The Panasonic AG-AC160A AVCCAM HD Handheld Camcorder is an upgraded version of the AG-AC160. The upgrade consists of the addition of 1080/60p and 50p recording (max. 28Mbps in PS mode), expanded focus assist functionality, and a "turbo speed" one-push auto focus function.
60p/50p capture capacity gives you excellent control over slow-motion. Shooting in 60p, you can play back 24p for a 2.5x slow-motion effect. With expanded focus assist you can zoom in on an image to check focus. And one-push auto focus affords the option of very quickly attaining focus in circumstances requiring on-the-go focusing.
As for other features, the AG-AC160A is a high-definition workhorse of a professional handheld camcorder that integrates seamlessly with a wide range of current broadcast video systems in place around the world. With an integrated 22x zoom lens and a 1/3-type 3MOS three-element imager, the camera captures AVCHD video to two SD/SDHC/SDXC card slots as 1080p60, 1080p30, 1080i60, filmic 1080p24, and 720p60.
But that's not it for frame rates: for creative slow-/fast-motion effects, overcranking and undercranking are possible at a variety of rates between 2 and 60 frames per second. For worldwide compatibility, the AC160A also captures a variety of 50 Hz video signals for easy integration with PAL projects and video systems.
The AC160A features Panasonic's professional-level PS implementation of AVCHD. It's a top-quality choice at a max rate of 28 Mb/s; several other data rates will conserve card space as you capture hours of HD video. For projects that require standard-def capture, the AC160A has you covered with DV recording, which can then be output via its 6-pin IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port. For high-def output, the HD-SDI terminal puts out HD signals including 1920 x 1080 at 24PsF.
The AC160A offers a bevy of other professional-level features, including dual XLRs with phantom power, SMPTE time-code generation, gamma settings for seven different scenarios, and manual control rings for iris, zoom, and focus. To monitor the status of all settings, and to perform critical focusing functions, the AVCCAM camcorder features both a high-quality 3.45" LCD screen and a full-color LCoS 0.45" viewfinder with 1,226,000 dots (852 x 480 x 3 [RGB]) of resolution.
(Current owners of the AC160 can simply have the upgrades added to their cameras. The 60p/50p capacity upgrade is free and you can perform it yourself, but the other two additions would include a hardware modification and are offered for a total of $300 at a Panasonic Authorized Service Center.)
New Upgrades over the AG-AC160
The AG-AC160A is an upgraded version of the AG-AC160. The upgrade consists of the addition of 1080/60p and 50p recording (max. 28Mbps in PS mode), expanded focus assist functionality, and a "turbo speed" one-push auto focus function. 60p/50p capture capacity gives you excellent control over slow-motion. Shooting in 60p, you can play back 24p for a 2.5x slow-motion effect. With expanded focus assist you can zoom in on an image to check focus. And one-push auto focus affords the option of very quickly attaining focus in circumstances requiring on-the-go focusing
Panasonic Optical Technology
The high-performance 22x zoom lens was designed specifically for professional HD video production. Sharing the wide-angle capability found in the DVX and HMC series, the lens offers some additional telephoto capability for a 28-616mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range. The lens combines 18 elements in 12 groups and adds an ultra-high refractive (UHR) glass element, a low-dispersion element, and aspheric elements – technologies that combine to raise the resolution. This 22x zoom lens covers a wide field of view, from wide-angle to telephoto, without a conversion lens
Manual Control Rings
Three manual rings – mechanical (cam-driven) zoom, focus, and iris – allow you to operate as if you've got an interchangeable-lens camcorder, for fine, tactile control over the parameters of the captured image
Optical Image Stabilization
To compensate for any shaking of the operator's hand, the AC160A features an optical image stabilizer (OIS)
High-Sensitivity, Low-Noise 3MOS Image Sensor
The 1/3-type 2.2 Mp 3MOS sensor features the same Ultra Luminance Technology (ULT) that's incorporated in Panasonic's shoulder-mount P2 HD broadcast camcorders. This sensor maximizes the performance of the lens and the signal processing circuit in standard conditions
This can be assigned to a user button for digital zooms of 2x, 5x, and 10x. In combination with the optical zoom, this function provides a telephoto capability up to 220x
The AC160A features a four-position (OFF, 1/4 ND, 1/16 ND, 1/64 ND) optical neutral density filter wheel
18-Bit Digital Signal Processor
The AC160A's high-performance 18-bit DSP handles rendering processes such as gamma and detail-enhancement functions with uncommon precision
Dynamic Range Stretch (DRS)
The DRS function automatically suppresses blocked shadows and blown highlights in scenes that involve wildly varying contrast levels (such as indoor vs. outdoor elements in the same frame). DRS estimates a gamma curve and knee slope to match the contrast of each pixel and applies them in real time, producing excellent gradation for each shade and minimizing blocked shadows and blown highlights
Seven-Mode Gamma for Rich Gradation
Drawing upon the technology of the high-end VariCam line, the AC160A features gamma functions for seven shooting scenarios, including two cinema modes: HD NORM (for standard HD recording), LOW (flattens out a high-contrast scene); SD NORM (for standard SD recording); HIGH (softens contrast and expands the tone of dark parts, making an image brighter); B.PRESS (sharpens the contrast compared to LOW); CINE-LIKE D (prioritizes dynamic range); and CINE-LIKE V (prioritizes contrast)
Three-Position Gain Selection
There is a 3-position gain selector, with L, M and H settings. To each setting you can assign a gain value of 0, +3, +6, +9, +12 and +18 dB. There is also a Super Gain of +24 dB and +30 dB, accessible via a user button only
Other Camera Image Settings
Three values (A/B/Preset) of white balance are selectable with an auto-tracking white function. The preset can be set to 3200K, 5600K, and VARIABLE, which ranges between P2.4K and P9.9K. As with gamma, matrix setting includes a Cine-Like mode. H & V detail levels are adjustable, as are detail coring and skin-tone detail. That's not all: chroma level, chroma phase, color temperature, and master pedestal are all adjustable as well. The camera offers four settings for knee point: Auto, Low, Mid, and High
Focus Assist Function
A convenient Focus Assist button expands the center of the LCD screen, allowing you to check for correct focus quickly & easily. A Focus Bar that indicates the focus level can be displayed on the LCD, and the focus-in-red display shows the focus area. These two display functions help you to focus quickly and accurately. A face-detection function is also provided, and area auto focus and area auto iris are possible
High-Quality, Multi-Format Professional AVCHD PH Mode
The AC160A uses the AVCHD recording format and also supports the high-image-quality PH mode. AVCHD complies with MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 High Profile motion-picture compression technology. Boasting a compression efficiency that is more than twice that of the MPEG-2 system (such as HDV), this advanced video file format delivers superb image quality and low data rates. The PH mode was developed for AVCCAM by Panasonic exclusively for high-quality professional video production. This mode boasts a maximum AVCHD bit rate of 24 Mb/s (average: 21 Mb/s) and records 1920 x 1080 Full-HD images. The AVCHD PH mode is also compatible with multiple HD formats, such as 1080/59.94i, 1080/29.97p, 1080/23.98p and 720/59.94p
Linear PCM Recording for High-Quality Sound
The AC160A supports uncompressed 16-bit Linear PCM 2-channel digital audio recording with PH mode for high-quality sound. Other modes employ Dolby Digital 2-channel audio recording
59.94 Hz / 50 Hz Switchable
The AC160A lets you select 59.94 Hz or 50 Hz to support video production systems used around the world
DV Recording Mode
The camera records SD video as a DV-format file (AVI Type 2) for added flexibility. Standard DV output (FireWire/IEEE 1394) lets you ingest files to a PC or Mac
Double-Slot SD Card System
Not only can you record continuously on two SD/SDHC/SDXC cards (up to 64 GB), relay recording lets you seamlessly record images onto two memory cards consecutively for added data security, and simultaneous recording records the same images onto two different memory cards to increase reliability when recording. The slot to be used can be switched during normal recording, and clips can also be copied between the 2 slots 1
The AVCHD's maximum consecutive recording length is 12 hours. This cannot be extended even by using the relay function. Simultaneous recording cannot be combined with relay recording, VFR recording or interval recording. Also, Rec Check and Last Clip Delete will not operate during simultaneous recording
SMPTE Time-Code Recording and Synchro
The built-in SMPTE time-code generator lets you select the Drop Frame/Non-Drop Frame and Free Run/Rec Run modes and preset. User bits are also provided. Connecting two cameras with a TC preset in/out (video out) connector allows the slave camera to synchronize with the master camera
Variable Frame Rate Recording at Full HD 1080p
The Variable Frame Rate (VFR) function is inherited from the Panasonic VariCam, which is widely used for producing movies, TV series, and TV commercials. These frame rates can then be laid over a standard 30fps timeline in post-production to create a wide range of film-camera-like slow-motion and fast-motion effects. The AC160A's VFR function supports Full-HD (1920 x 1080) progressive mode
Other Recording Modes
Pre-Rec continuously stores in standby mode up to 3 seconds of HD video, and this pre-record cache is only recorded to the P2 card once you press Record. This helps you get the shot every time, even if you "miss" the crucial moment by a couple seconds. Interval Rec gives you automatic intermittent recording based on a set interval and recording time (1 sec, 10 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 2 min) only in 1080/24p. Rec Check checks the beginning and end of the last recorded clip. If you don't like it, Last Clip Delete enables one-button delete of that last clip. Scenes can be marked with up to 100 Index flags per clip (AVCHD mode only). Time Stamp appends the date and time onto recorded images, which is a crucial feature for evidential images
Area Focusing and Area Iris Functions
Using the function knob (cursor key), you can select a desired area in the frame and set it as a target zone for focusing, iris adjustment, and YGET (brightness measurement). This increases shot-composing flexibility. In addition to the above three modes, there are two other modes: simultaneous focusing/iris adjustment and simultaneous focusing/YGET
Scene File / User File
The AC160A features a Scene dial that allows you to choose an appropriate matrix of settings instantaneously. You can modify the six preset files if you'd like, one set of which can be stored internally in the camcorder. Four more sets can be stored on an SD memory card. As for user files (camera setting values), one file can be stored internally, and four more sets can be stored on an SD card
Simplified Waveform & Vectorscope
The AC160A has waveform and vectorscope display functions for analyzing a captured video signal on the LCD
Three User Buttons
A total of three user buttons can be set to trigger any selection of 16 different camera functions: INH, FACE DETECT, WFM, EVF DTL, D.ZOOM, DRS, S.GAIN, ATW, ATW LOCK, SHOT MARK, INDEX, LAST CLIP, BACKLIGHT, SPOTLIGHT, BLACKFADE, and last but not least, WHITEFADE
High-Quality Color Viewfinder and LCD
The AC160A's color EVF uses a 0.45", approximately 1,226,000 dot-equivalent (852 x 480 x 3 [RGB]) LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) display panel. It delivers bright, detailed, high-resolution images and a high response speed. The AC160A's LCD monitor has a 3.45", approximately 921,000-dot (1920 x 480) high-resolution panel. Various markers and grids can be displayed on the monitor/viewfinder, and with Mode Check, a list of the camera's settings can also displayed on the viewfinder and monitor
Stylish Design Boosts Mobility
Even with the high-powered zoom lens, the integrated camera and recorder sections are compact and stylish. Shifting the handle grip and LCD position forward (toward the lens) compared to the design of previous generations has improved the weight balance and visibility for handheld shooting, enabling a comfortably wide view. The magnesium-alloy die-cast chassis also excels in ruggedness and durability
Low-Angle Shots and Interviews
The upper part of the handle grip contains both the Rec Start/Stop button and a lens zoom speed control (three speeds). This design assures easy shooting even at low angles. The LCD monitor's mirror mode is convenient for shooting interviews that need to be monitored by one of the subjects of the shot
SDI (24PsF) Output and Auto Rec
The AC160A is equipped with an HD/SD SDI output terminal for outputting HD signals, including 1080/24PsF, or down-converted SD video signals (selectable from the menu). The terminal also supports Auto Rec to enable backup recording in link with Rec Start/Stop when a Panasonic recorder equipped with the same function, such as the AG-HPD24, is used. Embedded audio is also supported
XLR Input for Pro-Quality Audio
In addition to the internal high-performance stereo microphone, the AC160A comes equipped with two-channel XLR audio input terminals with a 48V phantom power supply. The internal microphone, external microphone, or line input can be selected for each channel. Large, easy-to-use level dials are also provided
HDMI Digital HD Output Terminal
The AC160A is equipped with an HDMI output terminal for digital transfer of high-quality HD video and audio signals
Down-Converted SD Video Output
The AC160A has an internal down-converter so it can output SD (480/576) signals from SDI, VIDEO OUT, or HDMI (progressive only). The 16:9/4:3 aspect conversion mode can be selected from three types (side crop, letterbox, squeeze)
The Panasonic AVCCAM family enables tapeless recording, which means faster-than-real-time transfers to Windows & Mac computers for nonlinear editing – whether via a USB 2.0 connection or by offloading SD/SDHC/SDXC cards via a card reader. This allows for a speedy workflow and no time-consuming digitizing. For DV editing, simply connect the camcorder to a computer via the IEEE 1394-compliant (FireWire) 6-pin output terminal
Select any two zebra levels from 50% to 105% (in 5% steps)
The type mini-B USB port allows for connection to a PC in device mode
Enables remote operation of iris, focus, Rec Start/Stop and index functions
Outputs a color bar signal and test tone
Tally lamps are provided on the front and rear of the AC160A
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