Further thoughts on the Panasonic DVX-200…Performance (Updated)

Categories: Miscellaneous 27 Comments

Performance

There no point owning a Ferrari to discover it has the engine of Skoda. The new Panasonic DVX-200 has a similar chip to the GH4* (* Its an updated m4/3 chip) giving you the best of both worlds. Panasonic have taken the success of the GH4 and designed a professional camcorder around it…fantastic.

Update : “That would be an expensive GH4” one pundit cried, the GH4 with YAGH was around the £3,300 mark so to pay around £4K for better ergonomics and all the bells and whistles the GH4 does not afford like dual record is not that much off the mark.

1 Wide shot

This was well attended with journalists and bloggers from all over Europe, there were four Panasonic DVX-200 camcorders on offer.

4 cams

The one I choose was set to 3840 x 2160 50p but one of the bloggers had noted there was no HD footage shot with the DVX-200 yet so I changed my settings to 1920 x 1080 50p at 200 Mbps ALL-Intra.

All three interviews were filmed in HD and at 6dBs which is why they are a tad noisy in the blacks, I was not there to produce a review of the DVX-200 just an overview and a play with the camera.

filminf EP

I phoned Panasonic the following day with my concerns as I know from owning a GH4 6dBs should not contain any noise in the blacks, Panasonic reminded me that these were still pre production models and are still being fine tuned back at the factory.

Luc

One other annoyance was the eye sensor on the viewfinder as you brought the DVX-200 towards your shoulder the LCD switched off but Technical Product Manager Luc Barra has already informed me this has been fixed in the next FW update.

NigelNigel Wilkes, Group Manager at Panasonic AV IP Business Unit for Pro AV / Broadcast Products told me they were a bit sceptical at first with a 4K camera that had a fixed lens. I can assure you the 13x Leica built lens is a cracker and one of the major features on the camera. Having a fixed lens actually suites more end users who will be using the camera for run and gun.

lens

Update: The 13x lens is par focal and the only exception to this is in macro mode…The 13x zoom lens on the DVX200 has a focal length of f=12.8mm to 167mm ( 35mm equivalent: 28.0mm to 365.3mm (FHD) this changes to 29.5mm in 4K 24p, 30.6mm in UHD 25/30p and 37.2mm in UHD 50/60p.

Last thoughts…

I love the camera, its well built has the same ergonomics as the PX270, produces a good solid picture and has LOG features for those who are willing to increase their workflow. Remember I will be getting a DVX-200 to review from Holdan very soon, so I can make my final judgements on a more updated firmware.

Meantime enjoy this 7m video I have produced…

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

27 comments on this post

  1. mark says:

    lovely report. This is the only handheld video camera (to be held in mid-air) with a real servo zoom from wide to tele and a decent image-quality. (the FS7 still won’t go wide enough with a servo and the GH4 has only a mini 14-42 and 45-175 with servo, separately LOL). what comes out from your video is (also) how good the FZ-1000 actually is, but again because of the agreement between all the manufacturers to limit to 29min any servo zoom camera with quality of today’s standards but below US5K (yeah, that’s the border they impose now) . That’s what they decided and that’s what we have to pay. Period. I totally agree that the fixed lens is a good thing (who needs to change lenses will be an amateur obsessed with the bokeh or movie sets, but they don’t buy anything, they rent.. so.. they rent ARRI or RED (of course). The videographers (events) , sports and local TV broadcasters need a servo zoom camera with a shoulder mount -like the JVC890) for now. 4K is the future , but it’s the future. When ARRI will go 4K then 4K will become a serious thing. (I agree with the German guy in your video).

  2. Jonny Gross says:

    Glad they’re updating the firmware for the vf sensor. That sounds like it could be annoying, although, flipping the vf upwards could still be an acceptable solution.

    I’m hearing that the lens is not parfocal. Is that true?

  3. Can’t wait to see the review for this one 🙂 Please look at the low light compared to say, a normal 1080 HD camera as that is where the real test will come to how good its low light actually performs.

    Gary

  4. Richard says:

    DVX-200 looks good but what a cracking camera the FZ1000 is. You wouldn’t think it was less than a 1/4 the price.

  5. Paul Johnson says:

    Whats the point in testing the HD side of a 4k camera when the manufacturers objective is to promote the 4k aspect? After all the manufacturer has launched this camera as a 4k camera.
    Its like testing the SD capabilities of an EX3 or F3 or even the HD options of the FS7.

    I was so looking forward to your review and comments of the 4K capabilities.

    HDW : Firstly its not a review, secondly 80% of the run and gun video market edit and output in HD so I decided to see how the camera performed in HD. When I get DVX-200 for review you will be better informed. We saw 4K footage yesterday and it was very good indeed.

  6. Ron Evans says:

    To support Paul. The camera is billed as a 4K camera as there are plenty of HD cameras with 20x zooms that will likely outperform the DVX200. If one has a 4K camera then the likely work flow would be to shoot 4k and edit and deliver in HD as I do with my FDR-AX1 so that I can crop/pan/zoom. One of the issues with the DVX200 in 4k is that at 50/60P the wide angle is only 37.5mm which is not that wide and the lens ramps very quickly so low light performance may also suffer.

    Also I was under the impression that the sensor was a new sensor not the one in the GH4 and likely the internals have a lot in common with the HC-X1000.

    Will look forward to your review.

  7. mark says:

    Paul the point is that while I agree that the 80% of the R&G market goes on HD the rest of the 20% goes on SD for broadcast. As of today 4K is either for youtube (which mean free work) or in HD timeline downgraded. The performance of the camera in HD is indeed important to know. But I agree that 4K is the thing of the day (what for? not sure, just to have it I guess). but it does look good on our own monitors.

  8. Jiri Vrozina says:

    Mr Mark,
    Once again you are talking….
    If you want Wide Lens with motorized zoom for TS7, there is new Canon 17-120 or others. You can also use B4 ENG TV Lenses with adaptor.
    Do you know there is thousands of 2/3″ and 1/2″ Cameras with NON FIXWD Lenses? Amd guess what, they are Television cameras for Football, News, Concers and Docos.

    Having Fixed average Zoom, with non constant F-stop, bad Manual control is purely COST REASON.
    Sure it is nice affordable Camera with affordable zoom.
    But, it is not an easy camera to operate.

  9. David Doré says:

    Richard hits the proverbial nail on the head… the FZ1000 is the real star of this interesting report. What a lot of camera for the money!

  10. Lars says:

    @Jonny Gross: Barry Green at DVXuser says it is parfocal. Paraphrasing Barry, this may be through the lense being optically parfocal or it may be through seamless electronic adjustment of the focus. The important thing is that Barry says you can zoom in to set focus and it will hold that focus.

  11. mark says:

    Jiri Vrozina once again you completely misunderstood my post (completely, not even close) . I was talking about the limitations (intentional) on cameras like the FZ-1000 to make the consumer spend 7x more for basic features limited (again intentionally) on the sub1K (dollars) ones that would be perfectly able to perform as real cameras if it wasn’t for the (intentional) limitations applied.
    The other limitation (intentional again) is for 4K : all the consumer models sport such a slow processing (intentionally) that makes 4K only good for a static scene (ONLY).
    These are the facts : GH4 no servo zooms wide to tele (intentional) , FZ-1000 class cameras : 29minutes tops . Canon 5D : no servo zooms at all plus the 29minutes limitation
    Don’t you think that they know that R&G needs a servo zoom and more than 29minutes? Of course they know. In fact you have to spend AT LEAST $5K (US) and up for that. And just for a software lock on basic features or the NON production of servo zoom lenses (in purpose)

  12. mark says:

    Jiri Vrozina and I agree about the zoom lenses stopping down as you zoom being annoying to say the least, in fact the RX10 gives a beautiful zeiss @2.8 constant. But ehy … it stops at 29 minutes … LOL wondering why? Please see my previous post for that.

  13. mark says:

    this industry is “de facto” a classic (and nasty) oligopoly with decisions made to kill competition and force the customers to spend 7x more for basic features. Their products are ALL well limited, and all togheter. They decide 3 years in advance what to limit for the price. I am a guest here and I hope that Philip won’t mind me posting this, but it’s so obvious…

  14. Jonny Gross says:

    Thanks for the update. Looks good! For someone in the corporate field, events, promos and a bit of advertising here and there, also wanting to use this as a B camera for film shoots, I think this is perfect. I never have any time to set up a proper lighting setup, change lenses etc, I’m on the go from the second I get out of the car. I’ve read so many reviews and articles where people have said it’s unclear who the target audience is – it’s people like me.

    When I direct, cameras are rented. For my business, I want something like this.

  15. mark says:

    Jonny Gross may I suggest the sony FDR-AX33? decent low light (not spectacular but decent) and absolutely outstanding stabilization , walking with it will result pretty much like a glidecam arm (not in the form but in the results). Part of the bizarre Sony’s way to distribute features randomly that makes no sense (at first) but then… it does 🙂 -it’s all marketing and they do know what they’re doing LOL

    Anyway that’s a “palm” camera that actually makes sense. bigger than that and a shoulder mount will be necessary. But the AX33 can be indeed held in mid-air thanks to the stabilization (gymbal style). This red panasonic looks heavy to hold in mid-air for more than 7 minutes, and the little foot gives a third point of contact but the weight will still stay all in front. A pain… to hold

  16. Jonny Gross says:

    Hi Mark. Thanks for the suggestion but the ax33 isn’t what I’m looking for. Coming from ex1’s, z7’s and z5’s, I’m used to that form factor and the weight. The ax33 is limited in the same ways the x70 is. It’s just not a professional camera and I’m always frustrated by cameras like it. I feel like it would be a step backwards. I was in the market for the z100 but then this Panny came about and married large Aesir with fixed lens, plus the footage I saw from the z100 wasn’t great. It’s the Panny all the way for me!

  17. mark says:

    Jonny Gross you mean that’s not a “professionally looking” camera like the X70, right? In that I agree completely. The X70 gives everything but it’s just too small to be taken seriously. That’s not something the “politically correct” crowd will appreciate but it’s true. The stabilization of the AX33 produces footage only achievable by a (union registered) steadicam operator . But again it looks like a toy, so let’s pretend that it doesn’t exist. ahhhh I said it, now I feel better. As of the handycams to be held in mid air? a nonsense that I can’t believe still sells . And they come heavier and heavier making our live miserable with or without the other nonsense of all the frankerings to emulate a real shoulder camera. Hard to believe but that’s how it is.

  18. Jonny Gross says:

    The camera has to fit the cameraman. A tiny holiday looking camera doesn’t look professional on a job, especially if you’re not the only cameraman, so, from that crude perspective, yes, the ax33 doesn’t meet the standard. Secondly, there are physical features that really help in a run and gun situation. Three rings, accessible buttons, audio adjust. If I wanted to be that limited and but up extra gear, I would just use a dslr and change lenses all the time. Last, the sensor appears to be another half inch, which again, is not good enough. Do you work in the Sony Handycam dept? It sounds like you have experience, so I’m not sure why you’re pushing this thing…any pro shooter should know all of the above.

  19. Yes Mark, some of the rigs to turn a DSLR into a shoulder cam are frightening!

  20. mark says:

    Gary : Yes, and unbelievably heavy, you don’t know where to put the “thing” between takes to rest a little and it weights a ton . Nonsense, pure nonsense. About a REAL shoulder camera instead? What’s with this idiotic design to hold a video camera in mid-air like idiots? who does that?

    Jonny : because the marketing at Sony’s and Panasonic (the others don’t count much) is playing us like puppets. Releasing features and locking most of them between models. They spend days and nights figuring out how to make models so limited that you end up spending 10x more for some simple feature and you don’t even know it.
    It all started with the D90 (nikon) that destroyed the R&G segment offers overnight(and independent, sports & events (the segment that used to spend 5-7K /camera to be clear) . Until then they sold such limited (in video quality) toys at absurd prices and the D90 in ONE DAY made all of them look like a joke. After the D90 it was chaos, they didn’t know how to recover the segment. Then started this little feature by little features game finding new limitations over new limitations. You have a camera with everything but no remote control , or it doesn’t look “camera” enough, or stops recording every 12 minutes, or no servo zooms , pathetic low light and the story goes on and on and on. We are puppets and they play with us, simple like that.
    I’m 50 something but I don’t remember ANY other marketing playing with features like this one.

    R&G : ok what do we need? servo zoom , lanc, 5hrs battery and media, shoulder mount and reliable body, good pictures like an iphone at least, a DECENT low light : what do we have? not much , maybe JVC (maybe) and that’s it. We need to go to PMW-400 that cost an arm and a leg to have everything in 1 place. Everything else below that price has something missing, but important enough to make my life miserable trying to make it work.

    And we don’t say anything? Nuthing?

  21. mark says:

    Jonny: Forgot the most important thing : I’d like to let the marketing guys in Japan know that this “features and locks” game is old and now over. Do what the Germans do: look at Sennheiser : they make and sell ONE thing, and it works. One thing, no limitations, no games. See? it works. They sell like crazy.
    There is only ONE G3 , not a G3, G3light, G3 MarkII , G3 super and other BS like you guys in Japan do. Why they don’t do it? because it’s “Sennheiser”. See the difference?

    /rant off

  22. mark says:

    Jonny : the sensor of the AX33 is too small? Really? this “size matters” related to the sensor is a myth , like the rolling shutter myth related to the shutter (global shutter gives no RS, right? Wrong: the alexa and the F55 -both with no RS- made it clear that it didn’t have much to do with the shutter but with the processing. (only one with a global shutter but the no RS applies to both. how’s that possible? LOL

    The PMW-400 gives a low light performance never seen before, and the size of the PMW-400 sensor is…?

    🙂

    The size of the sensor basically affects the depth of field , for the bokeh obsessed amateurs. The rest is managed by the processing. And they use the software to limit the models. Remember the ea50? and the FS700? big difference in low light, same sensor size, different marketing. and yes! they do it intentionally (of course)
    they are features, tricks and intentional limitations that they use to sell everything. It’s the marketing game that I hope will end soon, and we should bring it to light. This kind of marketing used to do good for them and bad for the customer.

  23. Phil Gurr says:

    Does anyone know if the holes in the top handle are tapping? Got the spec files and it doesn’t say.

    HDW : I am pretty sure they are 3/8″ and 1/4″

  24. David says:

    Hi Phillip, from your examples, I don’t see a big improvement over the HC-X1000 in noise at 9db I see a little improvement in CA in the lens. I bought an HC-x and don’t love it after two jobs. I shoot corporate videos and was thinking of upgrading to the DVX or buying an Atamos Ninja for the HC any thoughts? Thanks for your time, I realize you have work to do.

  25. Had this camera for a while now and done a number of dance shows with it.

    I must say, it’s much, much brighter than the X1000 by the same maker, Panasonic. Thats because it has a 4/3 chip that is over twice the size as the x1000 1/2″ chip. While the DVX200 records most shows at 0 DB, the X1000 is on 6db or even 9db, which pretty much sums up the difference between the 2 cameras!

    Straight from the shop I have notice a lot of grain with the DVX200, so much so that I was starting to think perhaps I have a faulty model, as grain doesn’t seem to be an issue for all the reviews I have seen. Looking at the firmware though, I discovered it come with firmware version 1.1. while the current firmware is at 1.5!

    Upgrading was very straight forward and now in initial tests at home the grain seems to have been greatly reduced. I have another dance show coming very soon so will be a good test.

    Also with the firmware upgrade we now have WIFI!!!!! This had been missing so I feel a lot better now knowing I can control the camera from afar if needed. Always handy when filming unmanned.

    The issue with the LCD turning off when you brush against the eyepiece has been resolved, now you can have LCD on all the time, or you can have eye piece on all the time, or have the sensor turned on to automatically switch between them, adjusting sensitivity as well! However you can’t have the LCD and viewfinder on at the same time which is a bummer!

    You get 2 hours filming from a…. (wait for it)…. 128GB SDXC Card! I use Transcend from Amazon priced at about £65 each.

    All in all happy with camera so far, and if new firmware gets rid of the grain in shows, then I can breath easier relying on this camera over the X1000 in dark situations! I’ll go as far as saying that this camera blows the old Panasonic 151’s out of the water!

  26. mark says:

    Gary , I had the camera too for a week or so and the low light is not even close to the GH4 with a similar lens. My use is mainly sports from the press box at night, where low light means higher shutter speed and max aperture and less noise possible. So there are no tricks in there. The PMW400 looks like coming from another planet when I shoot the same thing by the way. That said I can’t explain what happened but it looks like an intentional darkening to me. Sorry but that’s how I see it.
    (and the X1000 was famous for being VERY dark, intentionally of course)

  27. Just filmed a series of three shows, the later two with the firmware upgrade and the DVX acts like a different camera! There is no grain in sight unless you pump up the picture artificially to silly levels!

    So really happy with the camera.Can’t wait to get another, but with moving house I might be a few months before I can afford it.

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