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Monday, June 25, 2012

AF100 Anyone ?

So last week I spent a good part of my time shooting with a AF100. First time. Impressions ? Yawn. More shallow DoF than a 2/3" video cam, but no where near a S35 / APS-C never mind full frame dslr. I had a Nikon 14-28 2.8 on the camera pretty much most of the time except for some interviews. Focus was easy - infinity, 10ft, 5ft, 2.5ft. It was pretty easy even wide open to zone focus just like back in the day when I did this wtih 2 1/4 roll fim @ F8. Now that could have shallow DoF ! The AF100  was far more video camera like than 35mm like by a margin. Of course easy focus isn't a bad thing when you are moving fast shooting news / doc type content.

What I will say is it is sharper than my 60D for sure... but its also not the same look either. Backgrounds tended to be sharper, and overall the image was sharper with out any moire or aliasing.

Given how cheap AF100's are on the used market, one could be easy to pick one up as a B cam to a dslr / S35 size camera.

Having onboard audio was nice too - XLR's to take my mixer feed ! Built in ND was really nice since I didn't need to have a matte box rig just to slap some ND in front of the lens so I wasn't at F11 all day. Gain  was good, dedicated WB button was good.  Outside that was ISO 200 with a quick bump up to 800 ro 1250.  The VF LCD was crap, the external LCD was only slightly better. All the time I was just going crazy for a 5X zoom button for critical focus check... but alas I it was my worry  for nothing because this is far more like a regular video camera than 35mm camera. With peaking turned on, its pretty easy to see if you're in or out. 

Dynamic range is ok and in line with other cameras out there. Shooting it next to a HPX500 and 60D is was making images that were in line. Color also was a reasonable match to the other cameras as well.

Way cool feature : Waveform and vectorscope. While a vector scope wasn't much for me, flipping on the waveform monitor was very useful. It took all guessing out of wondering if you where getting good exposure and should be something all cameras do going forwards.

The nice thing about this camera is that it uses SD card rather than the very expensice P2 cards. In fact it looks like Panasonic did some last minute redesign of the camera from P2 to SD cards. 2 32G SD cards are plenty of shooting time. The good stuff said, it does use a MXF style folder structure to make your life miserable. Its stupid and the camera should just make self contained QT spec MOV's like canon cameras and many consumer cameras do. 

Overall nice camera, good starter camera, not bad for news / eng... but its not a APS-C / Super35 look any means.