AF101 a first look


IBC saw the first working prototypes of the AF100 being shown to the public. Barry Green (some of you will be familiar with Barry from the US Forum DVXUSER) had the pleasure of working with the pre-production AF101 while at IBC. Incidentally the AF100 & AF101 are the same basic camera for different markets, all of them are NTSC/PAL switchable.

At the time the prototype wasn't finished, so there were some things that could not be claimed definitively but it seems that it’s time to stop shooting on DSLRs.
What was expected when the camera was announced was an HPX170 with DSLR style shallow depth if field. Hopefully there will be things like 2.35:1 frame markings in the viewfinder, and yeah, it's got it. Zebras, waveform monitor, vectorscope, uncompressed audio, XLRs, line/mic/phantom power controls, manual audio, pre-record, interval recording, and everything else that the HPX170 does, and it has pretty much all of that.

What was not expected was variable frame rates up to 1080/60p, simultaneous HDMI and HD-SDI output. You can use a cheap HDMI monitor, and use the HD-SDI to record to a NanoFlash or KiPro or whatever, simultaneously. Nice!

You had to expect timecode. You would be forgiven for not expecting the ability to sync timecode through LTC (like the HMC150 has) so you can easily sync to timecode slates, to external sound recorders, or to other camcorders in a multi-camera shoot.

Shooting on DSLR’s often means no LCD... so please let there be a high-def LCD, and yes, that's what it has. High-def LCD and high-def viewfinder. The ability to remove the top handle is a good idea, and you can, but you can also remove the side handgrip, which lets you strip the unit down to a fairly small box, and also reveals three 1/4-20 mounting holes on the side, to attach all sorts of accessories, RED-style. While it would have been nice to make the viewfinder/XLR pod removable, so you could strip it down to a totally svelte box, that's not possible. It has been requested for a future version.

As for images – well, imagine a fully-hacked, fully-improved GH13 with better sensitivity and without the aliasing or low-light banding, and that's a good start. It crushes the popular DSLR’s for clarity and detail including brick buildings shot at every possible zoom setting, and there just isn't any rainbow moire. Finally! You can do a wide-angle, deep-focus shot without any fear of the camcorder ruining the shot! And your talent can wear corduroy, or fine-striped shirts, without turning into a huge purple/orange smear! It’s not really time to comment on the imagery because it's not complete yet – by Panasonic’s estimates, it's about 70% complete, and they do expect it to improve by release date.

Tested with a Zeiss ZF 85mm and 50mm, a hyper-sharp Olympus 14-35, and at the booth with a Zeiss Compact Prime 35mm, the GH1's 14-140 and even the GH1's compact pancake 20mm lens, which looked preposterously tiny on such a big body but really it was pretty darn cool. The 14-140 makes the AF100 into basically a complete video camera, the autofocus is smooth and nice, the zoom is manual but not too shabby, and the range is great (even if the minimum f-stop isn't). With the Zeiss 85mm and 50mm (both f/1.4) super-extremely-shallow DOF was extremely easy to achieve.
Let’s keep in mind that everything is subject to change. They might add more features, or they might take some away. It's a pre-production prototype so it's very early and ‘everything is subject to change.’

They have built pretty much exactly what was hoped for. There are things that should be added before it's released, obviously, and no we didn't get some of the wild things we were hoping for (like a new 50-megabit 4:2:2 AVC codec) but what we did get is pretty much exactly what we needed – better-than-DSLR imagery in a professional, proper video body, with all the conveniences and features that pro video shooters are used to.
Thanks to Barry Green
www.wrightsvillebeachstudios.com/

Tags: ibc | af100 | barry green | dvxuser | af101 | iss046 | hpx170 | dslr | panasonic af101 | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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