Here is a video review of the Panasonic AG-DVX 100B, a popular standard def miniDV camera that lets you shoot in 24p, 30p or 60i.
All the features Panasonic packed into this camera are pretty amazing.
The AG-DVX 100B is an updated version of the revolutionary DVX 100, the first small camera to shoot 24-frame per second video, which simulates the look of film. Huge, expensive video cameras had that nifty little trick down, but Panasonic brought it down to scale for lower-budget cameras.
If you shoot in these alternative frame rates, make sure you have video editing software that candle handle it.
For the price, (lists at $2,595) the AG-DVX is an amazing piece of video machinery. It packs lots of professional features into a 4.19 pound package.
Like all the cameras in this category, (Prosumer, a blend of a low-end professional or high-grade consumer level) the Panasonic AG-DVX is a 3-ship camera. It has 3-CCD, 1/3″ Interline Transfer-Type chips.
For quality audio recording, the AG-DVX 100b features two XLR inputs. The camera also has a headphone jack too.
In reading all of Panasonic’s sales material on this camera, it seems clear they designed this camera for quality run-and-gun shooting, like news gathering and documentary style shooting.
It does well in low-light situations, it has a wider than average lens, plus it has a user-friendly mix of manual control, automatic and auto pre-set. For example, it has three buttons the user can customize to activate anything from the SMPTE color bars to the auto tracking white balance.
It also has unique features that allow it to be easily used in a multi-camera shoot. For instance, connect via firewire (IEEE 1394) and you can transfer or synch time-code, or transfer and match up user files containing camera parameters for a more uniform image between cameras.
For times when you want to mount the camera in a hard-to-reach position, you have wired remote control over zoom, iris, focus, and record/pause.
Even though this is a standard def camera, you can shoot in widescreen 16:9. The AG-DVX100B features three 16:9 Wide Modes, including something they call the “New Squeeze Mode” With the standard lens, you can record in letterbox mode or the newly added squeeze mode. This gives you extra flexibility when using the AG-DVX100B together with equipment from other manufacturers.
Activating the Aspect Ratio function on the LCD allows for a letterbox display for easier framing when shooting in Squeeze Mode or when using the Anamorphic lens. If you want to take this to the max, you will need to use the optional 16:9 conversion lens (AG-LA7200G, sold separately). Using the conversion lens will let you take full advantage of the higher image quality made possible by using all of the CCD pixels.
A quality lens is all important for a quality video camera. This one comes with a Leica Dicomar including an OIS, or Optical Image Stabilization system. It’s zoom out is wider than some, starting at 4.5mm, which is equivalent to a 32.5 mm on a 35mm still camera. It’s a 10x optical zoom, 4.5 – 45mm (10 x Optical Zoom) f/1.6. 10x is not a terribly long zoom and the short zoom was one of the most commonly listed consumer complaints.
On a practical level, a wide angle lens is much more advantageous and useful than a telephoto lens. The wide angle helps is small areas and most rooms you will find yourself shooting in are way too small!
In telephoto mode, you can focus at a minimum distance of .6 meters, or 1.9 feet. That’s good and close for a fully zoomed in shot. The lens also has a macro feature.
One cool feature was that they slowed the servo zoom (automatic) down from 20 seconds to a dramatic 30 seconds. So a nice, super slow zoom is easy with this lens.
As with all video cameras with the prosumer class, the videographer using the Panasonic ag-dvx100b has manual control over all of the many functions that affect picture quality, like shutter, white balance, exposure, focus and so forth.
If you are in a situation that calls for speed, all of these controls can be set to automatic if you wish. The sales literature brags on the speed of their auto focus but I know I will never like auto focus!
If you are in a dark place with no way to add light, the camera allows you to kick in some gain. (Video Noise) Your variable gain selection follows:
0dB, 3 dB, 6dB, 9dB, 12dB, 18dB O dB Fixed during Slow Shutter Mode
As a higher end camera, the photographer also has control over the shutter. You can set a range variable from: 1/24 sec – 1/2000 sec (Different Ranges for Different Recording Modes)
In reading the mostly stellar consumer reviews, the short zooming capacity (10x) was one of the major complaints. Even so, most people LOVED this camera.
Here is a fairly typical comment. To quote one consumer review: “I always shoot in 24p and this camera by far gives you better looking mini-dv video footage than any other camera in its price range. As a media study student…I have had access to many different cameras…I’ve used them and tested them and this one by far comes out on the top of my list…as a non HD camcorder.”
All in all, this is an extremely versatile video camera that gives you all the features normally found in camera costing (and weighing) three times as much.
Panasonic AG-DVX100b Specs