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NAB 2012: Panasonic Camera Roundup - The Good and the Bad

04.20.12 @ 11:33AM Tags : , , ,

RED, Canon, Sony, BlackMagic, and Bolex were all showing off their latest cameras at NAB 2012 , but we haven’t been hearing a lot from Panasonic. While they did have an ENG offering in the form of the HPX-600 (the first AVC-Ultra camera), and a mock-up of the 4K Varicam, there was no word on a successor to the AF-100. Instead they revealed some upgrades for the AF-100, AC-130, AC-160, and HPX-250, as well as new developments in P2 card technology. Panasonic’s Jan Crittenden breaks it down: 

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And here is Panasonic’s announcement on the AF-100 firmware upgrade:

 Panasonic has introduced a software upgrade to augment the recording and shooting functions of its popular AG-AF100 Large Imager HD Cinema Camcorder. The upgrade (AG-SFU100) will enable acquisition in the 1080/60p and 1080/50p HD recording formats (in new 28Mbps PS mode), and will substitute the 2.39:1 aspect ratio marking for the current 2.35 marker.


Recording in the high-resolution 1080/60p and /50p master-quality formats is rapidly gaining popularity in broadcasting, sports and scientific analysis. The 2.39:1 marker in the AF100’s viewfinder/LCD monitor will be valuable for narrative and documentary shooters, as it is a standard aspect ratio for presenting films in movie theaters.


The AG-SFU100 software will be available in May at a suggested list price of $250.

I have to give Panasonic credit: getting on the modular hardware upgrade band wagon is a good move (even if it means having to send in your camera if you’re a AC-130/160 owner). But their firmware upgrades–while welcome–seem a bit modest. Granted, having ‘Focus on Red’  and faster ‘Push to Auto’ should be pretty useful to HPX-250 owners. And being able to record 1080 60p without going into VFR mode and having access to a CinemaScope aspect ratio are nice additions to the AF-100, but are those extra 4Mbps really going to have that much of an impact on the quality of the image? Is it really worth shelling out $250? I guess we’ll have to see some test footage to find out.

But larger questions loom as well: Is Panasonic judiciously biding its time, waiting to see how the current 2K and 4K battles go over? Or are they being too cautious and falling behind the competition? And what do you think this all means in terms of their future camera offerings for the indie market?


Via [Cinescopophilia]


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Description image 26 COMMENTS

  • shaun wilson on 04.20.12 @ 12:07PM

    They are probably doing the smart thing to sit back and look what everyone else is doing first, and capitalize on the mistakes of others to then invest their money into something that they know will work and has a consumer demand and need. They are too big to fail, a bit of caution might be a very intelligent decision to take instead of trail blazing?

    • I agree with you. And I think it is the wise thing to do. Actually everybody is running. But nobody was able to give 90 percent what we all (small budget indi people ) are looking for. The Black is cool good price but it is a super16ish. Don’t get me wrong there is no perfect camera. There is a camera for each job. But I would love to see in one or two month what Panasonic will come with.

      • shaun wilson on 04.21.12 @ 8:03AM

        Yes thats a good point.

        Im going through a faze where I like the look of 16mm over 35mm, might shoot something with the Blackmagic and see how it can be pushed.

    • Please keep in mind that Panasonic has lost 10 billion this year. I don’t think they are waiting patiently, I think they are slashing funding for departments, which will make it almost impossible for a company who is already behind in the large format camcorder market to compete.


      “They don’t seem like a company that’s progressing towards a particular goal,” said Yuuki Sakurai, CEO and president of Fukoku Capital, which managed assets worth $7.6 billion as of last March.

      “What exactly is this company good at? What does it want to do? They don’t have answers to these questions.”

  • shaun wilson on 04.20.12 @ 12:08PM

    p.s: what about JVC? They have quietly released their 4K2K Cam running on quad SD cards, any news at NAB about them yet?

    • Yeah it’s a terrible solution, small sensor and you have to record to all four cards simultaneously for it to work.
      That’s not something I want to have to deal with. It’s really a consumer camera, not a professional one.

      • shaun wilson on 04.21.12 @ 7:56AM

        Interesting. I was kinda hoping they showcased the big brother version with ZF mounts that will replace the 750 models to see what that did (or not) for ENG shooters. I don’t mind the small sensor for greenscreen shooting (perfect) but the 4 card process might be a pain.

  • According to 43rumors and EOSHD, Panasonic is deleting the AG AF line of cameras – the AF-100 sales have dropped significantly as has the price and they are rumored to shifting their focus to development of their Super 35 camera. The AF-100 is a decent camera but I think it came 1 year too late to the party with so many other options coming out and luring dollars away.

  • mike_tee_vee on 04.20.12 @ 12:44PM

    The impression I got from the Panasonic rep on the EOSHD forum was that the AF100 is “only” 15 months old, and it’s too soon to introduce any new products. They are still clinging to their claim that the AF100 was the first to the market.

    • Huh? It WAS the first camera to market in that category (real video camera, not DSLR, with large chip and replaceable lenses).

      • Or are you saying that they are using that claim as an excuse to not move forward with newer developments? That makes more sense.

  • I don’t guys but I don’t have a good feeling about that. It seems like Panasonic has not get it it yet. They miss the point. still flirting with those compact lens camera 2/3 … they better find a replacement for the AG AF100 in the next two months if they want to stay in the race.

  • I think they should stop with this AVCHD codec. I have been using that for years and it is very compressed codec. It does not give you enough option in post.

    • Justin Minich on 04.20.12 @ 7:28PM

      For the most part I like the way AVCCAM grades (I usually end up having more latitude than I expect), and I can pull a decent key from it. However, I would really like for Panasonic to come out with a large sensor camera that has 10-bit AVC-Intra (if for nothing else, to lessen banding issues).

    • I have to agree with you here, I have used P2 since the beginning. When Canon started with the 5D markII I was skeptical. but it proved to be relatively user friendly. I am looking forward to the work flow with the BM cam to tell you the truth.

  • I heard that they will be announcing some stuff at Photokino in September. New GH3 and fast zoom lenses (12-35 f2.8 and 35-100 f2.8).

  • As a long time panny user, I gotta say this NAB really pissed me off. Trust me, they’re not “waiting to see” about anything. They BLEW IT. AF-200 needed to be announced at NAB. It needed to be an S35 chip to maintain relevance. They didn’t do it. Sony is laughing, and is gonna soak up the AF customers.

    Worse yet, I think Panny’s ‘deer in the headlights’ this year is a sign that they’re abandoning m4/3 as a braodcast format, altogether. Possibly even the large sensor business as a whole. What a big screw up. The AF 100 could have been S35 from the get go. Now they’re gonna be a year or more behind if / when they do finally get a decent large sensor camera out there. New brand loyalties are being formed RIGHT NOW. This was they’re year. This was they’re shot. They blew it.

    And to the GH2 cheerleaders (yes, I’m one of em) – admit it, Panny doesn’t deserve any credit for the success of that camera. HACKERS do. I dunno, but as a loyal Panasonic user, I am disappointed. And don’t even get me started on the p2 thing. The thousands I have worth of old style p2s are now obsolete, probably never to be used again in future cameras. UGHHHH.

  • Panasonic is waiting for Photokino to launch for some reason they seem stuck on that conference.

  • I review products, and my last 5 cameras were Pannys. I reviewed the AF100, and was ready to buy one until I reviewed the FS100. It has much less noise, and seems to me to be a better camera. The Black Magic camera should be a fun review. They make good stuff at a great price.

  • I’m sorry, but Bolex was showing off a camera? Last I heard they didn’t really have one. Just because the annoying hipsters were wandering around hoping that someone would interview them, doesn’t meant they “unveiled” a camera. They had to mooch off Zacuto for a place to sit!