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


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Old June 18th, 2013, 03:23 AM   #1
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This video is putting me of the 160A

Hi Guys

I almost bought the Panny 160A yesterday as a replacement for my Sony Z5 but then I saw this video


I guess I am looking for some 160 owners to tell me the camera in this video must have some fault.

Also the Sony has the Lens hood lever and the Panny has a cap, how bad is this? Does it get in the way, does it keep falling off?

Am either getting the Panny or the JVC Hm600 this week, I would appreciate any 130A/160A users that can shed some light on this video. And also tell me what they think of the camera.

My bread and butter work is Web based corporate of charity video that I mainly shoot in 1080p I also do a lot of pilot/tasters for network TV which I shoot 1080 50i
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Old June 18th, 2013, 04:24 AM   #2
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

Hmm. Try to get a wider opinion. Do some research (here and other forums), the poster of that video has been disgruntled with just about every camera out there. There's plenty of satisfied AC130/160 users out there. It's a pretty unhelpful review.

I have an AC130, which is physically identical to the AC160, just a few extra features missing (1080 50p and variable frame rates). I've been using it in anger since February, and I don't think I've once had a video fault that was not of my own making!

Yes, the zoom makes a noise. If you clunk and bang anything like that on the camera, yes, you're going to pick it up with an on camera mic. It's happened on every camera I've ever owned from Sony and Panasonic! Basic commonsense, if you make a noise, then a microphone 2 inches away will pick it up. If you tap the body or buttons on the camera, then the noise is transmitted to the microphone.

Yes, if you tap on the buttons like that during recording you're going to get noises. I bet the XF300, JVC HM600 and others will make that noise if you bang on them like that.

Yes, the zoom servo can be heard if you run it at full speed. I mean full speed, from 0x to 23x in 2 seconds. It has never, ever been a problem for me in real shooting.

And yes, the Panasonic lens cap isn't as elegant as the integrated ones on Sony cameras and the JVC HM600. That's the only real downside for me. I lost the first one out of a train window. I now have 3 or 4 in my bag, all available cheaply on Amazon.

I knew about the lens cap before purchase, and told myself that if a lens cap was putting me off a camera, my priorities were seriously screwed up.

I'm not saying "yes, buy the AC160". That's not my place to do so. There are plenty of reasons to choose one camera over another, depending on shooting formats and other needs. e.g. the JVC has the benefit of shooting 35Mb/s MPEGs, which may be more acceptable for broadcast. The AC160 has 1080 60p or 50p, which the JVC doesn't have.
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Last edited by Mike Beckett; June 18th, 2013 at 04:54 AM.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 04:52 AM   #3
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

If you want to capture audio, don't use the onboard mike, I mainly use a zoom to reframe so if it runs smooth if I want to use it during live action like a dance performance on a stage then I don't see anything wrong with it. Can"t comment on the vignetting though and what might be causing it.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 04:56 AM   #4
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

Also, check out this review, from a professional:

HD Warrior Blog Archiv Panasonic AG-AC160 Video Review

It was Philip's reviews that made me choose the AC130. For me, there was very little in it between the AC130 and the HM600, except that the HM600 was 500 dearer for the lens cap, and 35Mb/s which I don't need. That 500 was very handy for buying batteries, raincover and a new bag.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 05:59 AM   #5
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

Alan,
I don't own the AC130 or 160 but over the years I've owned plenty of cameras. Not a one was ever the 100% perfect camera for every occasion or considered by everyone to be the best. I bought the cameras I bought because they were right for me, for the majority of work I was doing and for my comfort level.
I've owned Sony and JVC thruout the years and even today own both although my primary cameras are my JVCHM700 and HM100. Are they perfect? Nope but for the majority of the work I do they're the right fit.
I could find fault with ANY camera, so my suggestion is this. If you like the AC160, get it. Don't worry about a lens cap design, hell I haven't had a lens cap on my HM700 since I got. I have no clue where it is and honestly it hasn't stopped me from shooting. Can I get noise if I thump on the mic when shooting? Of course. Doesn't keep me from shooting.
Like others have said, I'm not telling you how to spend your money but if the 160 has MOST of the functions you want/need or desire in a camera then I think you've answered your question.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 06:55 AM   #6
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

Hi Alan

I owned 2 x AC-130's for three months and eventually had to give them the boot as they were simply just too much like hard work. I was a Panny user for over 20 years and every single camera I owned was excellent until the AC series arrived. As Mike says, they work fine but I found a whole pile of glaring faults on the 130 that to me were not up to Panny standard. I'm not going to list them here of course but suffice to say that ALL my previous cameras ...(yes ALL Panasonic) never gave me issues like the 130's ..I bought two so unless it was a batch fault ..I surely could not have bought two faulty cameras!

Even the AC series build quality is completely different ..even my HMC82's were VERY well made and performed flawlessly and were solid cameras. No-one would confirm it (or deny it either) but I just felt that the AC-130's (mine anyway) must have been built and designed by a Panasonic "licenced" factory as they are so completely different to any HMC, HPX and even older MS series that I have ever owned.

BTW: I'm NOT the guy Mike mentions that rejected almost every camera he bought!! I amassed 100 hours on my 130's and they never failed me ... they just had some really poor design issues that caused havoc with my wedding shoots.

When I on sold my 130's I actually bought another pair of HMC82's (PAL model of the HMC80) and despite being half the price ..they were beautifully built (as were the two other sets before) and performed like a dream (they are still in use doing rural shoots here actually)

I would examine posts in other forums first before deciding, but that's just my story!

Chris
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Old June 18th, 2013, 07:40 AM   #7
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

Hi Alan,
Be clear on this. The 130/160 are capable of astonishing quality. They are complex and offer just about every option required by a pro other than interchangeable lenses. But, like a helicopter gunship, they do take a while to learn the flying technique( I speak from experience as a 160A owner) However, the learning curve will pay dividends and superb pro work can be produced from these cameras. They are probably not best suited to run and gun stuff though, as Chris has reported on many times.

I, too had the pains of learning this gear and was initially slightly overwhelmed by the infinite settings, scene file possibilities etc. However, for me it is the weapon of choice, shortly to be supported by its big brother, the AF102A.

The somewhat bizarre testing of berserk zoom rates and on board camera sound recording are really meaningless in a camera of this capability. If this is your style of shooting you are waaaay over spending!! buy something point,n ,shoot.

So I guess my thoughts are, try it for your application. It has massive strengths and some weaknesses if you want a week-end camera. However, with diligence and understanding and patience they can produce very professional output indeed. My 160A is being used for a TV commercial soon and the client is thus far very happy!
Cheers!
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Old June 18th, 2013, 11:55 AM   #8
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

^ Wot they said.

There absolutely is no perfect camera, they all have issues, some of which matter more to different people than others.

The AC130/160 has got particular negative feedback re. its auto-focus. I really wouldn't buy it if I wanted to run in auto, unattended, or if I was unhappy with manual ND switching. And a lot of pro cameras have manual NDs and cope, it's just not for everyone.

Also, re. the iris vignetting. I have seen this, at pretty much full zoom, on a bright sky. It may be more apparent at certain iris settings. It's never bothered me enough to get angry about it though. If you're shooting a lot of birds against a bright sky and nothing else, then it would be an issue.


(Chris is absolutely not the guy I mention. If it was Chris, I'd name and shame him explicitly! <grin> )
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Old June 18th, 2013, 12:21 PM   #9
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

Alan you have jumped over many hoops trying to find the best camera. Let us know when you decide and what you chose.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 01:26 PM   #10
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

Some good feedback here, so thanks guys.

I run my Z5 on full manual 90% of the time and having manual ND's is a must for me as I just like being in control of the shot, I always worry about that word "Auto" Sometimes though especially during a pilot you have to just hit full auto and hope for the best. I was the main camera on a Marching Band pilot and had to literally sprint from being in the middle of the band (POV shot) to the pass through shot then again to a pass by shot, no time at all to refocus or sort out the iris. So I do need a camera capable of this kind of shooting.

I used the Sony supplied camera Mic the ECM XM1 on loads of shoots and not only was the audio excellent quality but no camera noise could be heard at all. I use radio mics for interviews but sometime you may have no choice and need to grab a quick vox pop so the cam mic is essential for me. I will have a sound man for any proper TV stuff but for pilots/tasters you need to spend as little as possible.

Most of my shoots are controlled affairs where the shots are set up with the correct lighting and sound so I would assume the Panny would cope no problem. But as I explained above there are times when things will get very hectic and I need a camera that I can point and shoot and not have to worry about anything.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 03:00 PM   #11
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

I would try before you buy or at least be able to return. I have never heard very much negative about a Panasonic Pro/Prosumer camera until the latest round of cameras were released. It seems the AC-130 & 160 where made by the consumer division and the HPX-250 was made by the broadcast division. But at their pricepoint they do offer good value.

As a side note, none of the buttons on the XF300 make noise. I read Panasonic merged all camcorder activity into one unit led by the broadcast division. So hopefully they will come out with some great models in the next round.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 09:09 PM   #12
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

Hi Alan

Apart from way below par audio, the thing that made me toss out the 130's was mainly the tiny range you had on aperture/ ND's ... I used to be filming a wedding in sunshine and the camera would call to switch in the 1/64th ND ..which I was happy to do ...however, then the tiniest cloud would drift across the sun and BAM the camera wanted an ND change to 1/16th or even didn't like that and one had to change to 1/4th.
I'm perfectly happy changing ND filters BUT when I get a huge "flash" across my footage every time I switch in an ND filter (or out) that's an issue on footage that cannot be repeated. If you do use the 130 then I would be tempted to stick a variable ND on the front so at least exposure changes are more seamless. Obviously with studio/controlled shoots this wouldn't be an issue but when your "take" is a continuous 20 minute one you have no option. Controlled shoots like Rod does are ideal for the camera and he does get beautiful results from it. It's just not a run 'n gun camera!

As already said it works well as a manual camera ...don't even try AF ...it has a mind of it's own .. Image quality is very good indeed but if you buy it simply turn auto off and never use it again and you will be delighted with the results.

Chris
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Old June 19th, 2013, 02:28 AM   #13
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

Quote:
and BAM the camera wanted an ND change
I think I have said this before but you don't let the camera tell when the nd needs to be changed, you have to decide that yourself based on your f-stop, this means you don't need to do that constantly with every cloud that passes, the camera only tries to keep the f-stop at a level where the camera is performing at it's best but it doesn't mean you can't continue filming at a fixed nd value and just ride the iris to keep the exposure in check, you really would have to pixelpeep to see any apparent softness in the image in most situations. I never had such an issue with my xh-a1 but I also never listened to what my camera had to say about it :)
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Old June 19th, 2013, 02:46 AM   #14
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

People often accuse reviewers of bias, but this guy is on such a downer. I have Fuji and Canon B4 mount lenses from my older kit that cost more than this camera and in a quiet room with the audio gain up you can hear the zoom servos. The thump when the manual focus hits the end stop is there too. If your finger slips off the zoom rocker, it goes back to centre with a clack. The damn microphone is mm away from the noise producing elements for goodness sake. If I prod the buttons on any of my cameras with my finger nail, hard enough to wobble the camera it makes noise. The caption said severe vignetting, which I didn't see, and the light level was so low the lens was working wide open. He doesn't like the camera. Fine. If I was considering one, the negativity in that video would lead me to ignore it totally. On camera mics with gain up are, as we often go on about, pretty poor. On all cameras. I'd agree that looking for the positive reviews will settle your mind. I wonder what this guys purpose really is?
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Old June 19th, 2013, 03:31 AM   #15
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Re: This video is putting me of the 160A

Agreed with Paul. With the Panasonic AC range may not be for everyone, that "review" is poisonous, toxic and dangerous, and downright misleading. If I was Panasonic, I'd be pretty annoyed by that.

The banging in that review is the mechanical zoom being whacked from end to end, from 28mm to 620mm, bang, bang, bang. The clunk is the zoom being whacked against its end stop. It's a joke.

The Panasonic ACs are manual cameras, if you want something that's going to do auto-everything, get something with fewer manual features, smaller chips and smaller glass. The lens on the AC130/160 is excellent, it's the sharpest I've ever owned (at this end of the market).

Noa's also correct re. the NDs. How do professionals (as in broadcast) manage their cameras with constantly changing light? Iris. Eventually you'll need to flip NDs, but you don't need to do it every few seconds unless you're in a very weird place.

The important thing to realise is the AC130/160 is a manual run & gun camera.
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