måndag 28 mars 2011

Sony F3 vs Panasonic HPX2100

Let me start by saying that what I am about to do is not fair. I will now compare two very different cameras, of different generations in a somewhat unjust way. Still – the results had me flabbergasted so I have to share them.

Swedish public television has chosen the Panasonic HPX-2100 as their default HD-camcorder for a lot of productions. The current affairs show that I work for are about to switch to these cameras and the other day we had a quick shoot-out between the HPX-2100 and the Sony PMW-F3 to see how the cheaper F3 stood up against its full size shoulder-mount big brother.

Before I share the results with you I have to lay all cards on the table. I’m beginning to know my F3 pretty well. Therefore I selected Cinegamma 1 for the tests since I knew it would handle the high contrast light situation better than the standard gamma. None of the people present knew the HPX-2100 very well and we could not find any kind of gamma setting to match with the F3. We shot using standard gamma.
The F3 had detail set to -17. About -25 supposedly equals detail off. However the difference should be minimal. The HPX-2100 was set to detail off. This means that the F3 could have had some advantage in using electronic sharpening, although it should be very marginal.
The biggest unfairness in the test is the fact that the F3 is four years younger than the HPX-2100 that was released in the beginning of 2007. The Panasonic also has sensors that have a native resolution of only 1280x720 pixels compared to the 1920x1080-sensor of the F3.
Finally the lens used on the HPX-2100 was a Canon J11e which I believe is not a true HD-lens.

Having said all this I’d still like to point out that I think it is relevant to compare the two cameras. Even though they are from different generations the HPX-2100 with the J11e is still being sold today at €32 000. The F3 is €10 500 and the lens used with it in the test was an old Tokina 28-70 F2.6 that I got on E-bay for €300. The F3 is about 1/3 of the price of the HPX-2100!

So how did they compare? I’ll let the still images speak for themselves with only a few remarks with each image. It's important that you click them to get a full resolution version. The small images below will not let you see much difference. Better still is if you download all the images in a ZIP-file by clicking here.

Panasonic HPX-2100, ungraded.

Sony PMW-F3, ungraded.

Panasonic HPX-2100, ungraded and underexposed.

Panasonic HPX-2100, image gamma-adjusted to compensate for it being underexposed.

Sony PMW-F3, ungraded and underexposed.

Sony PMW-F3, image gamma-adjusted to compensate for it being underexposed.

Panasonic HPX-2100

Sony PMW-F3

Panasonic HPX-2100

Sony PMW-F3

Although the test was not very thorough the difference in latitude, noise-levels and resolution are very obvious. I was also very surprised that the underexposed image of the F3 could be lifted in post without problems whereas the Panasonic image collapsed with noise.
This is especially interesting considering that the Panasonic was recording using the DVCPRO HD codec @100 mbit/s 4:2:2 and the Sony was recording in XDCAM EX 35 mbit/s 4:2:0.
In fact the HPX-2100 looked so bad compared to the F3 that I had serious suspicions that we had gotten some settings on the HPX wrong. I have double checked the settings and listed them below but since we don’t know the camera very well we still might have made some fundamental mistake.
If anybody reading this think we did something wrong or that this test is unfair to the HPX, please comment below. I have absolutely no which to bash Panasonic in general and if for some reason our findings are wrong please let me know!

Here are the settings of the cameras:

Panasonic HPX-2100
Detail off
master gamma 0,45
black gamma off

Sony PMW-F3
Detail -17
Cinegamma 1

1 kommentar:

  1. hello, try to load a gammacurve on the panasonic web site

    yours, xavier