Panasonic AG-AF100 4/3″ Camcorder

After stirring up a frenzy of interest at IBC, Panasonic announced today that their AG-AF100 Micro 4/3-inch video camcorder  will start shipping on December 27th at a suggested list price of $4,995. We don’t usually publish prices here, but this is so low, it almost looks like a misprint. It isn’t.

Introduced at NAB 2010, the AF100 delivers the shallow depth of field associated with 35mm format. Remember, Panasonic’s Lumix was the first digital still camera that was easily converted to PL mount (by Illya Friedman of Hot Rod), probably sparking the HDSLR revolution.

What we see here is the next wave–taking the technology of the HDSLR and moving it out of the still camera body into a new hybrid Hasselblad-like case. Epic also comes to mind.

Jan Crittenden Livingston, Product Line Business Manager, Panasonic Solutions Company, and all-around camera genius, told us at IBC, “We saw a lot of companies making after-market mounts and adapters for our Micro 4/3-inch Lumix cameras, and rather than reinvent the wheel with new mounts, utilize this superb format.”

ZEISS had just the thing at IBC: their new interchangeable mount CP.2 Compact Primes can be ordered with Micro 4/3-inch mounts.

Because of the very short flange to image plane distance of the Micro 4/3-inch format, the interchangeable micro 4/3-inch lens mount accepts a large array of  widely-available still camera lenses as well as cine lenses. You can mount PL, Panavision, Leica, Nikon, Canon…

The sensor is a 13 x 17.3 mm, 16:9 MOS imager that minimizes skew with fast imager scanning, and incorporates low pass filters for elimination of aliasing and moiré. Jan continued, “The AF100’s  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.”

The full HD camera offers native 1080/24p recording, variable frame rates, professional audio, and compatibility with SDHC and SDXC media. 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. It is 60Hz and 50Hz switchable–so it can be used anywhere in the world without modification.

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. Outputs 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.

The Panasonic AF100 AVCCAM camcorder has 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 — 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 weighs 3.5 pounds (without lens or battery). Features include: Dynamic Range Stretch in all modes and frame rates; six built-in, customizable scene files that can be used for matching between multiple cameras; seven built-in gamma curves with four selectable color matrices; and Syncro-scan shutter. The high-resolution LCD and viewfinder have a focus assist that can be used while recording, which is color-on peaking and a focus bar. There are 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. Other capabilities include pre-record; an intervalometer function that can be set for up to 24 hours, programmable User Buttons; metadata recording; and a wireless infrared remote controller.

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