Reading of the Panasonic AG-AF100 video camera a few months ago helped interest me in the micro four thirds still camera and video system. Now, it's shipping - not that I'll buy one anytime soon I think, though I do have Olympus E-PL1 camera as an entry to micro four thirds.
Panasonic press release here:
Fulfilling the holiday wishes of filmmakers worldwide, Panasonic Solutions Company today begins deliveries of the AG-AF100, the industry’s first professional micro 4/3-inch video camcorder optimized for high-definition video recording. Available now at a suggested list price of $4,995, the AF100 offers a new level of affordability for HD motion image quality.
Targeted at the film and video production communities, the AF100 delivers film-like shallow depth of field and the wider field of view of a large imager, with the flexibility and cost advantages of a growing line of professional quality, industry-standard micro 4/3-inch lenses, filters, and adapters. The full HD 1080/720 production camera offers superior video handling, native 1080/24p recording, variable frame rates, professional audio capabilities, and compatibility with SDHC and SDXC media.
“The design of the AF100’s advanced, custom-designed 4/3-inch sensor affords depth of field and field of view similar to that of 35mm movie cameras in a more affordable camera,” said Jan Crittenden Livingston, Product Line Business Manager, Panasonic Solutions Company. “What’s more, Panasonic engineering ingenuity has resolved the aliasing and moiré that has haunted the DSLR shooter. In fact, the AF100 was based on what we heard from and saw customers doing: purchasing DSLR cameras because they liked the look of the image, but then agonizing over all of the workarounds required to achieve an acceptable high definition recording.”
The AF100 incorporates a large 4/3-inch, 16:9 MOS imager (with an imaging area just slightly smaller than 35mm cinema film) that minimizes skew with fast imager scanning, and incorporates an optical low pass filter for elimination of aliasing and moiré. The camcorder records 1080 at 60i, 50i, 30P, 25P (Native) and 24P (Native), and 720 at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p and 24p native in AVCHD’s highest-quality PH mode (maximum 24Mbps). The AF100 also records in AVCCAM’s HA (17Mbps) and HE (6Mbps) modes, 1080i only. Ready for global production standards, the camcorder is 60Hz and 50Hz switchable. Equipped with an interchangeable micro 4/3-inch lens mount, the AF100 can utilize an array of low-cost, widely-available still camera lenses as well as film-style lenses with fixed focal lengths and primes.
Variable frame rates (VFR) are available in 1080p, selectable in 20 steps from 12p to 60p at 60Hz and 20 steps from 12p to 50p at 50Hz. The camcorder has a built-in stereo microphone and features two mic/lines, switchable XLR inputs with +48V Phantom Power capability. It can record 48-kHz/16-bit two-channel digital audio (in PH mode only) and supports LPCM/Dolby-AC3 in any of the modes.
This newest Panasonic AVCCAM camcorder is the first to enjoy the benefits of advanced SDXC media card compatibility in addition to existing SDHC card support. SDXC is the newest SD memory card specification that supports memory capacities above 32GB and up to 2TB. With two SD slots for continuous recording, the AF100 can record up to 12 hours on two 64GB SDXC cards in PH mode, with automatic clip spanning across the two cards. The AF100 offers still image capture as two megapixel (1920 x 1080) still images.
The AF100 features switchable FILM CAM and VIDEO CAM modes, with VFR operable in FILM CAM. The camcorder has a wide ISO gain setting range that allows sensitivity to be set between ISO 200 and ISO 3200 (in FILM CAM), or gain adjusted between 18 dB and-6 dB (in VIDEO CAM). It also offers a focus assist that can be used while recording, which is color-on peaking and a focus bar; area focus and area iris functions that facilitate recording when the subject is off-center; two sets of adjustable zebras; two manual black and white balance choices, and preset White Balance at 3200K, 5600K or variable; and a waveform monitor and vectorscope for more accurate monitoring of broadcast safe levels.
Weighing only 3.5 pounds (without lens or battery), the AF100 is packed with high-end features including Dynamic Range Stretch in all modes and frame rates; six built-in, customizable scene files that are exchangeable for quick and easy matching between multiple cameras; seven built-in gamma curves with four selectable color matrices; a built-in optical ND filter; adjustable shutter speed and Syncro-scan function; and a high-resolution, variable angle color LCD monitor and tiltable viewfinder.
Standard professional interfaces include uncompressed 4:2:2, 8 Bit HD-SDI out, HDMI out and USB 2.0. The AF100 records SMPTE timecode and is able to perform timecode synchronizing via the video output seeing timecode in, and has an internal down-converter facilitating output of SD (480/576) signals
Other essential features include a wealth of solid-state recording modes (clip thumbnail display, pre-record;, intervalometer function that can be set for up to 24 hours); three User Buttons that can be programmed with up to 14 functions each; a Smart Battery interface for recording up to four hours with a 5800mA battery (model VW-VBG6PPK); metadata recording; and a wireless infrared remote controller.
Panasonic will support the AG-AF100 with a three-year limited warranty (one year plus two extra years upon registration) upon registration of the camera with the PASS customer support program.