Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30

Started Jul 13, 2013 | Discussions
rlapporte
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Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
Jul 13, 2013

I'm fairly new to video, and I'm trying to decide between these three camcorders. I've done quite a bit of homework, and it seems like the Sony might have the best OIS, but the Panasonic seems to have really good auto white balance and IQ. The Canon will record 1080p/60 in MP4, and I don't believe the others will. The Canon has the furthest reach. The Sony has the projector which I doubt I'll use. I do think I'll use WiFi with my Android or iPhone, but they all have that feature.  I'm not too concerned about the cost difference between the three, although obviously the Panasonic wins in that department.  I suppose I might want to set up a wireless mic at some point, but I'm not sure about that yet.

I'm looking for any further thoughts about pros/cons before I take the plunge. I have not seen a great review comparing the three.

How big of a deal is the 1080p/60 with MP4?

Thanks in advance,

Rob

buratino
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to rlapporte, Jul 13, 2013

>How big of a deal is the 1080p/60 with MP4?

I believe it's mostly about uncompressed LPCM 16-bit audio, which does not fit into official AVCHD 2.0 format.

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silyn
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to rlapporte, Jul 13, 2013

rlapporte wrote:

I'm fairly new to video, and I'm trying to decide between these three camcorders. I've done quite a bit of homework, and it seems like the Sony might have the best OIS, but the Panasonic seems to have really good auto white balance and IQ. The Canon will record 1080p/60 in MP4, and I don't believe the others will. The Canon has the furthest reach. The Sony has the projector which I doubt I'll use. I do think I'll use WiFi with my Android or iPhone, but they all have that feature. I'm not too concerned about the cost difference between the three, although obviously the Panasonic wins in that department. I suppose I might want to set up a wireless mic at some point, but I'm not sure about that yet.

I'm looking for any further thoughts about pros/cons before I take the plunge. I have not seen a great review comparing the three.

How big of a deal is the 1080p/60 with MP4?

Thanks in advance,

Rob

It may be very difficult to find a comparable footage from those three that can give you a clue in terms of pixel peeping. I bought recently XA25 (a pro version of G30) but for reasons you probably would not care. I am happy - yes  - I got exactly what I expected and more important what I needed.

You are not saying anything about your needs. But if you are looking for a good camcorder as casual shooter - I would suggest x920. Very good camera at an excellent price. And 1080p/60? I care for specific reasons. But again, even if it sounds good, for casual shooting it does not add a lot. So, think about what you want to do first, and specs later.

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Tom Meeks
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to rlapporte, Jul 13, 2013

As I have mentioned in other posts recently, virtually all of the dozens of video cameras I have owned since the 1960's have been Sony cameras.  So, I have had a natural inclination toward looking at Sony first when seeking a new video camera.

But, I was underwhelmed by the sample footage from the Sony on YouTube.  It appears just as I have come to expect from HD with a single chip from Sony (Owning 3 Single Chip Sony HD camcorders and using the Sony NEX HG20 at work.)  It simply does not have what I am looking for any more.

I have been monumentally pleased with the HC-X920.  My only complaint is that it does not allow me to set and hold custom white balance in any of the auto modes.  Otherwise, as you can see from the samples I've posted, it does a wonderful job in a variety of settings.  Plus, for the cost of the Sony you can get the X920 AND the 3D adapter, which sounds like fun.

As a Canon SLR fan, I have a lot of respect for Canon; but, no experience with their video cameras.  So, I'm not going to be much help there.   The only thing I can say is that for a LOT of reasons I prefer a 3-chip camera like the X920 to any Bayer Pattern single chip alternative.

I shot some outdoor footage at Hagley Museum with the X920.  I'll try to get it up online for you.

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rlapporte
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to Tom Meeks, Jul 13, 2013

As far as my needs go, I will be starting out mostly chasing an infant around. I tried it with my 5D III, but it was too difficult for me to keep her in focus, so I decided I needed AF. Who knows where I'll take it from there, but I will not be making movies, etc. This will remain a casual hobby for me.

I guess another thought would be the Sony Nex VG30 and an adapter to mate my plethora of Canon EF lenses, but I'm guessing AF will be crippled a bit.

Regarding the MP4 question, isn't it true that if I want to upload to FB or YouTube, I don't have to perform any conversion first if I record in MP4?

This is the only direct comparison I could find, and to my eyes it seems that the Canon is very warm and the Panny is cooler but more accurate in auto WB.

http://camcorder-test.slashcam.com/campair-EN.shtml

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lancespring
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to buratino, Jul 13, 2013

buratino wrote:

>How big of a deal is the 1080p/60 with MP4?

I believe it's mostly about uncompressed LPCM 16-bit audio, which does not fit into official AVCHD 2.0 format.

I am afraid that you are totally mistaken on this point.  There are quite a few high end, professional camcorders that record LPCM audio with AVCHD.

He would have to consider a professional camcorder like the Canon XA20, though, to be able to get LPCM audio with either AVCHD or MP4.   For none of these camcorders offer it in any mode.

.

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Tom Ki
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to lancespring, Jul 13, 2013

lancespring wrote:

buratino wrote:

>How big of a deal is the 1080p/60 with MP4?

I believe it's mostly about uncompressed LPCM 16-bit audio, which does not fit into official AVCHD 2.0 format.

I am afraid that you are totally mistaken on this point. There are quite a few high end, professional camcorders that record LPCM audio with AVCHD.

He would have to consider a professional camcorder like the Canon XA20, though, to be able to get LPCM audio with either AVCHD or MP4. For none of these camcorders offer it in any mode.

.

The G30 has LPCM AVCHD mode as well as LPCM MP4. I know because I just received one. I'm still feeling it out, but so far I don't regret the high price.

I still wonder if I will have problems burning BR disks for sharing videos. This LPCM audio is unknown to me, and I need to burn a disk to see if there are any compatibility problems from player to player.

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lancespring
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to Tom Ki, Jul 13, 2013

Ah, it turns out that Buratino and I are both wrong then.

I knew that Buratino's contention that AVCHD does not support LPCM was totally false, as there are many professional AVCHD camcorders that do offer it.

What I did not realize is that the HF G30 supported it.  I thought that it was only offered on the XA20 and XA25.   But I just checked, and you are right.   The G30 supports LPCM audio in both AVCHD and MP4 recording.

In fact, I believe that it is the only "consumer" camcorder that does.

.

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Sean Nelson
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to lancespring, Jul 13, 2013

lancespring wrote:

I knew that Buratino's contention that AVCHD does not support LPCM was totally false, as there are many professional AVCHD camcorders that do offer it.

For reference, here's the AVCHD specification from the AVCHD web site , which shows that LPCM is indeed one of the codecs that can be used for audio.

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rlapporte
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to Sean Nelson, Jul 13, 2013

So if I'm recording in 1080p/60, can I easily upload to FB or YouTube with any of these or does the lack of 1080p MP4 mean that I will have to first convert the file on the PC?

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lancespring
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to rlapporte, Jul 13, 2013

rlapporte wrote:

So if I'm recording in 1080p/60, can I easily upload to FB or YouTube with any of these or does the lack of 1080p MP4 mean that I will have to first convert the file on the PC?

You can upload either file format.  However, the large size of the original files may take a long time to upload, depending on how fast your internet connection is.  Do you have a fast connection to the Internet?

Go to this webpage, and you can test exactly how fast your connection is:
http://www.speedtest.net/

YouTube can accept huge file sizes.   But if your upload connection speed is slow, you may find that the file will take forever to upload.   If that is the case, then you might want to bring the video into an editor, and then export it to a format with a lower bitrate, and maybe even consider downsizing the resolution to 720p as well.   That will then greatly reduce the size of the file that needs to be uploaded.

In addition, Facebook will only accept files that are under 1 Gigabytes in size, and less than 20 minutes long.  If you record using these high bitrate options, then you will run past the 1 Gig limit well before reaching 20 minutes.   But again, if you then export the file, you can then lower the bitrate and/or resolution, and thus create a new file that will be under 1 Gigabytes in size, and will thus be accepted by Facebook.

Do you not currently own any video editing software??
.

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Tom Meeks
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon 50-HF G30
In reply to rlapporte, Jul 13, 2013

I was using a Sony NEX VG20 and you will have the very same issues with the NEX VG series as you have with the 5D MK III.  Even with Sony lenses it is much slower tracking focus than my newer Panasonic X920.  I am NOT a fan of the Sony NEX VG series.  Not at all.

Conversely, if the lens is not zoomed in, the Panasonic's depth of field is INCREDIBLE.  Everything from inches in front of you to 50+ feet away is in focus.  So, your child is NOT going to fool that camera.  The low light level performance also great.

There is no question in my mind that the X920 is a better choice for your application than the Sony.

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rlapporte
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon 50-HF G30
In reply to Tom Meeks, Jul 13, 2013

Thanks, Tom.  That's helpful.

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rlapporte
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon 50-HF G30
In reply to rlapporte, Jul 13, 2013

Thanks, Lancespring.

No, I don't have any editing software yet...that was going to be my next research project

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buratino
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to Tom Ki, Jul 13, 2013

>I still wonder if I will have problems burning BR disks for sharing videos. This LPCM audio is unknown to me

You shouldn't: even just plain DVD supports LPCM audio.

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buratino
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to lancespring, Jul 13, 2013

>In fact, I believe that it is the only "consumer" camcorder that does.

I am very glad that I was "totally wrong" on the AVCHD 2.0 specs with respect to LPCM! At the same time, it makes me really angry that we all have to wait for G30 to get it (the sound) in a consumer camcorder!

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Boongie
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon 50-HF G30
In reply to rlapporte, Jul 13, 2013

I am in the same position of considering the same three "prosumer" video cameras.  I cannot find the Canon HF G30 locally to try out...it appears that it just released.  I am replacing a Sony Digital 8 video camera.  My primary use will be for video of family, but I do want to get into editing via my computer, now that I would be getting rid of tape.  I use Adobe Premiere Elements 11.  There is a $100 retail difference between the Sony 790 and Canon G30.  The fact that Sony includes 96 meg of built in video storage does not really make a difference to me, as I am concerned that if the camera breaks down, then the video stored on the built in memory could be gone.

What I am interested in is the ease of editing the video on my computer, the quality of the video, and the ergonomics of the camera.

I have read some negative on-line reviews of the Panasonic X920, especially in regards to white balance issues.  Sony reviews are few.  And Canon reviews, except for a review of features, are essentially non existant. Even Canon's U.S. website is not yet allowing a comparison to be made of the G30 vs. the G20 cameras.  I presume the latter is due to the fact that the Canon has just been released.

I am not sure if it makes any difference, but I use a Canon 60D digital SLR.  I know some people use it for video, but I don't like the slow focus and limited video storage capability.  And carrying around the 60D with a 70-300 zoom lens all day long can get tiring.  The zoom range of the G30 does interest me, although I do realize that when fully zoomed in camera shake (even with image stabilization) can make the video unwatchable.

Thanks for any guidance.

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lancespring
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to buratino, Jul 14, 2013

buratino wrote:

>In fact, I believe that it is the only "consumer" camcorder that does.

I am very glad that I was "totally wrong" on the AVCHD 2.0 specs with respect to LPCM! At the same time, it makes me really angry that we all have to wait for G30 to get it (the sound) in a consumer camcorder!

Very good point.  I doubt it would be hardly much added cost to support LPCM in consumer cameras.

Seems that all of the manufacturers have conspired together to force us to buy more expensive gear in order to get LPCM support.

.

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Noirist
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon 50-HF G30
In reply to rlapporte, Jul 14, 2013

rlapporte wrote:

Thanks, Lancespring.

No, I don't have any editing software yet...that was going to be my next research project

You don't need editing software to upload your AVCHD videos to youtube.  As mentioned above, you can easily upload either MTS files or MP4 files directly to youtube or vimeo without any problems. If the files are large and your connection is slow, you can re-encode the MTS files to a lower bit rate using the excellent free software Microsoft Expression Encoder and them upload them.

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Noirist
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Re: Panasonic X920 vs. Sony PJ 790 vs Canon HF G30
In reply to rlapporte, Jul 14, 2013

rlapporte wrote:

I'm fairly new to video, and I'm trying to decide between these three camcorders. I've done quite a bit of homework, and it seems like the Sony might have the best OIS, but the Panasonic seems to have really good auto white balance and IQ. The Canon will record 1080p/60 in MP4, and I don't believe the others will. The Canon has the furthest reach. The Sony has the projector which I doubt I'll use. I do think I'll use WiFi with my Android or iPhone, but they all have that feature. I'm not too concerned about the cost difference between the three, although obviously the Panasonic wins in that department. I suppose I might want to set up a wireless mic at some point, but I'm not sure about that yet.

I'm looking for any further thoughts about pros/cons before I take the plunge. I have not seen a great review comparing the three.

How big of a deal is the 1080p/60 with MP4?

Thanks in advance,

Rob

I've had the X920 and the G30 for a week and have been testing them. There is very little (if any) difference between the 28Mbps 60p AVCHD footage from the X920 and the 35Mbps 60p MP4 footage from the G30. So I wouldn't use that as a basis for choosing between those two cameras.

The big differences are:

1. The G30 is twice as heavy and twice as large.

2. The X920 turns on and starts recording nearly instantly. The G30 takes a few seconds to turn on and start recording. This is a non-issue for professional applications but a big one for home use.

3. The G30 has 20x zoom whereas the X920 has 12x zoom. At the wide end, they are very similar, but the G30 has more 44% reach at the telephoto end. It sounds like a big difference on paper but in practice I did not find it to be. In my experience, the G30 would need to have an 800mm equivalent lens to provide a significant benefit versus the X920's 400mm equivalent.

4. The G30 footage has color moire whereas the X920 does not. If your intended subjects have fine repeating detail, you will be better served by the X920.

5. The X920 footage has more measured resolution in bright light than the G30 footage. This is only significant for wide angle shots containing lots of detail (eg., trees, grass).

5. The G30 EVF has much higher resolution than the X920 EVF. However, this is less significant than it seems on paper because neither EVF can be used to judge focus or evaluate footage. In practice both EVFs can only be used for framing purposes, and the X920 EVF is certainly sufficient for that.

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