We really like the Panasonic AG-HPX250. It’s a professional level product in an ergonomic, efficient and easy to use package. In many ways it’s the ideal hand-held camcorder in the 5k price range that can be used for everything from corporate video to reality TV to documentaries.
When we first got our hands on the Panasonic AG-HPX250 we thought it felt a little cheap, almost too light for a professional grade camera. However, after using it for several months we’re very pleased with the performance and grateful for the run-n-gun friendly body especially compared to its chunky ancestor, the HVX200. The HPX250 (and recently updated HPX250PJ announced at NAB earlier this year) is better balanced and provides a variety of improvements to the buttons, i/o connections and overall speed of access to controls. The flip out LCD looks really good. The battery pops in and out easier. The P2 card slots are vertical. The product team did a nice job making lots of subtle improvements compared to previous designs without losing any of the Panasonic camcorder product family mojo. It's a better product that's easier to use.
When it comes to handheld camcorders, the HPX250 and updated HPX250PJ are like the younger siblings in the family that get everything the older siblings never had. The HPX250 is the camera the HVX200 always wanted to be. Don’t be fooled by the abundant use of plastic in the design. The HPX250 packs a punch with a versatile lens, excellent low light performance and a plethora of format, codec and frame rate options. Even the built-in sound is a little better.
One of the most important features of the HPX250 is the AVC-Intra 100/50 codec support. The AVC-Intra 100 codec is arguably one of the best available on any camcorder. The full raster 1920x1080 progressive frames in a 10 bit 4.2.2 color space offers more flexibility to push the boundaries in post and makes getting clean keys much easier.
We recently tested the HPX250 using the AVC-Intra 100 codec while working on a simple “how to” video. We tested the footage on three separate workstations (HP, Dell, Supermicro) using three separate NLE packages (CS6.5, Edius 6.5, Vegas Pro 11) all running Xeons, plenty of memory and either Quadro 2000 or 4000 card. The AVC-Intra 100 codec does require a modern workstation to run smoothly and we noticed better performance on our faster systems.
On shoots that require faster turns in remote locations where the laptop is the edit suite we might opt for the DVCPRO HD codec as it’s much lighter on resources. We also like the option of using the AVC-Intra 50 codec if we think we may have a long day without the luxury of enough P2 storage. The HPX250 has plenty of options to balance quality, capacity and editing requirements.
At NAB this year Panasonic announced the microP2 card, essentially a robust storage card in the SD form factor. In spite of the antiquated PCMCIA form factor the P2 card has a large stable of “believers” that have gotten comfortable using the cards. In years of shooting with the HVX200 and now the HPX250 we’ve never had one fail. We also don’t know anyone in our creative circle that has had a P2 card fail. Flash memory has forever changed the way we capture and share our stories.
The microP2 card or some other “micro” format will have a profound impact on the professional handheld camcorder market. The lighter, better, faster, and (we hope), cheaper mantra will continue. We’re looking forward to meeting the HPX250’s younger brother.
Visit Panasonic for more information and all the specs on the AG-HPX250 and updated AG-HPX250PJ.