View Full Version : AC160 AG-AC160 Problems - TRUE or FALSE??
06-20-2012, 11:38 AM
OK, the internet forums relating to Pro-Level Cams are lit up with what I call “Skittish” reviews of both the AG-AC130-160 AVCCAM Camcorders; I know most of what all forum members here know regarding the cams, their focus issues, so on and so on. Now, I have been a satisfied DVX 100B & DVC30 SD Camcorder user for over ten years and have come to both rely on and "Back" Panny's Professional Camcorders and for the most part, my work with the cams have made me a believer (i.e. I shoot weddings and for Broadcast Outdoor Media Companies). I understand that Panny has addressed several of the issues plaguing both the 160 & 130 cams in a firmware and/or hardware update and have also started the production of the "A" cams in both models which address these issues as well.
I have been getting reports now from a few Field Producers that the New Panny's (130 & 160) have not only a problem with the internal functions but the build quality itself is terrible, nothing to what they were used to in past Prosumer level cams (i.e. DVX100, HVX200, HMC150, etc.) This strikes me as odd. What has happened to Panny's actual camcorder plant production arena? Are increased labor costs driving the company to cut corners or perhaps rush products out while still not fully developed as a solid preforming piece of equipment? I've taken all the forum posts and info from the Field Producers with “a grain of salt,” still holding on to my confidence that Panny's cams are still "ONE" of the best quality camcorders on the market and the camcorder brand for myself - hands down. Then today in an unrelated post over at another popular pro-video forum site, I am reading a 7 page thread on the new Sony PMW100, a unique, but flawed camcorder as well (latter on this). A popular thread runner chimed in with this statement, I am with holding the posters name and have no issues with him nor the site; my issue lies with the validity of his research and experience with Pany's new 160 Camcorder. After reading this - I've had it and I needed some response and info of my own. I need confirmation that Panasonic's Pro Camcorders are better than what he and many have described and witnessed firsthand.
I am posing these questions and/or comments to both Barry Green and Jan Crittenden; please give us reassurance that this issue in which the unnamed forum member has encountered was a fluke, a mere "Lemon" so to speak. Can you give us a truly honest statement on why these new cameras seem to be so faulty? At this point, I would accept a true statement of bad production on the cameras rather than an over-exaggerated political-type answer. I will need a true HD Camcorder in the next 3 months and I have been researching since….. Do we ever stop researching and not know what is currently available out there on the market on any given day?? You get my drift; I need a dependable camera without manufacturing issues such as fan noise, zoom noise, build quality and DOES what the damn specs say it will do, etc. If not, I've lost my confidence in Panasonic and will be looking for another brand in which to choose. I dislike this; I hold no real brand loyalty and purchase cameras I deem will fit my needs and tastes. A camera is but a tool, I know this, but do not down grade a good tool in which everyone has come to know and appreciate.
I thank you for your time & consideration of this thread.
Here is the quote:
"Guess what - I just returned a Panny AG-AC160 to B&H. I had it for less than a day before I rejected it.
Although it looked good on paper, with the promise of AVCHD 2.0 1080/60p, variable frame rates, and a nice 22x wide-to-superzoom lens, it is a deeply flawed camera. For openers, the build quality was terrible. The buttons and switches rattle horribly; the sound comes through on the audio. The focus and iris rings feel scratchy and not smooth compared to Sony's. It also has zoom servo motors that whine with (compared to all the Sony's I have owned or tested) what seems like a banshee scream at all zoom speeds other than slow creep. I could hear them on every shot! The final straw came when I was sitting with it in a quiet room and realized I could hear the whoosh of the cooling fans!
So I boxed it up and sent it back. Another $50.00 shipping charge to UPS, and I am one return closer to B&H cutting me off from any purchases. ( This makes the 6th cam I have bought from them and then returned since October 2011.)
While on the B&H site I happened to notice this - the JVC GY-HM600U :
JVC GY-HM600 ProHD Camera GY-HM600U B&H Photo Video
I thought - WOW - is this real? Finally the cam for me?!? Everything looked perfect, it seemed to have everything I want ....
Then I saw the specs and it only does AVCHD 1.0 - 1080/60i !!!
waaaaaah .... yet again I am sobbing with frustration!!
Craig, surely this is a mistake? I mean, everyone is doing AVCHD 2.0 Progressive with 1080/60p these days. I am flabbergasted that this otherwise fantastic-on-paper cam is crippled with 1080/60i. The GY-HM600U is so close to what I need ...
Is there anything you can do to fix this? Say you can and I am prepared to sit on my $5K until October 2012!"
06-20-2012, 01:10 PM
Well, that's a pretty loaded post there, and doesn't represent my experience with these cameras in any way, shape, fashion, or form. I don't know who you've been talking to or what their experience has been, all I know is that the AC160 is a pretty fantastic camera overall, and if it has ANY flaws at all, added up in their entirety, it's that it doesn't autofocus quite as well as the prior model did.
Build quality? Feels as solid and stable as my HMC150 and prior HPX170, and those things were indestructible tanks.
I would have ZERO question about my confidence in going into battle armed with an AC160 or an HPX250.
If you want a super-in-depth review from someone who knows a thing or two about cameras, read Adam Wilt's review here: http://provideocoalition.com/index.php/awilt/story/review_panasonic_ag-ac160_and_ag-hpx250_1_3_3-mos_camcorders/
Your post here is the first I think I've read in the nine months that the AC cameras have been out, that questions build quality!
06-20-2012, 02:26 PM
People have agendas when it comes to cameras they either love or hate. The best thing you can do is get your hands on one. When I was thinking about getting my HPX250, I asked my salesperson to get me one in. I went there and met with the Panasonic Rep and they had a scene lit for me and he told me all about the camera. I had my concerns with the PAP1 setting and noise and I turned the camera away from the beautifully lit flowers and pointed it at a dark corner in PAP1 mode and had people run through it and I swished panned the camera and saw no problems. I guess what I'm saying is get in a room with the camera and see for yourself. I still find the HPX250 to be an amazing camera with an amazing picture. The HD picture looks just as good as anything else I've seen on local television commercials. And as far as build quality, I think it's a tank. And that should be the same for the 160 and the 130 since they share many physical attributes.
06-20-2012, 02:40 PM
Does the 130/160/250 have cooling fans?
06-20-2012, 04:32 PM
Thank you for your honest and prompt response on this one. I have read the Adam Wilt Review and found it, like you, the Holy Grail to the testament of the AC160/130 lineup as of present; as I know Adam's work and experience levels, etc. You reaffirmed my confidence in Panasonic, not that I am easily swayed, but honest remarks from a fellow colleague really makes an impact in this crazy world we live in today. For myself, a Solo Soldier/Field Journalist, a cool $6k I do not have lying around nor is it growing on my money tree, no amount of miracle grow will aid it either! My investments need to count and they need to bank – just the cold hard facts of reality. I will purchase the AG-AC160 as I have been in the market for an HD Camcorder upgrade for the past 5 years. Down here in the South everything takes longer to trickle down; I do not get very many calls for HD acquisition as most folks here still have not updated their DVD’s with Blu-ray equipment. My operating range is the Gulf South with Home-base in New Orleans, LA. Only until recently have I had a real need for HD acquisition and it is now finally time to upgrade.
For the past 10 years I have made my side business a budding small production company using the DVX100B and the DVC30 Camcorders and out of those ten years I have had not a single issue, tape based and all. I take care of my equipment and perform routine maintenance when needed. That’s my “Testament” to Panasonic Cameras; you can see my confusion when getting a wealth of info regarding the inadequacies of the 160/130 cameras – completely opposite to what I have always been accustomed to with Panasonic Pro Gear.
Again, I appreciate your time and response to my thread and look forward to crossing virtual notes with you sometime again in the future. Take care.
06-20-2012, 04:38 PM
I never just buy something online that I dont know how it handels, I went into my local dealer and he spent over 2 hours showing me the 130/160 and 250 and then brought in their video only tech and spent another 2 hours showing me all the differances between the cameras. Then I was able to rent it and they deduckted the price of the rental from the final price. I was going to get a 160 but after using the 250 that is what I said I need for the next 5-7 years. Even though the 250 was more it made better sense for what I am trying to do. Also my dealer matched the big online store! Go to your local dealer, play with the camera's ask to rent it and then make your own decession based on facts and not someones rants. I love me 250 more and more. Dont take my word, try one yourself .
06-20-2012, 04:50 PM
I have had a few issues with my 130's but those have purely been suitability for my type of work. Both my 130's build quality and overall presentation was perfect and certainly I never had noisy servos nor rattling buttons!! My needs were simply different and I do need auto functions at weddings which the 130's never handled well at all. As a manual camera it has a stunning image, it performs 100% correctly and on mine I certainly never had anything that was of dubious build quality!!! I have been a dedicated Panny user since 1990 and started off with the old standard VHS full size tape cameras and even in those days build quality have always been superb!!!
06-20-2012, 05:21 PM
I second the motion to go to a local dealer and put your own hands on it. I would think New Orleans is big enough to have a dealer?
06-20-2012, 07:09 PM
I am 100% satisfied with my AC 160. I don't pretend to be an expert on the differences between one product and the next, I spent a year looking at specs and decided on the 160. End of.
I have no regrets regarding my choice.
My expectation is this camera will continue to be smarter than I am until it becomes obsolete.
06-20-2012, 09:05 PM
I live in New Orleans ,LA would you believe we have no local dealer for Pro Camcorders. We have a distributor who can order cameras, but to walk into a quality Pro Video Store.... no where in site. Closest option is Houston,TX that I am aware of. Please let me know of any others if knowledgable. Thanks.
Chris, I also shoot numerous weddings annually,how big of an issue was the AF with the 130's? im all ears!
06-20-2012, 10:28 PM
The author of that rant comes across as being a rather childish and immature person. Just look at how he makes a spectacle of himself. He is behaving like a drama queen. Almost like a child throwing a tantrum.
And he says that he has returned 6 professional camcorders to B&H Photo in the last 8 months? That really makes one wonder about him. Especially about his credibility. And if he really did return 6 camcorders, that would make me wonder if the real problem was not himself, and not all of these bad professional camcorders he was supposedly buying.
And the way that he ranted on about the upcoming JVC GY-HM600 ProHD. Did you consider his remarks about it appropriate? That is not even an AVCHD camcorder. It is a broadcast camera, that records in MPEG-2 Long GOP at 19, 25, or 35 bps. Now I admit that the product description on the B&H website is a bit incomplete, and thus may have mislead him some. But still, that means that he flew off the handle and condemned that JVC camcorder without ever bothering to visit the JVC website to verify the camera's specifications.
I'm surprised that you gave his post much credibility at all. Did the author ever actually post any video taken with the AC160, to document that he really did try the camcorder out?
06-20-2012, 11:37 PM
I found this original rant complaint about the AC160 on DVINFO.NET ( GOOGLE never ceases to amaze me. I just entered a single sentence from the post and it found it. )
The person who posted that rant is obviously a newbie without any real experience at all with pro video. It is clear from his posts that he is shopping for his VERY FIRST professional camcorder. He obviously is not a professional videographer of any kind. He does not appear to even be an amateur with any experience at all with pro video. He currently owns and uses one of Sony's better consumer camcorders, and edits video with the consumer version of Vegas. He listed 3 popular Sony Pro camcorders that he all bought from B&H and rejected as being crap as well. And I didn't notice a single video posted by him.
And he only joined DVINFO.NET 8 months ago, and has only posted a total of 34 messages since then. And about a fourth of those posts are in that one thread.
I could use some words to describe this fellow, but I really cannot think of anything flattering to say about him.
In many ways, he actually was in a very similar situation as myself. He joined DVINFO.NET last November, seeking advice and assistance in buying his first pro camcorder. I joined DVXUSER.COM a month earlier in October, also looking for guidance in buying my first pro camcorder.
But since the time that we both joined these respective forums:
I have posted 176 messages here on DVXUSER.COM, while he has posted 34 on DVINFO.NET
I purchased a Panasonic AC-130 from B&H Photo after being a member here for a bit over a month, and have been using it ever since. Meanwhile, he has purchased a total of 6 popular expensive camcorders from B&H in roughly the same timeframe, and has returned all 6 of them.
I'm slowly becoming a better videographer, although probably not as fast as I would like. This unfortunately fellow, though, is making absolutely no progress at all, as far as I can determine.
He is literally waiting for the PERFECT camcorder to be invented. He now says that he is waiting to see what new camcorders will come out this Fall, before he may try another.
In any event, that's the skinny about this guy who railed against the AC-160.
06-21-2012, 03:07 AM
I have to concur with Lance about the rant. The Panasonic cameras are solid. No question. The other thing is support. I had my HPX250 for a couple of days and ran into questions that the manual could not answer. I called their support number. I had a call from a tech support person in a few hours who went over everything I needed to do. They followed up as well. We also have Jan Crittenden on here weighing in with support. You may not find that with other vendors.
The camera is a tool. Learn to use the tool. There is a wealth of support. I do not think you will go wrong with the AC130 or 160. It is a nice camera. Good luck,
06-21-2012, 08:19 AM
Thanks guys for the positive affirmation on the 160. Lance, your detective skills would impress Scottland Yard. After reading your post regarding the amateur skillset of the poster,it plainly obvious to me now. I have to second Barry Green's comment on Adam Wilt's detailed review of both the 130/160, he even discusses the HPX250 a great deal as well. Ive read the article it seems a dozen times and I still find sections of the review either I did not remember or have not registered properly yet; great example, just read over again and found that the 160 actually has an exposure meter similar to a DLSR. How well i preforms remains to be seens,any first hand comments on the exposure mter??
06-21-2012, 11:15 AM
06-21-2012, 11:22 AM
My expectation is this camera will continue to be smarter than I am until it becomes obsolete.
Couldn't have said it better!
There are auto focus issues that have been talked about to death. I'm very happy with my 160. I'll probably do the "A" modification when it comes out, just to keep my camera up to date. A lot of my work is boating related, and I've used my 160 in salty, windy conditions without any issues. The build quality isn't the same as Sony or Panny broadcast cameras, but look at the price difference. I also work a lot with Sony PMW500s in my day job, $25K WITHOUT a lens. I've cut my 160 footage together with the Sony 500 footage and liked the look of the 160 more.
06-21-2012, 02:04 PM
Bought mine a few weeks ago and have shot 5 paid gigs with it so far. Yeah, I have had a very occasional focus issue, but I have learned how to handle it and its a good, solid cam. Build quality wise, I would rate it as being excellent. No noisy anything. Like Chris said just make sure its the right tool for your application. I do mostly theater and concert work, and use it for the most part in manual focus. No regrets here either.
06-21-2012, 07:03 PM
Barry, that is correct - the small exposure meter, etc. Does the 160A have a live histogram readout?
JCHRISTIE, I too shoot often in salty conditions in South Louisiana in the GOM. Good info to know, thanks. Barry, your book that comes with the 160, is it available for sale by itself and if so, where can I order it?
06-21-2012, 07:47 PM
No histogram is on any of the pro video cameras from Panasonic. They have a waveform monitor instead.
All the books I have are available separately, yes, just go to Amazon (or shortcut to my amazon store, www.fiftv.com (http://www.fiftv.com)). Thanks for the interest!
06-21-2012, 11:36 PM
Scout pro, Barry is of course right, but the nice thing about the slr type exposure meter is that it is always on without having to press any buttons or obscure the screen- It is great when you only have a real time chance to get a shot-I love it! (also a new 160a owner of 2 weeks after many years with Sony.)
And yes, Barry's book is a must. He takes the somewhat user unfriendly manual and puts it into a logical and concise tutorial, explaining what happens and why rather than just" this does that". essential reading!
PS: With the quality control that is in place with all video camera manufacturers the ranting guy just cannot have been that unlucky. This camera is a solid piece of technology. Maybe the" rattling switch" was actually the OIS in "off" mode. This is also explained in the good Book! I have read everything the ranter has written and he is one unlucky bunny it would seem. I bet if he fell into a barrel of t*ts he would come up sucking his thumb!
06-22-2012, 04:37 AM
I was just checking my orders from my supplier in Auckland this evening and in the last 4 years I have bought 5 pairs of Panasonic cameras from them (that's 10 units total) Every single camera has worked from the instant it has been turned on and my cams work on a daily basis too. I have never had a 'faulty' unit supplied and also have never sent a camera in for warranty repair either!!! That should tell you that the build quality and reliability of Panasonic is second to none!!! I don't think that I am a 'lucky' user at all, the units are obviously tested and quality control checked before leaving the factory...In fact to come to think of it, my first Panny was in 1990!! (yeah I'm old!!!) and every camera since then has been a Panny so over a period of 22 years I have never had a faulty camera and also never had a warranty repair (or for that matter, ANY repair) on any camera...I reckon that's a good quality assurance testimonial!!
Apart from the barrel (which I would love to fall into!) I would hate to have to sell this guy even a tooth brush!!! I pity any supplier that does a deal with him!
06-22-2012, 05:43 AM
Hee Hee! Chris, I don't think anyone could sell him a toothbrush! But yes, as I said the QC on this stuff is amazing! I have been involved with video since 1968 (you think you're old!) and of the many cameras I have owned I have only had one go a bit pear shaped and that was a sony Hi 8 in the 90's which had a drum issue. Everything else rock solid. This little 160 couldn't be bought for $100,000 twenty years ago, so it represents incredible value I reckon, ( Not a camera for hand holding though, I'm too used to a shoulder mounted iron parrot! but I shoot everything on a tripod these days so it fits the bill superbly.
06-22-2012, 11:30 AM
I would hate to have to sell this guy even a tooth brush!!! I pity any supplier that does a deal with him!
I do feel sorry for B&H Photo here. To buy 6 expensive professional camcorders from them and then return them all seems to me to be taking advantage of B&H's money back satisfaction guarantee. He has been able to find flaws in every single professional camcorder that he bought.
At some point I've got to think that B&H is going to have to cut him off, if he continues to keep this up.
I wonder, does B&H have to absorb the financial hit in circumstances like this? Or do the manufacturers themselves help out retailers like B&H with such returns?
He bought camcorders mostly made by Sony ( 3 ), but also models from Panasonic and Canon. I guess that he felt that all of these camcorders were not good enough to replace his Sony CX550, which is what he continues to use at present.
06-22-2012, 05:04 PM
Any focus on this mysterious non-buyer who returned six cameras IMO is a waste of everyone's time.
B&H should put him on a no-buy list and if I had my way he would also go on a no-fly list.
I looked back at the list of complaints and my observations re the line items highlighted are as follows:
1- The build quality is good.
2- The buttons and switches do not rattle, the layout of these is good. only Chris could do a better build.
3- No issues with sound (who tries out in-camera mics anyway?, you can input what you like at the XLRs)
4- The focus and iris rings are smooth (non-issue in my case, I use a Manfrotto remote)
5- The zoom does not whine (unless my hearing is starting to go?)
6- I never knew the camera even had cooling fans.
Bottom line, no complaints.
06-22-2012, 05:46 PM
I have heard the fans on a hot day in the Caribbean. No more noticeable than any tape drive I've heard in other cameras.
06-23-2012, 09:30 PM
As a GH2 video shooter as well, it seems it would be a no brainer to put a histogram readout box on the Pany Cams, especially the 160/130. I've gotten so accustomed to using it that when I do shoot video I feel a little lost. I'll have to start using the WFM function and get use to it.
06-23-2012, 09:52 PM
I bet if he fell into a barrel of t*ts he would come up sucking his thumb!]
Love it! Only a New Zealander (or a bloke living across the ditch) could come up with that one!
06-26-2012, 12:07 PM
First of all there is no way to know if this poster, on the other board, is telling the truth or just stirring up mud as trolls usually do. secondly I saw mentioned about the built-in mic... honestly I don't know a single pro that relies on it for the final product. I wish they would just give me an XLR connector instead of the built-in mic and include a small mic that plugs into the XLR. Makes much more professional sense and probably would make the camera cheaper.
I personally came from a DVX100B and a DVC30. this AC130/160 is a perfect fit.
I am pretty opinionated and critical of the cameras I buy.
my 2 cents:
Build: Works every time but I would of loved an alloy body like the DVC30 has. Yes, that adds weight and everyone complains about weight these days, but damn whiners... try carrying an ENG around. these cameras are feathers compared to them.
Noise: Only noise I hear is my breathing from getting old.
Buttons and zoom: work fine for me... no difference from DVX100B
As I read the quote the OP copied and pasted-- they guy sounds like a nut job perfectionist. Perhaps he should buy a RED instead.
Let me end by saying: If I could return my AC130/160, to Panasonic, for a FULL refund and go out and a buy a new camera I would just be buying the same exact model (AC130/160). I think that says it all. I have no regrets other than the early problem with the time-date position.. which has since been addressed.
06-26-2012, 05:55 PM
Scout Pro . . .Will be interesting to hear back from you how the WFM compares to the histogram readout you have used on your GH2.
I can definitely see the value of installing a Hoodman Loupe on the LCD because that is the only place you can see the WFM.
07-01-2012, 02:28 PM
I purchased four of the P160 cameras in one go for my live event filming company, I researched, read reviews, talked to pro AV stores, but never actually handled one, and when they arrive I absolutely adored the build quality and the construction of the cameras, I also have a AF101 and found the casing to be a similar feel and quality. Panasonic tend to have a unique build quality better than a lot of the plastic feeling Sony's in the same price range in my opinion, they are sleek and feel rugged and would pass a tough jungle test with ease. Best of all? I was blown away by the image quality these cameras can produce, I almost fell off my chair. ;)
07-01-2012, 08:58 PM
The guy lost all credibility with me when he said he had returned 6 cameras to B&H since 2011. This is like a guy that has been married six times. Once or twice is a mistake. When you get to three or more you need to start looking in the mirror. This guy either has ridiculous expectations or just doesn't have a clue to have sent back six cameras in one year.
07-02-2012, 05:26 AM
Now, can we agree that we have answered the original poster's question and identified the naysayer as a possibly unreliable reviewer, as a professional and a new owner of the interesting panasonic ag ac 160a, I would like this forum to get back to discussing the successes/ failures of this camera , and our experiences with it. Even at my great age I am keen, indeed hungry to keep up with factual information that wil improve my skills ( oh yes, there is plenty of room yet!). So your experiences please, to help us all progress. I am feeling rather grumpy now, at the lack of input into this forum , so from New Zealand I bid you all a good night and an even more creative day tomorrow.
07-02-2012, 07:03 AM
It would probably be a lot better to start your own new thread ..sorta something like "What do you like and dislike on the 160A" That should stir up some interest..I suspect it will mostly be "likes" though so it will make you less grumpy!!
08-31-2012, 09:35 AM
I couldn't figure out how to start a new thread.
My issue is depth of field. With the 160, is there a way of varying aperture with shutter automatic?
08-31-2012, 10:01 AM
I do believe the naysayer was operating in subjective territory. Objective opinions are not easy to come by.
As a former GE design engineer I might have been able, way back, to comment on electronic gear, but not optics and not mechanics.
You would probably need several tech people from at least three areas to give a proper evaluation re any modern camera. And, they should all have experience with cameras/videography before they try to kick themselves in the rear end when they have both feet in their mouths.
For the most of us, we don't need to do much else but listen to Barry.
For any visitors seeing this thread for the 1st time, Rod did start a Wish List thread along the lines of what Chris suggested.
WRT depth of field there is only so much you can do when you have a fixed lens. It's mostly aperture and zoom but a 35mm DOF adaptor might help you.
I leave shutter alone at 1/60 unless I am in one of the eight scenarios described in Barry's book on pages 21-22.