Zacuto

How Much Would You Pay For It?

Recently, I had a chance to demo the new Panasonic AG-AF100 for a commercial shoot. Doug Leighton from Panasonic was kind enough to provide the production with a demo model.

I had read about the AG-AF100, but never had a chance to put my hands on the camera until I attended a recent event at Bexel. I got to pick the brain of one of Panasonic’s east coast reps, specifically asking, “Why SD card, why not P2 with AVC-Intra?” “The format is robust and proven with a high bit rate as a source codec, it’s 4:2:2 right out of the box?” His response was, “Interesting, we would need to make the camera bigger to accommodate more cooling with more processing power, how much would you pay for that?” Maybe double, I said. For those who are unaware, that would put the camera at around $10,000 based on its present price.

Cut to: The company Tacfit called to see about my availability of shooting a regional commercial for television and the Internet. They were in need of a visually high intensity spot, one that also needed to be reined in terms of budget. I immediately thought this would be a great chance to try the AG-AF100.
The production team discussed the camera being in motion most of the time, peppered with quiet moments, where we “exhale” and get inside the character’s head. Cranes, dollies and Steadicam were out of the question due to time, crew size, and money, so we opted for a 4’ slider coupled with abundant use of a handheld camera. The visual motif would be with whip pans, frame rate under and over-cranking coupled with a narrow shutter. Very, run and gun!
Originally, I wanted to utilize the Canon 5D but knowing some of the parameters regarding our visual style, I knew it was out of the question. I was most concerned about any major rolling shutter artifacts inherent in all CMOS sensors but more so in the Canon products.

My inherent style is to shoot wide and close, or far and long on the lens. My sentiments about the visual style were echoed by the director’s approval as well. We would utilize my Zeiss CP.2 lens set, along with a demo version of the soon to be released Duclos, Nikon 70-200, modified for PL. The Director wanted long lens, “isolated” with no major vistas. A zoom lens when we were on it would keep us moving faster as well. Since the AG-AF100 has micro 4/3rd’s sensor and knowing the crop factor was nearly 2X, my effective lens choice would be from 40mm-380mm. The zoom alone would cover from 133mm-380mm.

With nothing but a golf umbrella and a small camera cover to protect the camera we began day one dealing with the heavy fog, rain, wind and temperatures in the high 30’s. Camera mounted to a low hat on an O’Conner 1030, close up of shoe hitting wet pavement, tilt-up to reveal the actor running up a steep grade away from us at 60fps…we rack out of focus, our first shot.
We had planned to shoot everything exterior day at ASA 160 or 320, which gave me a T 5.6-8 on the lens. On a 380mm lens my DoF at 20’ was a scant 2” (slightly more than on a 5D). I ultimately had to pull focus on this shot myself.
Unfortunately, the weather continuity was non-existent for a background and with near white out conditions we abandoned the first location too much higher ground to take advantage of the situation. All this time, I was waiting to get an error message or for the camera to just fail but it performed perfectly.

We eventually made it to our second location, an ancient garage in Beverly Hills to shoot boxing and hand-to-hand footage. By the end of the day everyone was excited about the footage we had captured. Overall, I was very pleased with the cameras performance. All the on board tools I expected in a video camera were there. The large sensor made a big difference in isolating focus to, “tell a better story”. The micro 4/3rds format on the AG-AF100 seems to be the most readily adaptable on the planet so it is easy to a variety of lenses without modifying the existing mount and voiding any warranties. The micro 4/3rd’s to PL mount we used was provided by Hotrod cameras. We mounted the camera on the Zacuto Universal Baseplate and it worked perfectly coupled with their Lightweight Locking Lens Support system.

It was fantastic to work with in-camera variable frame rate, .5 degree shutter increments, variable Kelvin adjustments and a much improved larger LCD. In the garage we shot at ISO 800 with minimal lighting and the picture was very quiet in terms of noise. I have seen a live feed of this camera at iso 3200 on a large monitor and was impressed with the image

The workflow is relatively simple, as a transcode is needed from avchd to a more robust flavor like prores 4:2:2. I saw no aliasing or moiré at all during the shoot. While the rolling shutter issue is still present it has been reduced. I still miss a P2 option for this camera, but with a KiPo mini you might not need it. I’m also wondering if the AVC-Intra codec as a source codec is more robust than Prores 4:2:2?

The footage has been passed onto the editor and thankfully no problems have been reported with anything. While my observations were just that professional but anecdotal, future real testing is needed. All and all pretty attractive camera with features at $4999, that is headed in the right direction. It is a definite improvement from the standard DSLR.

How much would you be willing to pay for it?


David M.Wexler is nearly a twenty veteran of the entertainment industry, with over ten years acting solely as Cinematographer. Mr. Wexler has shot commercially for Pepsi, Ford, Proactiv, Southwest Airlines, AARP, South Beach Diet to name a few. Other clients include NatGeo, Discovery and History Channel.

Like many of his many of his colleagues he grew up shooting super-8 with his parents camera and eventually moving into 35mm still, and larger format work for creative pleasure. It was not until the end of undergraduate school when he decided to pursue a career in entertainment. Wexler’s first jobs included working for ESPN, NFL Films Stadium and shooting for Fox Sports and News. Additionally, during this time he shot films on 16mm for Wesleyan University.

Read Full David Wexler Bio

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One Response to “How Much Would You Pay For It?”

  1. Your name here... on March 11th, 2011 1:24 pm

    We too have been happy with the AF100 for many projects. It is a good solution and complements the 5D for typical corporate projects. Our production assignments typically would assign the EF100 for interviews, slider and job work and the 5D for handheld, covert (aka mit out location permits of public streets or places) shooting or 2nd camera angle shots during interviews. The recent firmware upgrade brought some subtle improvements to the EF100 and we have two Ninja Pro-Res recorders on order which will enhance the image recording component.

About the Author


Rachel has been with Zacuto since 2009. She began working in the sales department and moved to marketing in 2013. In her role as Digital Marketing Director she oversees the gear loan and review program, social media, blog content, zacuto.com, and works with the team on overall marketing strategy. Rachel has a BA in Theatre with a focus on Directing from Arizona State University. Those who have spoken with her on the phone know she occasionally reveals her homeland by slipping into a British accent. Rachel likes tear-jerker sports movies, reading cookbooks for pleasure, and crossword puzzles. Contact her at rachel@zacuto.com

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