AG-HMC80 overview by Jan Crittenden at NAB2010 at DVinfo.net

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Panasonic AVCCAM Camcorders
AVCHD for pro applications: AG-AC160, AC130 and other AVCCAM gear.


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Old April 20th, 2010, 10:36 AM   #1
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AG-HMC80 overview by Jan Crittenden at NAB2010

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Old April 20th, 2010, 11:03 AM   #2
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Thanks Chris.

That is one heck of a nice looking camera for under $3,000.00. I am a long time Canon user but I recently bought a HMC40 because I wanted to try out and play with a AVCHD type camera. I needed a bit more then a consumer camera for vacation use and the HMC40 really fit the bill. Now that I have it I see how much it can do for even professional work. If you can get around the low light these are some amazing cameras.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 11:15 AM   #3
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The HMC80 appears to be perfect for a wide variety of applications, and I can see small business, schools, etc. building production packages out of the HMC80 and HMC40 cameras; they seem to compliment each other quite nicely.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 01:24 PM   #4
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Love that my varizoom controllers for my DVX cams will work with the 80.

What about the batteries? Are they the Panny ones that prohibit a user from installing a 3rd party battery?

If not would the DVX batteries work in this?

Just wondering.
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Old April 20th, 2010, 06:04 PM   #5
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Hi Ian

I very much doubt whether Panny will revert to the DVX battery ..I have 2 x HMC72's and they will ONLY also use Panasonic batteries!! That was my only complaint with the camera.. the 2640mah battery here was $200!! However I fully suspect that HMC 150/40/70 owners will have battery compatibility with the new model. I actually found that, despite the price, the dedicated batteries are VERY good. I can shoot for 2 hours on a 2640mah battery and it runs the camera right down to the last 5 minutes ...A generic battery that you would find on eBay will not nearly have that performance!!! My DVX batteries (generic) were usually pathetic when it came to actual run time. It's well worth just biting the bullet and getting an extra 5000mah battery with the camera and you will NEVER run out of power!!!

I have two of these on my "must get" list when the PAL versions are released later this year to replace my two HMC 72's ... I especially love the manual iris thumbwheel..that's awesome!!!

Chris
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Old April 20th, 2010, 09:22 PM   #6
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i would be a lot more interested if it was ccd :(
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Old April 21st, 2010, 06:14 PM   #7
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Hi Tom

I'm also getting my head around the switch to 3MOS chips but it seems that manufacturers will eventually all go this route due to mainly costs as all still cams use CMOS so manufacturing costs will be lower.

I have only just convinced myself (after much soul-searching) that SDHC cards ARE OK!! It was tough to leave tape behind after so many years so I guess it will be much the same with sensors!!

Unfortunately I'm a huge shoulder-mount fan so switching to the 150 would mean a BIG change for me and I would also need to find a comfortable shoulder mount rig too and way higher costs!!

The HMC40 crowd don't seem to have too many issues with the new 3MOS chips??? I think that there is a lot more fuss made about them than is necessary and as long as you are not into fast pans, they seem to image pretty well. Maybe we need a few 3MOS users to convince us that they are not as bad as we think???

Chris
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Old April 22nd, 2010, 12:04 AM   #8
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oh no i dont have any problems with what you stated ,i agree even
my wish for ccds comes from a want of better low light performance
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Old April 22nd, 2010, 07:32 AM   #9
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3mos vs CCD doesn't really have as much to do with low light performance as does the size of the chips. The HMC40 crams a full 1920x1080 pixels into a 1/4" chip. Those are some very tiny pixels for light gathering. 1/3" 3mos would have been a stop faster and if Panasonic would port whatever technology makes the HPX300 use a 1/3" 3mos that performs like a 1/2" cmos then it would be even better yet. I'm not sure if we will see this anytime soon however. Keep in mind both would dramatically raise the price of the camera.

Also keep in mind that cmos tends to handle gain much better then CCD due to less noise in the chips. A lot of CCD based HD camera start to look bad past 6 DB of gain. Cmos on the other hand like in the HMC40/80 can be pushed well beyond that. Gain should never to a substitute for good lighting but having a cleaner gain does help.

I just did an eye ball comparison with my old trusty Canon XL1 and my new HMC40. I have always known my XL1 wasn't the best in low light but it worked for me for 10 years so I felt if the HMC40 could match the low light I would be in good shape. Well the XL1 at 0 DB matched the HMC40 at 12 DB. Yeah this is darker but 12 DB of the HMC40 is still very clean. Now the Xl1 didn't have very clean gain so when I switch the XL1 to 12 DB which is the max the HMC40 had to be at 24 DB to match. Again if you look at the numbers it seems pretty freaky shooting at 24 DB but it actually looks cleaner then the XL1 at 12 DB. Keep in mind the HMC40 was being viewed in HD as well. Scale that down to SD and the noise would get reduced even more. Not bad at all. I would have loved it to match a bit lower but it is workable and I actually consider it just slightly more sensitive then my XL1 when you factor in how good the noise looks at higher gain levels. When you also factor in that the 1/30th shutter is somewhat usable on the HMC40 compared to the XL1 it makes it even better yet. I hate using 1/30th shutter but it works well in a pinch if you really need a bit of extra light.
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Old April 22nd, 2010, 08:48 AM   #10
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Hi Thomas

Very good point!! The image on the HMC40 is remarkably noise free even at 24db and my HMC72's are probably much the same at 15db using CCD chips so the 3MOS are a lot less noisy!! I think that Panasonic also has some good technology to avoid excessive video noise. I used to shoot on a PAL version of the DVC20 which had only 1/6" CCD chips and even at 18db the image was resonable (however one must bear in mind that it was only a 720x576 4:3 image)

Sony's single CMOS sensor on the HD1000 camera on the other hand has probably put a lot of people off CMOS as at a high gain the noise is incredible!! Almost like you have filmed thru a pair of ladies pantyhose!!! I was impressed at the noiseless gain on the Panny cameras but as you say, it's always far better to not have such a low light situation. I have learnt at weddings now, when the sun goes down and I'm at the reception, the on-cam LED light goes on...at least it there if I need it and keeps the image crisp and the gain low!!

Chris
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Old April 22nd, 2010, 02:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Smet View Post
3mos vs CCD doesn't really have as much to do with low light performance as does the size of the chips. The HMC40 crams a full 1920x1080 pixels into a 1/4" chip. Those are some very tiny pixels for light gathering. 1/3" 3mos would have been a stop faster and if Panasonic would port whatever technology makes the HPX300 use a 1/3" 3mos that performs like a 1/2" cmos then it would be even better yet. I'm not sure if we will see this anytime soon however. Keep in mind both would dramatically raise the price of the camera.

Also keep in mind that cmos tends to handle gain much better then CCD due to less noise in the chips. A lot of CCD based HD camera start to look bad past 6 DB of gain. Cmos on the other hand like in the HMC40/80 can be pushed well beyond that. Gain should never to a substitute for good lighting but having a cleaner gain does help.

I just did an eye ball comparison with my old trusty Canon XL1 and my new HMC40. I have always known my XL1 wasn't the best in low light but it worked for me for 10 years so I felt if the HMC40 could match the low light I would be in good shape. Well the XL1 at 0 DB matched the HMC40 at 12 DB. Yeah this is darker but 12 DB of the HMC40 is still very clean. Now the Xl1 didn't have very clean gain so when I switch the XL1 to 12 DB which is the max the HMC40 had to be at 24 DB to match. Again if you look at the numbers it seems pretty freaky shooting at 24 DB but it actually looks cleaner then the XL1 at 12 DB. Keep in mind the HMC40 was being viewed in HD as well. Scale that down to SD and the noise would get reduced even more. Not bad at all. I would have loved it to match a bit lower but it is workable and I actually consider it just slightly more sensitive then my XL1 when you factor in how good the noise looks at higher gain levels. When you also factor in that the 1/30th shutter is somewhat usable on the HMC40 compared to the XL1 it makes it even better yet. I hate using 1/30th shutter but it works well in a pinch if you really need a bit of extra light.
thanks for explaining that Thomas ,i always just assumed cmos was bad in low light ,i never made the connection about the chip size ,thanks very much :)
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