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AVCHD vs. P2

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Sam Waldorf
AVCHD vs. P2
on Oct 31, 2008 at 11:29:52 pm

Panasonic has released a newer camera the AG-HMC150.
It records on the format they're now trying to push AVCHD.

I've been told its better than P2 because it's cheaper and provides you with HD resolution and more storage time. However, it occurred to me that this could be considered the HD equivalent for MiniDV tapes. In that, even though it provides the same resolution for a fraction of the cost it's not a good as the professional level media types. For example, P2 uses a 4:2:2 color ratio whereas MiniDV uses 4:1:1

So, is AVCHD, though less expensive and a better deal, also more compressed and therefore not as good as P2 if you want the best possible image?

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Matthew Romanis
Re: AVCHD vs. P2
on Nov 1, 2008 at 4:18:39 am

AVCHD is a codec standard, where as P2 is data medium.
You would have to compare AVCHD to HD100, AVC-Intra 50, or AVC-Intra 100, in which case it's a no brainer, in it's current state AVCHD looses out.

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Noah Kadner
Re: AVCHD vs. P2
on Nov 1, 2008 at 4:58:45 am


Lower file sizes.
Records to very cheap SD and SDHC cards
Highly efficient codec

Not nearly as high quality as high bitrate HD formats like DVCPROHD, HDCAM.

High quality
Still reasonably small file sizes

Requires either tape-based cameras like older Varicams or requires P2 cards- which are initially expensive to start with but infinitely reusable.

In my opinion AVCHD doesn't directly compete with P2/DVCPROHD based cameras. They are not the same specs/quality but they're not the same price either. The HMC150 is much cheaper than the HPX170/HVX200 and so is the media.

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Sam Waldorf
Re: AVCHD vs. P2
on Nov 2, 2008 at 3:30:35 pm

Thanks, this makes sense

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Jeremy Garchow
Re: AVCHD vs. P2
on Nov 2, 2008 at 6:31:36 pm

From the AVC-I FAQ located here:

6. What is the difference between AVC-Intra and AVCHD?
While AVCHD and AVC-Intra are both H.264 compliant codecs, they are very different. AVC-Intra is a professional intra-
frame codec with bit rates of 50 and 100Mb/s, utilizing the High 10 Intra and High 422 Intra profiles of H.264 respectively.
AVC Intra 100 offers professionals mastering quality video for the highest level of HD production, while AVC-Intra 50
provides video quality similar to that of DVCPRO HD, but at half the bit rate, a plus for news and bandwidth efficient
requirements. AVCHD is a consumer high definition (HD) digital video camera recorder format announced jointly by
Panasonic, Sony, Canon and others. AVCHD is a long GOP H.264 implementation designed for less demanding prosumer
and consumer applications. Panasonic offers both as a choice of products to the user.

7. Is AVC-Intra just another form of AVCHD? Is AVC-Intra Panasonic’s implementation of AVCHD?
No. AVC-Intra is not a form of AVCHD. AVC-Intra is an intra-frame, H.264 compliant compression codec expressly
designed for the professional HD production. AVCHD is a high definition (HD) digital video camera recorder format
initially designed for consumer video cameras ( The AVCHD camera format utilizes long GOP H.264
compression technology for HD video production for event and other applications, where “great looking video” and low
bit rates for storage efficiency are required. Panasonic offers both technologies – the high quality AVC-Intra for mission
critical production applications and AVCHD, the ultra efficient consumer and prosumer camcorder format.

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Allen Zagel
Re: AVCHD vs. P2
on Nov 16, 2008 at 1:28:26 am

Wow fellows, what a great thread. Answers most of my questions in my first post above.

But I'm still not sure which to go with. I do legal and technical work with my DSR-250 and shoot my tourist and advertising (web vids)stuff with my VX2000. 250 is 19 lbs loaded and the 200 is 4 years old already. My only concern is the low light capabilities.

So I don't do broadcast (now) so is the 4:2:2 dropdown really necessary for me? Up until now I've been exclusivelty Sony Vegas since 2003. But now I got my first Mac (MBP)and FCE and will upgrade my editing machine to a Mac Pro with Studio 2 and maybe CS4.

Yes, the AG-HMC150 is cheaper and AVC meaning the long GOP. While the 170 is P2 and I don't know about the format and believe it or not still mixed up about bitrates.

So I guess both are good but which format is easier to edit and work with. Most of my technical stuff still renders to SD MPEG-1 and Multimedia CD-ROM's due to our client's netwoks. Hopefully we'll up to MPEG-2 and DVD-ROM or network install depending on the client's computers and networks. So I'd still be outputting SD @ 29.97fps for that work

I have heard that shooting in HD gives a much better video even when downconverting to SD.

I do have a few railfan and tourist DVD's out, I wish I had an HD cam for those. I just need to make a decision but don't know enough to make an intelligent one.

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Sam Waldorf
Re: AVCHD vs. P2
on Nov 16, 2008 at 1:40:48 am

I've shot several films on the HVX-200 to P2 cars at 720p.

For that I believe you'd need Final Cut pro. But the P2 workflow is very easy to work with and it really will sell you on non linear recording formats. After shooting with P2 I simply don't want to go back to tape. I would recommend the HVX-200a or the HPX-170 as both of them take advantage of the all benefits of this medium like variable frame rates and a few other features that give you a greater level of control.

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Alf Hanna
Re: AVCHD vs. P2 (should be AVC-Intra)
on Dec 19, 2009 at 6:44:08 am

So I'm coming into this thread late, real late. But I'm trying to understand something. Have any of you compared the two formats side by side, and have an opinion on whether AVCHD is actually 'worse' than AVC-Intra format as seen on the P2s? Obviously have bought a AVCHD HMC150 I'm happy with the format, works for me, but I wonder if the quality of the AVC-intra is that much 'better'? Does it show under standard computer based video watching, like rendering down to Quicktime or Windows, iPhone or YouTube? Will I 'need' it if I start doing more higher end corporate productions?

And what format do you take your AVCHD or AVC-Intra to as a rule? I've tried a number of output formats and seem to like Quicktime best so far at any rate.

Panasonic HMC-150 & Vegas Video

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