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Old September 22nd, 2012, 05:05 PM   #1
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First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

I had a chance to "play" with the new Panasonic AG-AC90 Camera at DV Expo. Jan was nice enough to sit down and talk about the camera.


Things worth pointing out are:

(1) The image stabilization system is amazing, walking with the camera or holding it on a subject are very smooth. At maximum telephoto I was a bit too shaky for it, but at a lessor zoom, it can deal with my shake.

(2) The wide end of the zoom is much wider than the Panasonic HMC40, the AC90 is equal to a 29.5mm lens on a 35mm camera.

(3) The LCD is 3.5" (8.89cm) and has 1,150,000 dots.

(4) XLR with phantom power on/off is built into the camera.

(5) It has 2 slots for recording; you can (a) Only record in one. (b) Record the exact same thing to both slots. AND (c) When one slot is full, have it switch to the other. There will be a short 1/2 second drop out during the switch over.

(6) It uses the exact same battery as the 170 camera.

(7) Has an SD (480/60i USA, 480/50i Europe/Asia...) recording mode.


On the flip side there are some other things that may or may not matter to you:

(1) No 720p recording mode; you can record in 1080 mode and down-convert to 720p. I find it interesting that it has a 1080/60p USA, 1080/50p Europe/Asia... recording mode.

(2) No Waveform monitor; the camera does have a histogram. You can set up an IRE spot measurement like you can do on the HMC40.

(3) The lens hood is fixed into place. The space is very wide, so you should be able to fit a "fat" wide angle or telephoto adapter in there.


The camera comes out in the USA in October and I believe the price is around $2,200 (USD).



Bob Diaz
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 05:10 PM   #2
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Here are several videos I posted in VIMEO taken at the show. The camera was set to iA (Intelligent Auto). The files are direct from the camera, so if you are a member of VIMEO, you can download the source file.

Hand held shot:

Walking with the camera:

Rapid Auto-focus test:

AC90 & HMC40 Side by side:

In the last video I hand held the two cameras side by side. The test is not perfect, but it should give you an idea of the difference in the image between the two cameras.


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Old September 22nd, 2012, 06:03 PM   #3
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

One last video to share, here's a walk about the show floor at DV Expo.



It's not my best work, but should give you an idea what the booth part of the show was like.

Shot with a Panasonic HMC40 with a 0.5x Century Wide Angle Adapter on a mono-pod.



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Old September 22nd, 2012, 09:27 PM   #4
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Thanks Bob

I was wondering when you would get your videos over on the DVInfo side...I have already commented extensively else where so it is sufficient to say that for run 'n gun stuff like weddings this is the answer in both size and price...it has all the features that the AC-130 has without all the nasty issues that forced me to sell my 130's .... It's pretty hard to fault at this stage so I'm looking forward to having one in my hot sweaty hands when the PAL versions arrive on this side of the planet (ours will be AC-92's) .... !

The update and all your hard work is much appreciated

Chris
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 12:55 AM   #5
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Thanks Chris,

Things have been VERY busy at work, so I've had to delay posting this until I got some free time.

I'd expect the AC92 to support, 1080/50p, 1080/50i, 1080/25p, & 480/50i.

The AC90 supports, 1080/60p, 1080/60i, 1080/30p, 1080/24p, 480/60i.



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Old September 23rd, 2012, 01:17 AM   #6
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Hi Bob

1080 50P will be very welcome!! Because we lose 5 frames on PAL ..25P is a wee bit slow and fast pans can end up a little blurry sometimes...I still have 720 50P but 1080 will be really neat.

When they arrive I will grab one initially and hopefully if I'm happy (see no reason why not with the awesome tests you have done) I'll grab a second one and either sell or retire my HMC82's ...Last year I got the two 130's and immediately sold my previous HMC82's and had to end up losing bucks on selling the 130's and buying another pair of HMC82's ...that was a bit of a pain!!

I'm getting to the stage where old age (well 66!) is taking a toll on my arms with 8 or 9lbs of camera almost every day so a lighter cam will surely be welcome.

Hope things quieten done just a little for you!!

Chris
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 03:32 AM   #7
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Did I see right that there are no ND filters build in?
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 07:03 AM   #8
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Hi Noa

There are no switchable external ND filters ..the same as the HMC40 and 80 ..it has an auto ND built into the camera that comes in when it needs to..so in auto your exposure is controlled with iris, shutter and ND. Despite the marginally smaller chips than the HMC40 the lens is faster and the chips are backlit.

Bob reports that the image is clean even at 18db gain which is awesome so low light will actually be better even though the gain is high..even 24db is still usable whereas on my hmc82's I can only just scrape by at 18db and already video noise is present....the chips resolve a very respectable 2.1 million pixels .... compare that to the old 1/4" CCD's that struggled to get to 460K!!!

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Old September 23rd, 2012, 05:23 PM   #9
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Berry Green should be credited for the +18dB looks good comment.

/// His Statement ///
At 0dB of gain, the AC90 is absurdly sharp. It's really quite fantastic. I think it's sharper than the HPX250/AC160 series, and that's saying something. Sharper than an EX3? Maybe. Now, when you start cranking up the gain that advantage gets mushed a little, but at 0dB it's super hyper sharp.
...
In terms of base sensitivity, it isn't any more sensitive than the HMC40. They're about the same in that regard. The sensors are a little smaller in the AC90, which lowers sensitivity, but they're backlit illuminated chips, which enhances sensitivity, so the net effect is that they're about the same in terms of basic sensitivity. Where the AC90 pulls way ahead though is in gain performance. I was testing last night, trying to evaluate the noise profile, and there basically wasn't any noise, I had to go to 30dB of gain to get any appreciable amount of noise! Even at +18, it was really clean. Cleaner than I remember the HMC40 being at 12dB. As I recall, the limit of where I was really comfortable with the HMC40 was about 9dB, and 12db in an emergency, but I set the gain limit at 12db, and never let it go higher. With the AC90, I'm happy to let it go to 18db, and I'll say this, I wish I had them side by side because I think the AC90 is probably cleaner at 24dB than the HMC40 is at 12dB. And if that's the case, it means a real-world two stop advantage vs. the HMC40.

I love the HMC40, it's a great little camera, but the intervening three years has indeed brought some technical benefits, and the AC90 is sharper, cleaner, with an absolutely gorgeous 4:2:2 output (recording the Wringer on the NanoFlash from the AC90 gave the best results I've seen yet from any camera I've tested!) It does get softer/mushier/noisier at 30dB, but ... that's 30dB! You should expect it to be soft and flat and mushy at 30dB. I think 24dB is usable, and I think 18dB is just fine, and I'm shocked to say that, because man, back in DVX days, 18dB was an unholy hailstorm of noise and grain and ugliness, but the AC90 just laps it up like it was nothing.
/// End Of Quote///


When shooting at 1080/60p, the recording rate increases to 28Mb/second, just a bit higher than the regular 24Mb/Second of the regular modes.


It's too bad that Barry Green lives across the country from me, IF he were in Southern California, I've be begging him to let me come over with my HMC40 to do a side by side test.


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Old September 23rd, 2012, 05:49 PM   #10
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Bob, what I'm seeing so far has pretty much made up my mind about changing my cam to something I feel will give me more flexibility doing my video work. I'll probably sell my HMC-80 and purchase the new AC90 so I can mount it up to some sort of steadycam rig a little easier than the shoulder mount.
I still love my HMC-80 and continue to be impressed by it's picture quality on all types of projects. A couple of years have passed and new technology is allowing smaller sensors to perform well on lower priced cameras which is more in my price point.

Thanks for the input!
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 07:01 PM   #11
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Hi Bob

My apologies to Barry..checking back, yes, it was Barry but I'm sure you feel the same about better IQ at higher gain.

One the PAL units come out here I'll grab one and do a side by side comparison with the HMC82's ..still love my shoulder mount cameras though so yes, a rig and loupe would be somewhat essential...I still have both my Hoodman loupes that I used on the 130's (the buyer never wanted them)

Any actual dimensions been released as yet??? All I know so far is that the camera is "around the size of a DVX100" ...I won't quote a name as I'm not sure who said it.

Chris
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 09:38 PM   #12
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Thanks Steve.

NOTE: To Jan Chrittenden Livingston, Panasonic USA, I hope you saw Steve's message. Now doesn't that make you want to send an evaluation unit to Bob during the month of January so he can do a side by side test? (El Camino College is closed for Winter Break in January, so I'd have lots of time to do a great test.)

;-))

-------------------

Chris,

Sorry, but I didn't hear or see any dimensions. I do know it's a bit bigger and fatter than the HMC40. I think I heard it weighs around 3 pounds (about 1.4kg), but I'm not 100% sure on the weight.

I'm kicking myself, because after leaving the show there were all sorts of things I thought of to check. Pity I had a class that night, otherwise I'd have gone back. (Work always gets in the way of fun.)



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Old October 16th, 2012, 06:13 AM   #13
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

the ac90 can be ordered in a Belgian store here for the price of a Canon xa10, that's cheap! It's even 500 euro cheaper then the Sony nx30 which makes it a "no brainer", compared to both the small handicam type Canon and Sony camera's you are getting much more in return for your money in terms of controll. I might have to let go my xh-a1...
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Old October 16th, 2012, 07:23 AM   #14
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

Hi Noa

Darn, that's quick! My supplier hasn't even listed the 25/50 PAL models yet. When I'm not sure but they haven't even got it under Preliminary Products.

In Europe is the camera called an AC-91 or AC-92 ????

Then again I would still be very wary of letting my two HMC82's go at this stage..they do everything I ask of them and produce outstanding footage.... I love the shoulder mount too...When I bought my two AC-130's I spent hours (weeks actually) converting them to shoulder mount and they still had flaws and were not nearly as ergomonic as my HMC's ...If I get an AC-90 I'll still keep both HMC cameras and use the AC-90 for Realty shoots (lots of handheld work) and at weddings on my stedicam....After my disasterous 3 months with the AC-130's I will test the 90 out VERY VERY well and check for any issues from other users first before considering them as replacements!!

You might be wise to hold onto the Canon for a while while you are absolutely sure the 90 can replace it!!


Chris
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Old October 16th, 2012, 01:27 PM   #15
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Re: First Look, Panasonic AG-AC90 at DV Expo

No, here it's called AG-AC90, it's not in stock yet so only pre-order.

I only read some comments about the camera from people that have used a preproduction model but I also found a video today with some sample images where the gh2 was compared with the ac90. The dynamic range was not that good but probably to be expected from such a small sensor camera, one image in particular with shadow and sun it appeared the camera was not that good dealing with highlights which more panasonic camera's seem to suffer from. It has somehow tempered my enthousiasm a little bit but I will be looking out for early adopter video's anyway.
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