A new, small Full HD camera from Panasonic might appear to be behind the times. But for many users, it's probably just right
By Daniel G. Roberts
Panasonic has announced a new, full high definition AVCCAM called the AG-AC90A, with a fixed lens and shoots to SD cards. No, the year isn’t 2007, and despite the popularity of cameras like the GH4 and Blackmagic Production Camera 4K, a small and affordable camera such as the AC90A is important for many videographers. Here’s why…
As stated in the introduction, it may seem strange that Panasonic is still releasing fixed lens cameras, especially given the success of its GH-line, with the fantastic new GH4, a 4K micro four thirds camera coming in at $1699, one of the lowest priced ultra HD cameras yet, but the AC90A is still a vital part of nearly any shooter’s arsenal.
Perfect for shooting live events
The AVCCAM AC90A is perfect for shooting live events, such as a wedding, corporate video, ENG (Electronic News Gathering), video depositions for court cases, schools, and more. Sure, a DSLR or nearly any of the Blackmagic cameras could handle videography like this, but a camera like this can record continuously, as long as your SD card is big enough, and the battery can keep the Panasonic AC90A going for up to 6 hours, while you record! And the price is good, set at $2,250.
Some of the more important specs include shooting in full HD 1080p (60p, 60i, 50p); a 12x zoom; 29.8mm wide-angle lens; hybrid optical image stabilization; AVCHD codec; 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital sound via the built-in microphone; two XLR inputs; and a 3.5-inch flip-out color LCD (1152K dots).
Of course, the thing you’re most curious about is what’s powering the image, and that would be the 3-MOS 1/4.7 chip system (RGB), with 2.19 million pixels per CMOS chip. With that many pixels on that small of a chip, the camera may not excel in low light, as opposed to larger sensors with larger pixels. Panasonic promises the image processing helps with low light, but we’ll reserve judgment until we can get our hands on it.
The camera is small: 13 inches long and about 3.5 pounds in weight, and looks a little bit like Sony’s classic HDV camera, the Z1. In some ways, it’s also reminiscent of Panasonic’s legendary DVX100 series of cameras. This looks like it’s a fun camera that will get a lot of use.
Here are the full specs:
• Professional AVCHD Modes: PS mode for Full-HD (1920 x 1080) and progressive (60p/50p) image acquisition, high quality PH mode, PM mode (1280x720) for sports coaching use and CS mode (720x480) for network transmission applications.
• HD/SD Multi-Formats: 1080/60p, 60i, 30p, 24p, 480/60i
• Dual SD Card Slots (support SDXC/SDHC/SD Memory Cards). With two SD cards, a camera operator can select backup recording. slot-to-slot SD card contents copy is possible.
• Still shots with 3-megapixel resolution. (Still shots can also be captured during video recording.)
• 2 channel XLR audio inputs (MIC/LINE/+48V selectable).
• Audio CH1/CH2 with individual level controls and input selection.
• HDMI output, AV Multi output (D-connector, composite video and audio 2 channel), USB connector.
• Remote terminals enable remote operation of iris, focus, zoom and Rec Start/Stop functions.
• The upper part of the handle grip contains both the Rec Start/Stop button and a zoom speed control (three speed steps) for the lens.
• Freeze frame function for preventing unwanted images from being captured and displayed on an external monitor.
• Date & time stamp superimpose.
• White balance adjustment: selectable from ATW/3200K/5600K/Manual (2 values) or user setting (2400K-9900K, 100K step).
• Included a long life 5,400 mAh battery enables approximate 6 hours of continuous shooting in PH mode.
For more information, visit: http://www.panasonic.com/business/provideo/AG-AC90A.asp