First impression of the Panasonic AG-DVX100 24p
What do I think of the Panasonic AG-DVX100...
First off, what I don't like...the battery supplied really isn't that sufficient. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of options available in terms of battery power from Panasonic. The next battery up is rated at 5 hours for their consumer Videocams, but considering that the AG-DVX100 draws more power than your typical consumer Panasonic Videocam, I'm guessing probably will only be good for 3 hours or so, which really sucks since I'm used to the longevity of Sony batteries.
Also you cannot use the 80 minute MiniDV tapes with this camera. In the manual, it specifically states do not use 80 minute MiniDV tapes. And it is recommended that you use the Master Series of Panasonic MiniDV tapes with this camera.
The manual is pretty sparse when explaining some of the features of the camera. The remote control has some options on it that are not part of the camera body and all the manual states is that these options are not part of the camera body. No explanation is given concerning what these options do.
The protective cover for some of the things on the camera seem to be pretty flimsy.
The controller for the menu is hard to get used to...panasonic pretty much embedded a little joystick into the side of the camera and when you want to move around in the menu, you have to move this joystick around and when you want to select something you push the joystick in. It's very easy to push the joystick in and move it slightly off center at the same time so that you choose an option that you didn't want to. Also you use this joystick when you are in VCR mode, which can be sort of a pain.
There is push auto button for those who like to use manual zoom and then have the camera focus with the push of a button...unfortunately, it only works in 60i mode.
What I do like...
The camera is well balanced and feels pretty solid. With the Matte Box/Lens Hood (whatever you call it) it looks very cool. With the eye cup in place, even wearing glasses, I get a comfortable fit with the EVF. The LCD display is nice and big...much bigger than my Sony Digital 8 that I'm used to.
The AG-DVX100 has what is called a Scene Dial. What it does is allow you to change the settings of the camera on the fly by just turning the dial. It has 6 settings, starting with F1 to F6. F1 is your basic 60i mode. F2 is 60i mode but adjusted for florescent lighting. F3 is suited to accentuating subjects (for shooting wedding receptions). F4 is for shooting with extended gradations for dark areas (for shooting scenes at dusk). F5 is for shooting 24p with standard 3:2 pulldown. F6 is for shooting 24p Advance with 2:3:3:2 pulldown. This really is a great option. When in 60i mode, switching between F1 to F4 is instantaneous. So as you are transititioning between outdoor to indoor, you just turn the dial and you are now in the proper settings necessary for capturing quality video in your change of location. Each of these Scenes can be customized. Switching between F5 or F6 requires a 3 second delay. The dial is not loose and very close to the camera body...and doesn't seem like there is any way to accidently turn it while shooting.
On the camera body, there are switches for changing White balance and adjusting gain. Even when in the proper Scene setting for the location I am in, if I don't like what I see, I can adjust the white balance to 2 presets by just moving the white balance switch, there are actually 3 settings on the white balance switch but I haven't used the 3rd setting yet, this can be customized as well. The gain has 3 settings: low, medium and high. The camera also has a auto white balancing which will continuously adjust the white balance as you are shooting.
There is one option that the camera has that I'm fascinated with trying out but I don't currently have the proper equipment. The camera has the ability to send the video and audio stream to a backup unit (VTR, DV Camera, etc). It has 4 options: off, ext, both, and chain. Off means what it says. Ext allows you to send the video and audio to another device like a VTR or another camera without taping to the camera itself. Both would have the camera and backup device tape at the same time. Chain will tape first to the camera and when the tape runs out, it will automatically switch and transfer the video/audio to the backup device.
The camera has both manual and autofocus capabilities in 60i mode. The manual zoom ring feels quite nice to me, although others have reported that it's too loose for them. You can switch back and forth between manual and auto with a flick of a switch by the lens. In progressive mode, you have to use Manual focus.
The EVF and LCD when shooting can be set to display whatever info you think is pertinent. It is actually quite overwhelming the amount of data that can be projected onto either the LCD or EVF. Some of the data that can be shown on the LCD or EVF are: audio levels, counter display, shutter speed, audio sampling frequency, scene selection, zoom display, iris display, gain display, ND filter display, Recommended ND filter display, battery charge, remaining tape, camera shake compensation, backup component status display, date and time display, record mode, Auto White Balance, and Auto Iris settings.
There are 3 ways to currently use the servo motor zoom function on the AG-DVX100 which I think is quite nice. You have 2 on the camera body and 1 on the remote. There are 2 toggle switches for the servo motor zoom on the camera body: 1. in the standard position which is above the tape holder, 2. on the handle bar. The handle bar has a 3 preset switch for you to change the amount of zoom that you are doing when using the toggle switch there for zoom control. The preset settings are numbered 3, 2, 1. Default settings are 3: high, 2: No Zoom, 1: low. However using the menu, you can change this to: 3: high, 2: medium, 1: low. Unfortunately, you cannot set the zoom speed yourself...they are not adjustable or at least I didn't notice any way to change them. There is also a stop/start button on the handle. This makes it quite easy to got low angle shots using just the LCD and the handle bar.
XLR inputs, there are 2 XLR inputs and both have switches to change from mic or line. I haven't hand a chance to test these since I don't own any equipment that uses XLR at the moment. There are switches to activate phantom power to either of the XLR ports.
The picture quality is very good and I was quite impress with it. I've only seen footage a few years back from the old XL1 so I can't accurately judge if it's as good or better than the XL1 or any of the other cameras in it's price range.
All the stuff I fooled around with are just on the body of the camera...I didn't even try to adjust anything in the menu. And believe me, there are quite a lot of settings available within the menu.
There is one button which I found interesting on the camera body and it was called "Rec Check", it's right by the main toggle switch for the zoom. When you are in pause and you press it, the camera plays back the last 2 secs of whatever you were taping and then it goes back to where it was before you pressed this button.
Okay...that's all I was able to discover since getting it on Friday. It looks like I have quite a lot more to learn before I can even get a hang of this camera. I'm quite please with it so far.
Mine is on order. Promax says about two weeks. that means about 10 more days.
can't wait............. ummm.... but I guess I have to. :)
At least you are going to get one relatively soon...think of all those who have preordered from somewhere else and don't know if they are going to get theirs by the end of the year.
Mine is due to ship Oct.25 unless someone drops out of the race. I'm down to #14 on the list.
daremo, have you discovered anything you don't like about it yet?
not really...there are some minor issues like the flimsy plastic cover protecting the RCA/SVideo/DV port and the protective lense cap being a pain in the butt to insert properly... but I'm not complaining about anything else.
I do admit that the video looks dull on a computer screen but once's it's played on a NTSC TV/Monitor, it looks a whole lot better.
But then this is my first 3ccd prosumer camera...all my previous experience has been with a Sony Digital 8, so the Panasonic AGDVX100 has been quite overwhelming in the amount of available adjustments that can be made to the picture quality.