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Old July 7th, 2012, 03:22 PM   #1
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AF100 successor?

Hi all,

I'm very seriously in the market for an AF100 (well, an AF101 as I am in the UK). This will be my first foray into interchangeable lenses (although I was an XL2 user for some years - but just with the stock lens). I've looked at the Sony offerings and the NEX-FS700 appeals as well.

Before I leap in, is there any word on a successor from Panasonic? Having read a few comparative reviews between the AF100 and the NEX-FS100 I think the Panasonic is the right choice for me, but the FS700 seems to raise the bar. Is Panasonic expected to match or exceed Sony any time soon?
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Old July 7th, 2012, 08:36 PM   #2
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Re: AF100 successor?

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Originally Posted by Ian Stark View Post
...Is Panasonic expected to match or exceed Sony any time soon?
Not that anyone knows. Like most Japanese manufacturers, Panasonic is pretty tight lipped until they're ready. However...There is something of an expectation that Panasonic will release a GH3 in the Fall. Whenever that happens, I would expect the AF100 to be either replaced or get a bigger brother, like the FS100 & FS700. The GH line sets a high enough bar I just can't see Panasonic doing an upgrade to the consumer line without a corresponding upgrade to the pro line.
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Old July 7th, 2012, 11:56 PM   #3
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Re: AF100 successor?

My thoughts (without any inside knowledge at all):

AF-200:
AVC-100 Intra internal recording
10bit sdi output
s35 sensor with a micro 4/3rd sensor crop in order to use existing glass.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 04:58 AM   #4
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Re: AF100 successor?

Ian - have you seen this thread - New for NAB ? Which dealt with much of the same issues?

My first contribution to it was:
Quote:
A far as an AF100 upgrade goes, then don't underestimate the task. When Panasonic developed the AF100, it was in response to DSLRs, and was basically putting a stills chip in a video package with more optimised processing than DSLRs had at the time. A good idea in principle, but it could never hope to be as good as a camera with a large format chip purpose designed for video. And unfortunately for Panasonic, that's exactly what Sony announced even before the AF100 was in the shops. With the C300, Canon rubbed the point home. An AF100 upgrade could be fairly simply done by using the GH2 sensor in place of the GH1 - GH2 users are already reporting better results than the AF100 gives. But it would still leave a lot lacking compared to the FS100, especially in terms of sensitivity. Would it be worth it?

The real solution, to really answer the critics, is a purpose designed chip - but that takes time, is expensive, and very unlikely to happen yet. (Unless it was already being developed alongside the AF100.) It also raises the question of what size to purpose design it to? S35 or four-thirds? Given the AF100, four-thirds must seem the obvious choice - but S35 is the traditional standard, and it's what both Sony and Canon have gone for. Compared to four-thirds, S35 has about twice the area, and that translates to a stop advantage in sensitivity and depth of field control. It's one thing to cheaply make use of an already existing sensor, but if you're going to the expense of purpose designing one, do you really want to do it in the full knowledge that it will still be second best to the competition? (Even if getting over most of the flaws of it's predecesssor?)
Subsequent to that it was confirmed that the AF100 did in fact use the GH2 chip - but uses processing that dosn't make the most of it. (See post 14 of that thread if you want to know why.) Hence why so many people are reporting the GH2 giving better results than the AF100, at least in terms of sharpness. Have you seen Philip Blooms report?

I'm also interested as to why you think the AF100 is better than the FS100? Pretty well every report I've read comes to the opposite conclusion, overall at any rate. The one undeniable advantage the AF100 does have is inbuilt ND filters, but in terms of image quality the FS100 is a clear winner. Ergonomically, it seems to be a draw (neither is very good :-) ) and the s35 sensor of the FS100 is seen as a winner over 4/3.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 06:11 AM   #5
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Re: AF100 successor?

Thanks all. Very interesting.

David, I'm not saying the Panasonic is the better camera - just that it seems like the right camera for me. I hadn't seen the thread you referred to (I hang out in the Canon and Vegas forums and have never had the need to browse the Panasonic forums until now), but your comments in it look sound (if a little over my head at times!). So far I have read a number of reviews which all point out good and bad features of both cameras.

My reasoning for leaning towards the AF100 is:

- price. This was really related to whether or not I went up to the FS700, which would really limit my choice of lenses. I think the FS100 and AF100 are roughly equivalent price-wise.
- I really hate the position of the LCD on the Sony! Also having a vf and the lcd is useful to me because of a vision defect.
- no NDs on the Sony.
- no HD-SDI on the Sony.
- the AF100 is NTSC/PAL switchable and I don't believe the Sony is (happy to be corrected)
- AF100 has a three year warranty compared to Sony's one year.
- AF100 has two card slots for continuous shooting (I hate them, but to pay the bills I have to shoot a lot of business events). Sony has one slot.

There are numerous other lesser reasons but those are the key ones for me. I absolutely agree that the FS100 is a fine camera, and the larger chip in the Sony is tempting, but it just has those other niggling points that lead me away from it. Really, I guess my decision is whether to get the AF100 and a selection of quality lenses or the FS700 with just one decent all round lens. I didn't want to buy the AF100 and discover that it was about to be succeeded by something significantly better, hence the original question. If what you say is true then it looks like that isn't the case.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 06:30 AM   #6
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Re: AF100 successor?

There's also this informative article written using the AF100 on a shoot: ProVideo Coalition.com: Stunning Good Looks by Art Adams
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Old July 8th, 2012, 10:11 AM   #7
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Re: AF100 successor?

I have a Scarlet, AF-100, HPX-250 and a Nikon D800.

The AF-100 is the one that most clients ask for the most.

It is a fantastic camera and it is a steal at the current price.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 11:50 AM   #8
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Re: AF100 successor?

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So far I have read a number of reviews which all point out good and bad features of both cameras. The key reviews for me were those from Nigel Cooper at DVuser:
DVuser: Sony NEX-FS100E review by Nigel Cooper
Ah! That review was the subject of a thread on this forum about a year ago - http://www.dvinfo.net/forum/sony-nxc...00-review.html . Personally, I think it's one of the worst camera reviews I've ever read, and if you look at that thread you'll see others have similar views. Opinion is one thing, but Nigel's review is riddled with inaccuracies and strange omissions.

The biggest single omission must be any mention of sensitivity, where the FS100 seems to outperform the AF100 by a massive 3 stops!! At the time I wrote:
Quote:
The review is factually inaccurate in some quite important details, and considering the length and detail in some respects, it has some strange and obvious omissions, As example, in his conclusion he says the following:

Quote:
Sure it {the AF101} lags slightly behind in raw resolution and there is a tad more aliasing, but the AF101 is about £1,500 cheaper .......
A quick visit to a main UK dealer website showed the current prices of the AF101 to be £3,485 and the FS100 to be £3,850 - both prices without lens and with no VAT. Which is less than £400 - nowhere close to £1,500, even if you were to take the VAT inclusive prices. If he can't even get those sort of basic facts right.....? I can only assume he is comparing the AF101 without lens versus the FS100 with?

From what I've seen, the AF101 does indeed have advantages in terms of HD-SDI instead of HDMI, and built in NDs, but in terms of picture quality the FS100 is the clear winner - compare charts, and the FS100 is much better in terms of resolution and aliasing - far more than the "tad" Nigel allows it.

And one big advantage the FS100 does have over the AF101 is a factor that Nigel surprisingly doesn't even seem to have considered - sensitivity. He refers to "see how the camera performed in a scientific environment" - yet doesn't make any mention of measurements of noise, or how it performs in low light.

He's also wrong about the differences between the two in terms of depth of field - he compares the 16:9 dimensions of the full FS100 sensor with the 4:3 basic dimensions of the AF101 chip. (Instead of the 16:9 crop which is actually used in the 101.) He should also be comparing the differences of area, not linear measurements, and if you do that the difference between the two comes out at nearly a whole stop - a lot more than the "marginally more control over depth-of-field, but nothing really noticeable" that Nigel claims for the FS100.
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Really, I guess my decision is whether to get the AF100 and a selection of quality lenses or the FS700 with just one decent all round lens.
The problem there is that with the AF100 you are committing to 4/3 in terms of buying glass, and the general feeling is that if you want a large sensor camera, s35 has a distinct advantage. It's twice the area of 4/3, which means a stop in terms of sensitivity and depth of field. (All else equal.)
Quote:
I didn't want to buy the AF100 and discover that it was about to be succeeded by something significantly better, hence the original question. If what you say is true then it looks like that isn't the case.
No, that's not what I'm saying. It's generally now seen that the AF100 is well behind the large sensor pack in terms of IQ, and is even outperformed by the GH2 - in spite of having the same sensor (!!) It therefore seems highly likely that it will be succeeded as soon as possible if Panasonic want to stay in the game - the questions then become (1) When? and (2) by how big an improvement?

As regards (2) then a big question must be 4/3 or s35? There must be an obvious business case for Panasonic to go for 4/3 - but that would inevitably be seen as "second best" compared to the s35 competitors. Yet going for s35 won't go down well with AF100 owners with 4/3 glass.....

If you can afford it, I'd definitely go for the FS700 over either the FS100 or the AF100. It's about £1,800 more than the AF100, but answers most of the points on your wish list - and gives the amazing slo-mo ability and is 4k future-proofed into the bargain. (As well as considerably better IQ and sensitivity than the AF100.) I agree that 2 slots is better than 1, but it's far less of an issue nowadays than it used to be - with 64GB cards it's possible to get about 4 hours of continuous running on a single card, I think!?
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Old July 8th, 2012, 12:01 PM   #9
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Re: AF100 successor?

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Originally Posted by Les Wilson View Post
There's also this informative article written using the AF100 on a shoot: ProVideo Coalition.com: Stunning Good Looks by Art Adams
That was written before the FS100 (let alone the FS700) became available. Worth reading (also from ProVideo Coalition) what Adam Wilt subsequently had to say about the FS100 compared to the AF100: ProVideo Coalition.com: Camera Log by Adam Wilt | Founder | Pro Cameras, HDV Camera, HD Camera, Sony, Panasonic, JVC, RED, Video Camera Reviews
Quote:
Is the AF100 a viable alternative? Certainly it can make gorgeous images, when wielded by a skilled DP. But the Panasonic has harsher highlight handling, noticeably lower resolution, and more luma aliasing, and it can’t hold a candle (pun intended) to the FS100’s low-noise, low-light prowess: it maxes out at ISO 3200, and a heavily-processed ISO 3200 it is, too. I also find the Sony to be more operator-friendly when on a tripod, though handheld, it’s a wash (the Panasonic’s handycam design is no advantage with cameras this fat and laterally unbalanced). For me, the NEX-FS100’s image quality is “better enough” to make it worth the additional cost (and I say that as someone whose sole owned HD camera at the moment is a Panasonic DMC-GH2).
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Old July 8th, 2012, 12:55 PM   #10
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Re: AF100 successor?

All interesting, but perhaps in fairness to the reviewer it should be pointed out that both the reviews were on pre-production models. For the FS100 review he did point out that there were issues that might be resolved in full production models. Likewise re the pricing - at the time of the review presumably he would have been quoting the manufacturer's list price.

One point you raise is being committed to 4/3 'in terms of buying glass'. Not sure I understand that. I thought that it was possible to buy a wide range of adaptors that would allow me to use pretty much any lens I wanted. Have I misunderstood this? If so then yes, I really do need to rethink my strategy!

Like I said, this is my first foray into interchangeable lenses on a large sensor camera so my knowledge is limited and quite probably misinformed in places - easily done when you unwittingly read biased reviews, critiques and forum posts.

I produce documentaries and business to business videos. Most of my output ends up on a standard DVD or on the web. I'm not creating anything for broadcast or cinema and even if I did I would hire the camera and a decent operator/DoP. I'm looking for something that will give me some more creative choice when it comes to interviews, product/process demos, training videos etc. No surprises that this means I'm primarily after better control over depth of field than I get with my current cameras. My clients, who include companies like IBM, T-Mobile, HP, Dell and some of Europe's leading high street retailers, are very happy with the quality of my productions using even just an HDV camera. I'm still not totally convinced that I won't get what I (and they) want, quality-wise, with the Panasonic, even if the IQ is not as good as the Sony offerings. I do like the FS700 - except for that damned silly placement of the LCD!

Thanks David, and others, for taking the time to respond. It's given me much to think about.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 01:12 PM   #11
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Re: AF100 successor?

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Originally Posted by David Heath View Post
...with 64GB cards it's possible to get about 4 hours of continuous running on a single card, I think!?
At stock maximum bitrate, a 64 GB card should handle just under six hours. Three cards covers an 18 hour day. Even at a meeting/presentation, people have to eat or go to the bathroom sometime.

I know this because with 32 GB cards, I can get almost three hours of continuous footage.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 01:35 PM   #12
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Re: AF100 successor?

Should be enough, Bill!

Actually, the only reason I raised the single v double card slot issue is because I have a stack of fast 16GB cards that I could utilise without having to buy new (bigger) cards.
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Old July 8th, 2012, 05:35 PM   #13
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Re: AF100 successor?

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All interesting, but perhaps in fairness to the reviewer it should be pointed out that both the reviews were on pre-production models. For the FS100 review he did point out that there were issues that might be resolved in full production models. Likewise re the pricing - at the time of the review presumably he would have been quoting the manufacturer's list price.
You're being too generous. The wording used in the review is "The cost of the FS100E will have a street price of approximately £5,000 for the body only" - no "expected", "list price" or any other caveats. He specifically says "street price" and he got it badly wrong. Same in his final conclusions - ".....the AF101 is about £1,500 cheaper ...." - no caveats, no "expected to be", but rather put as a statement of fact. And this actual £3,850 figure soon after the FS100 became available in the shops, not months later.

The pre-production issue likewise doesn't make any difference to other things he got wrong or omitted. It didn't change the relative sensor sizes. Didn't really affect sensitivity.

Nigel Cooper also says in his review :
Quote:
"The unit I had was a pre-production unit so it came with no instruction manual, I didn’t really need one either as assembling the camcorder is fairly self-explanatory.........."
and
"The side grip doesn't feel 100% securely attached to the actual body, even after tightening up the screw as tight as I dare, it kind of wobbles a little and feels like it is coming lose."
From what I hear from a user, it appears that Nigel omitted a washer when assembling the handgrip.....! Hence why it felt loose to him. (It is certainly not the case on my friends unit.) Obviously Nigel did need an instruction manual...... :-)
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The other comparison review I read was this one: FS100 and AF100 compared but I suppose it will be argued that the reviewer is biased in favour of the Panasonic to support sales of his book ;-)
Barry Green is firmly allied to the Panasonic camp, and consequently has a vested interest in promoting the AF100 above other manufacturers products. Nothing wrong with that as long as the interest is declared - but I would treat any comparison by him or anyone else with a vested interest with a lot of suspicion.

For example, all the independent reports I've seen say the FS100 is FAR better in low light than the AF100 - which is not what Barry Green says. I do note that for his candlelight test he uses the Voigtlander 25mm f0.95 lens and max ISO. Fine if you've got that lens, which AFAIK is expensive and only available in 25mm.....

(In the review linked below, Adam Wilt says: "Most critically, the signal processing differs markedly between the two cameras: the AF100 appears to be using substantial 3D noise reduction, such that its apparent noise level doesn’t change at all with gain boost—only its character changes. " I suspect this is what is confusing Barry Green. The FS100 is naturally less noisy, the AF100 relies on noise reduction - but that compromises the image in other ways, especially in post.)

Barry also makes the same error as Nigel as regards sensor sizes (he compares the full area of the 4/3 sensor rather than the used section).

I strongly recommend Adams Wilts review for being probably as impartial as you'll get. I previously linked to the page with his conclusions on - worth also looking at the page with comparative charts at ProVideo Coalition.com: Camera Log by Adam Wilt | Founder | Pro Cameras, HDV Camera, HD Camera, Sony, Panasonic, JVC, RED, Video Camera Reviews It's pretty clear that the FS100 is SUBSTANTIALLY better than the AF100 for resolution and aliasing. The FS100 seems to max out around 1000lpph for horizontal lines, and 750lpph for vertical - the AF100 seems to manage no better than about 650lpph on either axis before aliasing. (Where the lines start to diverge rather than converge, as on the real chart.)

Note Adam does give figures for the USED area of the chip in each case:
Quote:
Regarding sensor size and depth of field: the FS100’s active area is 23.6x13.3mm, the AF100’s is 17.8x10.0mm. The AF100’s sensor is indeed 75% the linear size of the FS100’s, and 56% of the area.
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Originally Posted by Ian Stark View Post
One point you raise is being committed to 4/3 'in terms of buying glass'. Not sure I understand that. I thought that it was possible to buy a wide range of adaptors that would allow me to use pretty much any lens I wanted. Have I misunderstood this? If so then yes, I really do need to rethink my strategy!
OK. If you get lenses designed for 4/3 cameras they will have a coverage area corresponding to a 4/3 sensor. Use them via an adaptor on a s35 camera and they won't cover the entire sensor area without very severe vignetting. Go the other way round (s35 lenses via an adaptor on 4/3) and that won't be a problem - but there will be a magnification effect. A lens that's a decent w/a for s35 will be more like a standard lens when used on 4/3. For similar reasons, DSLR etc lenses are far better suited to s35 than 4/3.

Personally, if you're starting from scratch I feel you are far better going down the s35 route from a lens point of view.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Stark View Post
My clients, who include companies like IBM, T-Mobile, HP, Dell and some of Europe's leading high street retailers, are very happy with the quality of my productions using even just an HDV camera. I'm still not totally convinced that I won't get what I (and they) want, quality-wise, with the Panasonic, even if the IQ is not as good as the Sony offerings. I do like the FS700 - except for that damned silly placement of the LCD!
Yes, it's the whole question of "good enough". To which I'd say, if you can get a superior product for not much more money, then why go for the one that is inferior?

It's not just simply image quality either. If the reason for purchase is large format dof, S35 will give a whole stop more advantage than 4/3. And sometimes the opposite may apply, you may want GREATER depth of field. And that's where the superior sensitivity of the FS100/700 may be most useful, even if you don't shoot in low light. It will allow you to shoot at a smaller aperture without compromise. And don't forget the high quality slo-mo of the FS700, let alone the option of 4k in the future.

As far as not liking the viewfinder placement - dare I say "external monitor"?

Best of luck with whatever you decide!
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Old July 8th, 2012, 11:17 PM   #14
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Re: AF100 successor?

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...Yes, it's the whole question of "good enough". To which I'd say, if you can get a superior product for not much more money, then why go for the one that is inferior?
Let's be honest, the AF100 seems to take great footage and like any camera, the more skilled you are the better footage you can get. A more expensive camera that comes out later and is declared better doesn't negate the AF100 reviews that preceded it.

Who cares if a more expensive camera is "declared better"? There is no standard distribution. More than one camera can be great even if a more expensive one comes along and is "declared better". The "inferior" camera can still be a great camera as well as the right camera for the OP. The AF-100 is $700 less expensive at B&H right now and has built-in ND filters. Add $300 for a decent quality vari ND filter on every lens on the FS-100 to have the equivalent function of always on ND and the FS-100 is now $1000 more expensive... almost 25% more.... every lens has that $300 "tax" and widens the gap.
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Old July 9th, 2012, 10:19 AM   #15
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Re: AF100 successor?

Hopefully any successor to the AF100 (and given the near total silence from Panny on that front, I wouldn't hold your breath) will simply look better. Very nearly every bit of footage from the AF100 looks smackingly like video. Just screams "video" at the top of it's MFT lungs.

Canon and Sony camera both seem far more film-like to me, whatever other measurement you want to use, and that's strange as Panny had the mojo going for the DVX and HVX cams.

Far as the glass goes, MFT is a format that can accept anything via an adapter - a big plus. However that plus is fairly well negated by the effective halving of the lens's focal length. Meaning that $2,151.69 Canon 14mm lens you just bought from Amazon is now effectively a 28 mm lens. Ouch.

So while the format may accept every piece of glass, the reality is that shooters on that format invariably goto very fast, very wide glass - all very expensive and a lot of which won't fit on other mounts.
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