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Shooting with the New Panasonic HPX250 AVC-Intra 100 Camcorder

I had the unique opportunity last weekend to be one of a select few to shoot with Panasonic’s new AG-HPX250 AVC-Intra  100 camcorder in a real-world environment.  The camera has a familiar look to it with a body style similar to the cameras it’s replacing (the HPX170 and HVX200).  The main difference between these three cameras is that the 250 adds the AVC-Intra 100 codec. The HPX170 has been around since 2008 so the 250 keeps the line fresh with other features like a 21 x optical zoom vs. a 13 x.  Another change is, of course, the sensor which is now a 2.2 million pixel 3MOS vs. the HPX170’s CCD.  Panasonic also decided to jump into the Event and PEG TV markets by adding Genlock and Time-Code interfaces.  A major jump-up in viewfinder quality was also very evident on the HPX250 with over 1 million pixels vs. the 170s 235k.  Although the sensor size is still 1/3″, I did notice better detail in the shadow areas of the images I was recording.   I imagine this was because I was using AVC-Intra 100. I used the camera for approximately 4 hours on one of my Steadicam Flyer LE HD rigs for a Range Rover training video that I’m shooting.   The camera was originally going to be used for BTS shots, but our regular camera package did not have all the components ready to go, so the HPX250 quickly became the “A” camera for the shoot.   Without having time to read the manual, I was able to quickly get the camera set-up and ready to shoot as time was of the essence.  Panasonic has nicely laid out the key features with quick and easy access to buttons on the operator side of the camera.  Everything you need — like focus assist, ND, audio controls, scene file, waveform, etc., is nicely placed in plain view. Once the shoot was done and it was time to edit, the AVC-Intra 100 footage easily loaded into all three of the edit systems I use (and tested it with).  Final Cut Studio, Premiere Pro CS5.5 and Avid MC5.5 and even FCP X worked nicely.  The AVC-Intra 100 held up a little better in post than a few samples I shot in DVCPRO 100, especially when cropping into the image. If you are in the market for a DVCPRO HD or AVC-Intra 100 camcorder, the Panasonic HPX250 is affordable at under $6k.  It’s definitely worth checking out. Mike Sutton, Senior Account Manager Twitter: @MNS1974