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.
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.
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.
This is the same battery pack as seen on the Panasonic PX270 and is as yet the only battery that fits the DVX-200.
With its 4.3″ LCD touch screen all your menu functions are made far easier rather than using an on camera thumb wheel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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…
- They had no option as their cameras only had 25p in full HD mode
- 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.
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.
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…