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HPX 170 or the Sony EX1

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Bob Hayes
HPX 170 or the Sony EX1
on Apr 17, 2009 at 4:20:27 am

I’m a DP, I shoot primarily scripted episodic television. I’ve been using an HVX 200 as an extra action camera on some of my shows lately and I’ve even cut it into some of my 35mm projects. It’s worked great and has been very handy.

I am thinking of buying and small HD camera and I’m not sure which direction to go. I think I have narrowed it down to the Panasonic's HPX 170 or the Sony EX1.

My estimated use would be as follows:

50% Extra camera for Genesis, F23, F900, or Varicam projects. I’d primarily use it as an action camera and sometimes I use it on a crane when I don’t want tie up one of my larger HD cameras.
20% Spec projects for television or films
20% Corporate work
10% Chance I might shoot an Indy feature with it.

I do not want to get involved in a more complicated system like the Red because I would just rent if that was the case. Any ideas?

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Shane Ross
Re: HPX 170 or the Sony EX1
on Apr 17, 2009 at 4:53:18 am


PRO - DVCPRO HD - 4:2:2, 8-bit...intercuts with Varicam well...shoots 720p and 1080i...slow motion (at 720p)...3 CCDs...FULL FRAME recording...HD SDI out...shoots SD and HD...records a slew of useful metadata.

CON - 1080i pixel dimensions are 1280x1080, not 1440x1080...P2 cards are expensive...not as good in low light compared to EX1, but not by much.


PRO - Sharp image due to good lens...SxS cards are slightly cheaper than P2...adapter available to use SD cards instead of SxS...FULL RASTER 1920x1080 and 1280x1080, not anamorphic so more scanlines.

CON - 4:2:0 (not sure if 10 or 8-bit)...GOP format, group of pictures and "estimated" frames opposed to full individual frame formats, so very processor intensive...CMOS Sensor, so "rolling shutter" is an issue...HD recording only, no metadata beyond timecode and reel...

Best to shoot both formats and compare for yourself. As a camera person you might not be concerned with the ease of the Post workflow...but really, that should be fore-most on your mind, as that is where the footage ultimately ends up. DVCPRO HD is far easier to deal with in post than EX1, and added metadata helps. But the EX1 does shoot a sharper image with more pixels. Many actors complain that it is TOO sharp.


Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def

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Steve Eisen
Re: HPX 170 or the Sony EX1
on Apr 17, 2009 at 11:54:43 am

Take the HPX-300 into consideration.

Steve Eisen
Eisen Video Productions
Board of Directors
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group

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Helmut Kobler
Re: HPX 170 or the Sony EX1
on Apr 17, 2009 at 10:46:53 pm

Another Pro of the HPX170 is that it's very lightweight and easy to handhold all day. The ergonomics of the much-heavier EX1 are such that my wrist starts hurting after about 15 minutes of holding it.

I can't remember if Shane mentioned that the EX1 uses a CMOS chip, which gives sharper resolution but leads to artifacts when lights are flashing (like flash bulbs). I also think that the EX1 suffers from more of a "stutter" effect when working in 24P than the Panasonic cameras. And I think the Panasonic has a more pleasing, "filmic" image, whereas the EX1 has that ultra-real video feel (EX1 has lots of tweakable settings, but I've still never seen it look quite as nice as Panasonic's out-of-the-box image...that's subjective, of course).

EX1 uses a 1/2" chip (vs 1/3" on HPX), which means you can get a little shallower depth of field at a given focal length. EX1 also has a sharper LCD, so getting a sharper focus is easier (but honestly, I've never had a problem finding focus on the lower-res Panasonic LCDs).

Personally, I would pick the HPX, especially if you are pleased with the HVX200 already. I *do* wish it had a tiny bit more sharpness, though...

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