After nearly six years, Panasonic is finally releasing a true HD successor to the popular but aging AG-DVX100. The US$6000 AG-HMC150 shares triple CCDs, optical image stabilisation, and audio capability with the DVX100, but adds a variety of HD formats including 1080/60i, 1080/30p, and 1080/24p. Panasonic has confirmed a basic 13Mbps recording mode but hasn't given a firm number for the "enhanced mode" for "higher-level use." Hopefully it will be closer to the AVCHD maximum 24Mbps and show what the format is really capable of. It'll use the same SDHC cards you'd use in a basic point-and-shoot. Jump for the press release.
PANASONIC ANNOUNCES ADVANCED PROFESSIONAL AVCHD AG-HMC150 HANDHELD HD CAMCORDER
SECAUCUS, NJ (February 13, 2008) - Panasonic announces a new addition to its growing professional AVCHD product line that capitalizes on the phenomenal success of its popular DV-based AG-DVX100. The new, affordable AG-HMC150 handheld is scheduled for shipment later this year.
The HMC150 is designed to provide enhanced HD production capabilities for video enthusiasts who desire professional features, extended recording capability and the fast, simple and highly reliable workflow offered by tapeless, solid-state recording. The HMC150 features three native 16:9 progressive 1/3" CCD imagers with an optical image stabilization (O.I.S.) function to ensure stable shooting and a 28mm Leica Dicomar wide-angle zoom lens (35MM equivalent). The HMC150 handheld offers 1080i and 720p recording at 13Mbps, comparable to current HDV compression formats with bit rates of 25Mbps. In addition, an enhanced mode with a higher bit rate is planned to be incorporated into the HMC150 for higher-level use. It supports a full range of HD formats including 1080/60i, 1080/50i, 1080/30p, 1080/25p, 1080/24p native; 720/60p, 720/50p, 720/30p, 720/25p, 720/24p native; and it is 50Hz/59.94Hz switchable.
The advanced handheld utilizes the second-generation long GOP HD standard called AVCHD. Based on MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 high profile encoding, AVCHD provides a near doubling of bandwidth efficiency and considerably improved video performance over the older MPEG-2 compression used in HDV formats. Announced by Panasonic and Sony, this industry standard format is now supported by over 30 companies and implemented in numerous camcorders, NLE systems and consumer HD playback devices.
The HMC150 offers professional HD performance with the simplicity of a digital still camera. Since the solid-state handheld records onto SD and SDHC memory cards, professionals can benefit from the reliability and random access of tapeless recording and capitalize on the cost advantages, widespread availability, and growing capacity of standard SD consumer cards. Using the newly announced 32GB SDHC memory card and the camcorder's 6Mbps recording mode, users can acquire up to 12 hours of HD video and audio on a single SD card.
Additional features of the HMC150 include professional XLR audio input connections and a wide range of data and signal interfaces including HDMI out, USB2.0, component out (D terminal), composite out and RCA audio out jacks, a 3.5-inch LCD monitor to display thumbnail images for quick viewing and playback, and a Time Code/User Bits menu. The camera also has remote jacks for focus iris and start/stop functions, a pre-record feature that allows the camera to capture footage occurring immediately before real-time recording begins, and a time/date stamp menu option for documentation purposes.
Panasonic's AVCHD camera line brings the benefits of solid-state recording to budget-conscious professionals. Like digital still photography, recording onto SD/SDHC card offers a fast and simple IT-compatible workflow with ultra-reliable performance and resistance to shock, vibration and extreme temperatures and weather. SD and SDHC memory cards are inexpensive and widely available and can be reused repeatedly. Since AVCHD records video as digital data files, content can be transferred and stored on affordable, high-capacity hard disk drives (HDD) and optical storage media and transferred to future storage media as technology advances.
The HMC150 will be available this fall at a price to be announced.