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Heather Brown
HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Oct 8, 2011 at 2:09:02 am

Just received my Panasonic HPX250 camera today from a very reputable supplier in New York City, but it looks like my camera has a backfocus issue right out of the box. Wondering if anyone else has this issue.

I zoomed in and focused on some advertising at minimum distance from the camera. When I zoomed back slowly, the lens lost focus briefly then went back into focus. At the spot where the lens loses focus, I tried to manually focus, but was unable to get focus in that spot.

I tried the same at a greater distance from the subject and it was less noticeable but still there.

If you by this camera, make sure you run this test. It may only be mine, but who knows. It will be going back to Panasonic shortly.

On a side note, the form, buttons, menu, etc. are fantastic and quite an improvement from my HVX200.

Rik Brown
Chicago


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Steve Eisen
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Oct 8, 2011 at 4:14:29 am

Camera is pretty new. Not many have the camera in their hands. I can test the camera for you to confirm if it has a problem or not.

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


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Chris Young
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Oct 18, 2011 at 11:47:50 am

Hi Heather ~

You are not alone! Know someone who has just tested the HPX250 and the AG-AC160, basically similar but the AVCHD model. BOTH cameras exhibited exactly the same focus issues so I don't at this point feel your camera is the only one. If it is indeed an issue in these models then Pana needs to attend to this quick smart.

I had this camera high on my watch list along with the Canon XF305. Spent a fait bit of time shooting on the Canon for others and can't fault the lens on it.

Think I will be holding off to see what our local Pana dealers find out about this as they have been informed. Being good dealers I believe they will follow it up with Panasonic pretty quickly. If Pana have a solution to the problem then the 250 will be back on my list.

Bit surprising that this hasn't been picked up on earlier testing!

Keep posting as to the outcome on your camera as a few of us will be very interested to see what feedback you get and how it all gets resolved. Good luck.

Chris Young
Sydney
Aust



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Heather Brown
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Oct 18, 2011 at 2:37:42 pm

Thanks for the input Chris. I should berev ricing my replacement HPX250 in about a week, so I'll update this thread after I test the new one, but this doesn't sound good.
- Rik Brown


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Chris Young
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Oct 19, 2011 at 1:13:39 am

Ah Rik! Not Heather ~

Good, it sounds like the dealer is playing ball with the swap. Yes please keeps us all posted for sure.

Cheers
Chris
Sydney



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Steve Cooperman
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Oct 25, 2011 at 9:57:47 pm

This is not a defect. The lens can zoom all the way in (616mm) as close as 3 feet without a close up filter. In this position, the optics are in a macro focus mode. In this situation, the lens cannot hold focus for a few mm’s when zooming out. When the lens is zoomed all the way in (616mm) at 6 feet, the lens can hold focus when zooming out to full wide (28mm). In this position, the optics are not in a macro mode.

The point is, this is not a back focus problem. This is the unique ability of having a 22x wide lens on this great new camera.

Oh, and thanks for your positive comments on the camera. Our engineering team listened to many requests and implemented them on this model. And the 10-bit, full-resolution AVC-Intra 100 video quality and 22x wide zoom lens are amazing for a one-piece, sub $6,000 camera.

Thanks and have a nice day.


Steve Cooperman
Product Manager - P2 HD, POVCAM, Production Displays

Panasonic Solutions Company

http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast
http://www.facebook.com/panasonicbroadcast


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Katy Lock
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Nov 21, 2011 at 3:26:22 pm

Hi there Steve

It would be good to get your thoughts (and anyone else out there) on the following focus-related issues I have been encountering with the Panasonic HPX250 which I have now been using on an observational documentary for the past month.

This project involves a lot of actuality shooting where continually being able to adjust your focus quickly whilst recording is crucial. I've been a broadcast self-shooter for over 10 years working with the various Sony cameras (Z1, Z5, Z7) and more recently the Canon XF305. While I love the quality of the image with the HPX250 when I manage to achieve focus, it would be great to hear what you would advise with the following problems:

  1. It is hard to tell whether or not I am in focus.
    • The LCD picture is not good enough to indicate this (unlike the Canon XF305)
    • I can only seem to activate the EVF peaking on the viewfinder and not the LCD. I rarely use the viewfinder in actuality filming, I rely heavily on the LCD.
    • The expanded 'Focus Assist' button seems to only work when the camera is not recording. Not useful if you are filming actuality and would like to check/adjust focus whilst recording.
    • The focus bar does not solve these problems. It is meant to show how in focus the image is, however I am not confident it knows what I am actually focusing on (see below for the focus hunting issues).
  2. The focus tools seem a little 'buggy':
    • I will sometimes need to use the 'push auto' button - a function that is your friend in fast-paced filming to sharpen the focus quickly while recording. However, the 'push auto' on the Panasonic hunts a lot, so I will begin with a slightly soft shot, press down the 'push auto' to focus it, the shot will then go completely out of focus, then start hunting – bouncing into and out of focus and often settling out of focus. This hunting means I have abandoned using the push-auto button completely and at times I really miss it.
    • The MF Assist mode also seems to be a problem. I understand it is designed to fine tune manual ring focusing but I have found that it will often fine tune in the wrong direction and will hunt for quite a while. I have therefore turned it off.

So I am left with only one focus option: manual focusing with the LCD giving me little clue as to how I am doing (with no peaking and magnification during recording). I have been using the distance to subject on the FOCUS CONTROL DISPLAY but this is also guesswork and again with a fast moving scene is nigh on impossible to maintain. In addition sometimes the distances don't seem to be correct e.g. yesterday a wide landscape shot said it was on 'Infinity' but it looked very out of focus, I flicked the 'Infinity' switch and it came into focus. What's that about?

So, please can you tell me if I am missing something?! I have been scouring the manual but can't seem to get to the bottom of these crucial problems.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Katy



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Matthew Gordon
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Nov 21, 2011 at 7:29:33 pm

Katy,

Thanks for posting your experience. I'm about to start a documentary that will require the same sort of shooting you have been doing. I'm seriously considering the HPX250, but your experience with focus issues has me a bit worried.

Hopefully, Steve Cooperman or someone else here can suggest some solutions. The HPX250 seems to have such potential for documentary shooting, but being able to get focus is critical.

Having now used the HPX250 and the Canon XF305, how would you compare them? The HPX250 sounds like it's better in low light and it has a better codec, but what's your opinion?

Thanks,
Matt


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Mike Hinchey
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Nov 22, 2011 at 7:55:59 pm

Katy

I was about to purchase the HPX250 so am also interested to see Steve's response. Do you know if other users have had similar experiences? What's your take on the Canon XF305 as I need to move soon.

Thanks
Mike


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Katy Lock
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Nov 22, 2011 at 8:37:22 pm

Hi Mike & Matthew

I'm waiting to hear back from Panasonic who have told me (via my dealer) that they have a fix for these focus problems - not sure yet if this is a firmware update or just an explanation of how to set up the camera. I will post here when I know more. In the meantime here are my thoughts on the Panasonic HPX250 vs the Canon XF305 (I've shot 2 docs on the Canon and have been shooting for a month on the Panasonic):

GOOD POINTS FOR THE HPX250
The picture has a rich, filmic quality very different to the sharp, harsher quality of the Canon
The camera is lighter and well balanced
The LCD is in a better position so you can interview someone on the fly and make eye contact (a problem with the Canon)
It meets industry standards in the UK - we chose this camera as some broadcasters are rejecting 50 Mbps footage, however this also means you have much larger storage issues.
It records 4 audio channels - so you can set the second 2 to the stereo internal mic and this sometimes gets you out of jail

BAD POINTS FOR THE HPX250
It mainly is the focus problems described above and I'm still not sure if this is user error or not!
The macro focusing can't be turned off
Toggling between auto and manual for the iris is unnecessarily longwinded - unlike with the Canon/Sonys where auto is only activated for as long as you are pressing the button, with the Panasonic you have to hit the button again to exit auto mode and return to manual- more time consuming and contrary to my muscle memory all these years.
The audio limiter should be avoided as it sounds even more distorted than when it tops out!
The manual is badly written

GOOD POINTS FOR THE CANON XF305
The LCD, while in an awkward position for actuality shooting, is useful for interviews on a tripod as you can switch it to be on the left or the right of the camera.
The LCD is much larger than the HPX250 and is great quality. The peaking really pings out (think you can make the peaking red if you want) and I found it easy to focus both with the ring and using push auto.
The magnification button works while recording so you can check focus easily.

BAD POINTS FOR THE CANON XF305
It only shoots 50 Mbps and some broadcasters in the UK are demanding 100 Mbps.
It is heavier and generally more cumbersome

So there you go. I would really appreciate people's thoughts on how I can make my little Panasonic work for me. I have a feeling this camera will be amazing once these early issues are ironed out and will ultimately be a much better camera than the Canon. That's why we waited to buy it. Only problem is I am right in the middle of my project and need Panasonic to help me now!

Katy


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Mike Hinchey
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Nov 23, 2011 at 1:45:45 am

Katy,

Thanks for the detailed response, very kind of you. I hope Panasonic gets back to you quickly. Be looking forward to your post.

Thanks
Mike


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James Sapione
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Nov 28, 2011 at 12:50:36 am

Any word yet on the focus? I'm stuck between buying the HPX250 or a EX1r. I love the peaking on the EX1's.... are you telling me there is no peaking on LCD screen of the 250? That's a real issue for me. I wonder if Panasonic will release a HVX250B?

The only thing keeping my hopes up on the Panasonic is the 22x lens and the price. Would love to buy before the year is over....

Hi Steve, what's the deal with the HVX250 focusing?


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Matthew Gordon
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Nov 23, 2011 at 3:38:54 am

Katy,

Thanks so much for your response. Very helpful. Assuming the focus issues get figured out, the HPX250 sounds like a great camera. Best of luck with your doc!

Best,
Matt


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Guido Rehme
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Dec 2, 2011 at 11:38:02 pm

Hello,

i have the same prob with my AC160 and was not surprised about that!
I hope they put an switch in the new Firmware, for set the macro function to off?!

I was real nervous while waiting to hear what Steve can tell us and whats the dealer says.

regards


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Phil Yunker
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on May 13, 2012 at 11:42:22 pm

I'm having the same focus issue with the HPX250 and I'm not happy about this at all. I can not go out of focus on a image while zooming out (not that I like zooms, but some times you have to use it) this is not acceptable at all. Is Panasonic going to fix this, replace the camera, refund the camera?

Panasonic please help. thanks.








[Steve Cooperman] "This is not a defect. The lens can zoom all the way in (616mm) as close as 3 feet without a close up filter. In this position, the optics are in a macro focus mode. In this situation, the lens cannot hold focus for a few mm’s when zooming out. When the lens is zoomed all the way in (616mm) at 6 feet, the lens can hold focus when zooming out to full wide (28mm). In this position, the optics are not in a macro mode.

The point is, this is not a back focus problem. This is the unique ability of having a 22x wide lens on this great new camera.

Oh, and thanks for your positive comments on the camera. Our engineering team listened to many requests and implemented them on this model. And the 10-bit, full-resolution AVC-Intra 100 video quality and 22x wide zoom lens are amazing for a one-piece, sub $6,000 camera.

Thanks and have a nice day.


Steve Cooperman
Product Manager - P2 HD, POVCAM, Production Displays

Panasonic Solutions Company

http://www.panasonic.com/broadcast
http://www.facebook.com/panasonicbroadcast"


PHIL YUNKER
Vanguard Media & Entertainment
http://www.philyunker.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/philyunker


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Greg Fulcher
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Jan 10, 2012 at 4:05:18 pm

Hey there, All... Last week I encountered this exact "problem" with my Panasonic AG-AC160. The camera has been performing flawlessly for several months, has never been dropped or taken a hit of any kind. Last night, I decided to investigate further the focus issue at near-full zoom, replicating the basic scenario from my shoot last week (I'm under NDA so I can't share with you the 'real' footage).

I've posted it to the AG-AC130/160 group on Vimeo, so you can see the issue in action. http://vimeo.com/groups/ac160/videos/34816634

Camera settings are described in the video description.

After reading this thread, the explanation of the lens transition from macro mode makes sense, but I'm not convinced this isn't a problem yet.
Thanks much! Shoot on!

-greg

1013media | produce. edit. enable.
San Francisco, CA | http://www.1013media.com


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jean gerard
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Jan 18, 2012 at 5:35:52 am

I own one HPX250 and must say I'm not impressed at all, even thinking of selling it back.

This camera is great on the paper, zoom range and codec are perfect,
But the software inside make me sick and too complicated to use.

Yes Peaking on the side LCD can be adjusted under EVF menu (why EVF if it's the LCD?) And no way to easy turn on off, each time, go to the menu and change it inside.

Same thing with the fact that the Aperture go back to auto each time you turn on off the camera?!

And no way to check on screen if you are in auto or not?!, you need to check by yourself. by pressing auto, and bing, you lose the manual record you got before...

If you need to buy new camera now, maybe you should wait for Panasonic to release a lot of bugs here or go for something else..

Overall, also, camera in auto aperture jump suddenly and tend to over expose your footage..

Last details, battery are nothing compare to Sony, One hour max and you are gone... no improvement from the HVX200..


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Andrew Johnstone
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Feb 8, 2012 at 9:16:19 pm

It is very difficult to make a decision about which kit to invest in, as it seems that everyone has a good reason for their own choices.

My criteria is to be BBC compliant, so this then rules out the Sony EX1 (which requires the nanoflash plugin. Yes there is lots of material screened on the BBC that has been BBC seem to be investing heavily in Canon XF305 for all their 'in house' projects, which makes this a top pick. But having played with one, I was very unimpressed with the focusing mechanics - similar to what I recall the lenses were like on the Canon Xl1 I used 10+ years ago - and was unimpressed with. from what I have read, the Panasonic lens function is mechanical, as it should be for accurate manual frame size adjustment, focusing etc.

But Canon's Codec is not as heavy as the Panasonic P2 AVCIntra (1GB/min at AVCIntra-100) and the LCD screen is massive.

This focus issue (noted above in this thread) on the Panny is an issue if you're a heavy zoomer and the battery life, menu and LCD also seem to be issues. P2 cards are also hideously expensive.

On the plus side the Panasonic is supposed to be great to handle and the images look great. The material I have seen from the Canon looks much thinner, with less colour depth and I have noticed this on a few clips viewed on the net. The Panasonic is also about £1800 cheaper (enough to pay for an extra P2 card and a battery or two).

Examples:

Canon:

Panasonic:
http://filmmakingnaturally.com/an-iowa-morning-testing-the-panasonic-ag-hpx...

But again a lot of this misses, the point, what we really should be doing is making films. Either camera will do for that!


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Javier Cano
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Apr 9, 2012 at 10:23:10 am

Hi everyone!

I was doing some tests to the camera (thanks to Miguel GM) and I had the chance to clarify some doubts:
- It is possible to view peaking (only white) in the LCD but it is not possible to assign a user button to activate/deactivate it.
- It is NOT possible to expand focus while recording. This really sounds to me as a bug, you can not lose a feature from a previous model: HPX171 can do it.
- The autofocus feature is slow, it loses the focus initially (just pushed).
- The LCD has the information about if you're using manual or auto iris. When you turn off the camera and turn it on again, it keeps on the previous state (manual or auto).

Regards

http://jabi.tv


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Andrew Johnstone
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Jun 5, 2012 at 7:41:48 am

After some careful consideration, I ended up with the Panasonic HPX250 and I have to say I am very pleased with it. The images are excellent and the AVC-Intra 100 codec is important if, like me, you need to be able to offer a kit that is approved by broadcasters.

However, there are issues with the camera. My biggest bugbear are the zoom and iris rings that have no front and back end. The stop and focal length are displayed in the viewfinder and within a few days of shooting I can now live with this. However, shooting quick handheld POV pickups/cutaways (following feet walking - that kind of shot) without the ability to set the focus to a specific distance can be annoying. Without glasses on (at over 40, my 20/vision has deserted me - boo hoo!) I cannot reply on the LCD screen on any camera for critical focus and need to use the viewfinder or resort to my mental Kelly wheel for focal distances (anyone still use one of those btw?). I know that the Canon XF305 has similar issues with the lens. The plus point for the Panasonic is that the lens response has no perceptible squashy electronic lag on it like the Canon.

Another issue for me is battery time and record time. the AVC-Intra codec chews up a lot of memory on the very expensive P2 media and a lot of memory in your post production workflow. I am shooting on AVC-Intra50 (more than adequate for most documentary applications), but I am aware that I could have better results if I were shooting AVC-Intra 100 all day long. The battery life is very poor. I have 2 x high capacity SWIT batts and ever these are not enough for a days work. I shot an hour of material yesterday in 4 hours shooting and used one battery. Not good.

But let's face it any machine that costs less than £4k is going to have some issues. If I have to buy another battery or two, that is an affordable expense. Overall though, I'd recommend this machine, principally because the images it makes are excellent and that's the bottom line really.


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Phil Yunker
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Jun 5, 2012 at 1:21:30 pm

Andrew, I glad you mentioned the battery run time on your post. I have been getting about 3-4 hours on the Panasonic battery that came with the camera and the same with some non-Pany batteries. I might have to invest in one of those Anton Bauer ElipZ batteries for longer shoots.

PHIL

PHIL YUNKER
Vanguard Media & Entertainment
http://www.philyunker.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/philyunker


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Andrew Johnstone
Re: HPX250 Backfocus Issue?
on Jun 5, 2012 at 5:55:16 pm

I had not looked at/heard of that Anton Bauer ElipZ battery before and although I like the look of 7 hrs of shoot time, is there a better way to mount that thing on the camera rather than on the camera plate? Are there any other battery systems available for the HPX250?


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