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First Panasonic AF100 Footage Hits the 'Net. Are HDSLRs Over?

10.13.10 @ 8:41AM Tags : , , ,

The Panasonic AF100 (otherwise known as the AF101 in PAL countries) is an enticing video camera that’s looking to make DSLR shooters forget about the whole hybrid revolution. It’s made up of a Micro 4/3 sensor in a pro video camera body, complete with XLR audio inputs, numerous lens mount options, and uncompressed HD-SDI output. The first footage from the camera is now available, and it’s a pro clip: shot with a PL adapter and Zeiss Ultra Prime lenses, output through the HD-SDI output at 100 mbs, and recorded in the AVC Intra HD codec to P2 cards.

Lookin’ good. Oh, and the footage is nice too…

The camera’s Micro4/3 chip is a tad smaller than I’d like, but is still several times larger than the 1/3″ or 2/3″ sensor typically found in video cameras under $10k (The Sony EX1′s 1/2″ chip is featured in the illustration at left). You’ll be able to get a shallow depth-of-field with the camera provided you use some fast lenses, and the AF100′s numerous advantages should outweigh the slightly smaller sensor than the APS-C chip found in most DSLRs. From the shooters:

We are talking about a shallow depth of field, reminiscent of 35mm movie making and beloved by cinematographers. But the Panasonic AG-AF100 is a camera body that you can pick up with a couple of fingers and boasts a ticket price of only NZ$7,000 (say US$5,250).1 It is due for release by the end of 2010. Unlike the DSLRs it aims to displace, this camera is not compromised by trying to be a good stills camera.

Check out their blog post for more details, where they also note the camera’s lack of aliasing and rolling shutter problems. Also be sure to see the related posts at the bottom of this page for more on the AF100.

So, what do you think? It’s only a short, ungraded, downrez’d clip, but the pro audio options, the lack of aliasing, selectable gamma curves, and better ergonomics should combine to make it a strong candidate for independent filmmaking (especially in light of the RED SCARLET likely vacating this price point). I love my 5D, but it will sure be nice to have some real video camera features (like those listed below).

Link: AF100 Storm Gathers

[via DV Culture]

Panasonic AF100 Features

4/3″-type Image Sensor with Digital Still Camera Technology
The same digital single lens still camera technology that’s gathering widespread attention for its innovative techniques has been applied to this camcorder. The 4/3″-type MOS image sensor, with an imaging area similar to that of 35mm movies, lets you easily shoot film-like movies with the shallow depth of field and soft focus of a film camera lens.

Micro 4/3 Lens Mount
A wide variety of lenses for Micro Four Thirds standard digital SLR cameras can be used for shooting movies. With the mount adapter, it’s also possible to mount 35mm film camera lenses and prime lenses, for rendering images that maximize lens characteristics.

Extended Recording in AVCHD High-Quality PH Mode
The AVCHD recording format used by the AG-AF100 includes a professional PH mode with maximum AVCHD bit rate for stunning image quality. Two SD card slots allow continuous recording for up to 12 hours in PH mode and up to 48 hours in HE mode (using two 64GB cards).

Multi HD Format & New VFR Recording Function
Recording can be made in multiple HD formats: 1080 60i/50i/30p/25p/24p; 720 60p/50p/30p/25p/24p. The new VFR (Variable Frame Rate) recording function in full HD (1920 x 1080) progressive mode is also supported. Playback in 24p gives a cinematic effect driven by 1/2.5 speed slow motion or double-speed quick motion. DRS, Gamma and numerous other video expression functions available on previous Panasonic professional camera recorders remain in place.

A Professional Design with HD-SDI, XLR & Other Interfaces
The AG-AF100 features HD-SDI and HDMI output, XLR 2-channel audio input and other interfaces that are typically found on professional camcorders. Timecode recording also supports precise video production.

Design Based on Professional Camcorders
The professional camcorder design with grip, handle, large-sized high quality viewfinder (0.45″ / 1.226 million dot equivalent [852 x 480 x 3 (RGB)]) on a lightweight, compact body, along with a high-definition 16:9 color LCD panel (3.45″ / 921,000 dot (1920 x 480)), supports smooth camera operation. The handle and grip are detachable for diverse peripherals and applications.

Additional Features

  • Internal ND filter: 1/4, 1/16, 1/64 or Off (rotary switch).
  • Focus-assist function: edge coloration, focus bar display.
  • DRS (Dynamic Range Stretch): automatically reduces compression of black or blown highlights in high contrast scenes.
  • Thumbnail viewing, clip deletion and SD card to SD card copying and metadata recording functions.
  • Pre-rec and Interval rec functions.
  • Relay recording: Relay recording from one SD card to another without interrupt.
  • WFM display function: the wave form of the video being recorded is easily displayed on an LCD monitor.
  • Shot mark function: the useful shot mark function allows marking of clips as good, bad or others.
  • User buttons: three user buttons allow high-frequency functions to be performed with a single push.
  • Audio volume: allows manual adjustment of audio inputs (2 ch).

  1. The AF100 is available for preorder at B&H for $4,795. []


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Description image 28 COMMENTS

  • Are HDSLRs over? Certainly not. Is this a better alternative to say, someone who would be in the price range of an HVX? Absolutely. As a matter of fact, if this camera “kills” anything, I’d see it more as an HVX-killer than a DSLR-killer. It’s definitely a great step in the right direction though, and I’d love to get my hands on it to see what it’s capable of.

    Also: “…this camera is not compromised by trying to be a good stills camera” isn’t exactly a great knock against DSLRs. It kind of hurts the image of the AF100 more than helping it; if you’re trying to take down DSLRs, pointing out that they can ALSO take great stills and YOUR CAMERA isn’t made to do that isn’t exactly helping your case.

  • Are HDSLRs over? Eh, naw.
    Are HDSLRs cheaper: Yes
    Can HDSLRs be adapted for XLR audio: Yes
    Can HDSLRs take a wider variety of lenses with special features like tilt shift etc?: Yes

    Do HDSLRs need a little more work to make them more comparable with a camcorder: Absolutely

    Will I be rushing out to buy a panny HVX? Absolutely not.

  • of course… with the AF100 costing 5000-6000$, the DSLR are deader than Saddam *irony*

  • HDSLRs won’t be “over,” but they will not be the only option. Nor will the AF-100. Sony, et al. will surely bring innovations to market with their competitive products.

    For surreptitious b-roll, ultra-low-light work, and student projects, HDSLRs are a great choice. For narrative and commercial work, let’s be honest: aside from the image quality, they suck. I want XLR inputs, I want proper monitoring, and I don’t want to have to worry about aliasing, moiré or dual-system sound. If the atomos Ninja ProRes recorder delivers as advertised (on-board ProRes 422 recording for $995), the codec issue will be a moot point.

    The bottom line is that this thing is a Panavision mini-Genesis. $5K for a camera that delivers features you couldn’t touch for under $100K five years ago is a steal.

    • Stupid question I know, but why would on-board ProRes processing be that big a deal in comparison to the FCP-E1 plug in? Do you really lose that much quality from transferring with the plug in? Or is it a workflow thing?

  • Alex — couldn’t have said it better myself.

    I suppose by “over” I meant “over for serious filmmaking.” From a pricepoint they’ll never be beat, but to date they’ve been adopted by serious DPs like Shane Hurlbut… and that era is drawing to a close, I think.

    • well, that same Shane Hurlbut has said he won’t be touching this camera…

      but yes, in a few years it will only be the low-budget guys like me that will still be using DSLRs

    • A few of these guys – LaForet, Hurlbut and Charters in particular – have really gone overboard with DSLRs. They’ve invested so much time and money into them, I can see why they’d be reluctant to pick up a new product. Also, for Hurlbut’s military stuff, I can see why the 5D2 would be a better choice.

      In a couple of months, I’ll have both (assuming I don’t break my 5D2 in the meantime), and I anticipate using the AF100 for anything requiring decent audio OR client oversight (multiple monitor outs? Yes, please!), and the 5D2 for anything low-light or artsy (like the spots I just shot for an upscale restaurant, for example).

  • When it’s below $3K, then DSLR’s might be over. That’s assuming, of course, that DSLR tech stays the same in the meantime. And we all know it won’t.

  • I would much rather put $6000 into a 5D setup. That is of course assuming money is an issue, but since we are talking about HDSLR filmmakers, in most cases money is certainly an issue.

  • Not worth switching now, but call me when these start including 3k.

  • I think the AF100 is not going to put an end to the DSLR revolution, as the two systems are at completely different price points. A t2i or 7d is simply in a different price league than the AF100. If you can afford $6000 (with lens), then maybe this is an option. But I think Panasonic is in for a surprise. The indie film crowd will be trading in their HVXs and HPXs for this. Why buy an HPX170 and a 35mm adaptor, when you can have this for the same price or less, and get the same shallor dof (with better low light capabilities)? Duh!

  • It seems like this is for a different use than most are putting HdSLRs to. For a videographer, this is going to be a big upgrade from many cheaper and also more expensive cameras, offering essentials like mic inputs, internal nd filters and easy to access settings etc. But for anyone serious about filmmaking these features are knd of …meh. I’d rather buy a cheaper body that I can afford to accessorize since my sound is being recorded properly on a seperate system anyway. And my filters will go in my matte box.

  • the only major positive to the a f100 is hdsdi output

    • Really? First of all, that’s a huge positive, and one that makes all the difference in the world if you’re trying to go to the big screen. For web video, not as big a deal. But the lack of aliasing and intense CMOS skew are also a big deal. As is the articulating LCD screen, XLR audio inputs, selectable gamma curves, and a host of other “real” video camera features that most of us DSLR shooters have learned how to live without — but we’ll gladly welcome them back.

      If you’re shooting web video with an $800 camera, no, the AF100 isn’t a big deal. But if you have designs on shooting a feature film, you’re in a different boat.

      • Actually I had missed that about the sensor, so that’s good news, BTW, what is the difference between the MOS sensor and the “live-MOS” sensor that they have on the GH1/GH2?

        I guess it’s a difference of what budget you’re working with. This might make a really nice cheap rental company, or perfect if you are working for hire. But for fully independent filmmakers trying to make your first n-budget short, I would suggest focusing on the story and stortelling and save your money by buying a much cheaper camera,

        Buit once you get to a level where you can afford to rent/buy this camera fior your filmmaking, maybe it’s worth considering something better like the upcoming Red Epic or Scarlett, I’d be much more interested if Panny had gone for a full-frame sensor to match the image qualities of the 5D mk II in terms of the cinematic impression it makes.

  • am i the only one who’s not impressed by this footage? the highlights blows looks like on any other video camera. actually the look reminds me a lot of the HVX. look at the sky on the first couple of shots. ok.. you got the depth of field.. but other than that, i’m underwhelmed.
    but no question that we’ll see more of the “real” video cameras based on large sensors. 5D2 and 7D are both classics. nothing will take that away from them.

    • Just got rid of a Olympus DSLR because I couldn’t stand the limitations of its chip. I really like the idea of 4/3″ – making its first forays into Live View and smaller bodies – but I’d be terrified of its limitations when it comes to range and processing.

      But, as with Live View and smaller bodies – this is a great step in the right direction. But, that chip is a deal-breaker.

  • First off I’d like to say that I’m primarily a still shooter, so this is coming from the point of view of a person familiar with still cameras. I’ve done a little video with my Zi6 and JVC, but nothing noteworthy. Having just bought a T2i to get my feet wet with video, I can say that so far the transition from stills to motion has been fairly easy since the controls are familiar and while it’s smaller than my 1D Mk2n bodies, I can still feel my way around without having to stop and search for controls. Also, I already own all the Canon L glass I need to shoot what I want.

    So, while it would be nice to have a dedicated video camera with interchangeable lenses, I can’t see investing $5000 for a system that isn’t compatible with my current (and insanely expensive) lenses. That same $5000 would buy me a 1D MkIV (probably a 1D MkVI by the time I can afford it) that would be weatherproof, compatible with my current lenses, and shoot both stills and video. And remember, that $5000 doesn’t buy any lenses and 4/3rds lenses aren’t exactly cheap.

    If I were just starting out and had no interest in shooting stills(or I owned a 4/3rds system), I’d consider it an option.

  • NZ$7,000 (say US$5,250) !?
    ouch !
    I love my used T2i bought for only 650 bucks
    for a result not so different…

  • 4900 to 4000 €uros at last news so yes around 5.637,10 USD – camera price will be “revealed” at nex Satis expo in Paris this month…

  • I think the range of responses to this post have illustrated very clearly why there are so many cameras on the market. There are so many different types of video content being created, with so many different budgets, under so many production setups, by so many different people with strong, individual preferences, that the ultimate lesson seems to be – to paraphrase Daniel Quinn – “there is no one right way to shoot.”

    Bravo, Ryan, for sparking such an interesting debate! I don’t know about anyone else, but I haven’t visited a forum since I discovered this website.

  • I’m actually very excited by this camera after seeing the footage. The depth of field is very close to 35mm motion picture film and I’d rather shoot with less DOF than struggle with the 5D again. We just shot our last feature film with 2 7D’s with all L series glass and while it was a freeing experience and the image coming off the Canon’s is really special, I’d gladly trade up for the following that the AF100 will give me:

    Real monitoring via viewfinder and articulation LCD. Live HD output via HDMI. HDSDI output which means I can attach a new KI PRO MINI and now shoot in 10bit 422 color directly to a master quality format that I can start cutting immediately. XLR audio – no more syncing dailies and then transcoding files. Other benefits include Panasonic’s famous Cinegamma, readily available PL Mount adapter so I can shoot with cinema lenses with real markings! It’s basically a poorman’s (me) Alexa!

    I think this is a good thing – it’s going to force every other manufacturer to answer – Canon has to give us live HD out, Sony will have to create a competitively priced camera. This is like large chip filmmaking version 2 and it’s only going to get better!

  • 3k for 3k and I’m in. Damn scarlet put me in a dream for awhile then I woke up – affording a 7D and some nikon lenses. I’m very happy with their capabilities.