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.
- Slashcam GH2 vs AF100 Test (German translated to English)
- Canon 60D versus Panasonic GH2 - Full Review - Part 1 - EOSHD
- Canon 60D versus Panasonic GH2 - Full Review - Part 2 - EOSHD