Over the last couple of years, I have been very fortunate to test and evaluate many different types of cameras. From full-size 8K to specialized miniature POV units putting different cameras to the test is always interesting and a lot of fun. In this review, we are going to be taking a look at the Panasonic AG-CX10. The AG-CX10 is said to be the little brother of the Panasonic AG-CX350. In either case, both are excellent choices for people that need a good amount of features that allow for a quick start-up, getting the shots you need, then scramming out of harm's way. But before I get too deep there are a couple of the things I try to keep in mind when reviewing gear. Who is this camera for? What might they use it for? Will it be a good fit and a good return on investment?
Features to Like in 4K
With a very compact form and coming in at 3.31 lbs., the AG-CX10 is on the smaller size but feels solid to hold. On a quick first inspection, the AG-CX10 carries the familiar Panasonic form, which is great when you have to quickly get up to speed and start shooting.
But after that hurried first couple of shoots, one can (and should) take the time to explore and take advantage of what the AG-CX10 has to offer.
From a shooter's perspective, the CX10 (as mentioned) is lightweight, and one could pretty much go handheld if needed or desired all day. The adjustable grip felt comfortable, and all of the manual controls on the internal and external parts of the camera were easy to find and operate. In a nod to our current shooting safety status, I did much (not all) of my camera control testing with gloves on. I didn't encounter any problems operating the AG-CX10 with my gloves on. Audio controls are mounted on the ergonomically friendly handle, which attaches solidly to the top of the AG-CX10 with a slide and screw-in mounting. In other words, the handle isn't going anywhere. In the course of my discussions with Panasonic, we did however talk about the XLR connectors on the handle. Which by the way is nothing new. On one hand, I am happy that the AG-CX10 has the full-sized XLRs.
On the other hand, if it were my rig I would be buying or making my own right-angled XLR connectors as to not have them stick out. Yes, don’t be shocked. I can still make my own connectors! But in my opinion, having full-sized XLRs sure beats the hell out of mini XLRs or worse no XLRs.
Lastly, Panasonic has a great little dimmable “beauty” light built into the handle. Some might call it a "sun gun" but that is going way too far back in the time machine. But I am glad the built-in beauty light was dimmable because at full strength it was too much. I can see a lot of uses for the light either for stand-ups, tight product shots or for home studio/remote live streaming.
Other Features to Like
Besides some of the mechanical or physical features of the AG-CX10 I liked, there were some other fun and useful features I found as I worked through the AG-CX10 workflow.
The AG-CX10 provides a lot of versatility when it comes to recording modes. The camera can capture in MOV, MP4, and AVCHD codecs, and Panasonic’s P2 MXF has several frame rate bitrate options. Additional capture modes include Long GOP or ALL-I intraframe. The camera also has a full-sized HDMI out for uncompressed 10-bit video signals to an outboard recording device.
Built-in WiFi makes the AG-CX10 a streaming camera. The AG-CX10 includes IP networking features, such as built-in Wi-Fi support for HD live streaming to YouTube, Facebook, and other social sites via RTMP/RTMPS/RTSP protocols. It is controllable via an external app and it can fit into an NDI|HX workflow with an optional $299 license.
Autofocus is fast and accurate. In UHD and HD modes, the AG-CX10 has a 5-axis hybrid Optical Image Stabilization system, which delivers stable usable images. The AG-CX10 also has 3 levels of ND plus clear.
The AG-CX10’s manual focus ring also has a nice feel to it, but as I don’t use AF much (can you say old school) I stuck with the manual focus, but that is a personal preference of mine. I know AF features such as on the AG-CX10 and many other cameras are getting better every day. So if Auto Focus is your thing then by all means the AG-CX10 does a great job of finding your focus point, especially on faces. It would be a good starting point for a new operator, but I still, feel as though the manual focus for me is the way to go. On the recording side of things, the SD card slots can be set up for dual simultaneous or continuous recording. It is also possible to use microP2 for recording only as a 10-bit 4:2:2 MXF-wrapped file in either 1080 or 720 resolution at 59.94i.
Like I said in the beginning, one has to decide what they are going to be shooting and is the AG-CX10 a good fit for them. The AG-CX10 while not perfect for everyone, might be a good choice for people who need a small factor camera without spending extra money on features they don't need or might seldom use. Here is what I am thinking about the AG-CX10. It is a versatile camera. I wish I could have had time to get my friends Sean or Andre to get the AG-CX10 up on a drone. There is a lot of functionality with the AG-CX10 but not so much as you can’t just pick it up and start streaming or shooting things like YouTube videos and other inventive docs or short-form programming. It is not a RED or a VariCam, or even a VENICE, But then again, it doesn’t pretend to be.
Secondly, I like the price point. (List $2795 MSRP) When you buy a pro camera you want to let people know you are serious about the work. The fact that you can (with a license) make a NDI multicam connection is a good thing and the point is not lost on the author.
Lastly, the Panasonic AG-CX10 fits the marketplace right now.
I know some people will talk about the camera size factor (being small) the XLR connectors, and the fixed lens. But in a nod to anyone who has ever lost a lens cap, I liked the built-in lens cap! In closing the AG-CX10 is a good camera with good specifications that provides solid results.