The AG-AC7 is a surprisingly affordable $1,175, and the press release mentions:
A variety of manual functions, affording shooters enhanced creativity, includes Manual Focus, Manual Iris, Manual Shutter Speed, Manual White Balance and On-Screen Assist Functions (Zebra Pattern/Luminance Level/Histogram).I'd want to check it out first before buying, as I'd be concerned about how easy it is to operate the manual functions through the touch screen.
The AC7PJ is touch-screen driven, with controls set simply by touching the 2.7-inch LCD screen, making operation intuitive and easy.
I already own the AG-HMC70U, which is a previous generation shoulder-mount AVCHD camcorder from Panasonic that is now discontinued. I really like a shoulder-mount camcorder for doing stand-up interviews quickly, and the XLR inputs that the70U has make working with external mics much simpler. The downside to the 70U is that it's basically all automatic - there's very few manual controls - it's interlace not progressive, and the image quality is only so-so.
The AG-AC7PJ is also interlaced, but more disappointingly, it's lost the XLR inputs. But, it's quite a bit cheaper (I think the AG-HMC70U cost about $500 more.)
The pros for the AG-AC7PJ remain the shoulder-mount design. If that works for you, this is probably the cheapest AVCHD camcorder of this type out there. The image quality probably won't rival that of the best consumer camcorders (like the Canon HF G10) but it's probably more than good enough for most web-reporting type situations.
My biggest disappointment remains the loss of the XLRS inputs. That's a real shame.
- B & H: Panasonic AG-AC7 Shoulder-Mount AVCHD Camcorder $1,175.00
- NotesOnVideo: Thoughts on the AG-HMC70U
- Panasonic Press Release: Panasonic Introduces New AG-AC7PJ Entry-Level, Shoulder-Mount AVCHD Camcoder
- Panasonic Store: AG-AC7 Shoulder-mount AVCHD Camcorder