Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Panasonic AG-HMC70U

I have had a Sony HDR-FX1 for about three years now, and wanted to get another HD camcorder so that I could do multi-camera shoots. I had been looking at the Sony HVR-HD1000U; a long name for a fairly straight-forward camera. The HD1000U is a one chip HD camera in a shoulder-mount form factor. Its big selling point is that it sells for $1,599. That’s basically half what the FX1 cost.

Also appealing – for me - was the shoulder-mount form factor. While I like the FX1, it’s one weakness is that it’s not usable on the shoulder; so most of the time I hold it in front of me. That’s fine for a lot of things, but sometimes a shoulder-mount camera can be really useful.

An additional plus point is that being from Sony – I felt – would mean that color reproduction was probably pretty similar to the FX1, and I thought it would make for a good pairing.

Then I heard about the Panasonic AG-HMC70U.

Like the HD1000U, it’s in a shoulder mount form factor, but it also has XLR audio inputs, which - if you’re using anything other than the on-board mics - is really useful. Like the FX1, it’s a three-chip camera; though they are 1/4 inch chips instead of the 1/3 inch chips on the FX1.

But there’s one other BIG difference between the AG-HMC70U and both the FX1 and the HD1000U; while the two Sony’s record to HD tapes, the AG-HMC70U records to SDHD chips using the AVCHD compressor.

Let’s face it; the world’s going tapeless, and despite my concerns about backing up and archiving all that video data, there’s some big advantages to recording to either memory or a disk drive rather than to a tape. The most significant it that being able to randomly find and access clips immediately, and choose and then immediately transfer them, really is a benefit when you’re the one stuck doing the logging and transferring.

Sony has some tapeless semi-pro cameras; but they start at over $5,000. I just can’t afford that. The AG-HMC70U is much more budget conscious; just $500 more than the HD1000U.

I know the AG-HMC70U isn’t perfect; it’s innards are virtually equivalent to the consumer cameras Panasonic makes. It has very few manual controls, and because it’s from another manufacturer I suspect that color matching with the FX1 will be difficult…but it’s shoulder-mount form factor, XLR audio inputs and tapeless recording made it impossible for me to resist.

So I’ve ordered one…

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Since your posting, have you received the camera? If yes, how does it look, the image I mean?

Most importantly, have you been able to import the files in to your NLE?

In particular, are the files compatible with FCO and iMovieHD?