Panasonic AG-AC90 Review

Comments

I own one and I like it, for $1750 it is a solid value, but...

steve4505's picture

There are a few limitations to it though and I highly recommend doing some detailed research before you purchase, because for some folk (especially pro's) some of the limitations could be deal breakers.  The biggest (but somewhat expected) limitation I know is the low light capabilities.  I have yet to see a side to side of cameras in its price bracket, but its definately nowhere near as light sensitive as the cameras in the $5k market.  Since you can't interchange lens you get what you get.  I do agree the gain is very very clean so its not easy to compare cameras just based on spec's.  There is a side by side (but not really that well done test) of it vs the AG-AC130 (a $3300 camera) on You Tube and its obvious the limitations.  Guessing since the tests I have seen are far from scientific you are talking about 2-3 stops.  So that may mean when you are used to shooting at say 2.8 the AG-AC90 will be at 20db.  What is needed is someone who can compare cameras adjust them both to look about the same with the AG-AC90 at 20db, 30db, 8db, etc.   Another thing I would love to see is how the 30db footage when run through Neat Video looks.  Comparisons with other cameras using that software would be quite interesting.

 

On the other hand, I would love to compare this cameras video image to others (even DSLRs) when there is plenty of light.  The built-in ND has its limitations and for most folk you will need to purchase at least an ND2.  I would recommend you spend a little more and look at NDs without the IR problems the cheaper ND's have.  The built-in ND's are also problematic with IR.

 

Lack of mounting points other than at the bottom and the hot shoe mount at the top.  For instance I wanted to be able to hold a 7" external monitor, and a 312 LED (about 7") light panel on mine at the same time and I that its not something I can simply do.

 

Many of the features though are awesome.  The image stabilization, dual SD recording, automatic functions are quite solid (though they have many limitations too), the feel, battery life, SD card recording time, 60 fps shooting speed, mutiple side buttons. LCD display, built-in XLRs all make this a valid purchase to those who are very price conscious.

Sony Comparable?

Thomas C's picture

Is there a comparable Sony model to this Panasonic? Thanks for any help you can throw my way. :-)

Maybe, but not at the same price point.

steve4505's picture

I am seeing NEX-VG30 and the HXR-NX700U are both around $2,700.  Either of these "might" be better in some ways, but not in others.  Yes there is a difference of almost $800-1000..  The HXR-NX700U is the closest of the 2 to compare, but you really are not comparing apples to apples.   For instance, look at the sensors.

Reply to Steve

Thomas C's picture

Thanks, Steve. Actually, as I'm an accomplished rookie (burned off lots of tape and worked with Pinnacle Studio for years, but don't know my head from my ass when it comes to real videography and equipment!), almost any info helps. There are sooooooooooooo many camcorders available about the only way to compare is by price. I'm finding out, as you mentioned, that price is not a very good way to compare different models and brands. So, thank you. (Tom)

Recording limits

Thomas C's picture

TomB - I am no expert so I went to Panasonic's website (link = http://www.panasonic.com/business/provideo/ag-ac90.asp) and found this statement in their description of this camcorder:

 

"With two SD slots for continuous recording, the AC90 can record up to 12 hours on two 64GB SDB cards in PS mode,. (There will be a skip in the video as it changes to the second card) The two slots can also be utilized for simultaneous back-up recording. Additionally the camera can be set up to record video on one card and the Stills on the second card."

 

Hope that helps answer your question.

Recording limits

steve4505's picture

The camera will switch automatically to the hopefully empty, formated and unprotected card. There is no loss in video but a 1/2 second loss in audio.  Recognize that one $50 64 gig card can hold almost 6 hours of video though so you should have been able to avoid this 1/2 second of audio issue anyways.  If you were using much smaller cards yes you can pull out the one not being written to while still recording.  I wouldn't do that because you will bump the camera so you might as well loose the 7 seconds it takes to power down the camera swap SD and start it up and hit record again (I just timed it).  The camera tells you how much time is left on the SD card so a smart operator should be able to figure when to swap cards even during a football game.

 

There is no 25 min recording limit.  The limit is actually 12 hours.   However, when importing files you must carefully follow the procedure your NLE needs with bigger files.  What happens is it will break a long recording into 4 GB files.  There is metadata that links these spanned clips together.  Some NLE and software do not correctly handle these pieces (I've not heard of any specifically) and FCPX handles them just fine.  

Can I use this with tricaster 40 in HD

joelmmh's picture

Well the question is if this camera can send HD QUALITY VIDEO from the AV MULTI connector, what I want to do is to send the image from this camcorder to a TRICASTER 40 by a long (100 ft) component cable, if I do this would it all be in HD? Thanks

I have an AG-AC90 and love it

Suagrmedic's picture

I have an AG-AC90 and love it. Mainly do work related conferences and training videos with it. The battery life is unbeatable. The 4GB issue with premiere pro (ect) is no problem you must transfere the entire folder named "private" over and there will be no bumps or drops unless you make an entire card switch out.