Panasonic AG-DVX100A: test and review

If you like the few devices both affordable and designed for professional use, the Panasonic AG-DVX100A is the type of camcorder that gives chills to video professionals and experienced amateurs.

However, if you need or the capture mode 24P or very advanced features, this camcorder can be too rich, it is definitely not for followers automatic. Although DVX100A can operate in automatic mode, only a seasoned user will exploit its unique features set.

As a consumer camcorder type, the viewfinder is at the back, above the battery. On the left side of the device is a retractable LCD 8.9 cm. The right side houses meanwhile the cassette compartment, the zoom rocker and most A / V connections. The goal is 72 mm in diameter, is equipped with a zoom ring, a focus ring and a removable visor. Mounted on top of the camcorder, the regular size carrying handle has its own zoom and recording, to which is added a stereo microphone that protrudes forward. Once in hand, the camcorder seems well balanced and light weight is almost disturbing. However, its rugged construction magnesium housing is designed to last.

External commands DVX100A are almost identical to those of cameras 10 times more expensive. Discrete and logically arranged, buttons, switches and dials to control the aperture, shutter speed, white balance, two built-in neutral density filters, gain, zoom, focus, the right and left sound levels, the level of audio monitor, phantom power, the image stabilization, the stripes, the recording speed and other functions. All are resolved quickly and directly, without the need to waste time to explore the menus or manipulate the automated features. Panasonic also decorated Design of a configurable third button by the user. Further, as accidental impact on the buttons of the sound level and the Scene File DVX100 tended to change their settings, these commands are now surrounded by a thin rim.

In terms of design, our only complaint astute joystick dedicated to the menu and VCR functions. It is a little too small and may be difficult to control accurately.

Of 24P recording modes, 30P and 60i

The Panasonic AG-DVX100A includes the progressive video modes and controls of sound and image that made its predecessor such a revolutionary camcorder. There are two recording modes at 24P, 30P in addition to the 60i mode and standard mode. We keep getting into too much technical considerations 24P. Just be aware that it is thanks to him that digital products have the appearance of a film and not that of a television series. 24P adjustment also results in a transfer film better. These aspects are particularly important if you turn the narrative films in DV, the only other camcorders offer this feature are professional high-end devices.

No other models in the same price range also produces a clear sound or also interface easily with professional audio devices. The integrated features of DVX100A limit the need for separate audio recording devices, such as digital audio tape (DAT) or MiniDisc. Similarly, no other camcorder mixed (professional and consumer) offers features like near or far with six memories of DVX100A scenes, which each include rich, customizable menu options by the user to adjust the gamma , color matrix, detail, chroma, the vertical traveling, configuration and other parameters.

The DVX100A shows the great goal of his predecessor. The manual zoom function is particularly noteworthy, with its focal length markings on the barrel. The accuracy of the focusing lens and the display of the corresponding value on the viewfinder are also exceptional. Compared to its predecessor, this camera changes the distance focusing of just over 1 meter in just under 50 cm at maximum telephoto. In most cases, the 10x optical zoom offers a focal range satisfactory. It is clear that Panasonic gave up even more phenomenal zoom (eg 12x or 20x) the benefit of a wide angle, usually much more useful than the enormous telephoto competitors. If you need a long lens to shoot movies devoted to nature or to certain events, you can attach a telephoto converter.

The digital signal processing functionality (DSP) 12 bits of DVX-100A adds to the picture controls already impressive camcorder. You have three new gamma options: Black Press makes the most compact black Cine-Like_D (D for dynamic range) maximizes detail in bright areas and Cine-Like_V (V for video) increases the contrast of the average range. The last two settings are particularly important because they increase the latitude of DVX100A a full f-stop. This benefit reduces the incidence of light areas darkened, problem that affects all camcorders to a greater or lesser degree. Among the new features of the scene also included a color matrix enriched option, an adjustable device that allows you to treat light areas, a vertical control of details and a function that minimizes noise in the darker areas of the image . Also, when you turn the stripes to highlight overexposed areas, you can now see their settings in the viewfinder.

The DVX100A has some features that Panasonic was not included on the previous model. On the DVX100, only the interlaced mode proposed a gain adjustment, autofocus and color bars. These three features are now available when shooting in progressive mode, even if Panasonic designates autofocus Focus Assist with the term because of its slowness. The manufacturer has also decorated the DVX100A a large compressed 16/9 screen mode, or anamorphic. At full resolution, you can now reduce the shutter speed to 1/6 s in 24P and 1/4 s in 30P mode. In 60i mode, you can slow down to 1/4 sec, but Panasonic has imitated by its competitors using the double image, which halves the vertical resolution.

Excellent performance

For a MiniDV model, this camcorder offers particularly reactive zoom controls. The zoom servo provides a greater choice of speeds and running the manual zoom seems much more fluid.

The reactivity of the manual focus controls also deserves mention. Outside the Canon XL1S and its expensive mechanical optional lens, no other model in this category provides an update as accurate mechanically. Even the XL1S is not the development of values ​​in the viewfinder, or the new retail Tuning feature the development offered by the DVX100A and increasing the sharpness of the image in the viewfinder to facilitate visual focus. The autofocus works well in interlaced mode, even if the DVX100A is not designed for users who use a lot of autofocus. In progressive mode, autofocus is so slow it is rarely useful with moving subjects and in case of rapid movement of the camera.

The audio quality of the DVX-100A is as good as it can be for a MiniDV camcorder. Its stereo microphone is not really directional, but power users know they can not rely on built-in microphones to reproduce critical sounds. However, you can mount a micro highest range on the claw and two built-in XLR ports can accommodate professional audio gear. In progressive mode, the sound and video are perfectly synchronized, so that the video was previously delayed two images. Now you can also adjust the headset volume during recording. It is powerful enough to allow the use of a professional model, but we would have appreciated a whistling a little less pronounced.

In terms of cinematic imagery, no model in this price range will approach the DVX-100A. If you want a more efficient 24P camcorder, it is a professional model.

Sophisticated controls AG-DVX100A allow you to adjust the properties of the video according to your tastes and your project. You want a cooler image? Just specify. You prefer the bright and dark areas are more or less detailed? No problem. You want to increase or decrease the sharpness? Whatever your requirement, this camcorder can.

To take a standard interlaced video as good brightness, DVX100A competitive shows: accurate colors, substantial latitude and net goal. The settings for exposure and automatic white balancing produce very nice results.

Of course, perfection does not exist, the DVX100A has its flaws. The image quality is less impressive in low light conditions, especially if you do not shoot interlaced. The camera loses about one f-stop in progressive mode, and the gain is not particularly clear.