Panasonic AG-HPX255 P2 HD Handheld Camcorder

Manufacturer: Panasonic
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The Panasonic AG-HPX255 P2 HD Handheld Camcorder is a compact professional camcorder that offers a bounty of capabilities in a small (5.5 lb) package. Not only can you record to the extremely high-quality AVC-Intra 100 Mb/s (10-bit 4:2:2) codec, but you can also control the camcorder's settings remotely in a studio configuration and integrate it into an HD-SDI-based video system.

Featuring an integrated 22x zoom lens and 2.2 Mp 1/3"-type 3MOS imagers, the versatile HPX255 also records 50 Mb/s AVC-Intra and several flavors of DVCPRO (including DVCPRO HD) as well as DV. A variety of frame rates are possible in DVCPRO modes, for native slow- and fast-motion effects. Advanced monitoring and help with focusing are possible thanks to the vectorscope, waveform, Focus Assist, and Focus in Red features of the camcorder.

The HPX255 has a remote port that makes it instantly compatible with Panasonic's AG-EC4G Extension Control Unit (sold separately), which provides remote control over camera settings such as gain, white balance, shutter speed, iris, menu settings, recording functions, and more. This makes the camera suitable for double duty as a field/studio camcorder at smaller news stations, educational institutions, and houses of worship. The genlock input, timecode I/O, and HD-SDI output will help integrate it into modern video systems.

For video that will later endure heavy processing in the form of effects and other processes, the intra-frame compression options of the HPX255 are crucial. The AVC-Intra 100 codec is a perfect choice for any projects that involve tasks such as greenscreen shooting. The HPX255 could also thrive as the go-to model for a freelance videographer who does a variety of jobs, from SD to HD and with support for PAL/NTSC signal systems, it will cross oceans without missing a beat. Its compact size makes it hard to leave at home.

For rock-solid reliability, professional P2 cards (sold separately) provide more peace of mind than their SD brethren from the world of mass-market consumer electronics. The camera features two P2 card slots and allows you to record sequentially, with hot-swapping supported.

Panasonic Optical Technology
The HPX255's high-performance 22x zoom lens was designed specifically for professional HD video production. Sharing the wide-angle capability found in the DVX and HVX series, the lens offers some additional telephoto capability for a 28-616mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range. The lens combines 18 elements in 12 groups and adds an ultra-high refractive (UHR) glass element, a low-dispersion element, and aspheric elements. Unique to Panasonic, Chromatic Aberration Compensation (CAC) technology minimizes color bleeding in the surrounding image and achieves rich expression by way of finely rendered nuances and excellent shading
Ready for Remote Operation
The HPX255 has a remote terminal for the optional AG-EC5G Extension Control Unit (not included). Image quality can be adjusted and image acquisition can be controlled while viewing the monitor at a remote location. This handheld unit also supports studio integration. The camcorder also features genlock input and timecode I/O to enable multi-camera synchro shooting, and it has both HD-SDI and HDMI outputs
Manual Control Rings
Three manual rings mechanical (cam-driven) zoom, focus, and iris allow you to operate as if you've got an interchangeable-lens camcorder, for fine, tactile control over the parameters of the captured image
Turbo Auto Focus
Meanwhile, if you're not operating in full manual mode with the HPX255, there's a turbo-speed one-push auto focus capability, which ensures the camcorder quickly attains focus
Optical Image Stabilization
To compensate for any shaking of the operator's hand, the HPX255 features an optical image stabilizer (OIS)
High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise 3MOS Image Sensor
Thanks to Progressive Advanced Processing (PAP) technology, high sensitivity up to F10 (F11 in 50 Hz mode) is possible, for low-noise performance in dimly lit environments. The 1/3-type 2.2 Mp 3MOS sensor features the same Ultra Luminance Technology (ULT) that's incorporated in Panasonic's shoulder-mount P2 HD broadcast camcorders. This sensor maximizes the performance of the lens and the signal processing circuit in standard conditions
Flash Band Compensation
The CMOS sensor system uses a rolling shutter system that sequentially scans each line of pixels, thereby lowering power consumption vs. CCD cameras and enabling high-speed drive. But because the exposure timing differs for each line, when an external flash is used, it tends to produce images with a "divided" level of brightness from top to bottom. The HPX255 ameliorates this "flash-band effect": it detects by comparing frame pairs and compensates to adjust the level
20-Bit Digital Signal Processor
The AG-HPX255's high-performance 20-bit DSP handles rendering processes such as gamma and detail-enhancement functions with uncommon precision
Dynamic Range Stretch (DRS)
The DRS function automatically suppresses blocked shadows and blown highlights in scenes that involve wildly varying contrast levels (such as indoor vs. outdoor elements in the same frame). DRS estimates a gamma curve and knee slope to match the contrast of each pixel and applies them in real time, producing excellent gradation for each shade and minimizing blocked shadows and blown highlights
Seven-Mode Gamma for Rich Gradation
Drawing upon the technology of the high-end VariCam line, the HPX255 features gamma functions for seven shooting scenarios, including two cinema modes: HD NORM (for standard HD recording), LOW (flattens out a high-contrast scene); SD NORM (for standard SD recording); HIGH (softens contrast and expands the tone of dark parts, making an image brighter); B.PRESS (sharpens the contrast compared to LOW); CINE-LIKE D (prioritizes dynamic range); and CINE-LIKE V (prioritizes contrast)
Other Camera Image Settings
The camera's shutter speed is variable from 1/6 to 1/2000 second, plus there's a Synchro Scan function. As with gamma, matrix setting includes a Cine-Like mode. H & V detail levels are adjustable, as are detail coring and skin-tone detail. That's not all: chroma level, chroma phase, color temperature, and master pedestal are all adjustable as well. The camera offers four settings for knee point: Auto, Low, Mid, and High
Four-Position Optical ND Filter
A built-in four-position optical neutral density filter wheel offers the following choices: off, 1/4 ND, 1/16 ND, and 1/64 ND
Focus Assist Function
A convenient Focus Assist button expands the center of the LCD screen, allowing you to check for correct focus quickly & easily. A Focus Bar that indicates the focus level can be displayed on the LCD
Focus in Red
Another form of Focus Assist is Focus in Red, which offers color-on peaking and a focus bar that can be used while recording
Scene File / User File
The HPX255 features a dial for "Set Scene," which allows you to choose an appropriate matrix of settings instantaneously. You can modify the six preset files if you'd like, one set of which can be stored internally in the camcorder, and four more can be stored on an SD memory card
Three-Position Gain Selector + Super Gain
The three-position Gain Selector contains Low, Medium, and High settings. To each setting you can assign gain value of 0, +3, +6, +9, +12, +15, and +18 dB. Also, there are Super Gain settings of +24 and +30 dB
Simplified Waveform & Vectorscope
The AJ-HPX255 has waveform and vectorscope display functions for analyzing a captured video signal on the LCD
Five User Buttons
A total of five user buttons can be set to trigger any selection of 18 different camera functions
Full-Pixel, Full-Sample AVC-Intra Recording (10-Bit, 4:2:2)
The HPX255 offers 10-bit AVC-Intra recording (at both 100 and 50 Mb/s). Based on highly advanced MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 compression, this codec employs intra-frame compression, which results in a high image quality especially in the edit suite, where inter-frame codecs can start to break down. Both AVC-Intra 100 and 50 modes are offered as is DVCPRO HD, for compatibility with that very popular format. For 1080i/p, AVC-Intra 100 uses full-pixel 1920 x 1080 frames, with 10-bit quantization (4:2:2). The very bit-efficient AVC-Intra 50 codec records 1440 x 1080 video at 10-bit, 4:2:0
Native Recording & Pulldown Modes with PAL/NTSC Support
For cinematic 24-frame-per-second projects, the HPX255 supports 1080p recording at 23.98 fps (29.97 fps is also possible). For PAL regions, the camcorder is capable of recording at 1080/25pN and 720/25pN. The camcorder also records natively (without pulldown) in 720p modes, which results in recording efficiency that allows you to record for 2 to 2.5 times the duration allowed by pulldown recording. In pulldown mode with the DVCPRO HD codec, the camera applies a 2:3 pulldown to 23.98p, and a 2:2 pulldown to 29.97p, to record 1080/59.94i or 720/59.94p and 1080/25p over 50i or 720/25p over 50p. With 2:3:3:2 advanced pulldown, the 23.98pA mode is supported, allowing editing on many NLE systems with little image degradation. The camcorder also features a 59.94/50 Hz selector for worldwide compatibility and SD image acquisition with either 480 or 576 lines and aspect ratio conversion (select Side Crop, Letter Box, or Squeeze). This is an internationally compatible camcorder that can fit seamlessly into almost any production workflow
High-Quality 4-Channel Audio
The AG-HPX255 records high-quality 16-bit audio on all four channels. Freely select the audio source for each channel, choosing from built-in mic, external mic, and line in. Adjust the volume level for each channel
Rock-Solid Recording with P2 Cards
P2 cards are built tough for broadcast applications this is not a consumer storage technology that migrated into the professional world. P2 offers 64 GB capacity and resists impact, vibration, and temperature changes. The recording format withstands repeated recording and initialization cycles for an extended product lifetime. The connector section of the card is designed for the type of blithe insertion and removal that is inevitable on a high-pressure production. For a solid-state recording format, P2 is downright venerable, with a proven track record in the worlds of movie production and broadcast
Double-Slot P2 Card System
You can record to one P2 card at a time, with the second one remaining in stand by. You can also choose Card Select mode, which allows the recording slot to be switched in Stand-by mode, and Hot-Swap Recording, in which the card in the Stand-by slot can be exchanged while the camcorder is recording to the other card
MXF File-Based Recording
File-based recording enables data transfers that are much faster than real time. Files recorded to the HPX255's P2 cards have MXF wrappers, which are compatible with all major nonlinear editing systems. File-based recording to memory cards allows for high-speed starts, recording starts with no need for cueing, and protection against accidental data overwriting
Proxy Recording Support
The HPX255 supports the optional Focus FS-P250 proxy recorder (sold separately), which can help speed your editing workflow by allowing you to edit bit-efficient proxy codecs immediately upon removing the unit from the camera. The camcorder also supports the optional Panasonic AJ-WM30 Wireless System (sold separately), which uses WiFi to allow wireless metadata input/display and proxy playback on iPads, iPhones, and PCs
Variable Frame Rates, Even in 1080p
Like the popular VariCam line of professional camcorders, the HPX255 features variable frame rate (VFR) "overcranked" and "undercranked" recording to a wide variety of frame rates (see Specifications for details). The result is cinematic slow-motion and quick-motion effects of the type used widely in TV commercials and cinematic productions
Clip Thumbnail Display & Clip Editing
Recorded clips are automatically allocated a thumbnail image and metadata. This lets you display a visual representation of the clip on the LCD, delete clips, and confirm or edit metadata (using the built-in Software Keyboard function). You can delete the last clip with a single touch, also with a single button press, and check the beginning and ending of the most recently recorded clip
Shot Market & Text Memo
Clips can be marked during or after recording. When mounted to a PC using the downloadable P2 Viewer Windows application, the user can view only marked clips if desired. Text memos can be posted to any scene of a clip (up to 100 in all) for a digital version of "sticky" notes
One-Clip Rec Mode
Record up to 99 cuts as a single file in One-Clip Rec mode. A text memo is automatically attached at each start-record point, making it easy to find desired cuts within the clip once you're in the edit suite working with a single, unified file
Other Recording Modes
Loop Rec repeatedly re-records a particular recurring time slot, always maintaining a recording of the most recent period. Pre-Rec continuously stores in standby mode up to 3 seconds of HD video (or 7 seconds of SD), and this pre-record cache is only recorded to the P2 card once you press Record. This helps you get the shot every time, even if you "miss" the crucial moment by a couple seconds. Interval Rec gives you automatic intermittent recording based on a set interval and recording time. One-Shot Rec captures a single frame useful for animations. Time Stamp appends the date and time onto recorded images, which is a crucial feature for evidential images
Multi-Camera Synchronization
The AG-HPX255 features every capability you'd want for synchronizing more than one camera for multi-camera shoots: SMPTE time code generator/reader, time code input and output, and genlock input
Video Outputs: SDI, HDMI & More
SDI output in HD and SD allows camera-through output during HD/SD recording, or outputs high-quality 10-bit, 4:2:2 images for playback of AVC-Intra footage. As you'd expect, SDI output includes embedded audio and supports Record Stop/Start linked backup recording with a Panasonic recorder equipped with an HD-SDI input. When outputting SD-SDI down-converted from an HD source, Aspect Ratio Conversion mode can also be selected. In addition, the HPX255 gives you HDMI output for live monitoring and for playback on compatible HDTV screens, as well as SD composite output that downconverts recorded HD files
Other Interfaces
Both "host" and "device" USB 2.0 connections are included on the HPX255, so you can offload data to a laptop or P2 deck or directly to and from a hard drive. On the LCD monitor, you can even view thumbnails of P2 files saved to the external hard drive. In addition, the FireWire (IEEE 1394) port enables you to input or output a DVCPRO (including DVCPRO HD) or DV stream. There's a camera remote input for controlling focus, iris, zoom, and REC stop/start, and two-channel XLR audio mic/line inputs supporting 48V phantom power
Stylishly Designed for Mobility
The compact, stylish HPX255 has a similar form factor to the popular HVX200, but the handle grip and LCD position are shifted forward to effect an overall better weight balance for the camcorder, improving the visibility of the screen and enabling you to shoot comfortably for longer periods of time. The HPX255 chassis is composed of die-cast magnesium alloy for rugged durability
High-Resolution, High-Brightness Color Viewfinder & LCD
The AG-HPX255's color electronic viewfinder uses a 0.45", 1,226,000-dot equivalent (852 x 480 x 3 [RGB]) LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) display panel. It delivers bright, detailed, high-res images and a high response speed. The camcorder's 3.45" LCD monitor has is an approximately 921,000-dot (1920 x 480) high-resolution panel
Low-Angle Shots
On the upper part of the handle grip you'll find both the Rec Start/Stop button and a lens zoom speed control (three speed levels). This assures easy, comfortable shooting at low angles
LCD Monitor Mirror Mode
The LCD monitor's mirror mode is extremely convenient for shooting interviews
Workflow Versatility
The Panasonic P2 family includes many decks and mobile storage units, providing a wealth of options for offloading, field editing, and cutting back in the edit room. In addition, the file-based nature of the HPX255's acquisition enables recorded video to be integrated into IT-based infrastructure, for unlimited options for sharing and distributing P2 content
White Balance Functions
The camera features two values (A/B) for white balance memory and one preset value. There's also an ATW (auto tracing white balance) function
Select any two zebra levels from 50% to 100% (in 1% steps)
Y-GET Brightness Check
The camera's Y-GET function measures the brightness at the screen center and displays precise numerical data
Tally Lamps
Tally lamps are provided on the front and rear of the HPX255