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|Panasonic's P2 camera deck|
SD cameras are still set to raise a ruckus on the show floor, with the two tapeless ENG alternatives that squared off last year continuing to throw blows at each other. Sony’s NAB line-up will focus attention on XDCAM, its just-shipped camcorder format that records to a 23.3 GB blue-laser disc along with a low-bitrate proxy stream for editing. (The PDW510 DVCAM-only model lists for $19,900, while the PDW530 adds MPEG IMX and runs $34,000.) Meanwhile, rival Panasonic will campaign for the DVCPRO P2 system, which records to a set of up to five solid-state memory cards that are inserted into the camera itself. (The AJ-PDX800 DVCPRO P2 camcorder lists for $19,500 and ships in May.)
|Panasonic's P2 camera|
Both systems have a clear path to HD, which will be adopted as soon as it becomes cost-effective to release new media types (dual-layer XDCAM discs or higher-density P2 memory cards) that have the capacity to handle it. Look for Sony, at least, to show an early version of HD XDCAM at its booth, with production models slated for no sooner than 2005. (Again highlighting the early demand for 24p SD acquisition, Sony is offering an optional 24p card for the XDCAM line at a list price of around $2500.) Panasonic also emphasizes the frame-rate independence of P2 media and says it could be applied to a VariCam, for example, once capacities increase and prices come down.
If you’re looking at either XDCAM or P2, the real questions have to do with your comfort level with the different technologies and their implications on workflow. Both systems offer you nonlinear access to your clips, which you can select from thumbnails on the camera’s LCD screen. Buying a P2 system might mean you’ll be treating data like a hot potato — pull the stuff you need off of those expensive memory cards as quickly as possible so you can stick them back in the camera and shoot more footage. To make this as painless as possible, Panasonic also has the AJ-PCD10 drive, which holds five P2 cards, as well as the AJ-SPD850 P2 studio recorder, which can accommodate a DVD burner — allowing data to be archived to cheap discs 4 GB at a time.
Buying an XDCAM system makes it easier to use your in-camera media for on-the-shelf storage, at least as long as you’re comfortable spending $30 a pop for 23 GB discs. (In terms of capacity, the two formats are similar. Five 4 GB P2 cards will hold 80 minutes of DVCPRO 25 or 40 minutes of DVCPRO 50 footage, while one XDCAM disc holds 85 minutes of DVCAM video, and 75, 55 or 45 minutes of MPEG IMX video at 30, 40 and 50 Mb/sec, respectively.) Elsewhere in the SD realm, Panasonic is busy with the introduction of the AJ-SDC615 DVCPRO and AJ-SDC905 DVCPRO50 camcorders, the first DVCPRO cameras with IEEE-1394 I/O. They’re designed to replace Betacam SP units and ship in October and November for $14,900 and $18,900, respectively.
The AG-DVX100 and DVX100A are popular cameras among indie filmmakers, but shooting anamorphic widescreen images can drive you crazy. Century Optics is debuting a 16x9 widescreen eyepiece for both cameras that slips on the viewfinder and unsqueezes the anamorphic image. Century is also showing the new 2x HR Tele-Converter for 27mm-37mm front-thread camcorders as well as the 1.6x LC Tele-Converter and .8X LC Wide-Converter for 18x/19x Canon IF Pro and 10x/20x Fujinon Pro Classic lenses.
Lens Me Your Ear
Cooke Optics is introducing its new S4/i Electronic Lens system, which gives DPs and camera operators real-time information on lens setting, focusing distance, aperture and depth-of-field. The system is compatible with the Arricam Lens Data System, which means information from the Cooke S4/i will be available directly from the Arri Lens Mount contacts. The readout also shows entrance pupil and angle of view, which can lead to significant time savings on a motion-control shoot.
Finally, how much zoom do you need? Panavision is introducing a 300:1 zoom lens (7mm to 2100mm) targeted at the sports broadcasting, news gathering, homeland security and surveillance markets. The company began researching the lens four years ago, and has applied for a patent on the proprietary design. The lens will ship later this year at a price to be announced. Also at NAB will be Fujinon’s HA18x7.6BERM/BERD, a new 7.6 mm to 137mm ENG/EFP HD zoom lens. The HAs18x7.6MD is a version of the same lens designed specifically for remote-control applications such as sports and robotic studios.
Big Questions You’ll Want
the Answers To
1. How will new ideas in image
acquisition like P2 and XDCAM
affect your workflow?
2. Where’s the sweet spot
in HD price to performance?
3. What’s the promise of next-
generation systems like the
Dalsa Origin and the Arri D-20?
4. That camera may shoot HD,
but does it shoot 24P?
5. How viable is HDV?
Source:Film & Video Magazine - PBIMedia, Inc.. All Rights Reserved