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Panasonic X920 vs X900 & Canon G25; Sony..?

ClassicalMan

Established Member
I've owned a Panasonic X900 since early last summer. Good points: highly detailed, sharp images in decent light. Bad: noise surprisingly obvious in less than good light (e.g. indoors under normal amounts of tungsten light) - I used to have a Canon XM2, which perhaps gave me unrealistic expectations about what I'd find with a new HD camcorder used indoors. Also, the X900's colours are somewhat muted.

Has anyone compared the new X920 to the X900? The X920 has new sensors that are a little larger and also backlit - in effect, they've been upgraded to the type of sensor technology Panasonic has been using in their still cameras for a couple of years. Panasonic claim 'twice the sensitivity' for the X920 compared to the X900, which I assume means one ISO stop in SLR terms or 3dB in video terms. I'd be very glad to hear from anyone with experience of the X920 used indoors, e.g. in a well lit living room at night (with no natural light coming in to the room). Is it clearly ahead of the X900? And are there any other improvements that result in noticeably superior picture quality (no need to go over technical specs, which I can easily read online - it's actual user experience that interests me).

Also, has anyone compared the X920 to the new Canon G25? My hunch is that the G25 will have superior low light performance (since it has one large sensor that is precisely 1920 x 1080, thus much larger photosites), whilst the X920 will look sharper and more detailed in good natural light... Also, how does the anti shake compare on each?

Talking of anti shake, any news on Sony's new high end camcorders? Their optical steady shot on the CX730 last year seemed superb. However, I have heard that, post their XR500 model (of 2009), all their high-end consumer models shared a signal processing LSI with their still cameras that had to downscale 1920 to 1480, before upscaling to 1920. (But this meant the inherent resolution was only 1480.)

Thanks in advance for any pointers.
 

chrishull3

Prominent Member
I've owned a Panasonic X900 since early last summer. Good points: highly detailed, sharp images in decent light. Bad: noise surprisingly obvious in less than good light (e.g. indoors under normal amounts of tungsten light) - I used to have a Canon XM2, which perhaps gave me unrealistic expectations about what I'd find with a new HD camcorder used indoors. Also, the X900's colours are somewhat muted.

Has anyone compared the new X920 to the X900? The X920 has new sensors that are a little larger and also backlit - in effect, they've been upgraded to the type of sensor technology Panasonic has been using in their still cameras for a couple of years. Panasonic claim 'twice the sensitivity' for the X920 compared to the X900, which I assume means one ISO stop in SLR terms or 3dB in video terms. I'd be very glad to hear from anyone with experience of the X920 used indoors, e.g. in a well lit living room at night (with no natural light coming in to the room). Is it clearly ahead of the X900? And are there any other improvements that result in noticeably superior picture quality (no need to go over technical specs, which I can easily read online - it's actual user experience that interests me).

Also, has anyone compared the X920 to the new Canon G25? My hunch is that the G25 will have superior low light performance (since it has one large sensor that is precisely 1920 x 1080, thus much larger photosites), whilst the X920 will look sharper and more detailed in good natural light... Also, how does the anti shake compare on each?

Talking of anti shake, any news on Sony's new high end camcorders? Their optical steady shot on the CX730 last year seemed superb. However, I have heard that, post their XR500 model (of 2009), all their high-end consumer models shared a signal processing LSI with their still cameras that had to downscale 1920 to 1480, before upscaling to 1920. (But this meant the inherent resolution was only 1480.)

Thanks in advance for any pointers.

Canon U.S.A. : Consumer & Home Office : VIXIA HF G30
It may be a bit more expensive when we get it but the G30 will be a better cam than the G25,the lens alone is a great imprivement not counting the other improvements.
 

ClassicalMan

Established Member
Thanks for highlighting the HF G30, which is now on the Canon UK web site. Using their site's product comparator tool, it appears the differences between the G30 and G25 that would be relevant to me [NB this is not an exhaustive listing - merely the feature differences that are most material to my kind of usage] are as follows:

- G30 has marginally larger sensor than G25; interestingly it has more native pixels but the same number (2.07MP) are actually used to record 1920 x 1080 ("effective pixels").

- G30 has 20x optical zoom whereas G25 has 10x; G30 still sports F1.8-2.8 notwithstanding that wider zoom length.

- G30 has an 'advanced dynamic mode' as well as Intelligent IS. Interestingly, the wide angle focal length is give as 26.8mm (35mm eq.) with Dynamic off but 28.8mm (35mm eq.) with Dynamic on. Does this suggest the lens 'floats'/moves in some way, in the manner of Sony's 'optical balanced steady shot' models, such that the widest focal length narrows?? Or is this where the G30's 'excess' pixels come in to play, permitting movement to be digitally processed out??

- the G30 has an 8 blade circular aperture, suggesting an attempt to provide attractive bokeh at f1.8 etc...though whether shallow DOF is really feasible with what is still a small sensor remains to be seen.

- the G30 has 'Digic DV4' processor vs the 'Digic DV III' of the G25, suggesting one generation of improvement in the processing chip/software.
 

chrishull3

Prominent Member
The G30 may not have a sensor the size of Canon SLRs but its far from a small sensor,my XA10 which is similar to the previous generation G vixia has very good low light,my GH2 needs the fastest pancake f1.7 i have to be better in low lght,i am not sure how the wide angle 35mm equivalent works out regarding Dynamic on and off,Canon UK - Support may be able to answer but as the new cams are not out yet i d am not sure.
 

ClassicalMan

Established Member
Sorry if my previous post wasn't clear regarding performance of the new G30 at widest aperture (f1.8). Although I'm very interested in low light performance (which is the weakest area of my Panasonic X900 - low light performance is much better on my ye olde Canon XM2, though the latter is only SD, of course), I was questioning whether sensors of the size of 1/2.84" (G30) or 1/3" (G20) could give shallow depth of field. The 8 blade circular aperture in the G30 is presumably there to provide attractive bokeh at wide aperture. However, when I've owned compact cameras with a sensor the size of that of the G30, generating shallow depth of field at even f1.8 has proven difficult - this being simply a function of the laws of optics, rather than any shortcoming of a given camera or lens.
 

alpi

Established Member
I have the Sony CX730. It's good with normal indoor lighting but in very low light it's not quite in the same class as Canon camcorders using their HD sensors like HFM41 which should be even better with G30. The image stabilisation on the Sony is excellent. Here's a few clips to illustrate ....

 

ClassicalMan

Established Member
Thanks for your comments and the sample video. The stabilisation on your Sony CX730 is superb; optical steady shot - with the lens unit 'floating' inside the housing - appears to be a step change in anti-shake implementations on camcorders. From what I've seen in various test footage and also having tried such an X730 for myself last year, it is clearly a significant advance over the anti-shake system on the Panasonic X900. The new X920's system looks to be only a mild, incremental improvement on that of the X900, so Sony will remain well in advance of Panasonic in respect of stabilisation. The new contender for best stabilisation alongside the high-end Sony models would appear to be Canon's HF G25 and G30 models with their 'optical intelligent IS'. I cannot imagine these equaling Sony's optical steady shot...but we'll have to wait for reviews etc.

If only one of these cameras offered the resolution, sharpness and colour accuracy of the Panasonic, the optical steady shot of the Sony, and the low-light capabilities and darned-pleasing 'natural' colour rendition of the Canons..!
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
That Sony footage is fab !!! and any complaints about "low-light" are resolved by turning up the lighting, or putting the kids' party outdoors (during a sunny break in between clouds) . . . some minor pixilation of the town-fiesta (from the same camcorder) showed also softness - but I believe this is down to the YT buffering, etc. The footage you show in Venice on a boat is really excellent -
"Steady-Cams can take a walk."

What I'm not understanding is why these Sony camcorders aren't readily available in the UK, although I read somewhere John Lewis has them at over £1k each. The earlier Pana X900 is under £500 and the X920 arround £800 (for now).

I agree the Pana X920 isn't much of an improvement, but low-light was their only weakness - and only slightly. The greater benefit of the X920 is thought to be the WiFi feature, but it's far from clear (to me ) how this works in practice.

Incidently the Canon-figure of 2Mpx is correct for HD . . . cameras with more pixels have to throw them away or the frame would no longer meet the HD "Standard" for 1920 x 1080 (=2M07). However, it's not just sensor size that matters - but it sure helps. . . . .which is why DSLRs and NEX5's are so good in low-light having a massive APS-C sensor. Where a camera uses lectronic stab (ie using extra pixels) then this confuses the issue as it is only the pixels being used in cach frame that should determine the "sensor size" for the purpose of low-light - but then back-side illumination is said to improve things as well . . . which is why Pana believes the X920 is worth nearly double the X900 price.
 
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chrishull3

Prominent Member
Thanks for your comments and the sample video. The stabilisation on your Sony CX730 is superb; optical steady shot - with the lens unit 'floating' inside the housing - appears to be a step change in anti-shake implementations on camcorders. From what I've seen in various test footage and also having tried such an X730 for myself last year, it is clearly a significant advance over the anti-shake system on the Panasonic X900. The new X920's system looks to be only a mild, incremental improvement on that of the X900, so Sony will remain well in advance of Panasonic in respect of stabilisation. The new contender for best stabilisation alongside the high-end Sony models would appear to be Canon's HF G25 and G30 models with their 'optical intelligent IS'. I cannot imagine these equaling Sony's optical steady shot...but we'll have to wait for reviews etc.

If only one of these cameras offered the resolution, sharpness and colour accuracy of the Panasonic, the optical steady shot of the Sony, and the low-light capabilities and darned-pleasing 'natural' colour rendition of the Canons..!

If only one of these cameras offered the resolution, sharpness and colour accuracy of the panasonic ? i have owned many sony and pana cams.
One point i once owned a sony VX200 that at the time had the recognised best low light of consumer cams,my current XA10 is even better,plus great resolution and colour,i would not want more,if as claimed the G30 is better it sounds great.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
Chrishull3 - were you not impressed by the Sony CX730's Stab? - Considering this was filmed from a boat the buildings are rock-steady . . . . like I'd expect from a Pro set-up.
Sony claim this new stab (where the whole lens is moving about) is a real breakthrough. I guess it comes about due to the availability of extra processing and solid-state gyros coming down in price to consumer gear.
 
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chrishull3

Prominent Member
Chrishull3 - were you not impressed by the Sony CX730's Stab? - Considering this was filmed from a boat the buildings are rock-steady . . . . like I'd expect from a Pro set-up.
Sony claim this new stab (where the whole lens is moving about) is a real breakthrough. I guess it comes about due to the availability of extra processing and solid-state gyros coming down in price to consumer gear.

Yes it looks fine,but the I/S on my cam has standard dynamic and off,both standard and dynamic allow peferct hand held at full zoom,i would like to know how the stabaliser on the new G30 can be better realy.
 

chrishull3

Prominent Member


As i shake a bit at full zoom i cant stop some movement showing,so would the mentioned Sonys be dead still,i dont know how it allows panning then though.
 

Langster

Standard Member
hey guys, I have recently bought the Panasonic X920 and while it's a great camcorder and all that, it really annoys me that I can't seem to find a way to control it fully manually. It might be a case of I don't know how to do it or the camcorder just doesn't offer such option. What I mean is when I am in manual mode, it'd either let me control the shutter speed or the iris but not both. For example, if I wanted to close the F-stop down to F11 and as soon as I press the Shutter Speed button and go back to the Iris setting, it would go back to the default 6dB setting. I guess what I am trying to say is is there a way to separately control the F-Stops and the gain value? The F stops on this camcorder seem to only serve the purpose of letting the amount of light in rather than depth of field, which is a little annoying.

I nearly went for the Canon G25, but now having played with the Panasonic, I am having 2nd thoughts I might be better off going with the G25 if it could allow separate control of the shutter speeds, F-Stops and gain value. Can a G25 owner shed some light on this? Or is it not usually an option with these camcorders at this level?

Cheers
 

chrishull3

Prominent Member
hey guys, I have recently bought the Panasonic X920 and while it's a great camcorder and all that, it really annoys me that I can't seem to find a way to control it fully manually. It might be a case of I don't know how to do it or the camcorder just doesn't offer such option. What I mean is when I am in manual mode, it'd either let me control the shutter speed or the iris but not both. For example, if I wanted to close the F-stop down to F11 and as soon as I press the Shutter Speed button and go back to the Iris setting, it would go back to the default 6dB setting. I guess what I am trying to say is is there a way to separately control the F-Stops and the gain value? The F stops on this camcorder seem to only serve the purpose of letting the amount of light in rather than depth of field, which is a little annoying.

I nearly went for the Canon G25, but now having played with the Panasonic, I am having 2nd thoughts I might be better off going with the G25 if it could allow separate control of the shutter speeds, F-Stops and gain value. Can a G25 owner shed some light on this? Or is it not usually an option with these camcorders at this level?

Cheers

Canon LEGRIA HF G25 - LEGRIA HD Camcorders - Canon UK
Yes all Canon legra HF cams allow manual control,i think your X920 probobly has though,incidently the new G30 has improvements on the G25.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
Whilst I don't own either of these camcorders, I suspect the Pana will allow Manual control as the Poster demands...however, he's refering to the Lens-ring which can be used for things (other than Focus) . . . . it does point out though that what real cameramen want is a dedicated ring for focus (with a scale, Please.).
Also it is possible that cameramakers are lying to us when they give us f-stops since they are confused about the sensor sensitivity , gain and so on.
In the past we had real aperture rings, so there was a direct relationship between the light passing thro' and the scale.


chrishull3 - Post #12 - you mentioned G30 (typo?), - the Sony is CX730
er, and yes I imaging there is a facility to switch it off when panning (from a tripod).
 
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chrishull3

Prominent Member
Of noteThe canons do have a dedicated focus ring on the lens with focus assist,also a ring for aperture shutter control.Regarding panning on the sony cam i was referring to hand held filming.
 

Langster

Standard Member
It turns out with the X920, you can only adjust the aperture while the iris is fully open, on the manual control panel, there are only 4 things, white balance, focus, shutter speed and iris. and the iris ranges from Close to F16 - F1.8 to Open to 0dB - 18dB. I saw a very detailed demo video about the G25 on YouTube while at work yesterday (can't find the link again...) and it does allow a hell a lot more manual control than the X920. Think I will swap it with the G25.

I was tempted to get the G30, but it's a little over my budget, with a further price drop on the G25, I could now get it for just over £700 after the cash back. Seems a good enough deal.
 

Ronnie DP

Standard Member
I have been reading this thread, and have a comment to share. This is also my first post :)

I have a Legria HF s20, and have also been looking at the G25, G30, Panasonic x920.

My s20 has a 35mm equivalent of 435mm on the tele end. The g25 has just over 300mm. The x920 has 400mm. I think the G30 is about 560mm.

To me the zoom range (rather than xtimes zoom ) has to be an important consideration when making a decision, and will depend on the type of shooting one does. Both the s20 and G25 have a 10x zoom.

I for one do mainly school sports, and wildlife (Kruger Park), so the longer the better. So tele rather than wide if a choice has to be made.

So for me if I felt I would benefit image quality wise by upgrading, I would probably need to look at the x920 or G30. Despite the good price on the G25, the zoom range is too short at the tele end.

Would be interesting to hear other views on this.

PS: I still have to update my profile, but I live in South Africa.

Ronnie.
 
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Chelters

Established Member
It turns out with the X920, you can only adjust the aperture while the iris is fully open, on the manual control panel, there are only 4 things, white balance, focus, shutter speed and iris. and the iris ranges from Close to F16 - F1.8 to Open to 0dB - 18dB. I saw a very detailed demo video about the G25 on YouTube while at work yesterday (can't find the link again...) and it does allow a hell a lot more manual control than the X920.

I'm a bit confused here, aperture and iris are the same thing, aren't they?

I guess what I am trying to say is is there a way to separately control the F-Stops and the gain value?

On my SD700 you set the shutter first then you can adjust the iris.

The F stops on this camcorder seem to only serve the purpose of letting the amount of light in rather than depth of field, which is a little annoying.

That's all it's meant to do.
The iris altering the DoF is a quirk of physics and with such a small sensor the effect will only be seen when focused on a very near subject.
If shallow Dof is your aim you need a big sensor, micro 4/3rds as a minimum. If you get APS-c sensor then you'll get even shallower DoF.
 

12harry

Distinguished Member
This is getting confusing - and not helped by the Makers giving us traditional features (but then hidden by a multi-purpose Ring - I hate them!). The issue is further complicated because small lenses have limited aperture range, so when you think you are setting it to a small aperture (=high f/number), I understand this is effected by decreasing gain. For the Mfr this makes sense, because of several effects:
1) Small aperture degrade the lens performance - so better to stop punters setting them
2) Small apertures mean the blades get "crowded" and there is a general demand for better image quality - so more blades (as Canon boast-DYOR), again this makes setting small apertures more difficult.
3) enormous DoF is unnecessary once the lens is set to "distance" and a modest f/number - - - so why degrade the lens? -also- when set to near objects greater DoF is not possible, to the extent many punters would like!
-Note- that these comments apply to small lenses, due to their physical dimensions . . . Cinema-lenses for full-frame Sensors are physically larger and will have both "proper" separate iris and focus rings. Also Pro's know how to use the Gain, without messing up the results.

All that said, for we consumer "punters" there is little we can do, other than buy the most expensive model, particularly when a newer-version is introduced and the old model is discounted.

Chrishull3 (Post#16), Yes, thanks for that, never doubted it - but these are more expensive models, rather close to the x920 in price. However, I wonder if the stab of the Canon G25 is up to the "more-modern" from Pana or Sony?
These are factors that are so VERY difficult to determine, as most Reviews are subjective and rarely side-by-side.
I have found some s-b-s for Pana x920 and CX410 and was quite saddened by the Pana - as this is nearly twice the price...sorry, don't have the link, but type in "CX410 Test" perhaps. I have a CX410 now, so maybe BIASSED! but even indoors with halogen lights the sharpness is fab (although I need Outdoors for the Stab to kick-in, as it was mounted on a tripod all day.
Oddly the CX410 has a variable-scale in Manual focus.1) There is no ring - it uses the LCD only and you press LH or RH areas, with the Focus distance shown in metres -2) you need to zoom-in (onto detail) and then the increments will be appropriate for the subject-distance. If you stay "wide" then you get very little precision, basically near, or infinity . . . . maybe Sony knows better? However, I'd still prefer a real scal "on the lens" - but I can't have that, for my Budget. Anyway the pics are fab and sharp, provided I remember to do just about "everything" - I forgot to WB Whoops! - but it adjusted the WB for the Halogens and anyway the subject liked the "glow" - or maybe didn't notice. There was no "white" in the shots, so no-one can discover my secret . . . Psst, don't tell, eh?
 

chrishull3

Prominent Member
This is getting confusing - and not helped by the Makers giving us traditional features (but then hidden by a multi-purpose Ring - I hate them!). The issue is further complicated because small lenses have limited aperture range, so when you think you are setting it to a small aperture (=high f/number), I understand this is effected by decreasing gain. For the Mfr this makes sense, because of several effects:
1) Small aperture degrade the lens performance - so better to stop punters setting them
2) Small apertures mean the blades get "crowded" and there is a general demand for better image quality - so more blades (as Canon boast-DYOR), again this makes setting small apertures more difficult.
3) enormous DoF is unnecessary once the lens is set to "distance" and a modest f/number - - - so why degrade the lens? -also- when set to near objects greater DoF is not possible, to the extent many punters would like!
-Note- that these comments apply to small lenses, due to their physical dimensions . . . Cinema-lenses for full-frame Sensors are physically larger and will have both "proper" separate iris and focus rings. Also Pro's know how to use the Gain, without messing up the results.

All that said, for we consumer "punters" there is little we can do, other than buy the most expensive model, particularly when a newer-version is introduced and the old model is discounted.

Chrishull3 (Post#16), Yes, thanks for that, never doubted it - but these are more expensive models, rather close to the x920 in price. However, I wonder if the stab of the Canon G25 is up to the "more-modern" from Pana or Sony?
These are factors that are so VERY difficult to determine, as most Reviews are subjective and rarely side-by-side.
I have found some s-b-s for Pana x920 and CX410 and was quite saddened by the Pana - as this is nearly twice the price...sorry, don't have the link, but type in "CX410 Test" perhaps. I have a CX410 now, so maybe BIASSED! but even indoors with halogen lights the sharpness is fab (although I need Outdoors for the Stab to kick-in, as it was mounted on a tripod all day.
Oddly the CX410 has a variable-scale in Manual focus.1) There is no ring - it uses the LCD only and you press LH or RH areas, with the Focus distance shown in metres -2) you need to zoom-in (onto detail) and then the increments will be appropriate for the subject-distance. If you stay "wide" then you get very little precision, basically near, or infinity . . . . maybe Sony knows better? However, I'd still prefer a real scal "on the lens" - but I can't have that, for my Budget. Anyway the pics are fab and sharp, provided I remember to do just about "everything" - I forgot to WB Whoops! - but it adjusted the WB for the Halogens and anyway the subject liked the "glow" - or maybe didn't notice. There was no "white" in the shots, so no-one can discover my secret . . . Psst, don't tell, eh?

Yes the models with focus rings are similar in price to the X920,The stab :confused:well up to the mark imo even more on the forthcoming G30.No viewfinder is something i could not live with personaly.
 

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