Well, this announcement has come under the radar, but apparently Panasonic will be shipping a new professional-level P2 camera called the HPX3100....in October. There's no price mentioned in the official announcement (right here), so it's hard to judge the whole package, but here are some highlights:
- It's built around a new 1080 2/3" CCD. The good news is that this is a CCD, not a CMOS chip, so rolling shutter artifacts and image skewing during pans should be non-existent. The bad news is that the chip may not support shooting 720....looks like only 1080 and SD modes are supported, but don't take that as gospel yet.
- The new CCD uses 23% less power than "conventional" 2/3" CCD pro cameras. That would probably have the camera consuming about 30-35 watts.
- It looks like there's no support for shooting up to 60fps, for slow mo.
- The camera weights about 8.6 pounds, which is roughly 2 pounds lighter than previous top-line P2 cameras. That's nice.
- You'll be able to add a small encoding board that records proxy videos (smaller, low-res versions of your master footage) compatible with Final Cut Pro. Now that's interesting. Panasonic currently has a proxy board that records MPEG4 proxies, but only as large as 320x240 and without timecode matching to the master footage. So the proxies are fine for a producer to see what you've shot, but no good for editing. Obviously, this new proxy board will have to use a higher resolution, and hopefully feature matching timecode to the master footage. I wonder if it will use Final Cut's ProRes Proxy as a codec? We'll see.
- THIS MIGHT BE THE BEST PART OF THE WHOLE ANNOUNCEMENT: Panasonic has finally, officially, referred to a project that's been in the works for 2 years or more: the ability to edit camera metadata, in camera, using an external wireless device like a laptop or PDA. I know Panasonic has been experimenting with using WiFI and Bluetooth, and don't know what they've settled on. But hopefully, the core of this great feature is intact: the ability to stand on set, with a little iPhone in your hand, and enter metadata for clips before or after they're recorded. It's not a sexy feature, but it's a huge timesaver and will hopefully encourage more people to use metadata, which is still very much undiscovered and untapped in many production circles.