Thursday, September 04, 2008

Panasonic AG-HMC70U Second Impressions

I’ve had the AG-HMC70U for a couple of weeks, and shot the first project with it the weekend before last. Here’s some follow-up thoughts about the camera.

The audio options are really nice. I put a wireless mic on one XLR channel, but was still able to use the internal mic for the other channel. While the internal mic is not the greatest, it did provide good backup for the wireless mic to record other sounds that weren’t being captured (like someone not on the mic.) I used auto volume control so I didn’t have to mess with things, and was happy with the results.

It’s really good to be using a shoulder camera again. Particularly for man-on-the-street interviews. The first day I went out to shoot with the camera I was mainly doing experiments, and holding the camera in my hands as I’ve kind of gotten used to that with the FX1. I was disappointed with the results as the images seemed much shakier. I was much happier with the results this time; it worked much better being used how it was intended.

The zoom rocker control is really nice on this camera. Making it possible to make smooth and variable-speed zooms easily.

When I was considering getting this camera, I saw some write-ups that suggested the electronics inside were little more than those in Panasonic’s consumer SDHC cameras. This may be the case, but the shoulder-mount format, the XLR inputs and the shoulder-mount layout (and viewfinder) are well worth the extra money.

Switching into recording seems pretty instantaneous; but there’s often a long lag – we’re talking only seconds – when you stop recording. It is a little weird not to here the tape mechanism stopping and starting when you do recording.

Video quality seems very good. I’m planning on shooting some stuff with both cameras to compare, but I was very happy with the results (though there’s no Neutral Density filter built in, which I’ve gotten used to with the FX1)

Editing issues that are perhaps Mac specific have taken a bit of the blush off the rose: I don’t know what the situation editing AVCHD on Windows is, though a friend told me he was unable to find any support for AVCHD in Premiere…the camera does come with a Video conversion utility for Windows, but I won’t be trying that out.

Despite the problems with editing, I’m still very happy with the camera, and I don’t regret getting it.