Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

HD over 4K

A couple of readers have been a bit miffed over my choice of HD rather than 4K when filming Tuesdays interviews at the Panasonic event in London.

Rec formatts

All the footage on the internet around the DVX-200 is 3040 x 2160 (16:9 4K) edited down to HD. We all know how the camera performs in 4K but no one had seen original HD footage from the Panasonic DVX-200 and thats how a lot of end users will be using this camera.

The majority of run and gun filmmakers in the UK are editing on HD, UK broadcasters are still outputting SD ! It makes complete sense as a filmmaker to show off the DVX-200 filming in HD as many end users will start with HD footage but still have the ability to upgrade to 4K in the future.


Please remember this is not a review, I do admit it might have been more useful to have recorded at least one interview in 4K but when the clock is against you its easy to forget.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

12 thoughts on “Why I chose HD over 4K at the Groucho club

  1. can I add my personal “take” on the 4K for the consumer cameras and cell phones as opposed to the real 4K for cropping into HD (that’s the ONLY reason for 4K to even exist in the pro world)? The intentionally slow processing on consumer chips . 4K only works with F55 (no problem there, none: not even rolling shutter and no blur panning). Which means (in my opinion) that 4K for a consumer camera serves no purpose other than marketing. In the end it will only increase the pixels in a HD timeline but ONLY for static takes. The moment you move the camera it will get a disaster on the same timeline (unwatchable)

  2. For a first try with time limits, I think a priority on the lens/format, look/feel is much more important than trying out the “future proof” features.

    I see Panasonic as trying to be seen as innovative.

    I very much like the positioning of the OIS, zebra and Waveform.

    Phoning Panasonic to clarify the issue with the LED shutting loosing the Zebra and WFM was a good move.

    No sooner than all of the excitement settles down over 4K, the manufacturers will probably set their sights on 8K.

    Meanwhile, I continue to be content with my AG-AC160A.

  3. Well, I await Philips review with interest, Mark are you saying that Panasonic are producing this camera with any pan In 4K as being ‘ unwatchable !? Can’t see them marketing that!

    I’m sure it’s not the 4K holy grail, but sure this camera will seriously shake up the mid range market. We can’t all afford an FS7 or Varicam every year. I’m sure Alexa will sort out the high end market soon too, but this camera looks very good value for the mid range shooter. I don’t need whip pans in 4k right now, but my clients are interested in 60in plus corporate displays. 4k will be the de-facto format soon enough. Just look at HD development over the last 3 years. Glad Panasonic are putting a cat among the pigeons right now!

  4. Cannot agree as the only use for my FDR-AX1 is to shoot UHD for downscaling to HD. Exactly how I used HDV when it appeared years ago. It worked then and it does now with UHD.

    I agree , do not move the camera. But why would you PAN if the point is to crop and pan within the image to HD ? Created pans and zooms are super smooth done in EDIUS much better than I could do manually. I can also time the movement precisely in post that would just not be possible realtime.

    I use the AX1 as a ” full stage fixed ” camera. No camera movement at all. It works very well in this mode and its downside is performance in low light, though for most events it works fine. Other than low light ( due to sensor size ) exposure also changes its depth of field so I have found it needs to be in auto focus to get the most out of it. This leads to issue when lights go up and down of course or when the stage is always dark ( makes it useless !!! ). I just back the same wide shot up with another 1/3 HD camera for these transitions. Hence my desire for a larger sensor camera to do exactly the same thing. Only need a zoom range to adjust to stage size but want to record for up to 3 hours without stopping.

    I was a little disappointed when I got the AX100 1″ sensor that it was not any better in low light than the NX30U 1/3″ sensor because its lens had an almost 2 stop deficit on the 1/3 models. The DVX200 also finds itself in this position having slower lens than the 1/3″ competitors.

    I see the point of shooting a HD clip on the DVX since users will want to use all it capabilities but it has just two differences to current competition, large M43 sensor fixed lens and 4K shooting in a standard camcorder body style. Not sure why anyone would buy it for just HD shooting as there are quiet a few good 1/3″ 3 chip cameras that likely outperform it in zoom and low light. If one wants artistic shallow depth of field 4K at 24/25/30P then there are lots of other options too at a lower cost.

    In my mind then it has to perform well at 50/60P UHD to be of interest to me, and I am interested, but need to be convinced that it is substantially better than my FDR-AX1 or a HC-X1000 bearing in mind it starts off with almost a 2 stop lens disadvantage and ramps quickly to F4 and has a 37.5 wide angle compared to around 29mm for the others ( AX1/Z100/HC-X1000) when recording 50/60P UHD.

  5. Well said, more of a run and gun camera and nothing new in terms of 4k basic.

    This is a pre-production setup so who really knows final stats.

    4k wouldn’t and shouldnt be the selling point but hopefully more emphasis on ergonomics, optics, and workflow for now.

  6. I wouldn’t go as far as trashing 4K that much. However to me, it makes perfect sense for you to have shot these in HD, for the reasons you pointed out, but also for the fact that there are some considerable advantages in shooting HD in this camera. Namely at least, frame rates and data rates.

    Pardon my french but… 4K in the consumer market is pure consumistic masturbation IMHO. Smart Phones shooting 4K instead of improving on dynamic range, data rates or frame rates is really a “my thingy is larger than yours” thing.

    In the professional market In only see 2 reasons for that:

    1)Future proof content and gear (but we all know that when new gear comes out in the future, we will probably buy it outright).

    2)Shooting static on a locked tripod or with very slow pans or zooms. Either for downscaling to HD or for Pan and Scan.

    But in cameras where HD has higher frame rates and data rates, it’s really arguable when 4K will be really used. In my case I will probably use 4K with this camera only when I use it as B-Cam for shooting 4K with my KineMINI 4K. Even then I’ll always try to avoid handheld or fast tripod pans and tilts.

    But all this just for fiction stuff or maybe documentaries in nature where I may need to capture a large area for future pan-scan… Because shooting interviews or sports in 4K with this camera, is utter nonsense.

  7. I for one appreciate very much you showing the HD footage – for very much the same reasons that you stated.

    It was a very nice overview of the camera by the way and I really like your more practical examples rather than another rendition of pure artistic beauty shots. It helps to set the balance of all the blogs I read and people I follow.

  8. Miguel Queiroz totally agree about your consumer 4K “characterization” , but it’s intentional, and for obvious reasons. Canon did something about the processing power(too little too late). Also in the “pro” market the only reason why the soccer world cup in Brazil was (also) shot in 4K with 12 F55 was because of the ability to crop live into 4 HD (that’s what they said, not me). What made a difference there was the Fujinon lens (absolutely stunning, regardless of the pixel count, in my opinion)

  9. Ron Evans you make sense (as always) but the AX1 gives a faster processing compared to the others (because the chip is smaller, not because Sony gave it for free). But I disagree about the AX100 that’s a stop faster at normal zoom than any 1/3″. I can tell because I used to shoot sports at fixed shutter speed and I can see the difference (like I said, around a stop faster). But in terms of slow processing the AX100 blurs like an animal in 4K panning 🙂 The AX1 is almost watchable but then AX100 is not.

  10. Mark, the AX1 does likely have much faster processing as the internals I am sure are the same as the PXW-Z100 which happily output 600Mbps iframe XAVC.It gets hot too and eats 970 batteries in about 1 hour and has a fan to cool it. XQD cards are hot to touch when changed, I shoot 60P 150 Mbps UHD always on the AX1.

    I have the FDR-AX1, FDR-AX100, NX30U, NX5U, CX700, XR500 so have compared them a lot for the theatre shoots I do. As expected the AX1 is the least sensitive but my AX100 is not more sensitive than my NX30U or my CX700. It has slightly less grain and XAVC-S provides a better file than AVCHD to a critical eye. Honestly my wife cannot tell the difference. Only shoot HD on the AX100 because I like 60fps motion ( hate slow frame rates, got the AX100 over the CX900 as I thought it may have better resale value ) The image on the AX100 is by far the sharpest though and maintains that sharpness in low light something the others start to loose.

    Did some hand held shoots when I first got my AX1 and was not super happy with what looked like focus problems but were likely motion related. Fixed on a tripod, as I use it, these motion artifacts do not appear. I would just like a better sensor version !!! Maybe next weeks announcement Sony may give the camera I am looking for !!!

  11. Ron Evans The low light performance of the AX1 was indeed a surprise . The perfect camera? PMW-400 hands down in my opinion. I am in the market for new things and I have to by 2 at the time , so I had to settle for JVC shoulders, but the 400 stays up there, unmatched in my opinion
    Talking about low light take a look at this

    day and night (literally) 🙂

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