At an intimate press conference yesterday, Panasonic Broadcast revealed a few of the forthcoming products that it plans to debut at the NAB show this April. The high point--at least for us--is the introduction of the AG-HMC150, an AVCHD SD card-based addition to its affordable pro HD options, which includes the DVCProHD-based AG-HVX200.
Leveraging the design of the older, standard def AG-DVX100, the HMC150 will incorporate a trio of new 1/3-inch CCDs with native 16:9 aspect ratios, and support all the various 1080 and 720 progressive and interlaced options. It will use a broader 28mm Leica lens, also optically stabilized, and provide XLR audio inputs, an HDMI output (among others), as well as remote capability for iris and record controls.
The real wildcard for the camcorder looks like bit rate. Current Panasonic AVCHD implementations max out at 13 megabits per second (Mbps), while Sony's go up to 15Mbps and the specification itself supports up to 24Mbps. The HMC150 will support the 13Mbps rate, plus a higher bandwidth option. Though Panasonic executives wouldn't commit to the actual maximum data rate for the HMC150, an unrelated comment during the conference alluded to achieving bit rates of approximately 20Mbps. It's unknown as to whether a new bit rate might pose software compatibility issues.
Slated to ship this fall, Panasonic has not yet determined the pricing for the HMC150. I'm going to put on my speculator hat and guess it'll go for about $6,000.
A less glamorous but equally important model targeting the institutional and event videography set will also debut at NAB. The AG-HMC70 is an SD card-based AVCHD shoulder-mount model which incorporates 3 1/4-inch CCDs and a 38.5mm-to-462mm-equivalent 12X zoom optically stabilized Leica lens to record 1080i video. It will support still capture and supply pro audio connectors as well as BNC outputs. Panasonic expects to ship it in April for $2,495.
For those of you with AG-DVX200s or other P2 HD-supporting models, the company plans to ship a 64GB version this fall, at an as-yet undetermined price.