Panasonic’s New AG-HPX370 Camcorder Heads to South Pacific on Amelia Earhart Search

Peabody Award-winning Director of Photography Mark Smith recently purchased Panasonic’s new AG-HPX370 P2 HD shoulder-mount camcorder to use as the primary camera on his third voyage to the remote South Pacific island of Nikumaroro to document Amelia Earhart Expeditions’ archeological research. Also in his equipment pack are an AG-HPX170 P2 HD handheld as his B camera, an AG-HPG20 P2 portable HD recorder/player, an AG-HPG10 P2 Gear viewer/recorder, and an AJ-PCD2 P2 solid-state memory-card drive.

Smith is part of a 16-member team that departed May 18 and is traveling under the aegis of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), an organization that contends that famed aviator Earhart landed and ultimately died on Gardner Island, now known as Nikumaroro. Smith journeyed with the group in 2001 and 2007, on the latter using the HVX200 as his primary camera.

“The ability of the HPX370 to shoot full-raster HD and record in AVC-Intra, the highest-quality origination codec available for an in-camera recording system, coupled with the flexibility of the camcorder for either handheld or tripod-style shooting, made my choice of a main camera easy,” he says. “I wanted to select the best-quality acquisition tool I could fit inside the relatively small working space I need to occupy for this project.”

Another reason he’s using the HPX370 is low power consumption, he says, noting that a 2-lb. battery powers most of a day’s shooting. “As an HPX300 owner, I have enjoyed shooting in AVC-Intra with a fast P2 HD file-based workflow. The new HPX370 offers all those benefits plus even better imaging.

“I have been dealing with tons of legacy footage that is a part of the Earhart project’s archive,” he adds. “Consequently, getting the highest-quality original material tops my list of priorities and is a central reason I’m using the HPX170.”

Smith will shoot in AVC-Intra 100 at 1080/30pN on the HPX370 and in DVCPRO HD 1080/30p on the HPX170. He will use the P2 portable’s HD-SDI input to record AVC-Intra 100 1080/60i from the remotely operated underwater camera. He will use the HPG20 and HPG10 as card readers, with the PCD2 as back-up. He is traveling with hard drives with 16 TB of storage and will routinely offload footage to a CalDigit VR mini bus-powered, two-drive RAID system.

TIGHAR and Smith’s company, o7 Films, are negotiating a feature-length documentary profiling the expeditions’ findings expected to air on a major satellite/cable channel late this year.

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