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Camera + Lens Recommendations?

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Chris Wright
Camera + Lens Recommendations?
on Jan 19, 2010 at 9:31:51 pm

I'm looking to invest in two HD cameras by the end of the year, and I'm doing some very early research into what's available. I've owned a Canon GL2 for 8 years but have since primarily used HVX200s during college and various ENG cameras for sports/events video and venues I've worked at. I've become very familiar with the P2 workflow and I'd like to stick with Panasonic Cameras, but I'm open to other options too (such as the upcoming Sony PMW350k XDCAM?).

These cameras will primarily be used for event video with available light (theatre productions, weddings, receptions), with some studio work down the road. I'm hoping to see an HPX500A this year – I think I've ruled out the HPX300 for its 1/3" chips and the CMOS sensor. For available light, the 2/3" CCD in the HPX500 is more important than native 1080p resolution, though I think I would be frustrated with the small B/W viewfinder and I'd like AVC-Intra, as I think it may be the next big format. Thus, hoping for the HPX500A or a new model altogether. Hopefully at NAB this year?

While playing "wait and see" with the cameras, I need some help picking a lens (lets assume I'm going with a 2/3" camera). I would like servo zoom and focus on a lens with decent range, though I fear it will be too costly. My budget is not unlimited but I understand the value in investing in good glass. I would prefer to start with an HPX500 with a quality lens and an HVX200 as a "B" camera for now, than two HPX500s with glass that I'll want to replace sooner than later.

With all that in mind, could you all provide some suggestions? I'd appreciate it!


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Jeff Regan
Re: Camera + Lens Recommendations?
on Jan 20, 2010 at 3:50:13 am

The HPX500 is good in low light, the PMW-350K even better, but is CMOS and XDCAM EX 35Mbps, Long GOP, 4:2:0, 8-bit. The 350 could be an excellent event camera, but flash photography will cause issues. Panasonic has flash band compensation with the 300 and of course AVC-Intra, but won't be as good in low light as the 500 and 350.

You might keep a lookout for an HPX2000 with AVC-Intra board, which will give you a better chip set than the 500, better codec, better viewfinder, ability to hold 5 cards. Problem is finding one for under $14K, especially with Intra board.

As far as lenses go, I'm very happy with the Fujinon XA17X7.6BERM series, which is Panasonic specific. It's the same lens as the ZA17X7.6 for less money.

Of course, if you have the time, waiting for NAB would be a good strategy.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Chris Wright
Re: Camera + Lens Recommendations?
on Jan 20, 2010 at 4:25:20 am

Thanks for your feedback. Interesting that you should mention the HPX2000 - I had ruled it far out of my price range, as its listed at $27,000 with no lens. Even then, it is difficult to find. There are not many stores online that carry it and all of them list it at retail price, no less. I prefer to shop at B&H Photo, and even they don't seem to have the camera. I could find some cases for it and even the AVC-Intra Board, but not the camera itself. Of course I'll be waiting for NAB to see about any successors to this camera or the HPX500, but in the meantime do you know of any reliable places that carry this camera at less than retail? You mention $14k, would that be used?

On the lens suggestion: I found it at B&H for $8k, which is reasonable. It lists it as supporting servo zoom, but manual focus. Now, I had been under the impression that servo focus was required for it to be controlled remotely, but on doing some more research I've found some zoom/focus controllers that are labeled manual focus/servo zoom. Does this mean that I was incorrect, and you can have remote focus control for a manual focus lens? If that is the case, then what's the difference between servo focus and manual focus on a lens?

For example, I found this lens at B&H:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/351633-REG/Fujinon_A18X7_6ERD_S_A18x7...

It does list servo focus as well as servo zoom, but otherwise appears to be pretty similar to the lens you recommended. Yet it costs almost $5,000 more! Can you tell me what justifies the added cost here?

Thanks again,
Chris


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Steve Eisen
Re: Camera + Lens Recommendations?
on Jan 20, 2010 at 1:06:35 pm

You will not find a brand new HPX-500 with lens for under 14K. You will find some good deals on B-stock. Look in the classifieds section for reliable retailers.

Steve Eisen
Eisen Video Productions
Vice President
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group


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Chris Wright
Re: Camera + Lens Recommendations?
on Jan 20, 2010 at 7:21:05 pm

I wasn't suggesting that an HPX500 could be had for $14,000 new. I think its around $11,000 for the body at B&H plus $8,000 lens - at $19,000 total, thats significantly cheaper than buying a new HPX2000 at $27,000 for the body only. I understand the HPX2000 does have better chips and viewfinder/lcd and the AVC-Intra option, but not sure if I can justify the extra cost right now I'll keep an eye on the classifieds though.

Still could use some input on lense options and zoom/focus controllers, from anyone. Thanks!


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Jeff Regan
Re: Camera + Lens Recommendations?
on Jan 20, 2010 at 10:50:23 pm

Chris,

Contact me via email, jeff at ssv.com for used and demo equipment dealer resources.

Jeff Regan
Shooting Star Video
http://www.ssv.com


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Steve Eisen
Re: Camera + Lens Recommendations?
on Jan 21, 2010 at 2:40:26 pm

The lens that ships with the kit, XA17X7.6BRM or XA17X7.6BERM (2x extender), is a good lens. For zoom and focus controls, you can pay full price for Fujinon or take a look at Varizoom's options. The Fuji lens has a 12 pin connector.

Let me give you some other Panasonic Dealers:
Abel CineTech
Armatos
EVS
Full Compass
Markertek
Specialized Communicatons
Texas Media Systems

If you do not need the camera now, NAB is the perfect time to buy. Whether Panasonic updates the camera or not.



Steve Eisen
Eisen Video Productions
Vice President
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group


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