AG-AC90: sleek looks, awesome LCD screen, disappointing sensor size - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 10-29-2012, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Just found from another thread about the AG-AC90 (thanks, markr041). Yep, when I saw the HDC-Z10000 I knew that a non-3D version will follow, and here it is.

The biggest feature of the AC90 is the screen: 3.5-inch megapixel beauty. Other things are incremental improvements at best, and sometimes steps back.

1/4.7-inch sensors put the AC90 squarely into the PDX10 category. I have shot some videos with a 1/6-inch consumer camcorder, so I can say that one can forget about any background blur whatsoever. Sadly, I think that the awesome LCD screen will be of little use on this camcorder: with such small sensors just put it on auto and forget about selective focus.

1080p60 is nice, but in my experience with the TM700 and SD600, this mode while providing superb detail and sharpness can sometime burp out ugly color patches, especially when shooting red color. 720p60 is technically lower res, but to my eye looks about as sharp, yet somewhat "smoother" overall, having more bitrate pixel.

Three rings are nice, but I have no issues with one ring on the HMC40, I use ring for focusing and side dial for aperture/ND/gain. I might want another ring for zooming, but in really I am not pro enough to operate two rings simultaneously.

Integrated handle and XLR move the small pro Panasonic camcorders farther from consumer models, but on the other hand make the camcorder less portable, so it is a mixed blessing. Although the camcorder looks much better now, and the body looks sexier too.

The mic holder seems to be the same cheap looking thingy.

I guess I will be keeping the HMC40 for a big longer. Aside of crappy LCD screen (small and low-res) it has all the features that I ever wanted from a compact camcorder.
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post #2 of 7 Old 10-29-2012, 10:31 AM
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You are correct that it is *almost* a 2D version of the Z10000, but

Strangely, the Z10000 has 1/4.1" sensors (like their 3CMOS consumer models), and for some reason Panasonic is using 1/4.7" sensors on the AC90. So, they are newer sensors, but even smaller. I wonder why they went smaller (no more distracting blurred background smile.gif)?
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post #3 of 7 Old 10-29-2012, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Exactly! This is what baffles me. The Z10000 is about the same size, but has bigger sensors. Heck, the HDC-SD600 that I used to have has 1/4.1-inch sensors in a tiny package. I understand that three rings and mechanics that comes with them need space, but was it such a limiting factor?

Sometimes decisions taken by manufacturers drive me crazy. Are they technical or purely marketing? I would calm down if I knew that they technically could not put larger sensors in it.

I just realised that the hood is non-removable. Makes putting on attachments harder, and the camera as a whole less portable.

I watched Bob Diaz's video, it seems that the OIS is improved over the HMC40, but compared to the horrendous JVC HM100 the HMC40 has a rock-steady OIS, so I do not envy much.

This is a good time to shop for a used or even a new HMC40, they will flood eBay for less than $1K.

Also, Jan Crittenden said that the batteries are not the same as on the HMC150/HMC40/SD1/SD5/SD100, but like on the HPX170. That is, they are older type! I don't get Panasonic at all. How does the camera display remaining battery time if this battery back does not report it? Going back to old battery pack in a pro model, and to a new battery pack in consumer model? This is madness.

EDIT: Compared to the XF100 the AC90 is cheaper, has smaller sensors (hence less freedom in DOF control and probably less sensitive) and has no 4:2:2. It does have 1080p60, which in my eyes does not buy a lot more compared to 720p60. See this video at 1:33 for gain noise, looks reasonably clean halfway through, although I would like to see how gain works on moving image. I know that on consumer camcorders Panasonic glues together several frames (even with slow-shutter off!) to get brighter image. I can see clear ghosting on the SD9 at high gain when (in progressive mode) I move the camcorder around. The same video also demonstrates very good image stabilizer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_GEqWf9IRI

Panasonic should have outfitted this camcorder with larger sensors and with AVC Long-G recording (35-50 Mbit/s @ 4:2:2 color) for it to be a more interesting proposition. Considering that the HMC40 is already three years old, this is quite a slow development from Panasonic.
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post #4 of 7 Old 11-01-2012, 12:18 AM
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Not necessarily an apples to apples comparison just looking at the chip size.

Z10000 specs:
Total Pixels: 9.15 megapixels (3.05 megapixels x 3)
Effective Pixels: 6.57 megapixels (2.19 megapixels × 3) = video


HMC40:
Total: Pixels. 3.05 megapixels×3
Effective Pixels: Approx. 2.51 megapixels×3 (16:9) = video

Tm900 specs:
Total Pixels : 9.15 megapixels (3.05 megapixels x 3)
Effective Pixels: 7.59 megapixels (2.53 megapixels x 3) = video

X900 specs:
Total Pixels : 9.15 megapixels (3.05 megapixels x 3)
Effective Pixels :6.57 - 6.21 megapixels (2.19 - 2.07 megapixels x 3) = video

AC90 might have an effective pixel count of about 2.6 something or 2.19. I see conflicting specs so maybe the 2.6 something number is the total and 2.19 is for the video. I'll have to check up on that. It would be great if it's 2.19 total.


All of this technical talk aside, I'd be extremely happy owning the AC90. It has a lot of remarkable features. Now if only it can be hacked like the GH2 since I'd love to see the 1080 60p mode get a much higher bit rate.

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post #5 of 7 Old 11-01-2012, 07:26 AM
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post #6 of 7 Old 11-01-2012, 08:48 AM - Thread Starter
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I have no account on DVXUser so I cannot see the images. But these tricks - smoothing the image to hide noise at high gain or frame blending - are standard tools when the sensor is just not sensitive enough.
Quote:
It looks like the AC90 applies temporal noise reduction when the lens is zoomed in. You can clearly see the ghosting in these pictures. The camera was panning left to right.
Mwa-ha-ha, I mentioned the consumer HDC-SD9 (1/6-inch sensor, CCD, records native 24p, bought it for $200 on eBay, great cam for daylight) just a couple of posts above. Figures. There is no replacement for displacement.
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post #7 of 7 Old 11-01-2012, 09:52 PM
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Personally, I'm waiting for someone to compare it to either the TM900 at full wide, X900 at full wide and the Z10000 at full wide. I mentioned something similar on DVXuser. Hopefully someone tries it.

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