Panny’s new AJ-HPX3000 P2 versus RED-1.


Panasonic announced the nearly $50,000 AJ-HPX3000 to a fanfare of applause from P2 fans who laud the new camcorder’s 2/3 image sensors, 10-bit processing, full 1080i recording capability and two improvements to the basic P2 workflow- lots of slots and AVC-Intra recording for higher quality and longer record time on the cramped P2 cards.

The question is, why?



Every time I think of P2 (and any similarly size-limited and cost absorbent flash media system) an image pops into my mind. It’s a silly image that you would only see at a country fair- where silly games a played. The one I’m thinking about is where contestants have a dozen eggs (your footage) and they have to shuttle it between one egg carton (your camcorder) and the destination (your hard drive) and to do it, they are given teaspoons and have run run across a bumpy, grassy field.

It it hilarious to see all sorts of normal folk try their darndest to keep those eggs on those spoons. The game involves the spoons, but, would you deliberately do this at home to carry eggs between the fridge and the stove? One at a time?  What if the farmers carried the eggs, one at a time, in teaspoons, around the farm before packing them in egg cartons for shipping? You’d say it’s pretty stupid and they should just put the eggs in an egg crate. That way they are immediately stored, and carried in the same container – all at once. Not a little bit at a time.

So why would you pay so much money for a P2 storage system to carry the footage that short way between the camcorder and a hard drive already sitting there just to receive the footage, instead of just shooting the footage right onto a hard drive in the first place?


 My second thought is that RED is now shipping.

RED is a 12 Megapixel camcorder that records RAW images to any number of hard drives, RAIDs or even a $200 compact flash card, if you really feel the need to record to flash media for some inexplicable reason.  The reason I bring up RED here is because the $50,000 camcorder Panasonic announced will record a 2 megapixel progressive image 30 frames a second using AVC-Intra compression.

redflash.jpgRED will record a 12 Megapixel progressive image up to 60 times a second and give you all the RAW data off the image sensor so you can push and pull it without having to deal with any AVC compression at all… and do it for under $20,000.

RED will also allow you to “downsample” the 12 megapixels the camera head has and record “only” 1080 HDTV footage, using various forms of compression that you get to choose, at many more frame rates that you get to choose, on any number of recording formats that you get to choose, for a price that lets you buy two camcorders and accessories for the price of one Panasonic HPX3000.

I prefer choice. I prefer recording to a hard drive. I prefer a lower price. I prefer greater capability.

RED is completely changing the game and the major players haven’t figured it out yet.
Or, until RED is shipping the RED-1 in quantity, the rest of the industry will keep doing what they can to earn your dollar. (lots of your dollars)

6 thoughts on “Panny’s new AJ-HPX3000 P2 versus RED-1.

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  1. You’ve got to love the comparison, even though I think a more realistic ‘workable” RED camera would cost is around $35,000. I guess it depends on how you configure.

    Ironically, the only recording method available right now is Compact Flash – your favorite. But at least they’re a standard, off-the-shelf item, that is affected by consumer pricing not SxS and P2 proprietary pricing, so 8 GB of Compact Flash is, what, $150? (I haven’t priced it – never filled more than a 1 GB Flash card).

    Some good thoughts. I prefer optical media so I have “the source”, but I’ll settle for RAID 5 archives.


  2. As I have written in other posts, I also prefer optical media and really like Sony’s Professional Disk solution. It offers a lot of randomly accessible space on affordable, archival material. (Well, the longevity of user re-recordable optical media has not yet reached the longevity of tape, but I hold hope that BluRay holds up better than DVD-R has so far, which is to say, not as well as I had hoped.)

    As for small flash…
    I have personally used a single digital still to shoot both stills and video and shot over 8g on various trips. Video fills up flash media fast, especially when the digital still camera uses MJPEG for the compressor.

    I use a digital still as opposed to a digital video that can also shoot stills because I find that a digital still camera shoots far better still images than a video camcorder does- no matter the resolution. Video from a trip is nice to have, but I would absolutely pick high resolution stills over video if I had to pick just one.

    Red’s certified 8g compact flash is $200.
    Sandisk Extreme III 16g can be had for $270 from NewEgg.
    Far more affordable than P2 or SxS but slower.
    One needs to determine the rate of the data they’ll try to shove onto their media in real time and then purchase accordingly. (i.e. 60fps 4k RAW _needs_ a multi-drive RAID)

  3. As an owner of both an HPX3000 and a RED one, I should mention that there are several differences beyond the specs that people seldom talk about.

    The HPX-3000 is a full-size HD camcorder with controls similar to, well, full-size HD camcorders. Anyone who’s shot Cine-Alta, Varicam, or even Betacam will feel right at home with it right out of the box and onto their shoulder. TC in, Video out, XLR audio in, white balance, shutter controls, and viewfinder are exactly where you expect and know them to be.

    The RED one touts that it’s a “modular design:” you attach stuff on and configure it as you see fit. This is a good thing, right? Most experienced AC’s and DP’s (who are not techs supplied from the rental house) do NOT see this as an advantage. Especially since much of the RED stuff needs more RED stuff. Just one example: the HDSDI out is a mini-BNC connector, so you need that converter cable and a BNC couple before your LD gets it on his monitor. Not a show-breaker, but just one of the many pleasures of modular design. In short, count on everything taking longer.

    Everyone is all about 4k until it comes to post. The options for editing RED 4k footage are: edit in 4k (and it’ll take FOREVER), or offline in proxy then online in 4k (and it’ll take FOREVER), or simply down-res to a high-quality compromise like Apple Pro-Res or Avid DNxHD in 1080p (a software process that takes FOREVER). And if you’re using anything less than a dual quadcore with 4+ gigs of RAM, keep a suicide hot-line number on hand. I watched the post budget of many projects explode because producers didn’t take RAW 4k file conversion into account.

    Once in post, the disadvantage of the HPX-3000’s recording AVC intra-frame codecs in 1080p isn’t a disadvantage at all. While theoretically not as good as “real 4k RAW footage,” it can transfer into the NLE at faster-than-real-time, and be immediately edited in master-grade quality without hellish file converting. It’s not 4k, but most clients who have literally gone both routes prefer the latter when time and budget in post aren’t unlimited.

    Still 4k Horny? Keep in mind that hundreds of successful films have already been shot and distributed in less than 4. Remember that little film “Star Wars Attack of the Clones”? That footage came from a 1080psf source (the Sony F900) for mainstream, worldwide theatrical release. If it’s good enough for George Lucas, it’s probably good enough for indie film and music videos.

    This is where I’m going to be really unpopular. Have your friend put the two cameras with the same lenses (with either a Pro35 adapter on the 3000 or a B4 on the RED one) on identical monitors side by side and see which one looks better. Since you cannot monitor beyond 1080p anyway, the additional resolution is a null point in this scenario. (And is your final product going to be on a medium over 1080p? If not, the extra resolution from the RED won’t matter then either.) Most undecided clients choose the HPX-3000 over the RED, especially in the area of color accuracy. While single-CMOS cameras like RED have come a long way, the 3-CCD cinema cameras still look better.

    Another complaint is the lack of global shutter on the RED. This is something I’ve yet to see as a problem myself, but have heard from unhappy clients. When extremely fast light (strobes/flashes) are used in combination with high frame rates (did someone say concert video?), the light can be segmented asynchronously within the frame: i.e., the top half of the frame you see the light flash, and on the bottom you do not.

    My conclusion: if you feel like jumping through hoops for the bragging rights of 4k, RED one is your best value bar none, and I’d be more than happy to rent you one. If a work flow with far less hassle and a superior final image is you’re main goal, I think that the HPX-3000 is your best bet bar none, and I’d love to rent you one of those too.

    Either way, they are both exceptional for master-grade cameras without the price tag of Genesis, Viper, or Sony’s F23 or F35… we’ll save that speech for another forum.

  4. I agree with Adam Mills. Well said sir. I had to go through all of this when making my decision to buy either the Red or the HPX3000. After working on a job for Disney and seeing what they had to go through in post, that was enough for me. We shot in 4K and it took two days just to get the footage to the point where they could start to edit. As opposed to the P2 data which has a number of ways to dump the footage initially, then the speed of transferring the data into FCP. Very fast. The new AVC-Intra 100 is wonderful. Oh sorry I should probably tell you that after the Disney job I purchased the HPX3000 with no hesitations or reservations. Even amidst all the hype of the Red and even being questioned by some that worked for me (your typical FullSail Graduate that thinks the Red Camera is like Moses to the DIY filmmaker– most of whom don’t really even have professional experience with editing–especially commercial jobs or really, any jobs with real budgets.) So I guess I can understand and I don’t really blame them. Although I must say, I do get tired of these Red One followers that really have no practical understanding of what it entails to actually work with budgets on a regular basis (ie, post costs, deadlines, etc.) Those that lay waste to all and every post/forum/blog that even mention HD cameras with their “cult-like blind leading the blind” exuberance to the almighty Red One Camera. Jeesh, it might as well be the Holy Grail to them. Little do they know, that if they ever where to be able to actually afford buying a camera of this cost, they’d soon find out about the seemingly endless supply of accessories you’ll need to operate it in the real, fast paced world of commercial production along with music videos or any job in which there is a budget and a producer. Good luck with the “ever so coveted” 4K uncompressed. No one will ever see it. Including you, considering you can’t monitor 4K in the field, you can’t edit in a 4K timeline and you don’t have any TV’s better than 1080P, nah but you’re right, keep bragging about 4K. I suppose you have to if you actually bought one. I’m sure those Filmschool dropouts and PA’s will think you are the MAN!!

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