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Serious questions about Panasonic these days

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Scott Auerbach
Serious questions about Panasonic these days
on Dec 8, 2014 at 4:54:02 pm

Buyer beware:
Panasonic is introducing the Varicam 35 in a hobbled state. 60 fps initially, with higher frame rates to come “in a future firmware update.”

In 2013, I took delivery of a Panasonic PX5000 P2 ENG camera. It shipped with 60p/50p and 60i/50i (who shoots interlaced any more?!?) enabled, with 24p, 25p and 30p to come “in a future firmware update.”

OVER A YEAR LATER, the camera STILL does not shoot 1080 at 24p, 25p or 30p. Last week they released a firmware update with those frame rates… FOR A 720 DOWNSCALED IMAGE from the native 1080 sensor. I’m told the 1080 update will come by the end of the year, but in the meantime, I’ve had a virtually useless camera for over a year. It has 70 hours on it, which is a small fraction of what I’d normally do in a year. I’ve gone for a year having to shoot jobs on either my crap little AF-100 (at a discounted day rate) or on my RED Epic, discounting it to ENG day rates and doing the downconverts to 1080 for free. I’ve also lost all rental opportunities, since nobody wants to shoot 60p or interlaced.

In short, it has been a professional and financial DISASTER.

Beyond that problem, Panasonic's $7500 100GS1 EVF has the worst shadow detail I've ever seen in a viewfinder. Per a Panasonic rep’s request, I dropped it off at a local vendor for him to pick up and take in for evaluation. A few days later, he called and said the service techs thought it looked fine… they wanted clarification on what the problem was. I sent examples, then went for three weeks without emails getting answered. Eventually he told me that he hadn’t even picked up the viewfinder; it was still at the vendor.

There's a lot about the Varicam 35 that looks very appealing, but I’ve gotten to the point where I feel like Panasonic has become a company that simply can’t be trusted any more.

Scott Auerbach
DP, Sputnik Pictures


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