Panasonic AG-HVX200

Stephen Yagielowicz
The Panasonic AG-HVX200 ($6,000-$10,000 depending on configuration) is a professional HDTV video camera. Compact, feature-packed and compatible with DVCProHD, DVCPro50 and DVCPro25 — as well as the basic DV standard — the HVX200 employs a trio of wide-aspect CCDs for native, uncropped 16:9 recording.

Its wide-angle Leica Dicomar HD lens boasts advanced glass coatings and incomparable build quality. It captures images cleanly, passing them through with minimal artifacts to the camera's processing systems, to be saved in any of the numerous standard and hi-def formats.

The "save" part is where it gets interesting: The HVX200 uses what Panasonic calls its "P2" memory cards, which comprise four high-speed Secure Digital cards housed in a PCMCIA form factor (the same as a laptop computer's "card slot"). Solid state inside with a metal shell outside, a P2 card is the most durable video storage medium available; it easily fends off dust and dirt and can withstand an astonishing 1500 g's of shock.

The P2 cards are currently available in 2-, 4- and 8-GB sizes, with the price of the largest falling from $2,000 in early 2006 to around $700 in late July. They can be used and re-used almost endlessly, making them extremely cost-effective. With more than 30 minutes of DVCPro footage on each 8-GB card, a laptop with even a modest hard drive could back up several hours of footage with just four rounds of insert-copy-reformat-and-shoot.