The Panasonic AG-AC160A or the JVC GY-HM600 a question I am frequently asked (Updated)

Categories: Miscellaneous 12 Comments

160-v-600

Over the last few months I have reviewed the Panasonic AC160 and had a 160A for a couple of days not to mention the JVC HM600 I reviewed recently, the question I keep getting asked is which camera would I choose.

Both cameras are competitively priced with the Panasonic AC160 coming in at £3,719 and the JVC HM600 at £3,499, it’s not a coincidence that the JVC is £200 cheaper so if it’s price then the JVC wins.

The JVC also has a 23x zoom lens with a 29mm wide angle compared to the Panasonic at 22x and a WA of 28mm, both sporting manual aperture rings and variable servo zooms…a tie

Feature for feature the cameras are very similar but the Panasonic does stop at 25Mbps 1080 50p while the JVC goes up to 35Mbps broadcast ENG but for many the 1080 50i is not very appealing.

I tested both cameras at 720 50p and the Panasonic was rock solid on tight shots but the 25Mbps VBR gave in my opinion variable quality wide shots, some were great and some were average. The JVC is rock solid on both wide and tight as the extra 7Mbps VBR helps the wider shots.

Both cameras are 1/3″ so the low light capabilities are fine up to 6dBs, don’t expect to find any 1/3″ camcorder to perform well in low light though these cameras are far better at 0dB than the competition as they are more sensitive.

If you are looking for a 1080 50p camcorder the Panasonic 160 is top dog but for £200 less and a 35Mbps broadcast news approved camera the 600 is your choice.

You also have to take into account the look and feel of the cameras, the JVC is less plasticky than the Panasonic and is also slightly smaller in size.

If the JVC had 1080 50p it would be a no brainer, JVC are looking into upgrading the 600 to 1080 50p but have admitted the fan as it stands is not capable of running the camera cool enough to accept 1080 50p.

I don’t do interlaced footage and use 720 50p or preferably 1080 50p when available, both cameras give a good clean 720p image which looks far better compressed down to SD DVD than 1080 50i.

Lastly if there is one single item that would sway me one way or other it would be customer service…JVC have excelled at upgrading the 600 camera with at least 3 FW upgrades over the last two months, I mentioned that in order for the flash banding to work you need to switch off the shutter which could be a pain when filming at a wedding so JVC have upgraded the software to have the shutter off as default which means the camera is always set to 50 fps in default mode.

The Panasonic 160 has sold well and the 160A with 1080 50p and better lens tracking is also a good seller, JVC are very pleased with the uptake on the 600 and will hopefully have further news and FW update announcements during NAB 2013 but then maybe Panasonic have something extra up their sleeve for NAB…exiting times.

A cryptic message from Kris Hill from JVC…

Stay tuned for some interesting news. Not 1080 50/60 before i get asked but indeed something that may turn a few heads.

Update : Live streaming from the 650 will be an april launch……its not been a secret however exact details are tbc.

The news i was reffering to is more about a large order we have secured for the 650 model. All will be clear when we do an official press release soon.

NAB and IBC are typically new product launch dates so for those who have asked dont expect too much until then or just before.

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12 comments on this post

  1. Can’t comment on the VC HM600 but I spent a year deciding on the AG-AC160A and have stress-tested this product over a number of months.

    It does not seem plasticky to me but then I never let anyone touch it and I treat the camera with the utmost respect. None of the controls seem flimsy.

    Agree with you 6db is as far as anyone should go.

    I have mostly used 720/24p – your post has prompted me to try 720/50p this coming Monday as I cover four events at a talent show.

  2. Gerry says:

    Can we have some image sample comparisons?

  3. Angelo says:

    I do not understand something, you talk about 28 mbps on Panasonic 160 but in its brochure says
    Video Bit Rate: • PH mode: Approx. 21 Mbps (VBR)
    • PM mode: Approx. 8 Mbps (VBR)
    • HA mode: Approx. 17 Mbps (VBR)
    • HE mode: Approx. 6 Mbps (VBR) is never mentioned 28 mbps how do you get this type of compression you could explain it thank you very much
    you could also tell me the quality that comes from the HDMI output is 4:2:2?

    HDW : Sorry my mistake the AC160A is quoted at 25Mbps not 28.

  4. Jared says:

    Hi Philip – do you think Sony will release an updated version on the NX5 to compete in this 1080/50p (non SxS) price bracket?

    HDW : Sony seriously need to address the lack of cheaper SDHC camcorders and stop relying on SxS as it does nothing for sales, the word is that Sony will announce a cheaper SxS card this year to compete with the Panasonic’s microP2 adapter due this April. The microP2 adapter will allow SDHC cards to run on P2 camcorders…not before time.

  5. Kris Hill says:

    Stay tuned for some interesting news. Not 1080 50/60 before i get asked but indeed something that may turn a few heads.

  6. Dan Varga says:

    “the Panasonic does stop at 25Mbps 1080 50p while the JVC goes up to 35Mbps broadcast ENG”

    Philip for Panasonic is AVCHD codec at 25Mbps and for JVC is XDCAM (MPEG-2 Long GOP) at 35Mbs. Not the same codec and so the 25 versus 35 dosen’t matter.

    I like the JVC camera because is almoust 2 year new then Pana.

  7. Petter says:

    @Kris

    Might it be 1/4 HD live streaming from the 650? 🙂

    I hope it’s not a replacement for the HM150 as I’m torn between the 150 and the XF100. A HM200 and I would have to start over with my decisionmaking.
    I loved the size and workflow of the HM100 so the HM600 would be too large for me.

  8. Ross says:

    JVC announcement, intriguing !??!

  9. Zlatko says:

    They need to make shoulder mount versions of this cameras. Leave evrything as it is just make litle longer body and put viewfinder on the left side. It shoud not be to dificult to do.

  10. Kris Hill says:

    Live streaming from the 650 will be an april launch……its not been a secret however exact details are tbc.

    The news i was reffering to is more about a large order we have secured for the 650 model. All will be clear when we do an official press release soon.

    NAB and IBC are typically new product launch dates so for those who have asked dont expect too much until then or just before.

  11. Marc says:

    I have tested the JVC today:
    The internal microphone cannot be utilised as you hear the fan in the final sound track which covers the field of -60 to -40 DB.
    You also hear the fan in quiet room at a distance of 4 meters.

  12. Ariel says:

    Hey Philip,
    “I’ve tested both cameras at 720 50p”.
    According to The JVC website the GY 600 doesn’t shoot 720 50p only 60p. I can assume it’s their mistake, right ?

    Sorry for questioning, I had a pana 130 and it was stolen (along with tons of other equipment) and I’m blowing my mind now for either the 160a or the gy hm600- Not an easy decision. and a 50p is a deal breaker for me (even at 720)

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