October 8, 2011 at 2:09 am
Just received my Panasonic HPX250 camera today from a very reputable supplier in New York City, but it looks like my camera has a backfocus issue right out of the box. Wondering if anyone else has this issue.
I zoomed in and focused on some advertising at minimum distance from the camera. When I zoomed back slowly, the lens lost focus briefly then went back into focus. At the spot where the lens loses focus, I tried to manually focus, but was unable to get focus in that spot.
I tried the same at a greater distance from the subject and it was less noticeable but still there.
If you by this camera, make sure you run this test. It may only be mine, but who knows. It will be going back to Panasonic shortly.
On a side note, the form, buttons, menu, etc. are fantastic and quite an improvement from my HVX200.
October 8, 2011 at 4:14 am
Camera is pretty new. Not many have the camera in their hands. I can test the camera for you to confirm if it has a problem or not.
Eisen Video Productions
Chicago Final Cut Pro Users Group
October 18, 2011 at 11:47 am
Hi Heather ~
You are not alone! Know someone who has just tested the HPX250 and the AG-AC160, basically similar but the AVCHD model. BOTH cameras exhibited exactly the same focus issues so I don’t at this point feel your camera is the only one. If it is indeed an issue in these models then Pana needs to attend to this quick smart.
I had this camera high on my watch list along with the Canon XF305. Spent a fait bit of time shooting on the Canon for others and can’t fault the lens on it.
Think I will be holding off to see what our local Pana dealers find out about this as they have been informed. Being good dealers I believe they will follow it up with Panasonic pretty quickly. If Pana have a solution to the problem then the 250 will be back on my list.
Bit surprising that this hasn’t been picked up on earlier testing!
Keep posting as to the outcome on your camera as a few of us will be very interested to see what feedback you get and how it all gets resolved. Good luck.
October 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm
Thanks for the input Chris. I should berev ricing my replacement HPX250 in about a week, so I’ll update this thread after I test the new one, but this doesn’t sound good.
– Rik Brown
October 19, 2011 at 1:13 am
Ah Rik! Not Heather ~
Good, it sounds like the dealer is playing ball with the swap. Yes please keeps us all posted for sure.
October 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm
This is not a defect. The lens can zoom all the way in (616mm) as close as 3 feet without a close up filter. In this position, the optics are in a macro focus mode. In this situation, the lens cannot hold focus for a few mm’s when zooming out. When the lens is zoomed all the way in (616mm) at 6 feet, the lens can hold focus when zooming out to full wide (28mm). In this position, the optics are not in a macro mode.
The point is, this is not a back focus problem. This is the unique ability of having a 22x wide lens on this great new camera.
Oh, and thanks for your positive comments on the camera. Our engineering team listened to many requests and implemented them on this model. And the 10-bit, full-resolution AVC-Intra 100 video quality and 22x wide zoom lens are amazing for a one-piece, sub $6,000 camera.
Thanks and have a nice day.
Product Manager – P2 HD, POVCAM, Production Displays
Panasonic Solutions Company
November 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm
Hi there Steve
It would be good to get your thoughts (and anyone else out there) on the following focus-related issues I have been encountering with the Panasonic HPX250 which I have now been using on an observational documentary for the past month.
This project involves a lot of actuality shooting where continually being able to adjust your focus quickly whilst recording is crucial. I’ve been a broadcast self-shooter for over 10 years working with the various Sony cameras (Z1, Z5, Z7) and more recently the Canon XF305. While I love the quality of the image with the HPX250 when I manage to achieve focus, it would be great to hear what you would advise with the following problems:
- It is hard to tell whether or not I am in focus.
- The LCD picture is not good enough to indicate this (unlike the Canon XF305)
- I can only seem to activate the EVF peaking on the viewfinder and not the LCD. I rarely use the viewfinder in actuality filming, I rely heavily on the LCD.
- The expanded ‘Focus Assist’ button seems to only work when the camera is not recording. Not useful if you are filming actuality and would like to check/adjust focus whilst recording.
- The focus bar does not solve these problems. It is meant to show how in focus the image is, however I am not confident it knows what I am actually focusing on (see below for the focus hunting issues).
- The focus tools seem a little ‘buggy’:
- I will sometimes need to use the ‘push auto’ button – a function that is your friend in fast-paced filming to sharpen the focus quickly while recording. However, the ‘push auto’ on the Panasonic hunts a lot, so I will begin with a slightly soft shot, press down the ‘push auto’ to focus it, the shot will then go completely out of focus, then start hunting – bouncing into and out of focus and often settling out of focus. This hunting means I have abandoned using the push-auto button completely and at times I really miss it.
- The MF Assist mode also seems to be a problem. I understand it is designed to fine tune manual ring focusing but I have found that it will often fine tune in the wrong direction and will hunt for quite a while. I have therefore turned it off.
So I am left with only one focus option: manual focusing with the LCD giving me little clue as to how I am doing (with no peaking and magnification during recording). I have been using the distance to subject on the FOCUS CONTROL DISPLAY but this is also guesswork and again with a fast moving scene is nigh on impossible to maintain. In addition sometimes the distances don’t seem to be correct e.g. yesterday a wide landscape shot said it was on ‘Infinity’ but it looked very out of focus, I flicked the ‘Infinity’ switch and it came into focus. What’s that about?
So, please can you tell me if I am missing something?! I have been scouring the manual but can’t seem to get to the bottom of these crucial problems.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
- It is hard to tell whether or not I am in focus.
November 21, 2011 at 7:29 pm
Thanks for posting your experience. I’m about to start a documentary that will require the same sort of shooting you have been doing. I’m seriously considering the HPX250, but your experience with focus issues has me a bit worried.
Hopefully, Steve Cooperman or someone else here can suggest some solutions. The HPX250 seems to have such potential for documentary shooting, but being able to get focus is critical.
Having now used the HPX250 and the Canon XF305, how would you compare them? The HPX250 sounds like it’s better in low light and it has a better codec, but what’s your opinion?
November 22, 2011 at 7:55 pm
I was about to purchase the HPX250 so am also interested to see Steve’s response. Do you know if other users have had similar experiences? What’s your take on the Canon XF305 as I need to move soon.
November 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm
Hi Mike & Matthew
I’m waiting to hear back from Panasonic who have told me (via my dealer) that they have a fix for these focus problems – not sure yet if this is a firmware update or just an explanation of how to set up the camera. I will post here when I know more. In the meantime here are my thoughts on the Panasonic HPX250 vs the Canon XF305 (I’ve shot 2 docs on the Canon and have been shooting for a month on the Panasonic):
GOOD POINTS FOR THE HPX250
The picture has a rich, filmic quality very different to the sharp, harsher quality of the Canon
The camera is lighter and well balanced
The LCD is in a better position so you can interview someone on the fly and make eye contact (a problem with the Canon)
It meets industry standards in the UK – we chose this camera as some broadcasters are rejecting 50 Mbps footage, however this also means you have much larger storage issues.
It records 4 audio channels – so you can set the second 2 to the stereo internal mic and this sometimes gets you out of jail
BAD POINTS FOR THE HPX250
It mainly is the focus problems described above and I’m still not sure if this is user error or not!
The macro focusing can’t be turned off
Toggling between auto and manual for the iris is unnecessarily longwinded – unlike with the Canon/Sonys where auto is only activated for as long as you are pressing the button, with the Panasonic you have to hit the button again to exit auto mode and return to manual- more time consuming and contrary to my muscle memory all these years.
The audio limiter should be avoided as it sounds even more distorted than when it tops out!
The manual is badly written
GOOD POINTS FOR THE CANON XF305
The LCD, while in an awkward position for actuality shooting, is useful for interviews on a tripod as you can switch it to be on the left or the right of the camera.
The LCD is much larger than the HPX250 and is great quality. The peaking really pings out (think you can make the peaking red if you want) and I found it easy to focus both with the ring and using push auto.
The magnification button works while recording so you can check focus easily.
BAD POINTS FOR THE CANON XF305
It only shoots 50 Mbps and some broadcasters in the UK are demanding 100 Mbps.
It is heavier and generally more cumbersome
So there you go. I would really appreciate people’s thoughts on how I can make my little Panasonic work for me. I have a feeling this camera will be amazing once these early issues are ironed out and will ultimately be a much better camera than the Canon. That’s why we waited to buy it. Only problem is I am right in the middle of my project and need Panasonic to help me now!
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