Announced at NAB this week: the Panasonic HMC150. This might, I think, be the camera which does for AVCHD encoding and flash card recording what the legendary Sony PD150 did for DV and miniDV tape. That is: get enough things right to make it a genuinely viable workflow.
The PD150 was the first camera that was small, light, and simple enough for production muppets like myself to use, that still produced more-or-less broadcastable pictures, and that hooked up to proper microphones. Sony sold bucketloads of them; I have one, and it still rocks.
HDV, in comparison, has always felt like a bit of a kludge. DV compression was already pretty nasty, and extending it to high-def produces some fairly grim failure cases. The cameras vary and some are rather good, but while tape workflows are fine for broadcast post-production and archiving, they’re clunky and restricting for fast turn-around web video. Specifically, capturing in real time starts to feel archaic when you’re standing in a lab with a class full of teenagers.
Over in the domestic world, meanwhile, there’s a revolution going on, with more and more cameras recording to flash cards. Convenient, efficient, but… ‘consumer.’ Eu.
The HMC150 (surely the ‘150’ is no accident?) looks like a proper ‘pro’ flash media camera: proper audio inputs, likely to have decent low-light performance, wide-angle lens, zoom ring with bobble thing on it.
AVCHD is still a pain to work with, but nevertheless… this could be it, folks. This could be it.
Question is: do I buy a Canon A1 in the near future, or tough it out until the autumn and jump to the Panasonic? Tricky…