
    XAVC-Long
    1920×1080 59.94i, 50i: 50/35/25 Mbps max
    1920×1080 59.94p, 50p, 29.97p, 25p, 23.98p: 50/35 Mbps max
    1280×720 59.94p, 50p: 50 Mbps max
    MPEG HD422
    1920×1080 59.94i, 50i, 29.97p, 25p, 23.98p: 50 Mbps max
    1280×720 59.94p, 50p, 29.97p, 25p, 23.98p: 50 Mbps max

    HDW : Dont buy any camera till you see the results, I think you are a Sony man…if you have seen the X180 and like what you see, buy it.

  18. Frank B says:

    Thanks Philip for input. It’s so difficult to make purchasing decisions these days. It seems like we are seeing new products every 3-6 months compared to 1-2 years. Times are a changing so must we I guess! Thanks again for all your professional input.

  19. Em says:

    Hi Many thanks for the review, it really was very helpful. Could I ask a quick question. I have been told in the past your shutter speed should be double you frame rate (50P = 1/100). However on the PX270 when in 1080 50p mode it only has 1/60 or 1/120? I am now confused as to what to set my shutter on. I have been playing with the shutter scan mode and I can dial in 1/100.1 or 1/99.9, but I don’t know if I should be playing with that at the moment. I would appreciate any advice. Thanks again.

    HDW : That scenario is for cinematic cameras. I film 1920 x 1080 50p @ 1/50…running at 1/100 will cut down light and make movement slightly strange.

  20. MARTIN NDICHU says:

    Hi HDW.My name is Martin from Kenya.I saw your review on the PX270 a few months ago and I fell in love with it.I decided to put some money aside and get two of them this october but I just discovered that they have just released HC X1000 which is 4k and for quite a cheaper price.I’m torn between the two.I would really appreciate your feedback

    HDW : The 4K HC X1000 is from the domestic camp and not the same animal as the PX270. If you are happy with Full HD the PX270 is your choice.

  21. Mabou2 says:

    Hi HDW,
    Loved your video on the 270. Based on your review I just bought one and so far I love it. Though the world could use a reasonable tutorial manual to wade through the startling amount of options in the menu.

    My question to you is… have you shot 1080P LongG25? If so, how do you feel it will work for a corporate shoot with minimal post processing? I have a shoot coming up in two days. I need to capture a long presentation in front of 200 people in a well lit room. My primary concern is capturing all of the 3 hour presentation with minimal card pulling, so I want to shoot with the most economic codec to get the most time in each card. Thanks a bunch. Matt

    HDW : Hi Matt I no longer have my PX270 but my colleague has 2 of them and uses 1080 LonG 25 on dance shows and told me the quality in fine. Panasonic always told me there was little difference in quality between 50 and 25.

  22. John Petrula says:

    Warning – AVC-LongG Fails in Premiere Pro CC2014

    Both Adobe Premiere Pro and Panasonic claim that you can edit Panasonic AJ-PX270 (Firmware: 11.31) AVC-LongG in Premiere Pro CC – 2014(v8.1) on Windows 7 Pro. I provided the Premiere Pro technical staff with an hour continuous AVC-LongG-25-1080-59.94i CONTENT folder. The Premiere technical staff affirmed that they also could not edit it so had a big problem since they incorrectly assumed LongG worked.
    “AVC-LongG Fails in Premiere Pro CC2014”
    https://forums.adobe.com/message/6800629
    See “Correct Answer” from Adobe Premiere Staff.

    Until Premiere editing in LongG is fixed, the PX270 has no alternative compressed format like AVCHD. As a result, I have to return the PX270 while I still can. Should I buy a Sony PXW-X180 which has alternative compressed formats, or re-buy the PX270 when Adobe fixes LongG editing? I just do not know.

  23. John Petrula says:

    I like the PX270. It uses affordable SDXC cards, the picture quality is very good, the features are excellent, and the free extended warranty a major plus.

    My main gripe is the excessively recessed buttons especially on the side. I have thin fingers, but cannot easily depress the buttons. I must use my finger nail to reach the recessed buttons. Since the side buttons have no rubber padding, my fingernail slides around which slightly jerks the camcorder. The side dial button is especially recessed and difficult to rotate.

  24. SMD says:

    I was able to edit AVC-LongG25 “just okay” in Premiere. Multicam was impossible. But straight editing wasn’t too bad. I ended up transcoding everything to ProRes422 and it worked fine. I no longer have the cameras, but I feel for all those who hit this issue.

  25. Mabou2 says:

    Hi again… I was able to edit a straight-cuts LongG25 in premier without any major slowdown. It was as snappy as FCPX with proxy footage.

    I’m sad that there isn’t better support from Panasonic regarding the issues with FCPX, but according to Panasonic, a plug-in will be coming soon so FCPX will be up and running with LongG. I am going to keep this awesome camera (270) and be patient until LongG is supported properly both in FCPX and PPro. Hopefully sooner than later. In the meantime, unless I am shooting something long (like the three hour presentation I will be sleeping through… errr… shooting tomorrow, the AVCi100 is absolutely awesome in FCPX.

    @ Martin… I was looking at that camera too… but I read over and over again that the low light performance is absolutely terrible. They even mentioned the poor low light performance in a B&H promotional video.

  26. max0517 says:

    Thx your video and extra info! keep up the good job !

  27. Dave G says:

    OK, this all makes sense if you think about it. The test shot with the doll is on sticks and locked off, so the camera sees the same image on every frame.

    LongG is short for “long group of pictures”. Typically there are 15 frames in a compression group. So with AVC LongG 50, you have 1 I-frame (full picture), followed by 14 difference frames. Since the image is on sticks and locked-off, the 14 difference frames essentially amount to nothing. So now your 50 Mbits/sec storage rate essentially only has to carry 1 of every 15 frames, which means they can use way less compression to fit it all in, which means less compression artifacts.

    Compared with AVC Intra 100 on the same image, even on sticks and locked off, they still encode all 15 of 15 frames as full pictures, so that’s essentially 15x the data rate into the compression stage. So even with twice the storage data rate (100 Mbits/sec vs. 50), they still need around 7x the compression factor to fit it in, which is why you see more compression artifacts on the first test shot.

    But that’s just for a lock-off test shot. Try some smooth pans on sticks, and you’ll see AVC LongG 50 looking significantly worse. If all 15 sequential frames are very different, then you will have 15x the data rate into the compression stage, but only 50 Mbits/sec for storage, so that type of shot will produce more compression artifacts with AVC LongG 50 than with AVC Intra 100.

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