Panasonic PL Camera

Panasonic was first out of the gate at NAB with PL-mounted, full-featured camcorder based on the DSLR phenomenon. Many expected something like this from Canon–but then, Panasonic was also first with the Lumix Micro Four-Thirds camera, which was quickly hotrodded by Illya Friedman and Hot Rod Cameras with a PL mount.

A prototype of the new Panasonic AG-AF100 Camcorder was shown at the day-before NAB press conference and under glass in their booth. It was shown with Micro 4/3 inch lens mount, but the press announcement along with a large array of PL mounted lenses in the case below the camera suggest that interchangeable PL and still camera lens mounts will be available.

The Panasonic AG-AF100 is an AVCCAM HD camcorder with a Micro Four Thirds inch 16:9 MOS sensor (18 mm x 13.5 mm). This comes reasonably close to a 35mm motion picture 16:9 format, and provides similar depth of field. The camera will accept the large array of standard Panasonic, Olympus and other Micro 4/3-inch lenses. An interchangeable lens mount on the AF100 will accommodate widely-available still camera lenses as well as PL cine lenses–and a Panavision mount would not be out of the question either, I would guess.

The camcorder records 1080/60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p (native) and 720/60p, 50p, 30p, 25p and 24p (native) in AVCHD’s highest-quality PH mode (maximum 24Mbps), 60Hz and 50Hz switchable. It has built-in ND filtering and greatly reduced video aliasing. Standard professional connections include HD-SDI out, HDMI, time code recording, built-in stereo microphone and USB 2.0. Audio features include two XLR inputs with +48V Phantom Power capability, 48-kHz/16-bit two-channel digital audio recording and support for LPCM/Dolby-AC3.

This newest Panasonic AVCCAM camcorder is the take advantage of 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 —  up to 2TB). With two SD slots, the AF100 can record up to 12 hours on two 64GB SDXC cards in PH mode. With full 1080 and 720 capability, the camera offers native 1080/24p recording, variable frame rates, professional audio capabilities, and compatibility with SDHC and SDXC media. It has an advanced AVC/H.264 Hi Profile AVCHD codec compatible with a wide range of editing tools and affordable players.

Scheduled to ship by the end of 2010, the AG-AF100 is expected to be extremely affordable at around $6,000. This is truly a game-changer.

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