We’ve seen a lot of media servers, projectors, and video processing equipment grace the pages of Live Design and its electronic versions recently, but not a lot of attention has been paid to the other end of the process: shooting in HD. A lot of cameras have come out over the past couple of years that shoot in various formats, including the popular tape-driven HDV format, but if you are looking to shoot in true HD, the best bang for the buck is in the Panasonic HVX200 .

The HVX has a lot of things going for it in any setting, but the single most impressive feature for the kind of work where every show has an entirely different set of needs and circumstances is its flexibility. The HVX can shoot in any and all HD formats including 1080i and 720p, in addition to all SD formats, both interlaced and progressive. It can record to P2 storage cards (proprietary cards that can be offloaded onto any laptop with a PCMCIA slot at high speed), external Firewire drives, and even—in the SD formats—to DVC Pro tapes. With a small hack easily done to the P2 cards, you can record at any frame rate between two and 60 frames per second. It accepts a wide variety of lenses, including SLR still camera lenses with the purchase of an adaptor.

XLR audio inputs, a range of “Cinelike” gammas and a workflow optimized for Final Cut Pro round out the features on the HVX. At around $5,500, it’s not a light purchase, but in comparison to the feature sets on the cheaper HDV cameras and the cost of the higher-end HD cams, the camera is a beautiful compromise.