P2 cards are re-writable solid-state memory cards that are used in various Panasonic camcorders and other devices for recording video footage.
Capable of capturing HD, SD, DV, DVCPRO HD, DVCPRO50 and DVCPRO 25 as well as AVC-Intra, they have been made available in various sizes over the years but are currently sold in three flavours: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.
P2 cards are compatible with tapeless camcorders such as the Varicam 3700 and the HPX300 as well as recording devices like the HPG10 and the SPD850 and are fully interoperable with the leading non-linear editing systems.
Here are 10 things you should know about Panasonic P2 cards:
1) P2 Cards transfer data at a speed of 8:1.
In real terms that means it is possible, as an example, to transfer a full 32GB E Series card (that includes at least 32 minutes of P2 HD video) in less than four minutes. The data transfer speed is described as being (up to) 1.2 Gbps (gigabits per second).
2) P2 Cards can be used as an editing media.
This means that, although transfer times are fast, you don’t actually need to transfer footage to an external device or storage in order to edit it. You can simply edit directly from the card itself.
3) P2 works with Mac and Windows.
Because a P2 card uses the FAT32 file system and records to universally interchangeable MXF data files it is compatible with both Mac and Windows operating systems (as long as they are properly configured of course).
4) P2 records like a digital stills camera.
Unlike other recording mediums that store footage as video data, P2 cards record footage as computer data files, hence its universal compatibility.
5) P2 Cards are high-precision microcomputers.
It sounds a bit grand for something so small but P2 cards actually have their own RAID controller and processors plus firmware and gigabytes worth of solid-state memory chips.
6) P2 cards can last up to ten years.
If you use a P2 card once a day at half capacity they are reusable for up to ten years. At full capacity they will keep going for five years.
7) P2 cards are ‘fault-free’.
In a world where computers fail all the time it may sound unlikely but a P2 Card ensures a fault-free operation by doing a write-verification step for every byte of memory that is written to it.
8) P2 Cards are much more durable than other solid-state recording mediums.
Because they have a diecast aluminum construction and impact-proof connectors P2 cards are much more rugged than other, plastic and easily breakable, formats. They are also made without moving parts. This is potentially a huge deal as it greatly reduces the chances of mechanical problems and means they should perform in extreme environments and be resistant to temperature extremes, shock and vibration. Other mediums, particularly tape and hard disk that do have moving parts, are less reliable.
9) P2 Cards are hot swappable.
If you’re using a camcorder such as the Panasonic HPX3700 that can hold as many as five 64GB P2 cards at a time, you can record continuously for days on end by simply swapping cards in and out while the camera is still rolling.
10) P2 is versatile.
At the last count there were more than 110,000 P2 units in use around the world and it has been used on various types of television programme from Natural History (Planet Earth Live, BBC) and Children’s (Postcode, CBBC) to Gameshows (The Cube, ITV) and Drama (Moving On, BBC).