Panasonic Unsuccessfully Clarifies Micro 4/3 Sensor Size
Ever since the announcement of the Panasonic AF100, I've been surprised by the number of commenters who seem to think the AF100's Micro 4/3 chip is "too small." In two short years, we've apparently gotten so accustomed to a full-frame DSLR that we've now unimpressed by a chip that's several times larger than anything in its price range (in an actual "pro" video camera body). In an attempt to clarify how large the Micro 4/3 sensor is (in which case perhaps they shouldn't have named it "Micro?"), Panasonic New Zealand has released a video comparing the 4/3 sensor with 35mm motion picture film. There's just one problem with the video: it's wrong.
There's no sound in the video, so feel free to add your own tunes:
However, their math -- both in terms of percentages, and more egregiously in terms of the on-screen illustration -- is off. I've gone through the process of illustrating sensor size and how it relates to depth-of-field (the free eBook of the DSLR Guide contains an even more in-depth explanation), so I can tell at a glance what looks correct and what doesn't. The above video did not look right, so I went in and checked their numbers. In the illustration, Panasonic illustrates the 4/3 sensor as being 76% the size of 35mm motion picture film. In fact (using their own numbers), the Micro 4/3 sensor is 64% the size of 35mm motion picture film. ((Math is not my strong suit, so by all means, let me know if my corrections to their numbers are also, in fact, wrong.)) In the below graphic, the red area is the true Micro 4/3 sensor size:
It's not a HUGE difference, but... just thought I should clarify, since their whole point in making this video was to tell the "truth" about the two different sensor sizes. And, of course, you can see how large the 5D Mark II's sensor is -- but there are many factors above and beyond sensor size that contribute to a good image.
There are a lot of positives to the camera, and if you have access to real Cine lenses and an external HD-SDI recorder, it'll be hard to beat the AF100 without stepping up to much higher-priced cameras. However, if you're thinking about investing in glass, Stu also makes some good points about the Micro 4/3 format and its limitations.