Philip Bloom tests the new Panasonic AG-AF101

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Philip “The real question…and I loathe this question but get asked a lot. “IS IT A DLSR KILLER?”….the answer is simply no.No camera is a “killer”, cameras can quite happily and should co-exist! There is a market for them all. Sure when this type of thing becomes more common when Sony and Canon do something similar more pros with larger pockets will start using them but they are different to DSLRs, bigger and more expensive and this camera is priced pretty aggressively am sure the Sony and Canon offerings will struggle to match this price point.

It’s another tool for a cinematographer like myself to use. I would choose this over my 5Dmk2 for many things, I would also happily use it in conjunction. For recording sound in camera, filming actuality (this is a great documentary camera and great for wedding shooters too, great for one man band and great low light) , getting easier focus and amazing slow motion this wins hands down. But the DSLRs are cheaper, lenses are less of an issue, are smaller, less conspicuous, shoot better timelapse, I can take multiple bodies with me…there are loads of reasons why I will continue to shoot with my Canons or whatever other DSLRs I end up buying. Will I buy this camera the moment it comes out? Bloody right. It performed so well, despite being 75% finished, and was a joy to shoot with but more importantly I was very happy with the images I got. I still could get my beloved shallow depth of field, sure not 5dmk2 or 7d shallow but not far off the APS-C. i cannot wait to go to Japan and shoot with the finished camera!

At the moment I am purely guessing the latitude, i need to get the camera set up better so anything i say could be wrong so I will stay quiet on that for now!

So…should you buy an AF101 instead of a Canon DSLR?  Well it has many plusses, the lack of moire and aliasing. Less rolling shutter skew, proper sound, better focusing and exposure assist. Proper SDI and HDMI clean outs and loads more. But it’s just different…it’s a video camera. This is not a convergence camera! Don’t expect to be taking awesome stills and video with this. THIS IS A VIDEO CAMERA! That is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. I have missed video cameras. Welcome back, but I will still have my 5D or two in my bag. There is so much I love about my DSLRs still! This is like a replacement for my EX1 and 35mm adaptor.

I am looking forward to getting a production GH2 as the pre one I had was very buggy, it could be a killer B-camera for the AF101…especially as you can shoot awesome time-lapse with it! ;)

South: Test film shot with Panasonic AF100 from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Click on Philip’s link to see the full in-depth review of the Panasonic AF101…

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

WARNING Possible incompatibility with Samsung 55″ 3D LED TV and the Panasonic’s SDT750 3D camcorder

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It has come to my attention that Panasonic’s 3D camcorder the SDT750 may not be compatible with Samsung’s 55″ 3D LED TV. The Samsung may be 5″ bigger than the Panasonic 50″ 3D plasma but is that a price to pay for the lack of a 3D camcorder, the choice is yours. Note. It has since come to my attention via one of my readers from Austria that he has no problem using the 3D Samsung with the Panasonic 750 3D camcorder. I will carry out my own tests next week to verify this.

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


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One thing you wont be seeing in the near future is all the meccano that surrounds the DSLR for the VG10 but then it’s just appeared so who knows. I actually like the look of the pull focus, deep lens hoods and bolt on’s you can get for the DSLR it makes them less photographic which is probably the intention.

Lets look at the sensor, it’s the only part of the VG10 that shares a common thread with the DSLR. The APS HD CMOS sensor, sadly Sony decided not only to use an APS photographic sensor but did nothing to combat “moire” which has opened a wave of criticism and sneering from the DSLR camp, though as a camcorder in both practicality and ergonomics it is 10x easier to use that a conventional DSLR.

Sony have taken the decision to abandon the zoom rocker switch seen on 99% of all video cameras in order to accommodate the E Mount camera lenses, that one decision should have told Sony not to bring this camcorder into the domestic domain but that’s a decision Sony will have to stand by. Some people will tell me that a DSLR does not have a zoom switch and that Sony were right but I think when you re-design the wheel you don’t have to conform to “whats not done elsewhere” this camcorder may have a large sensor but personally I would have preferred a choice of wether to use a zoom lens or a photographic lens…small point.

Strangely the swivel LCD is smaller than I was expecting and like most LCDs useless in bright sunshine, hence the loupe for the DSLR and more recently small hi rez monitors/viewfinders. The VG10 has a second viewfinder on the back of the camcorder but Sony forgot to make the LCD inactive during filming as once you choose to deploy the viewfinder you have no access to the switches and thumbwheel that sit behind the closed LCD. The VG10 does allow low angle shots that are almost impossible with 95% of todays DSLRs.

Picture quality during daylight is as good as any DSLR with that creamy shallow depth of field on the tighter end of the 200mm lens, the 200mm allows drop dead gorgeous pinpointing SDoF where your subject walks into and out of focus.

Sony’s decision to bring this camcorder into the domestic market takes the camcorder away from headlines like the “DSLR killer” as clearly it’s not going to have an impact on the DSLR market, it’s another tool for the serious amateur film maker in my opinion and bucks the trend for camcorders that in general have large depth of field.

It gives you 1080 25p footage which is less of a hassle for UK users than our American counterparts stuck with 30p, we are a lot closer to the magical 24p that everyone and his filming granny bangs on about personally I defy anyone who can tell the difference between 24 and 25p in reality. As far as editing…the VG10 scores with the AVCHD codec and the fact you can play in your footage straight off the camcorder into your NLE something the DSLR does not share.

So to answer my own question “how does the VG10 compare to the DSLR” it’s a NEX-5 in a more practical body so it’s pedigree starts from a photographic sensor. To be honest it’s a good first attempt combining the best of the NEX range of cameras in a camcorder shaped body and don’t forget it can also take the full range of “A” mount Sony lenses with an adaptor, as yet I don’t know anyone who has tested the VG10 with large aperture f 1.4 lenses which might just help it’s poor low light reputation.

The NEX VG10 is number one of a long line of SDoF camcorders from Sony and by this time next year we will no doubt see a string of such camcorders from Panasonic, Canon and JVC. To reply to a fellow blogger I would have never seen the VG10 in a roll for serious filmmaking thats what the new December launch Panasonic AF101 is poised for. In fact if you are interested Philip Bloom is trying out a 75% finished, one battery Panasonic AF101 as I write so nip over to his blog to see his “3 Days with the AF101″.

In conclusion the video manufacturers are in the same position as Sony was with the iPod…too little to late, the DSLR horse bolted well over a year ago and Canon will never be so grateful, Sony is once again playing catch up…something they are getting used to. I don’t actually think Sony has totally understood what the market is looking for in a video version of a DSLR, no sound control and moire are starters for ten but no doubt the VG11 will have all the bells and whistles…something we are very used to in the video world, they just never get it right first time !

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

SONY NEX-VG10 Conclusions

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This is a hard one…on one hand we have a superb shallow depth of field camcorder and on the other hand limitations. I have had this camcorder for at least two weeks now and although I have not been using it for a solid two weeks I have had some time to get to know it.

I am coming to this from a professional camera users point of view so I may be a bit harsh forgetting the domestic user this camcorder is aimed at.

The first thing that has confused me is the 1080 50i now for all intent and purposes this camcorder records 1080 50i but that is capturing at 25p and wrapping it as 50i why…Confused ? Well, you’re not the only one. In brief, what’s going on is that the AVCHD standard doesn’t include 25P, but it does include 50i. This is relevant for those that want to burn a Blu-ray disk because Blu-ray uses the AVCHD standard. So it seems Sony are not only confusing the human users but Blu-ray burners as well. The main point is that if you bring your footage into Final Cut Pro it will be seen as 1080 25p.

The dreaded “Moire”. Sony seem to have taken the NEX-5 chip and stuck it inside the VG10 hoping that the DSLR problem of moire will not haunt them…wrong…surprisingly Sony have not tackled the moire problem and to be fair only appears in less than a handful of shots mainly on tiled roofs. Remember moire is a natural phenomenon with photographic sensors and most people don’t know what it looks like till pointed out to them.

Using one of Sony’s sister camcorders the MC50 I have become used to lack of sound control but the VG10 takes this to the NEXt level with no control of the sound at all which is very surprising given the price of the product and the main jibe with DSLR is lack of sound controls. You can use an external mic and headphones but beyond this nothing.

I do think Sony have maybe taken the manual zoom a tad too far with this product, domestic users have never in my knowledge ever had a camcorder with no zoom control and not only is this confusing some people but can be a turn off as they don’t understand the concept. This camcorder would have been better placed as a semi Pro unit rather than confusing the domestic user.

This camcorder does not perform well in low light although the f3.5 lens @ Wide Angle that ships with this camcorder does not do it any favours. I would like to assess the low light with an Alpha f 1.4 lens to get a true reflection of low light capability.

The menus are as I would expect from a domestic camcorder and the big thumb wheel is nothing short of a pest…sit it out a bit and give it a rubber feel and I may warm to it.

Lastly the auto focus works very well when it’s locked onto a subject but has it’s moments focusing in general…if truth be told it’s a tad on the slow side.

So whats left…well surprisingly the “look” grows on you, as long as you take on board it’s limitations and use manual focus, turn it down to 0dB, turn it onto 24Mbs, take off auto white balance the camcorder performs very well in daylight. Unlike the MC50 it does have external buttons for direct access to WB, gain etc and that has to be commended. The 18-200mm lens is very sharp and so are the 14MP JPEGs. Note. You can’t take photographs while filming and vice versa.

As I have said before this is not a domestic camcorder as it is far from a point and shoot but if you are prepared to work at it you will get some wonderful footage that only this camera can produce and it does come with it’s very own wind jammer !

Tomorrow NEX VG10 versus the DSLR

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

Panasonic AG-AF101 from 27th December 2010 (Price £4,195)

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Panasonic Solutions Company today announced that the AG-AF100, the industry’s first professional micro 4/3-inch video camcorder optimized for high-definition video recording, will start shipping on December 27th at a suggested list price of $4,995. Highly anticipated since its introduction at NAB earlier this year, the AF100 is poised to set new benchmarks in digital cinematography.

Targeted at the video and film production communities, the AF100 delivers the shallow depth of field and 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 and 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 best-in-class 4/3-inch sensor affords depth of field and field of view similar to that of 35mm movie cameras in a more affordable camera body,” 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. Indeed, the proof of concept of 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 agonized over all of the workarounds required to come out with an acceptable high definition recording.”

The AF100 incorporates a large 4/3-inch,16:9 MOS imager that minimizes skew with fast imager scanning, and incorporates low pass filters for elimination of aliasing and moiré. Additionally, it has a built-in optical ND filter. 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 (17 Mbps) 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 are available in 1080p, selectable in 20 steps from 12p to 60p at 60Hz and 20 steps from 12p to 50p at 50Hz. Standard professional interfaces include uncompressed 4:2:2, 8 Bit HD-SDI out; HDMI out; and USB 2.0. It records SMPTE timecode and is able to perform timecode synchronizing via the video output seeing timecode in. It has a built-in stereo microphone and features two mic/line, switchable XLR inputs with +48V Phantom Power capability. The camera can record 48-kHz/16-bit two-channel digital audio recording (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.

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; Syncro-scan shutter; and a high-resolution LCD and viewfinder.

It also offers a focus assist that can be used while recording, which is color-on peaking and a focus bar; two sets of adjustable zebras; two manual black and white balance choices, and preset White Balance at 3200K, 5600K or variable; a waveform monitor and vectorscope for more accurate monitoring of broadcast safe levels. Other essential features include pre-record; an intervalometer function that can be set for up to 24 hours, programmable User Buttons; a Smart Battery interface for recording up to four hours with a 5400mA battery; metadata recording; and a wireless infrared remote controller.

Panasonic will support the AF100 with a three-year limited warranty (one year plus two extra years upon registration).

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

Vimeo Winner “Last Minutes with Oden”

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Thank You Jason Wood for allowing us this moment.
Oden’s struggle with cancer finally came to an end.
May he rest in peace and his memory be eternal.

Canon 7D

Directed/Edited: Eliot Rausch
Director of Photography: Luke Korver, Matt B. Taylor
Song: Big Red Machine / Justin Vernon + Aaron Dessner

A story from the 8 LIVES Documentary.
For more of Jason Wood’s story from 3 years ago

HDW : There is not many things that make me cry but this sensitive documentary brought out the dog lover in me and loosing my own dog 7 weeks ago brought back very powerful emotions…a wonderful bit of cinematography.

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

ProVideo 2010 Day TWO “A time to reflect”

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Day TWO, Ricoh Arena, Coventry…Times are hard but in the video production world there seems to be a underlying current of work that keeps us all in business and the ability to buy new camcorders at least every two years. There was for the first time a growing number of DSLR products for sale and Canon were here showing off the XF305 and the new EOS 60D with swivel viewfinder…at last. The IOV (Institute of Videography) has an unfair image of being full of wedding videographers not that that’s a problem in itself it’s the pre conception by others in the industry that the show is for amateurs when the opposite is in fact the truth, the calibre of professional stands alone should dispel this myth.

The pictures from the XF305 were truly stunning, indeed I would say the quality matched high end camcorders from Sony and Panasonic costing twice the price.

Good to see a full turnout from Sony Professional and Bill Drummond, Marketing Manager on hand to talk about various Sony camcorders. I quizzed Bill about the new FilmLike camcorder but he was tight lipped and giving nothing away so we will have to wait till December for any news on that front.

Everyone without exception was taken with 3D at ProVideo 2010, Preston Media had a 65″ Panasonic 3D TV and a fancy pair of 3D glasses on a retractable stand for customers to view and all but none were taken with my 3D wedding footage. The camcorder that did it for me was the Panasonic AG-3DA1, Holdan were showing footage shot at Brighton Pier and it’s the first time true 3D footage has blown me away, the depth was like looking at Photoshop layers it was fantastic, until ProVideo 2010 I had not taken this camcorder seriously but if you want to shoot stunning 3D footage without all the Meccano and 45˚ mirrors etc. this is your tool …and you can use the zoom as well.

The ProVideo 2010 show had all the ingredients, seminars from Adobe, Holdan…exhibitors like Sony, Rycote, Canon, Hague, AKM music etc. and sales teams from H Preston Media, CVP and Planet Video the one missing ingredient was Panasonics AF101 camcorder, that would have doubled the gate in my opinion and in these hard times of deep recession Panasonic need to take a good hard look at themselves.

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

Panasonic AG-AF101 “Launched at WILD Screen ?”

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During ProVideo 2010 we got the news that Panasonic were launching the AG-AF101 FilmLike camcorder at Wild Screen in Bristol, which is a charity working globally to promote an appreciation of biodiversity and nature through the power of wildlife imagery. That said, 79 miles up in Coventry was the jewel in the crown of video shows ProVideo 2010 where a huge number of professional video producers and Panasonic dealers, H Preston Media, Creative Video and their main distributer Holdan Limited were all at the show hosted by the Institute of Videography.

No disrespect to Wild Screen but Panasonic must have had only two choices during October to launch the AF-101 at a big event in the UK and they chose a charity event over a major marketing coo, Pro Video 2010 which had all the correct people attending this decision does not make any sense.

We all know the camcorder is a production demo which is 75% working so there was no problem here and amazingly Panasonics General Manager of Broadcast AV Systems Europe, Mr Takashi Uchida attended ProVideo 2010 personally, a lovely, very polite man.

I was informed by a chap from Holdan that the SDI socket was 4:2:0 so I put my concerns to Mr Uchida, I told him that professionals would not be happy with the HD SDI outputing 4:2:0 and would prefer 4:2:2 as comes out of the HDMI socket, Mr Uchida took notes so I hope this can be added before we see production models in December, to be fair to Mr Uchida my Scottish accent may have confused the issue. I have since been informed that the SDI socket does indeed have 4:2:2 so that is good news for NanoFlash users.

I also told him that a lot of DPs were sitting on the sidelines waiting for the AF101 and to expect a large order from Preston Media and CVP, though a chap from Holdan told me that the first cameras were being individually checked before they leave the factory so European orders will be limited as first. Mr Uchida knew about HD Warrior which I was delighted to hear, we exchanged business cards and he went on his way.

I spoke to a Panasonic representative about the decision to launch the AF101 at Wild Screen and he told me that “The camcorder is only 75% ready and was not appropriate for public viewing”.  I don’t agree with this so called  “public viewing” no matter where you show the camera everyone is public and I would suggest more companies and DPs were attending ProVideo 2010 than attended Wild Screen.

My take on this is Panasonic were only to happy to show this camera off at IBC to all and sundry and made a very poor marketing decision to launch this camera at Wild Screen when ProVideo was on at the same time. Pro Video would have been boosted in attendance with the launch of the AF101 and more importantly the camera would have been seen by the correct audience. Preston’s alone had major interest during ProVideo 2010 and took pre orders for the AF101, I spoke to a lady at Holdan four weeks ago asking if the AF101 would be at the show and she told me that Panasonic had told her that “It was not available “.

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

The face behind the phone-ProVideo Day ONE

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When you are looking for video equipment who do you call…the boys at H Preston Media, John and the boys were at ProVideo 2010 day one wheeling and dealing from 9 till 5pm.

There were bargains to be had from dead cat microphone wind muffs to 500W “V” lock LED lights for £330. Canon are here with DSLRs, Canon glass and XF305 4:2:2 50Mbs camcorder which produces very punchy sexy pictures. Canon have agreed to send me a model for review and I look forward to looking over the camcorder soon.

3D was very apparent and a frenzy of IOV members were very excited by the 3D wedding footage I shot last weekend with the Panasonic SDT750. The SDT750 is selling for £1299 including vat. Most people are very surprised at the quality of the 3D footage viewed on a new Panasonic 65″ plasma 3D TV.

The SDT750 is a domestic product in fact it’s two cameras in one package with the conversion lens (CL) attached it’s a 3D camcorder and take off the CL and you have a very capable top end domestic HD camcorder that can produce the worlds first 1080 50p pictures which are stunning.

If you are wondering what’s the difference between the Pro and domestic models it’s almost down to the front ends, the AG 3DA1 can change it’s focal length ie. zoom and the SDT750 is set on a wide shot with it’s zoom disabled.

The ProVideo show was reasonably busy for a first day though there is a strange stand that has one person handing out brochures claiming “we ship worldwide” well in my opinion it’s a sad day when the best you can do is hand out brochures when people like Preston’s and CVP have sales teams selling to customers on the shop floor and giving that all important personal touch.

Good to see Sony Professional out in force and Holdan representing Panasonic, Hague camera supports were swamped with customers looking at everything from stabilizers to full blown professional Jibs.

Manfrotto were showing off their HD504 tripod reviewed by HD Warrior, “one of the best heads to come out of Manfrotto for years”. AKM music were busy with customers listening intently to the latest copyright free music and Hireacamera were new to me, they hire HDV, AVCHD and XDCAM EX camcorders for delivery nationwide and they deliver your camcorder the day before and day after your hire.

More about ProVideo 2010 tomorrow.

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

ProVideo 2010 starts today. SAT NAV CV6 6GE

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

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