Blasphemy? I’m Thinking My Next Camera May be a Camcorder

by Hugh Brownstone23 Comments

In the first installment of our just-created new series entitled “Blasphemy – My Next Cam May be an Actual Camcorder”, we take a quick peek at the Panasonic DVX200PJ 4K Handheld Camcorder.

Am I the only thinking like this? The Sony a7R II [B&H | Amazon] gives me palpitations, but the hard reality is that I don’t need more from a stills camera for what I do than what the already-fantastic Sony a6000 [B&H | Amazon] gives me, and it’s pretty darned fantastic as a hybrid video camera as well. What will the Sony a7R II give me that I don’t already have?

Yeah, we both know the answer.

Still, my actual wish list for my next camera is all about video: to record 4K internally and have batteries that will go for multiple hours instead of fractional hours. It would be nice if it had internal neutral density filters. It would be nice if I didn’t have to worry about a separate audio recorder (though I do love my TASCAM DR-70D [B&H | Amazon]). It would be nice if I didn’t have to worry about adding a shoulder rig (although I’ve always admired the Zacuto Fee-N-G from afar). It would be nice if I didn’t have to worry about overheating.

Hmm…

That doesn’t sound like a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

At about $3,200, the Sony a7r II [B&H | Amazon] begs the question “is there a better way to spend that kind of money?”

If you want a hybrid camera with that kind of stills performance – even without having one in my hand, based solely on my experience with its little brother the a6000 and listening to people who already have been hands-on – by all means, get the a7r II, even with reported problems of overheating while recording 4K internally under very specific conditions.

But once you’re at $3,200, you’re in a new playground with some very interesting choices:

Sure, you can buy a pair of a7r II’s for the price of a single FS-7 – and if you need two cams which can pull video and stills on a budget (weddings, anyone?), duh: no brainer go a7r II.

But for my needs and today’s piece, let’s introduce ourselves to the Panasonic DVX 200 4K, spiritual heir to the legendary DVX100. We’re looking to get our hands on one ASAP for a full evaluation.

Is it time to ditch DSLRs and mirrorless ILCs for a real camcorder? Click To Tweet

Hugh is the author of Apple’s iPhone: The Next Video Revolution. Follow him on Twitter (@hughbrownstone) or write to him at hugh.brownstone@3bmep.com

PANASONIC ANNOUNCES PRICING/AVAILABILITY FOR AG-DVX200PJ 4K HANDHELD CAMCORDER

AG-DVX200PJ camcorder

Via Panasonic Press:

*With Wide Dynamic Range Capture, Superb Image Handling, DVX200PJ is Equipped for High-Level Documentary/Reality/Event Production *

NEWARK, NJ (August 27, 2015) – Panasonic has announced that its highly-anticipated AG-DVX200PJ 4K large-sensor, 4/3” handheld camcorder will begin deliveries in October 2015 with a suggested list price of $4,695. The DVX200PJ is the first in a new generation of large sensor, multi-format professional camcorders capable of capturing 4K/UHD, HD and SD, including cinematic DCI 4K 4096×2160.

Offering a suite of top-end features including 4K/24p* and 1080/60p recording, a V-Log L gamma curve and integrated 13X optical zoom lens design, the DVX200PJ will excel in documentary, reality television and event production, and prove an asset as a second-unit camera in 4K filmmaking.

The DVX200PJ is optimized for 4K/HD production, with stunning bokeh effects and a V-Log L curve (measured at 12 stops) emulating the natural grey-scale rendition of the VariCam 35. The camcorder incorporates a newly-developed 4/3” large-format MOS sensor with high sensitivity of F11, and offers variable frame rate recording from 2fps to 120fps in 1080p mode, enhancing the camcorder’s utility in sports and VFX production.

The handheld 4K camcorder offers an array of professional features including a newly-designed Leica Dicomar 4K F2.8~F4.5 zoom lens (4K/24p: 29.5 mm ~ 384.9 mm, HD: 28 mm ~ 365.3mm, 35 mm equivalent) with shallow depth-of-field, time-code in/out, 3G HD-SDI and HDMI 2.0 (4K) video outs (4:2:2 10-bit video), dual XLR audio inputs and 10 programmable user buttons.

The DVX200PJ will record 4K (4096 × 2160) / 24p, UHD (3840 × 2160) / HD (1920 × 1080) 59.94p / 50p / 30p / 25p / 23.98p in either MP4 / MOV file formats. With two SD card** slots, the camcorder facilitates relay, simultaneous, background and dual codec recording. Dual codec recording allows for simultaneous capture of UHD 30p and FHD, or FHD and FHD low bit rates, which essentially produces master and offline/proxy versions of footage. For professionals working worldwide, the camera’s master frame rate is selectable between 59.94Hz (23.98Hz) / 50.00Hz / 24.00Hz.

The new Leica Dicomar 4K zoom lens with F2.8 aperture is an optimal choice for 4K video, with the ability to produce exceptional imagery and subtle bokeh. Leica’s exacting quality standards keep the occurrence of ghosting and flare to a minimum. Since the DVX200PJ is an integrated lens camcorder, there is no need to perform flange back adjustments or shading corrections when changing lenses. Even with a large diameter lens, the camcorder’s weight and balance have been optimized to facilitate agile, mobile 4K acquisition. With superb center-of-gravity balance, the camcorder is ideal for flexible shooting applications such as mounting on today’s popular stabilized camera rigs.

The DVX200PJ incorporates an enhanced Optical Image Stabilizer with a five-axis hybrid Image Stabilizer and 4x expansion of the correction accuracy, producing clear images without blurring. The Intelligent AF (Auto Focus) system features a new micro-drive focus unit that improves focus speed, tracking and capture performance, and facilitates smooth, fast focus tracking for 4K video and shallow depth-of-field. The Intelligent AF system, with touch area selection, can be customized for speed, sensitivity and object size.

 

Other assets of the camcorder’s new Leica 4K lens include a seven iris panel, ND filter (1/4, 1/16, 1/64), IR filter cut on/off and cam-driven zoom. The DVX200PJ utilizes a front element lens / filter diameter of 72mm, a very common size: it is expected that many third party lens accessory manufacturers will announce items such as close-up lenses and other desired options.

The DVX200PJ is ergonomically designed with the battery positioned in the rear so as not to interfere during handheld shooting. The camcorder comes with a rugged woven carbon fiber-like finish, and the recording section is distinctively styled with crimson shading. The 4/3-inch touch-panel LCD and OLED EVF can be automatically switched on by the eye sensor.

Three manual operation lens rings–13x zoom (Cam driven), focus and iris– provide a comfortable manual control similar to an interchangeable lens camera, but without the need for actual lens changes. The zoom ring's solid feel and smooth action allow delicate ultra-slow zooming. In addition, the camcorder’s multi-step zoom control provides fast response and smooth zoom action, yielding the creative freedom every camera operator desires. The zoom control on the handle enables variable speed zoom, allowing fine zoom control even for low angle shots.

The DVX200PJ works “out of the box” with integrated lens, viewfinder and included battery (just add optional UHS-2/3SDXC cards).

* UHD (3840×2160) resolution, when 60p mode is selected.
** Requires a SD card of UHS speed class 3 (U3) for 4K recording.

For more information about Panasonic professional video products, visit www.panasonic.com/broadcast or contact Panasonic at 877-803-8492.

Panasonic Solutions for Business
Panasonic delivers reliable business technology solutions that connect data with decision makers to drive better outcomes—for our customers and our customers’ customers. Panasonic engineers reliable products and solutions that help to create, capture and deliver data of all types, where, when and how it is needed. The complete suite of Panasonic professional solutions for government and commercial enterprises of all sizes addresses unified business communications, mobile computing, security and surveillance, retail point-of-sale, office productivity, visual communications (projectors, displays, digital signage), and 4K and HD video production. Panasonic solutions for business are delivered by Panasonic System Communications Company of North America, Division of Panasonic Corporation of North America, the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation.

All brand and company/product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of the respective companies. All specifications are subject to change without notice. Information on Panasonic solutions for business can be obtained by calling 877-803-8492 or at us.panasonic.com/business-solutions.

About Panasonic Corporation of North America
Panasonic Corporation of North America provides a broad line of digital and other electronics products and solutions for consumer, business and industrial use. The company is the principal North American subsidiary of Osaka, Japan-based Panasonic Corporation and the hub of Panasonic's U.S. branding, marketing, sales, service and R&D operations. In Interbrand's 2014 annual “Best Global Green Brands” report, Panasonic ranked number five overall and the top electronics brand in the report. As part of continuing sustainability efforts, Panasonic Corporation of North America relocated its headquarters to a new facility, adjacent to Newark Penn Station in Newark, NJ. It is the first newly constructed office tower in Newark to earn both LEED Platinum and Gold certifications from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Learn more about Panasonic at us.panasonic.com/news.

(cover photo credit: snap from Panasonic)

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh is the founder of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions. He and the team write, direct, shoot, score, and edit web-centric films; conduct photo shoots; and write copy, white papers and blog posts. Hugh also writes screenplays (he recently optioned a TV pilot) and just published his first eBook (Apple's iPhone: The Next Video Revolution). If it's about telling stories, it's in their wheelhouse.

And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
Hugh Brownstone

Comments

  1. Pity the Pana can’t exchange lenses. 

    For me the best thing in DSLR cameras was that you could exchange lenses for an affordable price.

  2. There is no need to jump into 4K land just yet.  There price points and features are changing weekly.  I like the URSA best so far because of the lens flexibility as carlmart noted below.

  3. The DVX is a cool camera, I got to mess around a bit with the pre production model. The lens, while limited to being fixed, has a shallow depth of field, not commonly associated with these particular camcorders. The macro was one of my favorite features, being able to pull focus all the way to the lens hood was incredible and as for focal length its pretty much anything you would ever need: 30-300. As a run and gun, its a huge step above industry standard camcorders today. Panasonic has obviously been listening to what people like about their currently most popular camera, the GH4, and integrating that same tech into this guy. My only bone to pick is that the variable frame rate, while cool, is highly compressed at 1080 120fps compared to the 4k 24/30/60 and looks pretty ehhh especially when theres highlights peaking. Thats the kind of thing you start noticing when you’ve been shooting LOG for a while I suppose…

  4. Even if I agree on jumping to 4K is not a must yet, down converting to 1080p seems to be working very nicely, at least from the tests I’ve seen. 
    Interchangeable lenses is a must for me, now that I have tried it. Internal ND filters are also very practical, as well as proper XLR inputs. Give me a DVX200PJ with interchangeable lenses, and that should get interesting.

  5. carlmart Agreed. But what are we to do when we’re out in the field doing lengthy interviews? Does the Panny have “shallow enough” DOF for us to do what we need to do with some artistry while taking advantage of its other attributes? That’s what we have to find out.  Working on it!

  6. GeorgeSealy Agreed, especially when all of my stuff (at any rate, sample size of one) goes onto the web.  On the other hand, I can definitely see 4K on drones so that one can crop in — see my series on the DJI Phantom 3 vs 3DR Solo, where distance and a wide angle lens are required, even when we want to fill more of the frame with the primary subject – perfect use case for 4K down-razzed to 1080p?

  7. AaronMiyashita Would love to hear more, as I’m especially intrigued with the idea of “good enough” or “shallow enough” DOF!  Also want to understand your 120fps comment.  Any footage you can share, or can you otherwise elaborate? Thanks!

  8. carlmart Well, there’s the JVC LS300 for lens interchangeability, but I’m thinking of the DVX200PJ as a SECOND camera, and I’m intrigued (as I’ve written below) with the idea of “shallow enough” DOF.  Crazy enough, the little Sony a6000 has a tremendous sensor for the price (it punches way above its weight class in this regard), and now really outstanding lenses are becoming available at reasonable prices — I’ve availed myself of the E 50mm f/1.8 and FE 28mm f/2.0. The Batis 85mm f/1.8 or Sony 90mm f/2.8 Macro is next.  The FS7 is on my radar, and we’ll be getting it in soon for hands-on eval. Then all I want is a tack-sharp fast prime at 10mm or so and then a 200 or 300 2.8 prime, also tack sharp, that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I don’t mind bolting on a Canon for that, but isn’t it time for something new?

  9. HughBrownstone carlmart 
    Well, of course. If you are looking for a compact 4K affordable high quality camera, and you prefer the traditional fixed lens form, this camera looks very good. Leica optics should be very good, even if comparison tests are in order, or course. 
    One other thing I’m not so sure too is the file types, and if they are easily converted to DNxHD in Avid, which is my editor of choice. In the times I was considering the GH2 and GH3, it wasn’t so easy to achieve, and I got that comment from a person that worked with Avid. You had to go through several steps, and one involved a Mac.

  10. carlmart HughBrownstone I don’t prefer fixed lens!  But it MIGHT be worth the trade-offs.  Once we have one in-house, I’ll let you know how it goes!

  11. HughBrownstone carlmart 
    Yes, I was curious about the JVC too. Would like some more tests and comparisons too.

  12. HughBrownstone carlmart 
    I said interchangeable, not fixed. But fixed lenses were the ones I learned filmmaking with, so I’m used to them. Sometimes I leave the zoom on the same position and prefer to move the camera back or forward. You do not change perspective and editing is smoother.

  13. AaronMiyashita how’s the noise on higher ISO’s? Sony is offcourse king in that region… and… Sony already has a bunch of 4K videocams, so… how does this Panasonic fit in there?

  14. Nice images on the Wiegartner video. 

    But I don’t know why there was any doubt a shallow DOF being possible with the DVX200?

    It’s quite close sensor size as the GH4 and BM 2.5K, is it not? If I get shallow DOF with my BM Pocket, which is even smaller in size and guessing (just guessing) the DVX200 might be similar to the GH4 (specs are not available), of course there would be shallow DOF. 

    Maximum Bit-Rate, recording time per card and per battery, and the recording video format being easily accepted by ALL video editing systems, are major issues.

  15. carlmart The reason why is that f/2.8 on a micro four thirds sensor offers the full frame equivalent depth of field of f/5.6 (2X crop factor applies not just to focal length).  It’s not apples to apples (I suspect you already know this). :)

  16. HughBrownstone carlmart 
    Of course I agree with not comparing apples to oranges, I just said that I did expect to have shallow DOF on the DVX200. My only wish is to have all the DVX200 has… with interchangeable lenses. 

    I guess that might be a winner.

  17. HughBrownstone I will link to the video once its posted, but we have some test footage we took with the engineering sample! In VFR mode there is noticeable compression from the low bit rate much like the 96fps with the GH4. The highlights will sometimes get blown out, typical of a camera with low dynamic range. However in VLOG they are claiming 12 stops of latitude which is great and looks significantly better, but you are then limited to 60fps.

  18. JePe Don’t expect anything like the A7 or C300. I would say noise is similar to the GH4

  19. carlmart The sensor size of the 200 is 4/3 not micro 4/3, so its actually bigger than the GH4. These are words from the panasonic reps I’ve talked to

  20. AaronMiyashita HughBrownstone Sounds like what Panny is claiming for the Vlog upgrade to the GH4, which makes sense.  Looking forward to seeing your vid!

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