Video Accessories Misc

Panasonic AG-HVX200 Digital Video Camera with P2 Card Storage

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

If you have watched high definition TV commercials in the past couple of years, you have seen video material shot with the Panasonic AG-HVX200. Although its native resolution is 720p instead of 1080i, you probably did not notice the difference between the sharpness in the commercials and the TV program that was supported by the commercials. It is a standard.

The reason this camera is a standard equipment is that (1) it is an excellent quality, very flexible camera, and (2) it is not nearly as expensive as high definition studio cameras ($50,000). Probably also, you don't care whether or not the soup cans, shirts on sale at the department store, or the latest model automobile is being shown in its ultimate detail.

The Design

The AG-HVX200 is a three-chip (CCD) camera with a big (f/1.6) Leica lens and XLR inputs for professional microphones.

A front left view of the camera is shown below. You can see the included lens shade, focus and zoom rings on the lens, and a number of camera controls along the side (click the photos to see larger versions that show the detail).

Specifications

  • Codecs: DVCPRO HD; DV
  • Sensor: Three 0.33" CCD
  • Native Resolution: 1,280x720p
  • Recording Bit Rate: 100 Mbps
  • LCD Screen: 3.5" Diagonal External;
    0.3" Diagonal Internal
  • Storage: P2 Card, DV Tape
  • Lens: Leica Dicomar; 4.2mm-55mm;
    f/1.6; 82mm Filter Diameter
  • Gain Settings: 0/+3/+6/+9/+12/+18 dB
  • Recording Modes: 1080i, 720p60, 720p30, 720p24, 480i
  • Outputs: Firewire, Component, USB 2.0
  • Remote Control Included
  • Dimensions: 7.1" H x 6.6" W x 15.4" D
  • Weight: 6.5 Pounds
  • MSRP: $5,995 USA (P2 Memory Cards are Additional)
  • Panasonic

More detail of the controls along the left side of the camera are shown in the photo below. Besides the Focus Assist and White Balance buttons that you might find on most video cameras, there are also ND (Neutral Density) filters for use when the lighting is too bright, and the Gain button which boosts the sensitivity in dark environments.

Along the top of the camera in this photo are the buttons used to access the menu and its options. You can see some user buttons along the bottom right, which stores memory settings of preferences for different users. The LCD panel is closed in the photo.

When the LCD screen is open, a panel of buttons is revealed underneath. These are mostly to do with controlling inputs and also to adjust color (Bars) and brightness (Zebra). At the bottom is the Auto/Manual selector. When it is set to Auto, you really cannot adjust very many things. I suspect that pros never use the Auto setting.

Along the right side on the top is the zoom toggle, and the record button (red) is on the rear. You can see a USB 2.0 port to the left of the record button.

panasonic-ag-hvx200-video-camera-front-right-top.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the rear of the camera, shown below, are adjustments for the sound recording level and a switch for setting the camera so that you can download the recorded files from the P2 card into a PC for editing. You can also see the very large battery at the bottom and two slots for P2 cards at the top, just underneath the eyepiece for the internal monitor LCD screen. That eyepiece is as big as it looks. It consists of very hiqh quality optics, and it tilts upward for viewing at when the camera is held at chest height. It takes quite awhile for the battery to charge, but it lasts a very long time in use. However, I am sure that pros carry an extra fully charged battery to switch over during shooting sessions.

Just the eyepiece for the internal monitor is probably as expensive as the camera lens on some of the $1,000 video cameras. It has coated elements and is very sharp.

All in all, this is a beautifully constructed camera and is nicely balanced. I took some shots holding it with one hand low to the ground while I was walking, and it was a snap to keep it perfectly horizontal. I know there are some other cameras out there that tend to roll to one side or the other, but this one does not do that.

Here is the remote control. The main thing I would use this for is starting and stopping the camera from across the room if I were taking group videos at a family dinner. You can also remote zoom the lens.