As you probably know, we're big fans of DSLR video around here at Engadget. From shooting product demos, to producing the Engadget Show, if we shot the video, it was likely done with one of these single-lens cameras: they're convenient and capable of beautiful moving images but often leave much to be desired by way of form factor when it comes to video. While Canon and Nikon are slapping on articulating LCDs and calling it a day, Panasonic has upped the ante with its new AG-AF100 camera. Teased way back in April, Panny just dropped a press release announcing that its newest piece of video hardware is now being delivered, making a nice late holiday gift for any wannabe filmmakers that you really, really like.
Basically, the AF100 is what happens when you stuff the innards of a DLSR into the body of a video camera and slap some interchangeable lenses in front of it. Listing at $4,995, the AF100 rocks a Micro Four Thirds sensor that records to dual SD cards in AVCHD and outputs 8-bit uncompressed 4:2:2 video to an external recorder via an HD-SDI connection. It also attempts to solve the audio issues plaguing DSLR video shooting (namely, the difficulty of getting pro-level audio to play nice with a camera designed only for imaging) with its two phantom-powered XLR audio inputs and built-in stereo microphone. Panasonic is also claiming to have lessened aliasing and the dreaded "jellycam" found in DSLR video with an optical low pass filter and faster scanning, while still boasting the wide viewing angle and shallow depth of field that movie-makers (and Vimeo users) know and love to death.
We'll be doing a full review of the AF100 as soon as we can get our hands on it; in the meantime, head on past the break for the full PR.
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PANASONIC DELIVERS AG-AF100,
THE AFFORDABLE LARGE IMAGER CINEMA CAMERA
Advanced, Custom-Designed 4/3" Sensor Delivers Depth of Field and Field of View Similar to a 35mm Movie Camera; Camcorder Uses Low-Cost Still Camera and Film-Style Lenses
SECAUCUS, NJ (December 27, 2010) – 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.
About Panasonic Solutions Company
Panasonic Solutions Company empowers people whose jobs depend on reliable technology. The company delivers collaboration, information-sharing and decision-support solutions for customers in government, healthcare, education and a wide variety of commercial enterprises. Products and services within the company's portfolio include Panasonic Toughbook® mobile computing solutions, projectors, professional displays (including both plasma and LCD), and HD and 3D video acquisition and production solutions. As a result of its commitment to R&D, manufacturing and quality control, Panasonic is known for the reliability and longevity of its products. Panasonic Solutions Company is a Division of Panasonic Corporation of North America, which is the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC).
All brand and company/product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of the respective companies. All specifications are subject to change without notice. Information on Panasonic Solutions Company's full line of products can be obtained by calling 877-803-8492 or at www.panasonic.com/broadcast.