Panasonic AJ-PX270 Professional HD Camcorder Review

The PX270 is an amazing HD camera for ENG, corporate and documentary work. Over the years we’ve used the DVX100, HVX200, HPX250 and now the AJ-PX270 which is the next evolutionary step in Panasonic’s hand held family of cameras. This camera has very good dynamic range and the ability to achieve shallow depth of field. The AV-Ultra codecs are very robust and the microP2 cars make it very easy to dump footage into your NLE in the field using standard SD card readers. We really like this camera.

The AJ-PX270 is pretty much everything we’ve been asking for from this type of camera aside from 4k resolution. Panasonic has also been slow with the promised firmware upgrade to AVC-ULTRA 200. This higher bit rate will allow for even more robust capture of high speed action such as sports. Panasonic promised the firmware upgrade in 2014. We’re still waiting.

The first thing you notice about the PX270 is how light it is. You can truly operate this camera without a tripod with minimal fatigue. The HVX200 and even the HPX250 were more cumbersome in the field. Anyone still clinging to the HVX200 will be blown away by how easy it is to handle the PX270. The battery is now recessed inside the body of the camera which also makes for a better on-center feel. It also, makes it more comfortable to support the camera with you torso.

All is not sweetness and light however. We’re all for light weight designs but we’d like to see more ruggedized choices for some of the hinges, switches and buttons. We feel we could easily snap off the LCD display, the display buttons and the cheap plastic cover of the P2 slots.

The display and electronic view finder are very good on the PX270. There are a plethora of options for image and quality settings. The menu also has a fast option and a more complete option when you hold the button longer. This is something we had to discover after some frustration trying to dig into the menus.

The PX270 has much improved dynamic range and low light performance compared to the HPX250 and it’s a revelation if you are upgrading from an older camera like the HVX200. We were able to shoot with little to no gain scenes at dusk that would have been mostly noise with prior handheld cameras from Panasonic.

The PX270 is a really great HD camera. You can achieve a variety of looks that range from TV to film and decent shallow depth of field that makes solid choice for an HD handheld around $5k. We love the ergonomics of this camera and the image it captures and we’re comfortable with the P2 workflow. Over the years we’ve seen standard SD, CF cards and SSDs and HDDs all experience hiccups in the field. We’ve yet to have any problems with P2, either full size or micro. That confidence makes shooting with the PX270 feel even better.

UPDATE 2015 January 19:  Panasonic has finally released firmware update that includes the AVC-Intra200 Codec and 1080 30p, 25p and 24p.   You can download the latest firmware for the Panasonic PX270 here.    It's free and will not be a paid upgrade as originally planned.   

Visit Panasonic for more information about the AJ-PX270

Boris FX BCC 9 Review 2014

If you buy only 1 VFX package for your NLE this year we highly recommend Boris Continuum Complete 9 or BCC 9. BCC 9 is available for all major NLEs and it’s packed with goodness to feed your creative mojo. BCC 9 for Sony Vegas Pro has over 200+ filters is easier to use than BCC 8 and includes CUDA and Open CL acceleration. We enjoyed very good performance in our workstation using the Quadro K4200.

We reviewed BCC 8 a couple of years ago so this will be a shorter review but one of the things that bogged us down in BCC 8 was the ability to effectively browse VFX. The FX Browser in BCC 9 is a welcome addition to the suite that makes it much easier to play and test effects. Now we can see previews of VFX over moving video. This is a much faster way to preview FX before we drop them on the timeline and encourages more experimentation which is critical with such a vast and powerful suite.

Just like BCC 8, BCC 9 requires lots of discovery and experimentation to appreciate the power of this suite. A review like this can only scratch the surface. Luckily Boris provides 2,500+ presets to help jump start your creativity. Follow Boris FX on social media and you’ll be treated to some random freebies as well. For example, we grabbed the fireworks preset and whipped up some sound design to make a 4th of July message for our facebook page. It took just a few minutes and added a little something extra to a static message.

We used some Beat Reactor driven lighting effects to bring the open to life in a recruiting video for Houzz. Plus there are countless subtle fixes we use the filters for. For example, we'll often use film process and play with the dynamic range or go for a low contrast look like we did in this special feature on this incredible tree house in Texas. We wanted more a timeless look and BCC 8/9 helped us get it. 

Having this suite in post makes us want to shoot more in 4k S-log and experiment in post versus trying to get the perfect look in the field too.

There’s more to love in BCC 9 including transitions, image restoration, keying, compositing, lens correction (saving some GoPro footage as we type), and the list goes on and on.  John Rafrano put together a nice set of tutorials on BCC 9 for Sony Vegas here so you can a lot of these effects in action.

So if you’re in the market for VFX for your NLE we highly recommend downloading BCC 9. You’ll barely scratch the surface of this powerful suite during the trial but you’ll quickly learn just how powerful this package is.

Visit Boris FX for more information and to grab a trial version of BCC 9.

Sony Vegas Pro 13 Review

Sony Vegas Pro 13 feels a lot like Vegas Pro 12 with some minor updates to the UI. It features a new proxy editing mode that could be useful for ENG style workflows, enhanced audio level monitoring and new collaboration features.

The number one thing we were looking for in Vegas Pro 13 is increased performance, stability and exploitation of multicore and GPU heavy systems for real time editing and faster rendering times. Sony makes no mention of any improvements to the fundamental Vegas engine. In our tests it seems to perform very much like Vegas Pro 12. Projects that experience hiccups in 12 performed just the same in Vegas 13.

Our favorite new feature of Vegas Pro 13 is the multi-tool pop up menu that is now located beneath the timeline. It’s a subtle change that’s implemented in a seamless way that feels instantly familiar and is very handy.  

The CALM loudness meters are a nice addition to Vegas Pro that adds a level of confidence when mastering assets for broadcast distribution. However, considering the Vegas pedigree as an audio platform from the beginning, this should be a rev upgrade to Vegas Pro 11 and 12 users anyway.

Project archiving is useful. Despite our best efforts in the past we always seem to be missing a file in our manually created archives. Again, should have been a rev upgrade.

Vegas Pro Connect seems like the product team was told it had to incorporate a mobile app somehow to make the platform more relevant. We think this feature is good intentioned but would require more work on the client side than necessary. A simple conversation to discuss the edit is faster and easier. We don’t think we’ll ever use this and it’s certainly not a reason to upgrade to Vegas Pro 13.   

Overall we’re unimpressed with Vegas Pro 13. The features we enjoy seem like revision rather than release updates. We’re disappointed because Vegas is still one of our favorite NLEs that we use on a regular basis. The feature set is extremely robust and it's still the most intutive NLE on the market.  In our view Sony missed a major opportunity here. Our advice would be to focus on exploiting workstation horsepower and provide the most versatile and stable NLE on the market. Internally the code name for Vegas 14 should be Kevlar.  The CALM meters, Archiving and Multitool menue are all nice additions but please, no more goofy iPad collaboration features.  

For more information and all the specs visit Sony Creative Software.

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