April 12, 2011

Panasonic HPX250 records 10-bit 422

Panasonic's new AG-HPX250 handheld camcorder records 10-bit, 4:2:2 1920x1080 images to P2 cards using the high-quality AVC-Intra codec at 100 or 50Mbps.

[UPDATE: We now have a comprehensive review of the HPX250 on this site, as well as a side-by-side comparison of the HPX250 and Canon XF305 on our Canon XF Notebook site]

It is the most compact camera using AVC-Intra, and the lightest at 2.5kg. It can also record DVCPRO HD, as well as standard definition recording in DVCPRO50, DVCPRO and DV, making it particularly versatile.

In AVC-Intra and DVCPRO HD it records in 1080 at 59.94i, 29.97p(N), 23.98p(N), 50i and 25p(N) and in 720p at 23.98p(N), 29.97p(N), 59.94p, 50p and 25p(N). It can record at variable frame rates (up to 30 frames per second in 1080p and up to 60fps in 720p) to create fast or slow-motion effects.

There are two P2 card slots and can record for up to 320 minutes in AVC-Intra 100 at 720/24p, 160 minutes in AVC-Intra 100 at 1080/24p and 128 minutes in other AVC-Intra 100 or DVCPRO HD formats on two 64GB cards.

It uses three 1/3-inch 2.2 megapixel CMOS sensors, with a 20 bit digital signal processor. The 21x lens starts at a reasonably wide 28mm, going to 588mm (35mm equivalent), and has three independent rings for focus, zoom and iris control. It also has an Optical Image Stabilizer. There is a 3.45-inch LCD monitor and high-res viewfinder.

Other features include: Dynamic Range Stretch to help compensate for wide variations in lighting; a waveform monitor and vector scope display; and two focus assist functions – a picture expanding function and a focus bar. It also has genlock/timecode input for multi-camera operation, as well as an HD-SDI output, an HDMI output, and FireWire in/out.

Although P2 cards are more expensive than non-proprietary media, such as Compact Flash or SD cards, they are well liked by broadcasters (where P2 is widely used, especially for news). Features include: instant recording start-up; clip thumbnail view for immediate access to video on all cards; and various time-saving recording modes including continuous recording, card slot selection, hot swapping, loop, pre-record (three seconds in HD and seven seconds in SD), one-shot and interval recording. The camera also has an SD memory card slot for saving or loading scene files and user settings.

[UPDATED: 2/12/11 - The BBC has now approved the HPX250 as an HD camcorder for shooting HD for use by both in-house and independent productions. This makes it the most obvious rival for Canon's XF305 for lower-cost HD shooting - although the P2 cards are more expensive than Compact Flash, but the XF305 costs about the same.]

The AG-HPX250 is available for less than £4,500/€5,500/$6,500.

[[UPDATE: Panasonic has released 18 new, free, downloadable scene styles for the HPX250]]

By David Fox

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