Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Groundbreaking AF-100 from Panasonic

The video world is abuzz with talk of the Panasonic AG-AF 100. It is being sold now on pre-order and is already a successful product even before release.  As well it should be. If it lives up to its claims, it will be an incredibly useful tool for the independent filmmaker. This camera takes the good things about a video camera (XLR inputs, HD/SDI and HDMI outputs, ND filter wheel, viewfinder, anti-aliasing, etc.) and the good things about a DSLR (large sensor, large sensor, large sensor, etc.) and combines them into one unit. The only question is what will the 300 manufacturers of DSLR rigs do with all their inventory?

I am a little concerned that Panasonic has not made it easy for anyone to see its true capabilities. When the Sony EX-1 was at this same stage, there were dozens of videos created by top videographers that were available to watch and analyze. So far, there is very little to look at--and most of what is available is by shooters who were not able to use the camera long enough to even figure out the best settings. As far as I know, no one has yet shown how the compression looks either. The one "professional" production shot with the camera used an external 100mbs recorder, which of course looks great.

That said, I expect it to be a great camera, especially for the price ($5,000 body-only). It will be interesting to see what Sony counters with, though. They are releasing a camera next month called the PMW-F3 for around $13,000, and have promised a lower-cost model on its heels. We will keep you posted on that. The images from the F3 look fantastic, by the way.