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Old October 4th, 2011, 07:55 PM   #1
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What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

Looking at cameras to replace my wonderful Canon XH-A1. What would you buy the Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U.

One advantage I can see the AC130 has is it can record to 2 cards at once. Great for a backup of all the footage! Can the NX5U do this?

What advantage does the NX5U have? SDI? What else? It looks like the AC130 will have have market price at about $3500, cheaper then the NX5U.

Thanks for your thoughts!
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Old October 4th, 2011, 10:52 PM   #2
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

NX5U is by far the better camera. AC130 is basically a cut down prosumer version of the new HPX250 much like the AX2000 is a prosumer version of the NX5U. NX5U can dual record to cards and the optional FMU128 flash drive, which I highly recommend. Spend a little extra and go with the pro camera. It blows my mind at how many people bought AX2000's when they are only $500 cheaper than the NX5U but the extras on the NX5U are worth much more than $500.
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Old October 5th, 2011, 07:03 AM   #3
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

I expect the Ac130 will produce a nice looking image. The cameras seem similar on the basic specs and it's good that there's choice in the <$4K A1 replacement market ... something Canon has ignored. Make sure you have the picture controls. focus and exposure assists that you like. I went from an A1 to an EX1r but I looked at the NX5U.

A couple differences *may* be of importance to you. One is, as you pointed out, the NX5U has an SDI out. It's very handy when you want to add an external monitor. Like the A1 video out, the SDI is a BNC type and is (IMHO) flat out a great connector. You can use either SDI or HDMI for a display or drive an external recorder. For me, when I start Frankensteining my rig, I'll take the BNC connector over HDMI any day. YMMV.

Another difference is the ability of the NX5u to simultaneously record DV.

A third difference, is the maximum bitrate (21 vs 24) which may not seem important until you start working with it in post.

Some intangibles such as balance, design of switches and smoothness of the rings are things you'll want to get your hands on to evaluate.
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Old October 5th, 2011, 09:01 AM   #4
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

The AC130 has a lot going for it. It does record DV but the NX5U records MPEG2 SD DVD compliant. The bit rates are the same 24Mbps max 21 Mbps average. AC130/AC160 have much the same differences as the AX2000/NX5U. Comparison thus should be to the AX2000. For this I think the AC130 has the advantage in dual card recording as the AX2000 and NX5U have just sequential recording on the cards. The NX5U can of course record different or the same thing on the cards and the FMU128.

Agree on the price difference between AX2000 and NX5U which in some places are the same price !!! That is why I bought the NX5U with the FMU128. At the time in Canada the AX2000 was just $200 less so the mic and larger battery that came standard with the NX5U more than made up the differences and the other features were free.

AC130 may have a slight advantage if you are going to shoot DV with other DV cameras for a while with occasional HD shoots. If you want to quickly go to SD DVD the NX5U will have the advantage. Files can go straight to authoring but are at max SD DVD bit rate so time has to be short . I have found though I get a better picture from using 1920x1080i and converting for SD DVD so now just use the FMU128.

The AC160 and NX5U have the advantage in being able to use SDI for an extra recording though the HDMI of the others can also be used in this way but SDI does pass time code not present over HDMI.

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Old November 11th, 2011, 10:13 AM   #5
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

I have always enjoyed Panasonic or Canon for the ergonomics and the quality lenses. I wish there were more head to head comparisons between the NX5U and the AC130 before I make a decision.
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Old November 14th, 2011, 04:57 AM   #6
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

I think it may come down to ergonomics - which camera do you feel happier using? Thing is the Panasonic is the newbie and as such the designers took many long hard looks at the NX5 while their baby was still in prototype form. Spotting the flaws they had time to make corrections.

Leap-frogging products are always like this. The NX7 will do the same again, but we live in the here and now.

So how did they jump the Sony? They upped the zoom range for starters and gave it a *much bigger* side-screen. The Sony's screen is in the right place, but if you're a fair-weather shooter you should know that the NX5's screen is useless - too small, too dark, the fonts used are tiny and the touch screen coating is deplorable.

Is the 130 any better in this respect? I don't know, but I'm betting it is, if only because I've just added an SD900 to my kit, and this camera's side screen is way better than the NX5 one.

Thing is, you'd be happy with either camera. They're both amazing pieces of kit, full of potential. But this potential lies completely dormant until you cradle the beast in your hands. Your films on screen won't shout Panny or Sony, they'll shout Jeffrey.

tom.
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Old November 22nd, 2011, 07:00 PM   #7
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

I have the Panny AG AC-130. All I can say is the camera ROCKS!! To say it is a cut-down prosumer version of the HPX250 is wrong. But then again, I am sure you tried the Panasonic AG AC-130. Correct?



Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Johnston View Post
NX5U is by far the better camera. AC130 is basically a cut down prosumer version of the new HPX250 much like the AX2000 is a prosumer version of the NX5U. NX5U can dual record to cards and the optional FMU128 flash drive, which I highly recommend. Spend a little extra and go with the pro camera. It blows my mind at how many people bought AX2000's when they are only $500 cheaper than the NX5U but the extras on the NX5U are worth much more than $500.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 12:35 AM   #8
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

There are those who own the AX2000 who swear by it too but it still lacks a lot of features on the NX5. Same is true with the AC130 and HPX250. Just read the specs. Panny came out with three models and the AC130 is the lesser of the three.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 08:22 AM   #9
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

Yes just like the AX2000 the AC130 is the lowest version of the line. The difference in the Panasonic and Sony lines are very similar. The imagers in the line are the same so that for a normal video shoot the images will be identical between the models. Differences come in the NX5U/AC160 having HD/SDI, a timecode reader /generator for gen loc multicam, LPCM audio for higher quality audio and in the case of the NX5U the FMU128 capability. In the case of the NX5U and I think the AC160 there are also more menu adjustments and capabilities. If none of these extras are of interest then the AX2000 or the AC130 is the choice. The HPX250 ups the capability to P2 recording over the AC160 so is in a different class all together with the Canon XF300 or Sony EX1 being the competition there I think..

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Old November 23rd, 2011, 09:06 AM   #10
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

It seems to me that if you go for the Panasonic AC160 you are getting a better and newer camera than the NX5U for a very similar price - now. I have always preferred the Panasonic ergonomics and lens over Sony and Canon.
I found the quotes below interesting in making my decision:
*The Panansonic has 2 megapixel sensors and the Sony only has 1 megapixel sensors.
*Never have thought the NX5 would look so "un-sharp" until it's compared side to side with the Panny...
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 09:46 AM   #11
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

I can make my NX5U look crisp or really dull compared to my XR500 or CX700. Focus/exposure on the NX5U is VERY critical. One needs to create a Picture Profile to get the best as the default image is not competitive.Yes I too would look to the AC160 if I were to buy today. Several years newer development has to show. I wouldn't be surprised to see a new model before long as there is now a lot of competition from Panasonic and Canon that wasn't there when the NX5U came out. Don't get confused between sensors and pixels and on both cameras the DSP creates the pixels one sees and the Sony sensors are twice the area for light gathering of the Panasonic and its the DSP that creates a full 1920x1080 pixel image. Look on page 7 to see the explanation http://pro.sony.com/bbsccms/assets/f...nx5u_v2454.pdf.

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Old November 23rd, 2011, 04:10 PM   #12
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Clark View Post
I found the quotes below interesting in making my decision:
*The Panansonic has 2 megapixel sensors and the Sony only has 1 megapixel sensors.
*Never have thought the NX5 would look so "un-sharp" until it's compared side to side with the Panny...
The comments about sensor spec are correct - but it's a double edged sword. For a given chip size, then more pixels = smaller pixels - and that's likely to mean lower light sensitivity. Hence it becomes a compromise, You can trade sharpness for sensitivity or vice versa - but to get an overall improvement with the same technology, you have to increase the chip size.

So where is the best compromise? Sony will tell you that for 1920x1080 you need 1/2" chips minimum - hence the EX series. They will also say that for the NX5 they'd rather compromise the resolution (hence 1 megapixel chips) than sensitivity to produce a 1/3" camera. And I have heard that 1920x1080 on 1/3" starts to cause diffraction issues, so maybe there's something to be said for the Sony argument.

What is clever about the NX5 chip design is that the pattern optimises the arrangement to get equal horizontal and vertical resolution, which works out to about 1440x810 - whilst still having an arrangement that is easily decoded to a 1920x1080 raster.

My personal feelings? Try and get together the money to get an EX1, secondhand if necessary. Picture wise has the resolution of the 1920x1080 sensor - without a sensitivity compromise. And additionally a better codec (for quality and ease of editing), a far nicer lens (no servo coupling for iris/focus) and many other advantages, not least being better menu tweaks. Much better than either the 130 or the NX5 - but yes, more expensive.
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Old November 23rd, 2011, 04:42 PM   #13
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

Most of my shoots are with an EX3, NX5U, XR500 ( sometimes 2 of these) and SR11. Ex3 is used for closeups, NX5U mid and the others full stage or specific place fixed. Quality differences in HD are obvious between the cameras, unfortunately !!!!! Edited, corrected and encoded for DVD the differences are in fact less so. If I had the money I would go for the EX3 or EX1R. However for the point and shoot situation the small Sony's are better. Their auto systems seem faster and more accurate producing very good video in full auto. For family video I never use the NX5U in full auto the XR500 or my new CX700 are far better. I have a suspicion the TM900 may produce better video in the same situation than the AC130/160 too !!!

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Old November 24th, 2011, 03:21 AM   #14
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

You're right Ron, the SD900 manages to cram in 1920 x 1080 pixels into a smaller than '' chip, and using the 50p mode easily equals the NX5 and betters it in a lot of ways. Not in the low-light dept though, as the laws of light are difficult to circumvent. Never heard of the 'diffraction' issues you mention David, but other than that I go along with every word you say.

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Old November 24th, 2011, 04:35 AM   #15
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Re: What to buy? Panny AG-AC130 or the Sony NX5U

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Hardwick View Post
Never heard of the 'diffraction' issues you mention David, but other than that I go along with every word you say.
The closer the physical dimensions of parts of the camera come to the wavelength of light, the less light behaves like rays travelling in straight lines, the more it behaves like a wave motion. It can bend around solid objects. In a camera that equates to a loss of definition.

It's for this reason that some cheaper cameras may not iris down much below about f4 - if that. They appear to do so - but in practice it's ND coming progressively in front of the sensor. If you do get a camera with a true iris, try stopping it down in very bright light until nearly closed and see how soft the picture gets. That's down to diffraction.

And the smaller the chip, the smaller the focal length has to be for a given angle of view, and hence the smaller in mm the iris has to be for a given f stop. Hence the more limiting diffraction effects become. Higher resolutions mean diffraction effects are seen earlier, which is why the whole subject is far more of an issue for 1/3" HD cameras than 1/3" SD cameras. And worse for 1/3" 2 megapixel than 1 megapixel.

(Canon appear to cheat some of the issues with the XF305 by expanding the optical path near the iris, then narrowing it again. Trouble is, it's probably more expensive than just using 1/2" chips - the brute force approach - which will give sensitivity advantages as well. Let alone shallower depth of field.)
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