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)

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5 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. I was really excited about Red when it first came out, but then I did a little research. Red is basically in a beta version right now. We considered becoming early adopters for our production company, but our now leaning heavily toward the HPX3000 for a high quality, digital camera for cinema. There are several inaccuracies with the review.
    1. The red is $17,000 for the sensor. No lens, no viewfinder, no recordeing device, no baseplate. A fully operational red to compare directly to the HPX would probably be $50,000. The test footage on the website was probably shot on something around $100,000.
    2. The red has severe soft-focusing issues, the deal breaker for my company not getting the camera. Most of this is due to the bayer sensor and a crappy lens mount.
    3. There really is no practical workflow for the Red .R32 4k codec. Whereas P2 is plug and play, you cannot edit Red on an Avid system, and it is a tedious process that requires exporting individual frames to edit on Final Cut or Adobe.
    This has led many users to send their Red footage to a pro DI house to convert it into something they can edit. If your going to do that, why not just shoot on film in the first place?
    If I pay $50,000 for a camera, I want to be able to edit footage that night on whatever NLE I choose. The Red might be the camera to completely change the industry…in a few years. But right now the HPX3000 is the only practical choice, for people who are working on a project now.
    Hopefully the Red will work out all of its kinks, but in the meantime, do a little research before writing stupid reviews about egg games and don’t believe all the hype.

  4. Agree with you Jon. The initial review is hardly comparing apples and apples. A fully blown, ready to roll RED system will be around the $50-$60k US mark. If you want to add some high end glass to that, add another $50k. Red hard drives are fine, unless you are working in areas of live music production or shooting gunfire scenes or airplane landings, and then the air compression messes with the hard drive spindles causing dropped frames. Compact Flash is the only truly reliable medium at this stage. I have no doubt that once it comes of age, RED will be the giant slayer of our time, but for off the shelf, ready to go… right now it’s the Panasonic.

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