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

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Old September 24th, 2013, 07:52 PM   #1
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Utica, MI
Posts: 2
Pre-purchase question about AG-AC160A

I am mostly a video hobbist who is retiring his AG-DVC30 and considering purchasing the AG-AC160A. I will be using the camcorder to shoot lecture-based sales training videos and also youth hockey games for my son's team. I have been researching various camcorders in this price range and want to make sure that I'm investing in the best HD camera for the money. Any confirmation of this will be appreciated since everything seems to point to this camcorder. I don't do this for a living, so I'm trying to avoid buyer's remorse after the sale. Thanks.
Jack Waller is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 24th, 2013, 08:37 PM   #2
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 1,103
Re: Pre-purchase question about AG-AC160A

I have a 130 and a 160. They work well for what they are. Buy a used one and you'll have an even better investment. They shoot nice crisp video, that's for sure, but I've never really been "wowed" by them.

While I'm not running out to get one, I've always kind of wished I would have gotten the Canon XF300 instead, mostly because of the Canon branded lens as well as the 50mbps codec and location of the LCD screen for handheld work. The autofocus works better too... Your call if the extra cash is worth it - an extra $1k or so.
Nate Haustein PXW-FS5 / C100mkII / iMac i7 / FCPX
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Old September 24th, 2013, 09:17 PM   #3
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 7,639
Re: Pre-purchase question about AG-AC160A

Hi Jack

I had two AC-130's and was not very impressed with the cameras at all and actually sold them and bought another pair of my previous HMC80's again which did a better job for half the price!!

However, that's me!! What bugged me was the really poor audio compared to the HMC but my main issue was the tiny range in auto iris need to continually change ND filters and every time you switch them in and out there is a flash on the footage! In full manual they would work well for sales training with controlled lighting but I would try it at a hockey game ..the auto focus is really lousy!!!

I swopped my HMC80's at the beginning of this year for two Sony EA-50's and they are awesome cameras and have everything that Panny left out. It took a lot of courage to jump ship as I was a Panny user for 23 years but after the AC series they just were not the same cameras!!

The Sony's out perform the Panasonics by miles and they work just as well in full auto as they do in manual plus of course I have the huge advantage of being able to use my Nikon lenses on them too (but only in manual) As Nate says the Canons are really nice but also look at the Sony EA-50 as well.

Chris Harding is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 17th, 2013, 09:30 PM   #4
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Montreal, Canada
Posts: 76
Re: Pre-purchase question about AG-AC160A

Hi, Chris... I still like my AG-AC160.

The audio seems super sensitive but over time I have become familiar with it (too low and you have trouble boosting, too high and it red lines).

The iris indeed has a range problem that requires frequent changing of the ND. Since I use a remote for on/off, focus, zoom, the iris control on the remote can only be used to a limited extent.

I don't use auto focus at all - it hunts all over the place so filming hockey games with auto-zoom is likely to be a huge problem for Jack.

This camera does yield quality images and a major contributor to this in my opinion is the expanded focus (great indoors useless some of the time outdoors as it only works at the LCD).

I never use the distance meter as it is off by 9 -15 feet on my camera - perhaps my camera needs a repair job. I bought a laser distance meter but cannot use it at all.

I am intrigued by your Sony. Looks like good value for money - I do see some complaints at B&H re low light, zoom etc. Are any of these valid?
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Old October 18th, 2013, 07:13 AM   #5
Inner Circle
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Posts: 7,639
Re: Pre-purchase question about AG-AC160A

Hey Karl

I didn't know you were in Montreal?? My step son works there and is married to a Canadian girl..he loves the place and is actually having a "renewal of vows" and a big reception next July so Mum can go over for it.

Now to the EA-50 ... to be perfectly honest the primary reason I bought them (I have two) was the form factor's a shoulder mount or a hand held and everything the Panny didn't have I found on the Sony. Silly things like touch screen focus (brilliant!!!) 3 levels and 3 colours of focus peaking. A big sensor that doesn't need ND filters at all if you don't want to use them ...the camera can go from 1/50 and F3.5 right up to 1/10,000th at F16 seamlessly if it has to. The list just goes on and on!!

Yes the stock lens IS slow ..only F3.5 so with the big sensor it probably equates in low light to the AC-160. However toss on a 17-50mm zoom F2.8 constant and it is pure magic ...if you like primes you can go to stuff like 85mm at F1.4 ..that sees in the dark!! The power zoom is slow, yes so you cannot do crash zooms ..I seldom use them, if ever, so that issue is no problem for me.

They cost roughly the same as the Pannys but IMHO they are 100 times better!! The build quality alone is like the old HMC-80's solid and decent ..My AC-130 were plastic boxes and very poorly made ..just my opinion again ... Comparing the HMC cams and the AC cams (as I have owned both) made me seriously wonder if the same factory assembled both cameras ...quality is chalk and cheese!!! Purely the fact that I sold mine after 3 months and bought the 50% cheaper and 100% better HMC80's must say something.

Audio on the Sony's is absolutely pristine !! The shotgun is every bit as good (maybe even better) than the Rode's I used to use on my Panasonics. The fact that I can use my entire range of Nikon mount lenses on the camera is a HUGE bonus ... I now do Realty shoots with an 11-16mm F2.8 zoom and they are awesome ... you are not restricted to Sony lenses ..with an adapter any lens can be used and amazingly enough the camera STILL exposes correctly in auto even though a manual lens is on the camera (it uses a combination of gain/iso and shutter to expose correctly) Manual focus with the triple feature peaking makes it super easy to manual focus ...I can highlight edges in red, white or yellow at 3 levels and the distance is very accurate. I know it sounds like I'm working for Sony but I don't (as you know) and still find it hard to find anything that I don't like about the camera. In fact my ONLY gripe is that I could get my Panasonic to reset the timecode after each clip which I cannot get the Sony to do!!!

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