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:
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?
- NAB 2012: Panasonic - Landmine Media
- Panasonic Announces Software Upgrade for AG-AF-100 Large Imager HD Cinema Camcorder