Over the course of the past few months I have been fortunate enough to have Texas Media Systems here in Austin supply me with a Panasonic AF-100(AF) to shoot with. While the AF is definitely not the end all be all of the large sensor cameras. It might be, in my opinion, one of the best bang for your buck large sensor camera to date. Without going over all the technical specs, that you can easily find if so desired, this camera really does fix most of the serious problems I’ve had with the HDSLR movement.
While for the majority of my filming needs is handled by a Panasonic P2 HPX-170, I find that the AF not only easily matches up well in color reproduction it also seamlessly fits into my workflow. Originally I had my reservations about the AVCHD codec, but between extensive use of the AF and the HMC-150 pretty much any and all concerns have vanished. For what the codec is and does I think it is very robust and handles the compression well. The only time I’ve really ever observed the codec break was when I really pushed the footage in post. Which I’m sure would have been solved with use of an external recorder.
On paper I thought that the smaller sensor size was going to be a real deal breaker. I’ve had a Canon 7D now for a few years and I can honestly say when I am in the field shooting, I can’t really tell the difference in focal length on lenses between the two. It really is such a small difference between APS-C/S35 and M4/3 that unless your looking at charts it’s negligible in my eyes. Would I like the sensor to be a little bigger? Sure, why not. Does it bother me? Not really.
I do wish the camera body was a bit smaller all the way around. Most of my work involves the camera traveling in a backpack, which most aren’t really deep enough. Any size and weight I can save traveling through airports really goes a long way. The camera's not a horrible size, it’s just a little tall. Other than the height, the camera does travel really well. Much like my HPX-170 it’s easy to pull out throw a lens on and get to shooting within a short period.
Speaking of lenses I’ve had the chance to use a variety of SLR lenses on the camera. From Nikon to Canon and even a couple of the Olympus Zuiko F/2.0. They all look and work great. My only real gripe is I wish there was a better adapter for Canon glass, but even that seems to have a 3rd party fix in the near future. I haven't had the chance to use any PL glass with the camera yet.
Overall I feel that the AF is a great camera. I have and will continue to recommend it to anyone looking to move on from the HDSLR form factor. My transition was seamless when coming from the HPX and HMC cameras and my work never seemed to missed a beat. Are there a couple things the camera is missing I would like to see in the future? Absolutely, but at what cost? That I'm not sure about. I’d love to have a AVC-Intra 10 bit P2 version one day (AF-250?). Until then I will most likely continue to use the AF whenever possible, and most likely really enjoy using it.
The video is mostly footage that has already been used, is left over from various projects or just B-roll that I enjoyed, but never really had a home for.
Head over to texasmediasystems.com for more info and to purchase the AF-100 as well as any other camera and production needs you may have. I can't speak more highly of those guys.
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