Archive for December, 2011

PostHeaderIcon Panasonic HPX250 10-bit P2 Camcorder Goes to Prague

I’m currently in Prague working with students from FAMU, the national film school located here. While the workshop over the last week mostly covered 3D fundamentals and storytelling the class and I also had the opportunity to try out the Panasonic’s latest compact P2 camcorder – the AG-HPX250 – an economically priced 10-bit model that captures to AVC-Intra 4:2:2. Given the camera’s compact configuration and 22X macro zoom this is one powerful handheld beast. And the pictures captured in a wide range of conditions certainly bear that out.

Despite the camera’s diminutive size its performance can only be described as remarkable as my group and I shot around the old city in driving rain and sleet into the night and before dawn with startling results . I often fantasized about just such a camera that can perform this well in such a tiny package. Navigating across the historic Charles Bridge before dawn the camera supported by a Sachtler DV6 were the perfect combination: lightweight and flexible at a full-range of focal lengths and frame rates from 1-60 FPS.

The HPX250 with an MSRP under $6000 does entail a few notable compromises however, including several that are maddening: the bayonet lens-shade mounting system is needlessly imprecise and frustrating; the camera’s tiny flimsy controls, especially the menu selection toggle, are virtually impossible to operate with gloved hands, the rotating main power/mode switch is awkward to engage; and the miniscule release tab controlling access to the P2 cards is poorly designed and implemented.

Despite the operational tradeoffs the camera is sure to set the new benchmark in high-performance compact camcorders. Every camera of course comes with its own set of compromises. And this camera is no exception.

The HPX250 in Prague. December 2011.