Panasonic Expands P2 Product Line, Recording Time

Panasonic announced this week that a new 16 GB P2 (opens in new tab) card will hit the market in May and that a 32 GB card will be available by the end of the year.

In announcing its NAB plans, the company emphasized what it has been predicting ever since it introduced the P2 product line four years ago: that recording capacities will continue to increase as the cost of storage declines.

"A P2 HD camcorder such as our new AJ-HPX2000 with five P2 slots will be able to record up to 80 minutes of full frame-rate high-definition content using five 16 GB cards," said Robert Harris, vice president of marketing for Panasonic Broadcast. "When the 32 GB P2 card arrives by year's end, recording capacity will double once again."

Because of their higher capacity, the cards--which will cost approximately $1,200 each--will make it less likely that customers will have to remove them from P2 cameras, allowing them to "close the door," on the card slots, making the cameras essentially "media-less," according to Joe Facchini, director of product marketing for Panasonic Broadcast.

"[Customers'] concern has always been the recording time and capacity of the cards," Facchini said. "That will essentially be eclipsed in 2007."

Those cards and the related P2 gear will get a highly publicized stress test when camera crews use the products to provide the first ever high-definition coverage of the Iditarod trail sled race, which starts in Anchorage, Alaska on March 4 and ends in Nome 10-17 days later.

Six video crews will cover the race using 10 Panasonic P2 HD cameras, including the AJ-HPX2000 2/3-inch shoulder mount and AG-HVX200 handheld to record the 87 sled dog teams during the race. The expected 140 hours of footage will be distributed to television stations and networks worldwide and will also be used for three one-hour documentaries for the VERSUS (formerly Outdoor Life Network) channel, as well for daily updates on the Iditarod's official Web site,

Other new products to be shown at the Panasonic booth at NAB include the AG-HPG10, a rugged, portable player/viewer for P2 HD content. Dubbed the "P2 Gear," the unit offers back-up recording of HD and SD content for applications ranging from broadcast production to independent filmmaking. The two-pound solid-state memory card unit features a two-slot P2 card reader and is equipped with a flip-up 3.5-inch 4:3 LCD monitor and speakers for video and thumbnail clip viewing. Using the IEEE 1394 port, the battery-operated unit can be used as a backup recorder when connected to a P2 HD/SD or tape based camera or the Focus Enhancements Firestore FS100 hard drive recorder. The unit also features an HD-SDI output, USB 2.0 component and composite (BNC) outputs.

Panasonic will also debut a new camera, the AK-HC3500, a 2/3-inch 2.2 megapixel 3-CCD camera designed for studio and EFP use. The 9.9-pound native 1080i camera features an advanced single channel transfer system and spatial offset processing for reduced aliasing and higher HD resolution. For studio use, the camera can be mounted onto an optional build-up unit with a "one touch" cable-free setup and can be removed for shoulder mount use. An SD memory card slot is included for easy storage retrieval of user and scene files.

Also new is the BT-LH80W production quality SD/HD LCD monitor for studio and field applications. The compact monitor, which doubles as an electronic viewfinder for Panasonic HD cameras, sports a 7.9-inch 16:9 screen and features the industry's lowest delay, according to the company. This is accomplished by using an image processing circuit to convert interlaced into progressive signals within one field. It also features a built-in waveform monitor that graphically displays luminance levels from -5 to 108 IRE, as well as a Diagonal Line compensation that reduces the occurrence of jagged noise in the diagonal direction for improved response. The monitor, which features a low power consumption of 1.5 Amps, also includes two new focus assist functions--Focus in Red, which displays the edges of the focused area in red when sharp focus is achieved; and Pixel to Pixel matching which allows the user to see an input signal pixel by pixel without any resizing.