Panasonic P2 NBCUni Bound; New P2 Camcorder Breaks Price Barrier

By Ken Kerschbaumer

Panasonic celebrated a recently inked deal calling for NBC Universal to standardize on the P2 format across its station group, Telemundo, and CNBC with the introduction of a new P2 HD camcorder, the AG-HPX300, that brings AVC-Intra recording to a new, affordable price point.

“Customers wanted HD-quality, interchangeable lenses; the ability to shoot in both SD and HD; and an affordable studio configuration for less than $10,000,” says Joe Facchini, Panasonic Broadcast director of product marketing. The new camcorder clocks in at $10,700 complete with Fujinon lens.

With three ⅓-inch, 2.2-megapixel 3MOS sensors, the camcorder delivers progressive images at up to 100 Mbps, enough bandwidth for D5 master quality. A 50-Mbps mode is also available for quality demands more suitable for sports and news reporting.

“The newly developed sensor has 1920×1080 resolution and has no loss of sensitivity,” adds Facchini. “It also has chromatic-aberration compensation [CAC] that works between the lens and camera and compensates for registration error and minimizes neighboring blur.” CAC was previously only found in the higher-end Varicam lineup.

A dynamic-range-stretch (DRS) feature is also available, taking an average light level across the image and compensating for images that are too light or too dark by adjusting the aperture and using knee control to suppress blocking in shadow areas.

In other Panasonic new-product news, Bob Harris, Panasonic Broadcast VP of marketing and product development, says the AG-HPG20 master-quality field recorder is a highly flexible product that can bridge AVC-Intra 10-bit recording and playback to higher-quality formats. More important, if the systems two P2 card slots each hold a 64-GB P2 card, it can provide enough HD recording time for longer sporting events. A USB 2.0 connection allows for material to be backed up on external storage devices. The $5,300 unit will be available in March.

Also look for the AJ-PCD35 P2 memory-card drive. The unit can hold up to five P2 cards and, via a PCIe Interface, can increase the transfer speed of P2 content. The unit costs $2,200 and is shipping now.

And for those teams and sports networks in a real hurry, the AJ-HRW10 P2 Rapid Writer can take video and audio files of a P2 card and copy them onto a hard drive (either single or mirrored drives) at the press of a button. A Gigabit Ethernet port enables rapid network transfer speeds, and a 5-inch touch-screen display can show clip previews for confidence monitoring. It supports AVC-Intra and DVCPRO HD and will ship in April for $9,995.

Panasonic also introduced a new product designed to warm the hearts of sports camera operators who shoot in cold temperatures. The AJ-CVF100G color viewfinder is a new LCOS display that has a built-in heater for operating in low temperatures and has fast motion response and smooth pixels. It’s designed to be used with the P2 VariCam series, the AJ-HPX3000 and AJ-HPX2000 P2 HD camcorders, and the AJ-HDX900 DVCPRO HD camcorder.

Lastly, venue video professionals and broadcasters on the hunt for a ⅔-inch 3-CCD HD convertible camera have a new option in the AW-HE870. “It delivers ⅔-inch quality at a more affordable price,” says Harris. Configurable with most ⅔-inch HD or SD motor-drive zoom lenses, the 2.6-pound camera has 14-bit AD and 38-bit DSP processing with spatial offset.

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