As a wedding videographer I’m always looking to see what is the best camcorder to use when filming weddings. I’ve recently looked at a variety of models. Today I’m going to be sharing my thoughts about the Panasonic HMC 150 AVCHD 3CCD Pro Camcorder Review.
The Panasonic AG-HMC150 camcorder is one of the more recent professional camcorders in AVCCAM line that’s been produced by Panasonic in the last few years. The camcorder features a die cast alloy frame, giving the camcorder a strong solid feel, while keeping the weight of the camcorder under 5 pounds. Based on the history, Panasonic really worked hard to get quality feedback from the professional video community. The community was looking for a camcorder that was similar to the DVX100B Professional Camcorder, with more shooting modes and a more affordable price for smaller production companies. Here is a break down of the technical specifications of the Panasonic AG-HMC150 Camcorder:
AG-HMC 150 Key Features
- 3 CCD chip camcorder – three chips allow for excellent low-light filming situations
- 1/3″ chip Size
- Professional PH recording mode (producing a 21 Mbps stream), higher video quality than HDV with a smaller bit rate
- A large variety of HD shooting modes including 1080/60i, 1080/30p, 1080/24p (native), 720/60p, 720/30p, and 720/24p(native)
- 13x wide-angle 28 mm lens (35mm equivalent)
- 3.5″ LCD Display
- SDHC Solid State Recording Workflow
- Integrated OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
- Manual / Auto Focus
- Integrated Waveform Monitor (which allows you to determine which shots are overexposed quickly)
- Two locking XLR inputs in front, hard switches for line and mic with +48v, phantom power, manual level controls
- Integrated Vector Scope to allow for color analysis and color matching when working in different colored environments
- SDHC Workflow allows for non-linear style instant playback, review, and deleting of clips randomly without having to rewind or fast forward
Who is the Panasonic AG-HMC 150 Good For?
Given the variety of professional features of the Panasonic AG-HMC 150 HD Camcorder, this would be a good solution for independent A/V shooters, independent filmmakers, and event video professionals who shoot things like weddings, corporate training events, and regional conferences.
Independent A/V shooters can appreciate this camcorder for its integrated waveform monitor, which allows you to measure and adjust gain and exposure levels on bright spots on your subject’s face, avoiding overexposure that ruins the shot. Equally important is the Vector Scope Monitor, which allows you to check your video shot for color accuracy so that colors will pop on-screen when playing your product.
Independent filmmakers can appreciate the Integrated Optical Image Stabilization, which really comes in handy for the “run and gun” situations where you work hard to move with the action and still work hard to get the shot that will make the independent film that you’re working on. The variety of shooting modes also really allows filmmakers to have a lot of versatility, allowing the production to have a high-action video look with 1080/60i, or a true film look when shooting in 720/24P native mode.
The 3-chip camcorder design and wide-angle lens work together for those who need to shoot a lot of action up close in a low-light intense movement environment, such as wedding receptions and dance parties. The SD card workflow also is convenient for smaller production companies who can enjoy the benefits of shooting in a solid state format, without the heavy investment of P2 cards. A high-end 32 GB Class 10 SDHC card as of this writing will cost about $57, whereas a 32GB P2 card from Panasonic currently costs about $440. Many low-action events such as wedding ceremonies and corporate training videos look very sharp in Panasonic’s HE shooting mode, with a bit rate of just 6 Mbps, allowing nearly 12 hours of continuous recording on a single SDHC card. Event video professionals can also appreciate the integrated time and date stamp abilities of the HMC 150 camera. This is very helpful for video surveillance and legal testimony recordings.
Working with AVCHD Camcorders
Many industry professionals shrugged off the usage of the AVCHD format, claiming that because of the compression it goes through, it could never be called a “professional” format. Despite this brush off, AVCHD is used in more devices today than any other recording format. AVCHD Editing is now supported in these video editing environments:
- Apple iMovie
- Apple Final Cut Express
- Apple Final Cut Pro 7 and X
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Grass Valley EDIUS Pro
- Pinnacle Studio Plus/Ultimate
- Nero 7 Premium Reloaded
- Ulead Video Studio
- DVD movie factory
AVCHD video footage is conveniently stored on an SDHC card, which then can be taken out of the camcorder and plugged directly into many blue-ray players, DVD players, and HDTV’s without any special devices or programming required. AVCHD footage can be paused, played back, and deleted on the fly right from the camera without having to worry about leaving gaps in your footage.
Panasonic AG-HMC 150 vs. AG-HMC40 vs. TM-300 Example Footage
The folks over at hownowvideo.com put together an excellent side-by-side comparison of the HMC150, the HMC40, and the TM300 that gives a great comparison of the models of camcorders. Here is the sample video:
Pros and Cons of the HMC150
- Numerous HD shooting modes
- Inexpensive SDHC workflow for event production companies and prosumers
- Long continuous recording and battery times
- Integrated Professional Audio XLR Adapters and Units
- Expensive initial investment
- No SD card, or HDMI chord included with the camera purchase
- 1/3″ chip size is small and overpriced
- AVCHD recording formats can look washed out easily in low-light or bright sunlight scenarios
With numerous HD shooting modes, a convenient SDHC workflow, and a 3 CCD chip system, the Panasonic AG-HMC 150 Camcorder produces a high quality video that was only possible on cameras that cost 4 times the price just 5 years ago. The long battery life and recording time makes this an excellent choice for independent filmmakers, video production companies, and event video professionals. Despite some criticism of the initial investment, demand for this camcorder has pushed the price down to under $3,000, making this a very appealing professional video choice.