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Old April 26th, 2012, 12:02 AM   #1
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Panasonic AG-AC160A 1080/60p & 50p

I haven't physically seen these Panasonic cameras and wondered are they the hand held or shoulder type units. I know they're available in May.
Panasonic has announced the AG-AC160A and AG-AC130A, upgraded versions of its newest professional AVCCAM HD camcorders. Improved functionality in both camcorders includes expanded focus assist and “turbo speed” one-push auto focus function; the AC160A also incorporates acquisition in the 1080/60p and 1080/50p HD recording formats (in new PS mode).

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Old April 29th, 2012, 06:05 PM   #2
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Re: Panasonic AG-AC160A 1080/60p & 50p

They are EXACTLY like the AC160 & AC130, just with the newly added "expanded focus" & "turbo focus." You can upgrade a 160/130 to an "A" model for $350 & it has to be sent off to Panasonic as it needs some additional hardware.

The 160A & 130A will cost $350 more than the models now (so if you don't care about these features, buy a 130 / 160 ASAP before the price goes up).

The 1080p60 is a free firmware upgrade for current 160/130 owners & it will come standard on the "A" models.
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Old April 29th, 2012, 08:50 PM   #3
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Re: Panasonic AG-AC160A 1080/60p & 50p

Thanks Zach
That totally clears it up for me.
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Old April 29th, 2012, 10:16 PM   #4
 
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Re: Panasonic AG-AC160A 1080/60p & 50p

Are they any good for timelapse work, especially sunsets and night showing streets and cars?
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Old April 30th, 2012, 10:36 AM   #5
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Re: Panasonic AG-AC160A 1080/60p & 50p

The AC160 can do variable frame rate down to 2fps, so it is probably as good as a HVX or EX1 or... for timelapse. Or you can get a Go Pro, or nearly any DSLR can be controlled by an affordable remote for timelapse, or... just many, many options out there for timelapse.
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Old April 30th, 2012, 10:53 AM   #6
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Re: Panasonic AG-AC160A 1080/60p & 50p

Hi;

After months of research, and based on the promise of the available 1080/60p upgrade and also the $300 Turbo Focus upgrade, I ordered an AC160 from B&H.

I tested it for less than a day and sent it back for a refund. I was very sad and disappointed, because I have been trying to find my first "pro" cam for six months. Each one I test seems to have a different, but still (from my viewpoint) crippling problem. I really, really wanted this cam to work for me. I can't emphasize this enough - I was prepared to overlook a lot of problems.

I was prepared for a bit of coma and chromatic aberration, some auto-focus issues, along with some build quality problems compared to Sonys. But I never dreamed that the camera would have a problem that no one had reported in any reviews - the zoom servos are horribly loud, when any zoom speed other than a slow creep is used!

I had never heard anything like this. Conceivably the unit I had was faulty, but I don't think so.

The whine was so loud that it even came through on the recordings when using an external mic on a separate stand 6' away. This made the camera useless for any serious recordings of classical music, and also pretty much ruined routine ENG stuff - who wants to hear whirrr, whirrrrr with every zoom?

My frustration is that I have tried pretty much everything that meets my requirements and there is nothing left to test. I'm hoping that the new JVC GY-HM600U, due out in October 2012 might be OK - IF JVC gives it the AVCHD 2.0 1080 /60p mode. No guarantees there, and I hate waiting.

Other annoyances with the AC160 - things I might have lived with if the servo motor problem was not there:

* The build quality is worse than I had anticipated, even having been warned. The rings sound and feel cheap and scratchy, not silky like the rings on a Sony NX5. The buttons are very cheap and rattle at the slightest shake. The plastic housing feels thin, and any touch on the cam creates a hollow sound that also comes through on the recordings. The bottom plastic base, where the tripod attaches, in particular feels and sounds thin and cheap. It flexes slightly when the tripod plate is attached. I know Panny is supposedly trying to save mass, but this is not the way to do it! It made me want to open up the case and line the housing with DynaMat to suppress the hollow sounds. IN general it just felt cheap compared to what I have grown used to with Sonys.

* The handle zoom rocker is not vario - another cheapo design decision.
* Instead of a lever-action dust cover, there is a misplace-able lens cap.
* The cooling fan noise is audible in quiet environments
* White-balance adjustment is needlessly fiddly. The one-touch feature did not seem to work reliably. Getting to the temp adjustments is not intuitive.
* The cam has more noise in low light than the NX5, but not a lot more.
* The manual focus-assist seemed annoying. I never did figure out how to leave the cam in Auto-everything mode and still have full manual focus. I'm sure there is a way, but Panny makes it hard to get to.
* The position of the LCD is not optimal - it needs to be up on the handle.

The image quality was pretty good, and the face detection seemed to work. I had no real problems with the auto-focus, although it was a bit slow at the long end in dim light. Also, I had no objections to the EVF - it could have a bit more magnification, but it is useable. It comes with the Barry Green book.

With all the problems, I did not want to keep it and have to hassle with the $300 factory upgrade. So I sent it back. I guess if there is nothing else I can find by the time the AC160A comes out, I might try one of those. But I will not be enthusiastic, and for nearly $5K I was expecting a LOT more.

Steve
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