Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

Many pundits like myself have predicted a cooling down for the HDSLR market after the introduction of the new camcorders from Panasonic and Sony, so whats the reality ! Today has been the second game changer in a matter of weeks as we saw the introduction of the Panasonic AF101 at IBC in Amsterdam only a few weeks ago then today Sony have come in with the F3K FilmLike camcorder.

So how do these camcorders change the politics of the game so far, we have to hark back to February 2009 when this all kicked off with Canon giving the 5DMk11 the ability to record HD video onto a Full frame 35mm photographic sensor but at 30fps not many of us payed attention…at first. Time marched on and the HDSLR band wagon started to roll with many more flavours of cameras from Canon, Nikon and Panasonic. We were witnessing a major change in the way people perceived the filmlike camera and that change has set us all on a path that is changing film/video forever.

Students could finally afford to make low budget films that had that coveted shallow depth of field but the HDSLR came at a price and that price was quality…moire patterning has been a major setback for all but none of the HDSLR movement let alone the very poor sound facilities on such cameras.

One major player RED DIGITAL CINEMA had finally produced the RED ONE 4K digital cinema camcorder and at $25,000 is set at the hi-end of the FilmLike camcorders. RED are looking at introducing a lesser spec camera called the Scarlet but I think time and new camcorders from the big players my have put paid to Scarlet.

2010 can go down in the history books as the year of the FilmLike camcorder, it took Panasonic and Sony long enough to change tac but finally we are now sailing towards a great future for all companies concerned…yes ALL companies. No one denys the important part the HDSLR has played in the advent of the AF101 and the F3K. Canon, Nikon and Panasonic will no doubt come out with more enhanced features for their large following of students and professionals alike.

RED will still sell RED ONE’s for Hi-end productions though I do think Scarlet may now be shelved. Panasonic Broadcast are looking to have the first AF101s out for the end of December 2010 and Sony have announced their F3K to be shipping during January 2011.

So where do they all stand…the HDSLR will continue as long as DPs like Philip Bloom remain faithful to them, RED is priced at $25,000 and is priced accordingly though Sony have come in at £$20,000 with some would say a lesser spec camera than the RED ONE but with 3 prime lenses included and the backing of Sony…who knows.

The Panasonic is the RED herring among all the new camcorders, not that it will be any competition to the RED ONE or the Sony but out of all the new breed of cinematography cameras the AF101 is in my opinion priced at an affordable price of £4200.

The Panasonic AF101 price point gives you a fantastic shallow depth of field camcorder at a cost that won’t break the bank and with a special Canon adaptor just around the corner this camcorder is set to break all records when it finally hits the specialised professional video retailers at the end of December.

We are indeed living in exiting times and I for one look forward to seeing and reviewing both the AF101 and the Sony F3K as soon as they are available to me. DPs have a new choice when filming drama and you can expect all the hire companies to re stock with AF101s and the Sony F3K.

I hope with such quality now available to the professional FilmLike market we will no longer see HDSLRs used because the technology is limited and lets be honest Canon have stood aside for over a year now knowing that moire patterning is a major problem and done nothing to remedy the fault. As professionals we owe it to the future of our industry to embrace the new professional shallow depth of field camcorders from Panasonic and Sony…after all we have shouted for long enough about having a camera fit for purpose and the video manufacturers have delivered…BIG TIME.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

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