Barry Green talking about the New Panasonic AG-AF101

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Barry…I’m posting this from the show floor at IBC, where the first working prototypes of the AF100 are being shown to the public. I’ve had the luxury of working with the pre-production AF101, which is the European model of the AF100. Same basic camera, because all of them are NTSC/PAL switchable.

This prototype isn’t finished yet, so I can’t say some things definitively, but I can say this – I’m done with shooting on DSLRs. This thing is the bomb.

It is basically everything that I was expecting/hoping it to be, and more. I mean, I was expecting an HPX170 with DSLR-style shallow DOF, and yeah, that’s it. What I wasn’t expecting was variable frame rates up to 1080/60p. I was hoping for things like 2.35:1 frame markings in the viewfinder, and yeah, it’s got it. I was expecting things like 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 (I didn’t see time-stamp for legal video, but … seriously, this isn’t a legal videography camcorder! Although, it could be, I guess).

I wasn’t expecting simultaneous HDMI and HD-SDI output, that’s really pretty awesome. You can use a cheap HDMI monitor, and use the HD-SDI to record to a NanoFlash or KiPro or whatever, simultaneously. Cool.

I was expecting timecode. I wasn’t 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.

I was hoping for (well, demanding really, but it amounts to “hoping for”) a high-def LCD, and yes, that’s what it has. High-def LCD and high-def viewfinder. But what I wasn’t expecting is that they said that in the final model, the LCD will actually be better than the one on the HPX370. That’s really good news!

I was hoping to be able to remove the top handle, and you can. I wasn’t expecting to be able to remove the side handgrip, but you can – which lets you strip the unit down to a fairly small box, and also reveals three 1/4-20 mounting holes on the side, which I can just imagine people will be using to attach all sorts of accessories, Red-style. Now that I’ve seen those two items come off, I really wanted them to make the viewfinder/XLR pod removable, so you could strip it down to a totally svelte box, but that’s not possible. I have asked them to consider this for a future version, as that’d be really cool.

I was pretty happy to be setting the sensitivity by ISO instead of by gain levels. But you can do both, at least in this prototype.

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 7D/5D for clarity and detail, and I shot brick buildings 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! But I can’t really comment too much on the imagery, because it’s not done yet – by their estimates, it’s only at about 70% of completion, and they expect to be able to improve it and make it even better by release time. Which is really promising, because while it’s not perfect, already it’s better than what people are going to be comparing it to.

I put on my Zeiss ZF 85mm and 50mm, also used a hyper-sharp Olympus 14-35, and at the booth they have a Zeiss Compact Prime 35mm. And, I used the GH1’s 14-140 and I even mounted on 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 my 85mm and 50mm (both f/1.4) super-extremely-shallow DOF was extremely easy to achieve.

Now, 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 (to borrow a line from Red) “everything is subject to change.”

Skew? Hugely improved. Didn’t get to do a comparison test, but the 24p skew of the AF101 felt like it was at least as good as the HPX370/EX1.

I am sooo not disappointed. They have built pretty much exactly what I was hoping for. There are things I’d like to see 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.

Price will be £4000.

HDW…Barry has been the first “outsider” to my knowledge to actually film with the AG-AF101 and by all accounts this camcorder will indeed be a winner with DPs who have for technical reasons not joined the growing band of DSLR users.

This is a great step forward for professional cinematography and if you want one of the first AG AF101s then get your orders in NOW…This will fly off the shelves in December.

Barry also told me that in about 6 weeks that takes us to end of October, there will be an adapter for Canon lenses that don’t have the older manual iris ring. This will allow auto/manual iris via the camera and auto/manual focus.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

IBC 2010 “Time for Reflection”

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IBC in Amsterdam is a great experience, it’s not all about broadcasters though their are a lot of stands dedicated to broadcast work like satellite trucks etc. If you want to see the latest in video technology and you can’t get to NAB then IBC is the place to go.

This is a very tactile show allowing you to see and feel the products one of the better stands being Panasonic, where you got to play with all the new products and view the output onto a Hi Rez monitor.

Looking at people’s badges they were either DPs or companies like the BBC looking at the new AG-AF101 FilmLike camcorder. This was for me the prize camera of the show, we all got to play with one and at a price of £4000 it’s going to fall off the shelves.

I spoke to Jan Crittenden Livingston (Panasonic USA) who told me Panasonic were very exited by all the buzz following the AF101’s announcement, she went on to tell me that it took the popularity of DSLR to show Panasonic the way forward as far as FilmLike camcorders were concerned but there will still be a place for video camcorders and a growing popularity for 3D filming.

I had only met Jan on the internet as she is a keen follower of “CreativeCow” a fantastic resource for anyone who films in both video, film and DSLR.

Jan was as nice as I had imagined and such a switched on lady to everything “Panasonic” I must thank Jan for allowing me to both film and interview her at such a busy event.

Sony on the other hand was just as busy and almost took up a hall by themselves, it was funny to see a Japanese Panasonic chap looking over the new Sony MC2000, lifting it up examining the workmanship, I get the feeling they are equally admiring of each others work and that to me is what video is all about, one big happy family.

Sony were to announce various new products from the PMW-500 to the ECM-CG50BP short shotgun mic. Sony were very helpful and I met Bill Drummond (Product Marketing Manager-Content Creation) who phoned various people for me to interview and told me about the yet un named FilmLike camcorder. It was indeed a working engineering model and pictures from the camcorder were being played on a Hi-Rez Full HD broadcast monitor beside the camcorder. Bill told me that this FilmLike camcorder was virtually noiseless and I can concur with Bills comments it was remarkably grain free. I asked Bill for a price and he told me that announcement was for early next year. Bill knows Panasonic have a head start in the FilmLike field and that their camcorder is £4000 so we can only wait for that important announcement, my bet is about £6000.

One bit of advice for Sony next year is please do not have sexy product lying on white IKEA shelf’s pointing at nothing, DPs, camera men and women like to play with kit and this set up was far from user friendly, plus loose wires look shoddy.

To quantify this Sony were very helpful and listened to me when I told them about their problems I was having with their web site and unlike Panasonic presented me with experts to interview not a press spokesman. This came about when I wanted someone to go over the new Panasonic 3100 and the chap told me he was not allowed to speak on camera it must be someone from their Press Office, needless to say I decided to by pass that camcorder…how stupid.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Panasonic AG-AF101

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For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

IBC 2010 Round up “DPs choice of 2010”

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This was my first IBC in over 25 years in the video production industry and it was fantastic. I had one mission and that was to see all the new toys from Sony, Panasonic, JVC and Canon…Job done. My second task was to see all the new LED lighting kits from Arri, Gekko and LitePanels…Job done.

Arri may not have pulled it off with their LoCaster LED light but their stand had “MAN PULLING” power, this lady came out every 20 mins and danced to the waiting public which then collected more public…mainly men. Wether it was intentional or not it pulled in the crowds.

The stand that was the most practicable was the Panasonic stand, if you were there to see any of the new camcorders, especially the popular AF101 you could play with two 90% complete models and as a DP that was important to me so Panasonic get the coveted “DPs choice of 2010”.

One lady who I must mention is Jan Dixon of IBC…without her we would not have had such a free reign round all the halls filming whoever we fancied and for that I say a big thank you Jan you were a life saver.

Sony pulled a rabbit out of the hat by having footage from their FilmLike (FL) camcorder…now unless you were informed of this you were not aware but the footage was stunningly noiseless and the poor FilmLike beastie does not have a name yet so if you fancy getting into the act send Sony your suggestion for a name. I have been thinking about this for a couple of days now and my suggestion is the Sony FL-7001PL.

No self respecting Warrior is complete without his background staff, trainee cameraman Scott who did very well and PA/Wife Susan. It was a great show and we met a lot of genuinely nice people who were only too happy to be interviewed and show us their new products.

Footage from the show will be edited once we get back to Glasgow so don’t expect anything till possibly the weekend.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Day THREE IBC 2010 “LED Lighting”

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Arri were displaying their LED light called a LoCaster which to my trained eye was not as impressive as I was expecting. Arri have been a large player for certainly my last 25 years in the video industry but I cannot get round the fact that their so called experts on the stand could not tell me what the LoCaster light output was in watts !

It looked a far cry from the sturdy aluminium lights Arri are famous for and the size was rather off-putting, not what you would expect for the money they are asking for this LED light, just over £1000.

Gekko were showing their Kelvin Technology Series LED-based lighting system provides unlimited variable color temperature, creating a new level of flexibility in lighting. Kelvin®TILES have a unique mix of 6 LEDs resulting in a high-quality, broad spectrum white light specifically developed for film and video applications. Unlike traditional lighting products, color temperature remains consistent throughout the full range of intensity variation.

Out of all the lighting manufacturers stands Gekko were the only one’s who made the effort to actually show off their lighting with a small set where DPs could see the effect of their LED lighting…10 out of 10.

What about their Kelvin technology LED lights…very impressive indeed the Double Density 6500K to 3200K costs £1,699.

Litepanels Solas are available in two models. The Sola6 draws 75 watts yet produces output equivalent to a 650W tungsten unit, and weighs 2.7kg (6 lbs). Designed for both on-camera and off-camera mounting, the SolaENG is only 102mm x 102mm x 127mm (4” x 4” x 5”) and weighs just .28kg (10 ounces). Employing a 7.62cm (3”) lens, it draws 30 watts yet produces output equivalent to a 250W tungsten. The SolaENG runs on 10-20VDCsources such as camera batteries, or via an AC power adapter. The 650W costs £1950.

The best bit about the stand was Barry Rubin a fantastic salesman who was effervescent and very friendly. His father, now in his eighty’s, had a bit part in Ghostbusters. Barry is the kind of salesman who every manufacturer can only dream of.

So who wins the LED light of IBC 2010 well it was a close contest between Gekko and LitePanels but my vote goes to LitePanels Sola 6 for the most useful LED light for todays DPs.

Tomorrow I will have a round up of the show and some new pictures of the Sony FilmLike camcorder and a video still from the footage.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Day TWO IBC 2010 “Panasonic’s DSLR killer ?”

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The headlines say it all and not a word from me…the AG-AF101 not only look’s the part but had a massive amount of interest at the show. Lot’s of DPs from all over were flocking to see the “DSLR KILLER”. This was a 90% finished camcorder with some final tweeks still to be added to the final model.

Interviewing Barry Green about the AF101 Barry has actually shot some footage with the camcorder and as he says “you get everything thats good about a large sensor camcorder without the DSLR problems” Barry’s interview with me should be up at the end of this week.

By all accounts Panasonic are getting a free reign as the first video manufacturer to enter the FilmLike professional market with a great product that will be like gold dust when it becomes available during December this year.

Tomorrow I will be covering Arri, Litepanels and Gekko with some interesting LED lighting.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

Day ONE at IBC “Sony gO retRo”

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Today at IBC Sony showed a brand new shoulder mount camcorder with the same Exmor R chipset as the MC50…the HXR-MC2000. Sadly it does not have most of the annoying menu driven controls on the outside as buttons and switches but it does pack the same picture as the MC50 and thats no bad thing.

The best news is the price…Sony seem to be having an early spring cleaning and have priced this camcorder at £1450.

It’s hard to explain but this camcorder also has a retro look to it almost harking back to the early 1980s with the first betamax 2000 camcorders.

Next bit of news is the EX version of the Sony 700 camcorder the new PMW-500. This is by all accounts the marriage of the 700 and the 350 giving us 50Mbs onto a SxS card system and 4:2:2, this camcorder will be priced at around the £20,000 mark and is clearly positioned at the broadcast market.

With this camcorder comes a 64Gig 50Mbs SxS card that can transfer data faster than a normal 32Gig card but wont playback on the EX30 SxS player/recorder because it only reads 35Mbs or slower.

The last bit of exiting news is the Glass Slipper prototype FilmLike camcorder from Sony known as the a semi working model encased in a perspex cage. Aimed clearly at RED this camcorder is “NOISLESS”. I gave this camera some unfair press yesterday which is why I have re-written this piece again. Yesterday I did not notice the footage shot with this camcorder though to be fair you are not aware until it is pointed out to you. Alister Chapman told me about the footage and he was very exited about the lack of noise, I must say after further investigation he is 100% correct…fantastic pictures. This camcorder is due out early next year but you will not see it positioned price wise next to the Panasonic at £4000 but then again it’s far closer to RED in it’s specifications, so I am told.

I have some great video interviews with Barry Green DVX USER, Jan Crittenden Livingston of Panasonic USA, Adam Levitt from Holden, Alister Chapman from XDCAM USER and David Young from Sony Broadcast that I will be editing soon after the IBC show.

Tomorrow is my last day at the show and I will be looking at Panasonic and some LED lighting companies.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

On the ferry to Amsterdam

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Saturday morning : Here I am on the way to IBC on the ferry Princess of Norway, take a tip from me do not book anything less than a Commodore cabin if you want decent facilities.

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

The New Panasonic AG HMC81 (£2195+VAT)

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I had the pleasure of meeting an old pal Nigel Cliff from Holdan who distribute the new Panasonic AG-HMC81 camcorder. I had a play with the new camcorder, it was surprisingly good and looks a lot better in real life than the photographs I had seen of it. You get a lot of camera for your money, XLR plus phantom powering, HDMI output, full manual control of both channels of sound, the one thing that’s lacking is a gain switch. The gain is tied in with the exposure but we looked at some footage back and I kid you not 10dB of gain on a 50″ full HD television was as clean as a whistle.

This camcorder will be perfect for weddings, conferences and education.


A Tapeless Camera Recorder That Meets the Needs of Professional HD/SD Multi Format Recording. The  multi format AG-HMC81 records in both AVCHD (HD) and DV (SD) formats onto SD/SDHC memory card.

This tapeless camcorder features a 12x optical zoom lens, Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS), and a 1/4.1 inch, 3.05 mega pixel (approx. 2 mega pixel/effective image pixels), progressive 3MOS.

In HD mode, the AVCHD format has twice the compression efficiency of MPEG-2 for superb image quality.  Its exclusive PH mode allows exceptional quality recordings at a higher bit rate (max. 24 Mbps).  SD mode records AVI files using the popular DV compression method.  This file based system enables effective use of existing DV compatible nonlinear editing systems.

The AG-HMC81 also features a shoulder mount design that enables stable shooting, XLR audio input (with phantom microphone supprt), and a BNC component/composite image output terminal as standard equipment, for smooth compatibility with professional systems.


  • Stunning quality AVCHD recording to SDHC card at up to 1920 X 1080 50i or 25p
  • Standard Definition DV recording to SDHC card at 576 50i and 576 25p
  • User-assignable manual focus ring functions, for Focus/Iris/Zoom
  • XLR inputs with switches for mic/line, and +48V Phantom Power
  • Time code/UB recording
  • IEEE 1394 output in DV Mode
  • Pre-record – 3 seconds
  • Interval recording for time lapse
  • Shot marker and metadata capture
  • Wired remote control terminals for zoom, focus, iris, REC start/stop controls
  • 10 Megapixel Stills function
  • Three-year warranty program (One year + two year extension upon registration)

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

New 50Mbs Canon handheld camcorders

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Once again Canon have pulled a further rabbit out of the hat with the BBC approved 50Mbs 4:2:2 handheld camcorder but lets be honest these camcorders may be to the BBCs specifications but most self respecting DPs are not going to buy one of these, this is to satisfy the BBC for internal use. This is not to say the pictures wont be good if the 300 range is anything to go by.


Canon announces the XF105 and XF100 Professional Camcorders for mobile HD video capture in a compact form factor. Canon’s smallest professional camcorders, the new XF105 and XF100 utilize the same Canon XF Codec featured in the Canon XF305 and XF300, introduced earlier this year. The Canon XF Codec is an MPEG-2 4:2:2 50Mbps codec used for exceptional high-definition image quality, full non-linear editing (NLE) systems compatibility and efficient, robust workflow.

These camcorders include in-camera features enabling the easy set-up and capture of high-definition 3-D video when two XF105 or XF100 camcorders are paired, as well as Canon’s built-in infrared low-light feature enabling the capture of HD video in complete darkness. Both models record to Compact Flash (CF) cards and feature hot-swappable card slots for maximum performance. Differentiating the two models are industry-standard HD-SDI output and genlock in/SMPTE time code (in/out) terminals available on the Canon XF105. The XF105 and XF100 camcorders are ideal for Electronic News Gathering, documentary and independent filmmaking and event videography.

“Whether used as a companion to the XF305 or XF300, or as a stand-alone camcorder, the XF105 and XF100 are geared for a wide range of applications where high image quality, extreme portability and efficient workflow are of the utmost importance. And with true stereoscopic 3-D production and infrared recording capabilities, they allow users to expand into new markets,” stated Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A., “This week we will be exhibiting both the Canon XF105 and XF100 at Canon EXPO 2010 in New York and demonstrate the versatile low-cost capabilities.”

The Canon XF105 and XF100 Professional Camcorders feature a Genuine Canon 10x HD Zoom lens which provides the mobility and optical performance required by the most demanding professionals. Each model includes a Canon developed and designed native Full HD 1920 x 1080 CMOS image sensor and the new Canon XF Codec for extreme color detail required for accurate chroma-keying, color-grading and compositing for digital filmmaking. For finer transitions in tone and color, 4:2:2 color sampling offers twice the color resolution of HDV and other 4:2:0 formats.

And to maximize compatability with existing industry infrastructure, video, audio and metadata are combined in an MXF (Material eXchange Format) File Wrapper, a widely supported open-source format. The Canon XF Codec is currently compatible with leading software programs widely used within the video production and broadcast industries including those available from Adobe, Apple, Avid, and Grass Valley.

To maximize the camcorders’ adaptability across various production environments, Canon has equipped each model with the ability to record at multiple bit rates, resolutions and variable frame rates for slow and fast motion.

50Mbps (CBR) — 4:2:2 — 1920 x1080 at 50i/25p/24p — 1280 x 720 at 50p/25p/24p
35Mbps (VBR) — 4:2:0 — 1920 x1080 at 50i/25p/24p — 1280 x 720 at 50p/25p/24p
25Mbps (CBR) — 4:2:0 — 1440 x1080 at 50i/25p/24p

CBR = Continuous Bit Rate
VBR = Variable Bit Rate

Additional professional features include variable-interval (for time-lapse) and frame-record for stop-motion animation, and a photo feature for frame-grabs.

Genuine Canon 10x HD Zoom Lens
The Canon XF105 and XF100 Professional Camcorders feature a Genuine Canon 10x HD Zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent zoom range of 30.4mm – 304mm. For professional looking results, both models offer an eight-blade iris which yields natural, smooth background blur with reduced lens diffraction. The lens also features a SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) system featuring Dynamic and Powered IS modes for optimal performance in the greatest variety of situations.

DIGIC DV III Image Processor
The proprietary Canon DIGIC DV III Image Processor and Canon Full HD CMOS Image Sensor render native 1920 x 1080 HD video, capturing natural, lifelike colors with remarkable tonal gradations and detail. The DIGIC DV III Image Processor also powers Canon’s innovative Face Detection Technology, an autofocus option that can significantly reduce the effort required when camera operators work alone, such as in news gathering applications.

Compact, Comfortable Ergonomics and Operation
Weighing less than 3lbs, these models are designed to maximize comfort while shooting and enable fast on-the-go recording with both a top and side grip option. Eachcamcorder also features a convenient, freely rotating 3.5-inch, 920,000 dot LCD monitor and .24-inch 260,000 electronic viewfinder with approximately 100 percent field of coverage. The LCD monitor provides a display of the camcorders’ built-in waveform monitor to aid in achieving accurate exposure while shooting. Additionally, the LCD can show peaking, edge-monitor-focus and magnify the image, enabling users to confirm critical focus, an essential objective in all HD production.

Affordable 3-D Shooting
Canon offers built-in features to assist with 3-D production, including OIS Lens Shift to aid in optically aligning two XF105 or XF100 camcorders and a Focal length Guide for displaying the zoom position of each camera in relation to each other and calibrating the zoom distance. This adjustment can be done through the menu system while the camcorder is mounted to a rig or tripod. Once aligned, the amount of the angle-of-view change is displayed after zoom adjustment, preventing camera misalignment and simplifying adjustment.

Infrared Shooting
The Canon XF105 and XF100 include an infrared feature enabling the capture of HD video shooting in conditions with little tozero ambient light, which is ideal for Military and Law Enforcement markets, as well as Nature and Wildlife videographers. The XF105 and XF100 also feature an infrared emitter with a diffuser as well as a Green or White color option to shoot pleasing infrared imagery even in complete darkness.

Audio Flexibility
The Canon XF105 and XF100 Professional Camcorders feature dual XLR inputs for external audio sources as well as a built-in stereo microphone. The new camcorders support 16-bit PCM audio at 48 kHz with automatic and manual audio level adjustment

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

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