I mainly use the SDX800, which is the bigger model, but I did take a 200 to a football game to see what it could do. I also took my 800 along (with a brand new Canon IFxs lens) for a side by side comparison. Here are my observations:
- As far as video quality, the 200 holds up pretty well in DVCPRO (25mbs, 4:1:1, 480/60i) mode to the 800. The colors are vibrant, and it seems to be fairly robust. The resolution seems to match up pretty well, even under stadium lights.
- As for the lens, no comparison. Of course, since my 800 has a lens that costs twice what an entire 200 package costs, that would be like comparing a Mercedes-Benz McLaren to a Geo Metro. In fact, the only thing that allowed the trained eye to tell which was which was the depth of field (which the 800 had, but the 200 didn't). The servo zoom on the 200 is also very slow.
- The on-board microphone on the 200 is a sin against NAT sound. Make sure you spring for an external mic if you get one. The Panasonic model on the 800 isn't bad.
- The 200 was also very easy to use. I turned it on, white balanced, and away I went. I also used the pre-roll function (so I wouldn't have 45 up the middle plays) to get the highlights, and it worked well. The 800 operates like any other DVCPRO series camera made by Panasonic, so experience videographers won't have trouble making the transition.
- I shot the game handheld. I used both arms to support the 200, and used the small viewfinder against my eyes to support the camera. To that end, I didn't find the 200 difficult to manage on the field, nor did I find my arms getting tired. After every play, I held it to my side for a second, and switched how I carried it when I wasn't shooting. The 800, alas, is very heavy for a DVCPRO model camera.
- The caveat: When I walked in the stadium with the 200, it was nice to walk through the crowd without 700 people yelling, "Cameraman! Put me on TV."
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the 200's performance. The videographers at my station who have them love them. If Panasonic would make a model which could take a 2/3" bayonet mount lens, and make the price of the media cheaper ($1800 for a 16mb card as of this writing), they'd really have something!
I have been using the HVX-200 for about six months now shooting daily story's. We shoot DVCPRO 50 on P2 cards and the picture quality is great. It takes a while to get over the fact that its a small camera but the picture quality is there.