Final thoughts on the Panasonic DVX-200

Categories: Miscellaneous 26 Comments

DVX title

Lets start with the ergonomics of the Panasonic DVX-200, some users would have preferred a shoulder mounted camera as they complain the camera is too bulky for hand held use…no. It works best on a tripod, if you want a hand held camera there are plenty of alternatives.

Rig2

As you can see rigs are already springing up to satisfy the shoulder mount needs of some shooters with an extra heavy duty battery pack to help distribute the weight.

Handle threads

The camera handle has 4 thread mounts 2x 1/4″ and 2x 3/8″ which are very useful additions if you have an external recorder, video light or a radio mic.

Batt 1

This is the same battery pack as seen on the Panasonic PX270 and is as yet the only battery that fits the DVX-200.

LCD

With its 4.3″ LCD touch screen all your menu functions are made far easier rather than using an on camera thumb wheel.

Top cam

At the top end of the camcorder there is a flap, underneath you have the only access to your recorded material via the “thumbnail” button. Pressing this brings up small thumbnails of each recording, to play them its by touch screen, easy when you know how.

Allan shoot2

The 13x LEICA lens is very sharp and accurate with no chromatic aberrations as you can clearly see from the 100% cut into the 4K FCPX timeline. Most of my previous cameras would at least have green and purple fringing. Remember its only a 13x lens in HD, if you film in 4K onto an HD timeline its like adding a 2x extender to your 13x lens by punching in on the 4K footage giving you a potential 26x zoom range.

100

The lens has a switch to allow either servo or manual zoom control and in manual mode although fly by wire is not as bad as some I have tested recently. You also have the ability to add a focus control.

9db 4K crop v2

Low light on the review was seemingly “vague” though we did get to shoot in one of the darkest wee churches in Scotland. The camcorder has a standard ISO of 500 but the MFT size means that the Panasonic DVX-200 has limits. Only the wedding boys need a camera that films in lower lighting conditions but remember the DVX-200 has variable gain something I forgot to highlight in my review. The camera goes up 1 dB at a time so you can dial in as much or as little gain depending on the conditions at the time. One disadvantage is the lens itself not having a constant aperture, the lens reduces the light by 1.5 stops from wide to tight which in low light can make the difference between no grain and grain.

You only have to own an MTF camera like the Panasonic GH4 to see noise becomes obvious from ISO 800 upwards, that said I will show you some remarkable 9dB footage shot in V-LOG.

9db test 2

I filmed some test footage in V-LOG before going over to my local park to film a sequence of shots but to my surprise 9dBs deliberately overexposed came onto my 4K timeline as clean as a whistle, look at the black label.

Film V log
I have yet to be given an answer to this but how this would cope in low light sadly I will never know as I never had the time to film any further V-LOG at 9dBs.

In my opinion Panasonic had a great opportunity with the fixed lens on the DVX-200 to finally steer away from MTF onto super 35mm as seen on all of Panasonics competitors from Sony (FS5 and FS7), JVC (LS300) and Canon (C100 and 300).

Image_GX8_Sensor copy

As I discovered the DVX-200 uses the same MTF sensor as the Lumix GX8 which is a healthy 20MP which is needed as in HD the camera is 28mm which crops to 37mm when you activate 4K (UHD 16:9).

The Panasonic DVX-200 is one of the few large sensor cameras bar the Sony FS7 to have the ability to shoot 4K (UHD 16:9) at 50p onto low cost SDXC cards at 150Mbps which in my opinion is the major plus with this camera.

For long enough certain companies only use 1080 25p because…

  1. They had no option as their cameras only had 25p in full HD mode
  2. They needed to save on card space

Now there is no excuse 25p looks awful with any kind of motion involved while 50p is far more pleasing to the eye and is far better with animated graphics.

Final Cut Pro 2

Editing 4K 16:9 footage into a full HD timeline gives you fantastic results remembering the camera itself is only 8bit 420 but as described by Barry Green your 8bit 420 becomes 10bit 444 on your 10bit full HD timeline. The camera has a menu option to output 10bit 422 but at a cost, you can’t record internally in this mode and you need an external recorder.

The camera comes with outstanding HD capabilities like full HD all intra at 200Mbps, this gives many users a cracking starting platform before they upgrade to 4K.

As a camcorder filming onto SDXC cards at 150Mbps it produces cracking UHD pictures and is the defacto way to produce the best possible HD footage with the added bonus of reframing on the HD timeline. The overall build quality is very high and as long as you take on board the limitations of the MFT sensor, in other words keeping gain to around 9dBs you won’t go far wrong. V-LOG gives you a complete different look, more cinematic and in some cases far less noise than even I was expecting, you have a camcorder with many facets and the best of it is the fixed lens…no dust on the sensor !

Since this article Allan has bought a Panasonic DVX-200 and loves it, he has updated it to FW v1.51 and tells me skin tones have improved and the grain has very much improved.

200 GP

I think Panasonic have done a great job with the DVX-200 from HD to 4K this run and gun camcorder will suit many pockets, speaking of pockets have you seen the price of the DVX-200 at H Preston media…

Preston

http://www.hpreston.co.uk/index.php/panasonic-ag-dvx200-agdvx200-large-sensor-4-3-type-handheld-4k-camcorder-with-a-fixed-13x-optical-zoom-lens.html

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

26 comments on this post

  1. All set to buy 2 of these straight away, then we decided to move house sometime after christmas and all my evil plans have backfired! I’ll definitely be looking at this camera and other 4K offerings next summer.

  2. Jonny Gross says:

    Still the difference between the canons and sonys you mentioned that have super 35 sensors is the fixed lens. This is still the largest sensor you can get with a fixed and until they work out how to fix an acceptable zoom range onto a camera with super 35, this is the one to beat.

  3. Angel says:

    I think it is really difficult to establish the focus transition configuration in the menu. Almost imposible. Maybe, I am doing something in the no right way.

  4. Allen McLaughlin says:

    That’s a decent price, they were quoting £4000 just a week or so ago. My mind is just about made up, just need to flog the Sony NX-3 now to get some pennies towards the DVX-200.

  5. Roland Schulz says:

    Phil, where do you see the low light quality compared to your PXW-FS7 or PXW-X70? What is best (guess FS7), how large is the difference between the X70 and the DVX200?

    But again, 8-bit UHD doesn´t become 10-bit FHD, no matter what Barry Green writes…!!!

  6. mark says:

    ok. we shoot with what we have. But in order to put this camera here on the shoulder you need : a shoulder rig, a counter-weight, a viewfinder on the left side that must be adjustable, 1 or 2 handles on rods. By the end of the Frankenstein transformation you get a camera that weights a ton and EXTREMELY hard to use (or put down to rest a little.
    Frankenrigs are a true abomination , created to make us suffer.
    Can I talk “marketing” now? why there are no servo zooms wide to tele for the GH4? why all the other little cameras stop at 12 or 29 minutes? why the processing speed is so slow and you can’t pan with any camera below 20K (US)? why the low light is so poor on cameras with servo zooms below 30K (US)?
    So the way I see it is this: the Nikon D90 crushed all the marketing limitations on quality (it happened in ONE DAY, almost overnight. And the marketing people responded with new limitations. Same old… same old. Problem is that we suffer, that’s the problem.

  7. Gabriel says:

    I have found that the sensor in GX8 is made by Sony. More exactly is Sony IMX 269. I heard the Panasonic officials said that the DVX200 sensor is made in house. Now we have a problem, who can confirm this info. I let you the link http://thenewcamera.com/panasonic-gx8-vs-panasonic-gh4/

  8. David Heath says:

    Philip – you say “……to my surprise 9dBs deliberately overexposed came onto my 4K timeline as clean as a whistle, look at the black label.”

    That is exactly what should be expected to happen, but you need to think of what is going on – it’s not all good news. To “overexpose”, you are effectively rating the camera at a far lower ISO rating than normal, so yes, it shouldn’t be a surprise the noise in the blacks is far lower. But the camera is then obviously effectively far less sensitive…. In reality it’s a lot more complicated, since you’re only able to get away with such “overexposure” anyway if the scene is relatively low contrast – otherwise you’ll simply get burnt out highlights. “Overexposing” and using log, then correcting in post is effectively trading off dynamic range for signal/noise.

    The theory is along exactly the same lines as why in the past cameras have always had quite a restricted negative dB range – 6dB at most, sometimes only -3dB. The reduction in noise comes at the expense of highlight handling.

    Looking at your images (the black label), what strikes me is less the amount of the noise than it’s nature. It seems to have a disturbing “quantised” nature? Or is that the effect of the post manipulation?

    Regarding low light performance, then when you say the church interiors were shot at 9dB, then can I check what ISO rating that corresponds to? You mention a base ISO of 500, so am I right in thinking that as 9dB corresponds to 1.5 stops over 0dB, therefore about ISO 1250-1600?

  9. mark says:

    the oligopoly wants us to go back and spend 5K (US) per video/source again. In this case they keep the deadly restrictions on the little ones and try the segment of 5K (us) AGAIN. A camera that does what the little one does but with a servo zoom. So why the GH4 still exists (you’d ask): why? because Panasonic sells 5,000 GH4s a month (that’s why). bUT NO SERVO ZOOM FOR THAT ONE. And Panasonic still needs to pay the oligopoly back for allowing one of the deadly restrictions to slip (no 29minute restriction, yes, THAT one.

    oh, almost forgot : they left a trace visible of the noise manipulation @9DB ? LOL … ALL the cameras are manipulated and deliberately restricted when it comes to low light performance. By the standards in the agreement of the oligopoly.

    HDW : In case you thought Mark was talking gobble-de-goop An oligopoly (from ὀλίγος (olígos), meaning “few”, and πωλεῖν (polein) , meaning “to sell”) is a market form in which a market or industry is dominated by a small number of sellers (oligopolists). Oligopolies can result from various forms of collusion which reduce competition and lead to higher prices for consumers.

  10. David Heath says:

    I have to agree with Mark’s comments above about the ergonomics. It’s true anyone CAN use third party accessories to improve matters – but why should it be necessary to spend a lot of extra money to correct what is really poor design in the first place?

    And what is inevitably going to compromise such anyway is the positioning of the eyepiece right at the back and fixed, on a relatively long body. This means any shoulder support system must be added behind the existing camera (and balanced accordingly) which makes the end result stick out a long way in front of the cameraman.

    They need to take a hard look at Sony’s FS7 in this regard, where the viewfinder is far further forward on the camera, so much of the camera body gets moved alongside the cameraman’s head when handheld.

    HDW : Panasonic have made this type of hand held camcorder for ages why is this so different, why are we so insisting on shoulder mount when its clearly not designed to be “shoulder mounted”. Whats wrong with a tripod or a mono pod ?

  11. mark says:

    so in order to get a footage similar to the GH4 and a servo zoom we have to pay 5x more?

    HDW : GH4 does not do UHD 50p, nor can you get a 13x servo zoom, you can’t use a GH4 in video mode for fast moving sports, if all you are doing are interviews and GVs the GH4 will be fine.

  12. Jonny Gross says:

    I just made a film with the FS7. The viewfinder is detachable – it slips over the LCD and magnifies it. So why is that any different than adding a viewfinder onto the LCD of the DVX200 and using a similar rod to the one that comes with the FS7 (like Zacuto). There’s very little difference there, aside from the fact that the DVX is much lighter than the FS7. And when one wants to turn the FS7 into a fully functional cinema camera, you frankenrig the thing! I think it’s a matter of taste and opinion. I’ve worked with cameras like this for years and haven’t had a problem.

  13. David Heath says:

    You say “Panasonic have made this type of hand held camcorder for ages, why is this so different, why are we so insisting on shoulder mount …..”

    Many manufacturers have had this styling in the past, true – not just Panasonic. But JVC had a shouldermount styling a while ago in this size/weight of camera, and it was seen as a big plus point. Canon and Sony have also moved away from it in two different ways – to the “squat” design as with the Canon C series and the FS5, and to semi shouldermount with cameras from Sony such as the EX3 through now to the FS7. And such has generally been well received – so why do Panasonic stick with the old design?

    You also say “Whats wrong with a tripod or a mono pod ?” and the general answer of course is – “absolutely nothing”.

    But I was referring to Marks original comment which was specifically about HANDHELD ergonomics – as was your original paragraph at the start of this article. On a tripod, no problem, but on a reasonably large camera, viewfinder placement at the rear makes for much more awkward to handle if shooting handheld in confined spaces – the full camera length in front of the face. And why not follow other manufacturers lead in making the top handle removable when it’s appropriate to work stripped down….?

  14. mark says:

    HDW : exactly (the GH4) and now we agree that the “no servo zoom wide-to-tele” for GH4 idea actually works?

    David Heat: I still believe that the design is completely wrong, but we are here trying to help and make the best out of what we have (like Philip does, indeed).
    The Zacuto shoulder mount makes more sense.
    http://store.zacuto.com/vct-universal/
    It adds a shoulder pad at the center (like a real shoulder camera BTW).USD 650 for the baseplate and pad and rods. Problem is that it ignores both the viewfinder and the LCD screen of the camera. Another sign that the design of the entire camera is wrong in my opinion. But the baseplate weights 2LBS (the whole camera weights 5.9 LBS. Now there will be the option of putting a loupe to the (fragile and unstable) LCD screen or buy the Zacuto EVF. Then we could attach 1 handle to the 15mm rod of the baseplate. I feel like I’m back to the old nightmare of holding the sony EX1 somehow. And yes! It was a nightmare. Now let’s take a look at that orange beauty (JVC2000). and dream… maybe.. one day … LOL

  15. Ron Evans says:

    All these comments about not having interchangable lenses or shoulder mounts to me are a little silly. A bit like complaining that the sports car doesn’t have an 8′ pickup bed or 8 seats !!! There are lots of cameras with the same form factor as the DVX200. Comments in my mind should be restricted to this form factor and how it performs not wishing it was something else. Is the lens really parfocal in practice , how smooth is the zoom with LANC controllers, what is the low light performance before grain, how does the encoding compare to the Sony XAVC codec, is the wide angle using UHD 50/60P a real restriction etc etc.

  16. mark says:

    Jonny Gross : this camera is not for movies. GH4 , red, alexa, F65 are for movies (in fact you rent them, don’t buy it) Mainly because you need a set of lenses that go by light transmission instead of f/stops (unless you want to make the lighting people go crazy). This camera is for events (basically weddings). Even indi and amateurs/professional music video (for free) get a GH4. The paid ones go for red or alexa (again, and again rented).
    Holding this camera here in mid-air is illogical. and to cover a wedding (B&G getting ready, the ceremony and the beginning of the reception = 8 hours) is unbelievably painful. out of this world painful. Stuff like you don’t feel your arms for a week after. If you hold a pack of cigarettes for 2 hours hurts too. Imagine 7-10 lbs.
    It needs a fankenrig for the given purpose (weddings) or a tripod for who knows what. but remember that any frankenrig will make the camera soooooo heavy and difficult to put down. This mania of handycams makes no sense. none. Come on people.. let’s do something about it. All the new and good stuff go to these handycams.. LOL

  17. Jonny Gross says:

    What about corporate? Promos? Lectures? Sermons? For those I need a camera that I can hold at chest height as well. For weddings you get a shoulder extension. For me it needs to be a few things in one package. I wouldn’t shoot a wedding without a shoulder mount. I wouldn’t shoot a wedding…but anyway.

  18. Gawd, I have done everything to get away from the days of having a shoulder mounted camera! THAT’S SO YESTERYEAR!!!! So restrictive!

    The handheld design is great using a support such as a mono-pod or tripod. If the on board OIS is good can get away with a few hold shots too, depending on circumstances.

    Jeez keep shoulder mounts! I remember the dead arm from that only too well!!!!

  19. Jonny Gross says:

    Well that’s the point Gary. This kind of camera is customizable. Buy a bulky shoulder cam and that’s what you’ve got!

  20. mark says:

    Gary Greenwood and Jonny Gross : here’s the thing guys: you can hold a shoulder camera at chest height, you can shoot from the floor as well , basically you can do everything you do with any handycam. Plus you get the option to keep the footage steady on your shoulder naturally and without fatigue because of the 4 points of contact. so problem solved then: a shoulder mount wins, always.

  21. mark says:

    LOL even the guys producing and selling the frankenrigs can’t stand’em
    The Zacuto guys usually tell it as it is (and they make good stuff), but take a look at this:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsLffxDHnhM

    Now a frankenrig experience stays in between a prostate exam and a root canal in term of pain in my opinion. They add so much weight for basically no reason because the palm/handy cameras are what they are. Still makes the most ridiculous nonsense of these last 5 years for R&G , events and even corporate. The movie sets belong to a totally separate category and can afford rigs and heavy mounts because they have people (many) operating .

    the best shoulder mount in terms of pure ergonomics goes to JVC in my opinion , PMW-400 gets the second place considering the size, but stays on the shoulder beautifully.

    the matter goes down to “balance”, a pretty serious thing in videomaking (totally ignored by the new generation of cameras, even on rigs) and unknown to the majority of the new generation of amateur camera operators

  22. Hi Philip. How would you compare the DVX200 vs the FS7 regarding picture quality, handling and ease in postproduction? To me the DVX200 seems like quite a bargain. I am currently using a C300 and have been using EX1s in the past. Looking to buy a second camera that is also approved by broadcast.

    HDW : Two different animals and prices, DVX200 is a great all rounder but limited by its m4/3 sensor while the FS7 has a S35mm sensor to die for and if you have the cash a couple of zoom lenses to choose from, the Sony FE 28-135mm f4 G PZ OSS is a great lens but the 1.6x crop brings that WA closer to 45mm. The Sony E18-105mm f4 G OSS as seen on the FS5 is a lot cheaper f4 constant aperture and 29mm after the 1.6x crop a lot closer to a wide angle zoom.

  23. How did you find the handling/ files in postproduction compared to the FS7?

    HDW : The FS7 is only recently fully compatible with FCPX while the files out of the DVX-200 imported flawlessly.

  24. Jonny Gross says:

    Hi Philip,

    How did you manage with the general image noise, even at native ISO and 0 gain? It’s all over any kind of shadow or moderately dark area, even in broad daylight. My trusty Sony Z5 fares better in HDV with it’s 3MOS. Is there a setting I’m missing?

  25. Hello. Do you think this cammera is good for low light enviroments? Is it ok in low light situations?

  26. David Heath says:

    For lowlight performance, then everything is relative. Expect it to easily outperform a camera costing well into five figures from only 10-15 years ago!

    That said, it has a base ISO of 500 – which is well below what may now be expected of large format cameras. The Sony FS5 is quoted at ISO 3200 (no gain) for example.

    ISO is not the only factor in how well any camera will perform in low light, of course – you have to consider the lens. In the case of the DVX200 we’re talking about f2.8 max (subject to ramping when zoomed), and in the case of the FS5 it’s f4 with the kit lens.

    So whilst the ISO figures may lead you to think the FS5 has a nearly 3 stop advantage, take the lens into account and it should be more like 2 stops. (Still quite a lot!)

    But it’s not really like for like as you’re then comparing a camera with fixed zoom lens with an interchangeable lens camera, with a kit lens with smaller zoom range. How important is that?

    Of course, if lowlight ability is absolutely paramount, the FS5 has the ability to use such as a fast prime of f1.8 or even more. Compare an FS5 with such a lens with a DVX200, and expect the FS5 to then have something like a **5 STOP** advantage!! Put another way, if the FS5/f1.8 lens combo gets exposure with no gain, you’d have to put at least 32dB of gain into the DVX200 to match!

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