February 16, 2011

Is the $1,000 Panasonic GH2 a Better Camera Than the $5,000 Panasonic AF100?

You'd think if one of the largest electronics companies in the world was to release two cameras at the same time -- one a pro video camera with a $5k price tag, and the other a consumer still/video hybrid cam that retails for 1/5 of the price -- that they'd make sure the more expensive model is better in every way. You'd think.

Well, it turns out, according to the German site Slashcam, that the GH2 (the $1k consumer camera) resolves a smoother image than the AF100 (the $5k pro video camera). Keep in mind they have identically sized-sensors and lens mounts. Here's how Google translated the original German:

The ISO chart finally brings slight scaling artifacts of the sensor on the day. In terms of level DSLR, the picture is good, but is still slightly below the same from GH2 the home.

The translation doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but what they're saying is that the GH2 resolves more lines more cleanly. Therefore the cheaper consumer camera is, in terms of moire and aliasing at least, the superior camera. The charts bear this out:

Check out the circles on the right side of each chart and how much smoother the GH2 image is.

So, why would this happen? Well, there are two different divisions of Panasonic at work, and each put out the best camera they could. The engineers working on the GH2 learned a lot of lessons from the GH1 -- possibly benefiting from experiences that the AF100 engineers did not have (I'm just speculating here). From a technological standpoint the AF100 is probably employing an optical low pass filter, whereas the GH2 has to eliminate aliasing in video mode electronically (because it has a 16MP sensor that must remain sharp in still mode). Somehow the GH2's electronic method has produced better results -- at least in terms of test charts. I haven't heard of anyone complaining about AF100 aliasing in real-world conditions, so this may be a moot issue. But it's a curious one nonetheless.

Check out the Slashcam link below, which notes the Sony NEX-VG10 came out the worst of all tested cameras, even worse in terms of aliasing than our beloved (for most things except moire) Canon 7D.

So. Is the GH2 a better camera than the AF100? No, except in this one test. Resolution is only one of many factors. The AF100 has pro inputs, superior ergonomics, a better monitor, better outputs, better audio, and is generally suitable for actual pro work. If you're going to be on a set burning money by the minute and you have a choice between the two, the AF100 is the camera you're going to want to rely on. But the GH2 is looking like a heck of a deal (I've included a review from EOSHD below). While there are fulfillment issues at this point, I've heard that the 14-140mm kit should be shipping from B&H by the end of the month. And while one of my worries with the Micro 4/3 format was the difficulty in obtaining good, fast wide glass, Carl Zeiss has just announced they will be releasing lenses for the format. Depending on what lenses they manufacture, that could be the answer to the format's lack of lens options (compared to other formats).

Still, the GH2 isn't a better camera than the AF100. But is it a better deal? That all depends on what you're using it for -- I could certainly see someone who wants to do a multi-cam shoot opting for five GH2s and using Pluraleyes to sync them together, over one AF100 with proper timecode. It's just another example of consumer tools being viable for pro work with some ingenuity -- which is what has been great about this whole HDSLR revolution in the first place.

Links:

[via EOSHD]

Your Comment

17 Comments

I think they will fix (downgrade) this with a next firmware for GH2.

February 16, 2011

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Martynas

I love my GH2. If all goes according to plan I'll be shooting my first feature with it this summer. Hopefully the Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 lens comes back in stock soon, it is an amazing lens.

February 16, 2011

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Yup, I just did a test shoot over the weekend, with my newly acquired GH2. I toned it down by setting both sharpness and saturation to -2, but it was still too sharp! I guess that's a good problem to have. Uploading to Vimeo does not do justice of its brilliance. I am sure I am not the only one to say this, but this is the absolute best video camera one can buy for less than $1000.

February 16, 2011

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wow, that GH2 vs 7D resolution test in the "related: 1" link is astounding!!

this GH2 little camera definitely is a hell of a contender

February 17, 2011

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February 17, 2011

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Yeah, the Canon DSLRs really do not fair well at shooting test charts. I don't think any of us are making films about test charts, though!

February 17, 2011

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

yes, I know, I know... on the other hand, most often my talent has hair...

February 17, 2011

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Linkbait of the year award for the title?

February 17, 2011

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Ha. I could drop the "?" and go with "The $1,000 Panasonic GH2 is a Sharper Camera Than the $5,000 Panasonic AF100"...

February 17, 2011

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Yeah... that would bump it up in the LBOTY rating.

February 24, 2011

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A more realistic, and useful test:

http://vimeo.com/20058475

February 17, 2011

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Thank you for the post but I don´t think the GH2 is better in any way than the AF 100 series. It is smaller yes but it only records 24mbs at 24 fps. The other frame rates record 17, lower than the GH13. The rolling shutter and moire it is much worse. AF is a varicam shoot in very different frame rate and has a remarkable slow mo. It has some noise in low light but not more than GH2...but more than the 5D or 1D MK IV. I got the AF 100 it has some issues but there are moire advantages than defects to point out. It was a major advance on the Panasonic range. Of course the DSLR´s are great. I shoot everyday with all of them (one at the time of course... :-) ) but all have they´re uses. I love the 5D,7D, 550D, GH13,GH2 and AF101. I don´t think I will ever shoot RED one again. Alexa it will be outdated soon and we are all making money with smaller cameras. It is the way it is...Everyday we have some kind of advance in technology so I think the way to go is buying and paying investments.

Good luck.

February 17, 2011

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Augusto Alves d...

Just bought a GH2 body.
What lens can you suggest for high quality auto focus in news and general capture.
See my profile at linkedin. com
Gregory Walter
Montana Digital Audio
Missoula, Montana

February 17, 2011

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J Greg Walter

where did you find a GH2? I haven't been able to locate one and i live in LA. Do I need to pre-order and hope it ships in the next few weeks?

February 17, 2011

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jordan

I bought the standard kit from Glazers Camera in Seattle. They may still have some.
If you have any lens suggestions for telephoto let me know.

February 18, 2011

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J Greg Walter

the panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake is pretty nice, I've tried it for stills on an EPL1 and I loved it

(if this doesn't fit, maybe you could be a bit more precise about what you want... zoom or prime? need it to be fast? price range?)

February 18, 2011

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HI J Walter:

Try the Zuiko 14-35mm 2.0...I think it will be almost the only lens you will use. A little bit expensive but worth every penny.

February 18, 2011

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Augusto Alves d...