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Thinking about buying a HMC150

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William Dedula
Thinking about buying a HMC150
on May 19, 2010 at 10:14:10 am

Hello All;
I am interested in purchasing a HMC150 but have a few questions before I do.

This seems to be a very popular camera that is highly rated at a good price (For HD). I really want a Camcorder with a Flash Drive instead of Mini-DV (Which I always seem to have trouble with in the past). Flash memory seems to offer so many advantages over Mini-DV or any other tape format.

1. In terms of video quality, is the video quality from this camera just as good as comparable camcorders from Canon, Sony, JVC, Etc ... in this price range ? Is the video quality from this camera sufficient for a video business like weddings and corporate videos ?

I've bought consumer canon camcorders in the past but they only have a mini-dv version of a HD camcorder in my price range.

2. I am also impressed by the 3 year warranty as other manufacturers seem to only cover their cameras for 1 year. Is this camera reliable and durable ?

3. Are there any major complaints about this camcorder ? I have heard it has poor low light performance. How bad is it ?

4. How is Panasonic's reputation for producing good Camcorders and providing good customer service and support ?

Thanks much.

Tim


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Guy McLoughlin
Re: Thinking about buying a HMC150
on May 19, 2010 at 9:34:34 pm

1. In terms of video quality, is the video quality from this camera just as good as comparable camcorders from Canon, Sony, JVC, Etc ... in this price range ? Is the video quality from this camera sufficient for a video business like weddings and corporate videos ?


Yes, it's easily comparable to any of the other major brands. I personally use it to shoot corporate and live event video.

Here's a good hands on review of the HMC150 camera:

http://www.eventdv.net/Articles/Editorial/In-the-Field/In-the-Field-Panason...

2. I am also impressed by the 3 year warranty as other manufacturers seem to only cover their cameras for 1 year. Is this camera reliable and durable ?


Yes, Panasonic could not afford to provide a 3 year warranty if it wasn't.

3. Are there any major complaints about this camcorder ? I have heard it has poor low light performance. How bad is it ?


I have no complaints with mine, and it is one of the best low-light video cameras on the market. ( see the review above )

4. How is Panasonic's reputation for producing good Camcorders and providing good customer service and support ?


Panasonic was ranked the 89th-largest company in the world in 2009 by the Forbes Global 2000. It is one of the major players in the video production industry.


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Alf Hanna
Re: Thinking about buying a HMC150
on May 19, 2010 at 10:33:55 pm

For the money, I don't think there's a better camera. I bought one in December and have not regretted it. Beautiful footage from it. Check out some of my footage on 8stringthing on Youtube. All the live clips were done with the 150. If you want to spend more, there are some excellent alternatives, like the Sony EX3. But that's a big jump.

No low light problems from my POV. DOF could be better, but is to be expected on a standard video camera. I'm contemplating a Canon 5D as a B camera for those pesky shallow DOF clips of 12 seconds or less.

Be prepared to buy lots of hard disk drives to store your HD video. AVCHD *can* be edited in NLE's like Vegas (I just did it this AM with no problem), but it's recommended, whether converting to ProRes on FCP or AVI on Vegas, to go to an intermediate, which vastly inflates your footage. And make sure your computer is pretty state of the art with RAM and processors! Think Mac Pro pricing, not Dell low end desktop!

As far as corporate goes, while you certainly can do corporate (and definitely weddings with it), as I understand that some clients expect a higher quality camera for certain jobs. AVCHD is not yet considered a "pro" quality codec, and the 4:2:0 seems to be in disdain in the more "pro" broadcast circles. If I was so inclinded, *and had the money to invest*, I would consider a 'broadcast' quality camera, maybe stepping up to the P2 based Panny's or the Sonys' EX3, JVCs or ??? But for my money, I was better able to use those thousands of extra dollars on a decent field mixer, solid mics assortment, and lights. I was able to secure a grant for a six month video project, and they never asked "what camera do you shoot with". But the fact that I had a full compliment of gear made a big difference. I would like to step up to that $10k price point region some day.

So don't fret. You can always sell it for a good price if it doesn't work out, and just consider the difference from what you paid to what you sell it for as your rental cost!

Alf


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William Dedula
Re: Thinking about buying a HMC150
on May 20, 2010 at 1:00:27 am

Hi Guy;
Not sure why, but the link you provided to the hands-on review of the 150 doesn't seem to work. It always seems to take me back to the forum.

Thanks for all of the great information ... I will probably make the purchase tomorrow because I have a good use for a very high quality camera next Tuesday-Thursday.

I am curious if a camcorder using a P2 card produces a broadcast-quality image that is better than one using SDHC memory ? Are there any differences between the two types of solid state memory that make one format better than the other other than the size and cost ?
Think P2 is here to stay or will SDHC eventually replace it ?

Tim


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John Baldino
Re: Thinking about buying a HMC150
on May 20, 2010 at 9:12:45 am

Tim -

If you're comparing SDHC vs P2 acquisition, a better way to talk about the differences would be to talk about the compression used...in this case AVCHD vs DVCProHD or DVCPro 100. AVCHD has a much lower bitrate, which is due largely in part to its 4:2:0 color space, vs. DVCPro's 4:2:2. however, avchd is a very efficient codec, so even though its bitrate is roughly 1/4 of dvcpro hd, the quality is certainly NOT "1/4th" of dvcprohd. On a small screen, the differences are almost (to my eye) imperceptible. But as you get larger, I can tell the difference.

I would consider heavily the kind of projects you shoot before you make your buying decision...how will they be shown? If your primary destination is the web and cost is a factor, I'd say hands down get the 150. If you are going to be shooting stuff that gets an HD presentation on larger screens, however (ie anything bigger than 30" imho) I'd consider the hpx 170 or maybe the hvx200. P2 is waaay more expensive media, obviously, so you'd have to weigh the various factors.

I have a 150 but I am mostly focused on web promos and the like right now so large-screen exhibition really isn't an issue. Even if it was, the hmc is no slouch or anything, it just comes down to your own tolerance level (and that of your clients). I would look around on the web for some screenshots pulled at native res for both cameras in similar lighting conditions and see if that helps.

Best of luck,
John

Director/DP/Editor
GoboMedia, LLC
http://www.gobomedia.net (under construction)

"Philosophy is questioning without answers; religion is answers without questioning." - Anonymous


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Noah Kadner
Re: Thinking about buying a HMC150
on May 20, 2010 at 1:10:32 pm

Yeah the P2 cameras have larger chips and better codecs generally. But are you asking which is the best camera at any price or whether the HMC150 is acceptable for its relatively lower price. Of course a P2 camera shoots a somewhat better picture, but does that justify the higher price? Well that would be a subjective question entirely up to what you intend to use the camera for.

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera!
Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon 7D.
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Guy McLoughlin
Re: Thinking about buying a HMC150
on May 24, 2010 at 9:47:24 pm

>>>Yeah the P2 cameras have larger chips and better codecs generally.

Not when you are comparing the chip size of the HVX200A / HPX170 / HMC150 cameras. They all use the same imaging assembly that uses the same 1/3" sized sensors.

>>>Of course a P2 camera shoots a somewhat better picture, but does that justify the higher price?

It depends what you mean by better picture. According to Panasonic Prosumer guru Barry Green, the HMC150 produces a sharper image in 720P mode because the AVCHD CODEC stores the full 1280x720 image, while the HVX 200A / HPX170 prefilters the image down to 960x720 when it stores the same image, thus footage shot with the HMC150 in 720P mode will look sharper.

DVXUSER Thread: "Happy camper - 200 to 150"

In side by side tests that I've looked at the images produced by the HVX200A / HPX170 / HMC150 cameras are almost identical.


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Guy McLoughlin
Re: Thinking about buying a HMC150
on May 24, 2010 at 9:15:27 pm

...Sorry about the link f*ckup, here's the link I was trying to post:

In the Field: Panasonic AG-HMC150


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Guy McLoughlin
Re: Thinking about buying a HMC150
on May 24, 2010 at 9:26:06 pm

>>>I am curious if a camcorder using a P2 card produces a broadcast-quality image that is better than one using SDHC memory ?

Actually, they are almost identical, with the AVCHD camera ( HMC150 vs HPX170 ) producing a tiny bit more detailed image because of how the video is stored by the different CODECs. The P2 card cameras have better color ( it's 4:2:2 color-space vs 4:2:0 ), but again the difference is generally very slight. If you put footage shot by both of these cameras side by side, they essentially look the same.

>>>Are there any differences between the two types of solid state memory that make one format better than the other other than the size and cost ?

P2 cards are built to a much higher standard, but this standard might be over-kill for most shooters. ( 1200 Mbps transfer speed, with bit perfect error checking )

P2 card will definitely be around for the next 5 years, beyond this, I have no idea.

I've never had a problem with SDHC memory cards, but then I am very picky about which ones I buy. ( I have standardized on the Patriot IRIS Class 6 cards, which are made for pro video work, are very fast, and come with a 5 year warranty. You can buy them from NewEgg.com a 32GB card costs about $93 )


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