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


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Old March 12th, 2013, 04:24 AM   #16
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Phil, a few questions re the AC90:

Can you tell us what software comes with the AC90 if any? I am particularly interested in something similar to HD Writer which as you know comes bundled with the TM900 family. I only use it to trim off the starts and ends of clips and for that it is invaluable because it can do that quickly and without the need to re-render. Great for removing unwanted footage from unattended cams of which I have three :- )

Have you managed to find an online PDF manual? I can't find anything other than the brochure on Pannys UK site. I like to have PDF manuals on my phone and Ipad for quick reference when in the field.

Do you know if the AC90 offers automated backlight compensation like TM900 family does? Again this is invaluable for me when its shooting unattended.

Trying to decide whether the AC90 is a TM900 with knobs on - so to speak - or whether there is also an appreciable improvement in image quality especially in low light, so any observations you have are very welcome.

Pete
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Old March 12th, 2013, 05:09 AM   #17
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Pete,

AC90 instructions can be found here: Frank's thoughts on HDV - Documentation Index

I'm not sure about the 90, but Pansonic normally supply a DVD that contais the manuals. The ones on that site may be for a USA model, but the features are all the same.

It's not the same camera as the TM900 range, the chips and other features are different. The back-lit 3-MOS (i.e. 3-chip) setup seems to deliver a great picture. By all accounts it does a great job in low light and on auto (from reading The Other Forum). But I don't own one, and can't comment directly on how it compares to the TM900.

If money wasn't an issue - there's only 400 or so between the cameras - add the additional manual controls, three rings on the lens barrel, XLRs, better form factor - I'd go for the AC90. But then the TM900 has the advantages of being tiny and unobtrusive.
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Old March 12th, 2013, 02:43 PM   #18
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
Phil, a few questions re the AC90:
Can you tell us what software comes with the AC90 if any? I am particularly interested in something similar to HD Writer which as you know comes bundled with the TM900 family. I only use it to trim off the starts and ends of clips and for that it is invaluable because it can do that quickly and without the need to re-render. Great for removing unwanted footage from unattended cams of which I have three :- )

Have you managed to find an online PDF manual? I can't find anything other than the brochure on Pannys UK site. I like to have PDF manuals on my phone and Ipad for quick reference when in the field.
If you had not mentioned there was such a software I would never have known. There are multiple problems with that type of software if it was available for the AG-AC90 (I don't think anything but the PDF manual came with it.). The same manual is on Panasonc's website. The file formats are .MTS and are stored deep in a directory structure, as part of the directory structure there are locations for metadata and indexing. The practice for importing video to NLEs is to import using the entire directory, because of the metadata and probably most importantly for 4gb+ sized files which may be split. Therefore you do not want to edit or delete the copies of these files directly you have on your harddrive(s). Instead if you are sure you are not going to want something you must delete it in camera first. You can view the files, but I would highly recommend not actually messing with what could be your originals. Harddrive space to me is really cheap. I've had mine almost 4 months and shoot frequently and I have used around 500gb.

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Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
Do you know if the AC90 offers automated backlight compensation like TM900 family does? Again this is invaluable for me when its shooting unattended.
There is a function you can assign one of your user buttons to for backlight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
Trying to decide whether the AC90 is a TM900 with knobs on - so to speak - or whether there is also an appreciable improvement in image quality especially in low light, so any observations you have are very welcome. Pete
From what I have read it is not the same. There are a number of variations sensor wise. I have not seen a A-B test though.
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Old March 12th, 2013, 03:42 PM   #19
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Thanks Mike and Steve. Manuals downloaded :- ) Glad to see there is a backlight compensation function.

Steve the TM900 style editing software does not introduce the potential conflicts you describe:

My workflow is to shoot to cards rather than the built in flash drives then download these via a USB 3 card reader - which is easily 5 times faster than USB 2. Typically I multishoot 3 or 4 cams but only one would be attended at any one time. I can come away with well over 100gb of data, sometimes several times a week.

The Panny software is used to download via the card reader. It creates the appropriate folder and file structure. There is then an option to partially delete files. These files appear as one in the software even though they are of course split into 4gb segments in reality. The software knows to join them up. The partially delete function creates copies of the originals n.b. it does not change the originals in any way what so ever. These new smaller files then appear in the software, joined up seamlessly if applicable, and of course in their own 4gb segments in the actual file structure.

I shoot a high volume of weddings and the locked down cams may need to be started 15 minutes or more before the real action starts. They may also need to run for a similar time after the action finishes before I can get back to switch them all off. And I may want to chop several minutes out the middle of a long shoot if nothing much is happening e.g. paperwork being completed.

I then rename the edited files in Bridge so that they are readily identifyable as to which camera, which client, what part of the day, and the incremental number of the clip - be it a full 4gb or a smaller part. I can drag and drop the files into Vegas Pro from Bridge or File Explorer and commence the real editing initially using the Vegas multicam feature to play back all the files at the same time n.b. at that point the Panny folder and file structure is irrelevant and can be deleted.

I don't have such a rigorous partial edit routine with the separately recorded sound files as they are not nearly as large but I do occasionally top and tail them in Audacity.

Everything is triple backed up obviously.

In a nutshell the Panny partial delete function is not destructive or even risky, and is great for keeping things tidy and manageable in high volume scenarios. Shame there does not appear to be similar with the AC90 - which when all said and done is a bridge cam between consumer and professional.Instead I would have to render the originals to some low loss interim format and put up with the associated huge file sizes - somewhat defeating the object!

Pete
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Old March 12th, 2013, 05:18 PM   #20
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Peter

Thankfully Steve and Mike got in and answered all your questions.

I have come away fro premier pro and edit in FCPX so I either import directly from the card OR I store the card footage on my external drives (NB I then have to use Panasonic's software to recreate the file structure so FCPX can import the footage again, bizarre I know.

If you look at the other thread, I was able to take the footage, upload, post edit (roughly) with some colour correction and animation and upload to vimeo in 4 hours.. It was a speed and productivity test initially.
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Old March 12th, 2013, 06:20 PM   #21
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

So are you saying Phil that you cannot simply drag and drop the video files into the NLE of your choice? That would seem extraordinary but I only ever use Vegas Pro so I may be misunderstanding. I can drag and drop anything I want in to it - various high def Panny files, Gopro files, Canon dSLR video files, mobile phone files etc. They are in 4gb chunks of course but so what ( except the new Gopro which are in 2gb ).

Pete
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Old March 12th, 2013, 07:38 PM   #22
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Hi Peter

All AVCHD files are generated on a FAT32 system on the card and files that exceed 2GB are split and a new file created ...yes you can drag any file directly into your NLE and it will work BUT look carefully at the split files and you will see that AVCHD loses 12 frames of audio when it creates the new extra clip so you need to transfer the entire structure across otherwise you get 1/2 second of blank audio. Panny files need the whole card structure copied over so it can recognise that a clip of say 20 mins is actually two clips and will join them seamlessly ...Yes you can get away with it most of the time but with wedding ceremonies you can't if the clip splits in mid sentence! What I do is physically stop the camera at convenient points in a wedding ceremony so a split clip is not created..I can then just drag my files from the card as normal.

Sony have software that automatically stitches any split clips together for you which is neat!

Chris
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Old March 13th, 2013, 04:07 AM   #23
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Ah I see what you are saying now :- ) I never use the incam audio except in dire emergencies, preferring to record to standalone digital audio recorders then syncing in post using Plural Eyes. And I use several cams anyway so there is usually another to switch to in post. But I guess if you have a wireless audio feed direct into the main cam as your main source it could be an issue.

BTW my Gopro files are split into 2gb segments when using the new Protune facility but otherwise they are 4gb as are my Panny and Canon files. I quite like that Gopro splits to 2gb as its easier to find and delete unwanted footage quickly.

Chris, could you just clarify your equipment usage - I'm interested as we have the same low light challenges etc. Did you acquire an AC90 in the end? Was it the AC160 /130 that was a disappointment? Was the EA50 a bit of a red herring in that it is billed as "cinematic" but like me you don't major in that genre? Cheers.

Pete
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Old March 13th, 2013, 08:41 AM   #24
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Hi Pete

Yep the AC130's were a disaster for me...the main reason was the fact that you cannot leave the camera unattended and I'm a solo shooter ...if the sun goes behind a cloud you have to manually switch ND's and that means being at the camera and also switching an ND gives a flash on the footage..if they had made auto up the shutter speed as well like all the other cams it would have been fine...The 130 had (IMHO only) some other very bad issues including drifting focus, drifting autofocus and terrible audio channels. I got them last February and sold them at a loss in May and bought another pair of HMC82's which honestly did a better job at half the price. The HMC82's were sold 2 months ago and I now have two Sony EA-50's which are absolutely awesome cameras and I have yet to fault them at all!!!

The AC-90's were an option but were firstly not shoulder mount (I like SM cameras) but more importantly they have no XLR level control in auto (weird???) You have to manually ride the levels for the XLR's but the internal mic has full auto level control. At wedding receptions the ambient audio can vary hugely and is almost impossible to keep constant in manual so that was the deciding factor not to get AC-90's

I'm very happy with the Sony's They are lighter and a better form factor than anything else and have way more features than any of my Panny's ever had ... very well designed camera and it ticked every box for me plus more I never knew existed (You can fine tune XLR inputs in 6db increments, it has focus peaking in 3 colours and at 3 levels, there is both 4X and 8X expanded focus but the real gem is Sony's spot focus where in manual you touch the screen and the cam will lock onto that area) Really magic cameras and low light despite the slow stock lens (F3.5) is still way above the AC-130 due to the APSC sensor and gain is clean as high as 24db (about 2500ISO) which is plenty for weddings.. with primes the choice is endless

Chris
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Old March 13th, 2013, 04:36 PM   #25
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

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Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
So are you saying Phil that you cannot simply drag and drop the video files into the NLE of your choice? That would seem extraordinary but I only ever use Vegas Pro so I may be misunderstanding. I can drag and drop anything I want in to it - various high def Panny files, Gopro files, Canon dSLR video files, mobile phone files etc. They are in 4gb chunks of course but so what ( except the new Gopro which are in 2gb ).

Pete
Am sure Chris clarified it but because the files from the panasonic are .mts, FCPX can import them directly from the camera or the SD card but if you save the files to a hard drive first, they lose the file structure hence FCPX cant see them. So you use Panasonic's software to reset the file structure so FCPX can see them again. (hope that makes sense)

Premier Pro reads .mts no problem
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Old March 14th, 2013, 01:56 AM   #26
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

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Thanks Mike and Steve. Manuals downloaded :- ) Glad to see there is a backlight compensation function.

Steve the TM900 style editing software does not introduce the potential conflicts you describe:
Pete
Wow very informative! Yes I could see in your application where it would be greatly helpful. I shoot run and gun events but very little footage gets wasted because I run just one camera. Sometimes there are 2 of us and we both are grabbing everything we can. I also shoot short films and I keep all the takes. Your situation makes complete sense for what you do.

I have been sticking to manual focus too, because like Chris Harding said I found it "jumping" from person to person on a group interview and that was both unnecessary and was noticeable. As Chis also knows the AG-AC90 has a built in limiter (ALC) which works rather well, but I am not sure to "what" standard that well is. I have not used it enough, nor had the ability to compare it to something else. I don't think he's right about the ALC not being available when using external XLRs, but I could be wrong. The Sony EA-50's are 2x the price of the AG-AC90 because it is selling for $1799 now. I would have loved the spot and lock focus function too. I really would like a camera with built in RGB parade and simpler white balance adjustment. The gain is surprisingly clean on the AG-AC90 too. Would love to have seen a side by side of the 2 cameras, actually I would love to see side by side with almost any camera because I have only seen one comparison with a GH2. I still don't like the AG-AC90's low light capabilities comparing to a much more expensive and older Panasonic AG-HPX300p camera. Being able to put a fast prime on any camera is really a win - win so the Sony does have some serious advantages, but is it worth the price difference? The reviews it is getting makes you wonder too. The Panasonic has been getting pretty good reviews from what I see on Amazon and B&H.
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Old March 14th, 2013, 04:26 AM   #27
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Hi Steve

The information was from Barry Green who wrote the AC-90 book and yes he confirmed that there is no ALC on the XLR's ..yes there is a limiter but, like the AC-130 it's extremely harsh and only clips the top half of the waveform like giving it a haircut so it's best to leave it off and stick to manual audio on that.

It's not at all fair to compare the AC-90 against the EA-50 ...I always say compare value to value so a much fairer comparison would be against the new JVC HM70 which is around the same price.

I do think that Panny went a little overboard on the noise reduction in low light ...images sometimes looked smeared and one guy said that hair appears "spray painted" so the smoothing is a little overdone..for me I would limit the gain and throw on a camera light and the footage will be magic!!!

It's still awesome bang for buck and if they had come out with an AC-100 to replace my HMC80's I would have grabbed two immediately ... the new JVC looks like it was made by a toy factory ...very plastic and seeming oversize at over 18" long!!! and over 6lbs in weight.

The AC-90 is still a steal!!!

Chris
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Old March 14th, 2013, 05:46 AM   #28
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Great information fellas - thanks!

Chris, the EA50 is tempting particularly as I could slap on an adapter and use my Canon 50mm f1.2L and other fast lenses. However at 17" long it goes against my USP of being highly discrete. Even the AC90 has a presence at 13". I'm not fussed about the XLR audio for the work I do.

I have one of these shoulder rigs for use with dSLRs. Its a great bit of kit, very well made, and would work with a non-shoulderpad video cam as well:

PR-1 Prime Video Shoulder Rig Kit by PNC | Photography and Cinema - Store

Looks like things are going the AC90 route for me. Still no news of when it will be in stock though as of yesterday via Creative Video.

Pete
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Old March 14th, 2013, 06:41 AM   #29
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

Hi Pete

Yep, use what you feel happiest with ...I was a Panasonic user for 22 years!! If Sony had not come out with the EA-50 I probably would either still have HMC82's or AC-90's on a custom rig.

Actually I find I'm a lot more discrete with the EA-50 as the Pannys wre very high and very bulky ...The EA-50 is a bit long but it's very low profile in comparison.

Chris
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Old March 14th, 2013, 08:11 AM   #30
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Re: Panasonic AC90 & TM900

The "spray painted hair" effect was caused by a picture profile setting. I forget the exact circumstances, but one of the settings was dialled back from -3 to 0 or something like that. Not an inherent fault with the AC90.

The JVC HM70 seems to be aimed at the education/high-end-consumer market. No XLRs, no three-ring control on the lens barrel etc. It's a PX100 in a giant plastic box. I don't think it can be compared to the AC90 because it's a different beast, as well as the fact that nobody has laid hands on it yet.

Comparing cameras at similar price points, the AC-90's competitors are the Sony NX30, Canon XA10 and possibly this new JVC. As well as a raft of 1000 GBP consumer-type camcorders. The AC-90 offers a lot for its price point, and there's many reasons why you'd choose it over the NX30 and XA10. Unless you want small size, or ultra-shallow DOF.
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