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Panasonic AF-AG100 – DSLR meets Camcorder

The Panasonic AF-AG100 changed the world of DSLR video on Sunday April 11, 2010.

This is what happens when DSLR HD video technology meets standard  HD camcorder technology – you get the best of both worlds.

Here’s a link to the press release so you can read for yourself.

Read on for my take…

From the DSLR side of the family this new baby sports these goodies:

  • A 4/3″ sensor that is about 16 times bigger than a standard prosumer camcorder.
  • Interchangeable lens using existing 35mm still lenses to control depth of field – should have solid low light performance.

The AF-Ag100 brings these goodies from it’s camcorder side of the family:

  • AVC/H.264 Hi Profile AVCHD codec so your video will be compatible with many editing systems.
  • 1080/60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p (native) and 720/60p, 50p, 30p, 25p and 24p (native) in AVCHD’s highest-quality PH mode (maximum 24Mbps). This means you can record images with enough data to make it through the post production process intact.
  • HD-SDI out so you can plug the output of this into standard field recorders or switching systems.
  • Time code recording means your video can be logged and edited consistently throughout the postproduction workflow.
  • Two SD slots that record to SDHC and SDXC cards for up to 12 hours of recording
  • Two XLR inputs with +48v Phantom Power feeding a two-channel 48kHz/16-bit digital audio recording system with LPCM/Dolby AC3 – in other words, professional audio inputs and recording.
  • Even though the press release doesn’t mention it, the audio system will have to include full manual controls, live metering and headphone monitoring. These are standard in all camcorders so it has to be here.
  • Camcorder form factor for easier hand-held use.

Wow. The press release calls this a “game-changer” and that is no overstatement. Let’s look at one factor – sensor size.

The green line represents the size of a AG-AF 100’s 4/3″ sensor. The yellow line is a 1/3″ sensor – the size of most prosumer camcorders. Yep, the 4/3 sensor is four times bigger in each dimension, which works out to about 16 times the area – a significant increase in light capturing capability.

A 4/3″ sensor is twice the dimensions (about 4 times the area) of a 2/3″ sensor. Most professional camcorders use 2/3″ sensors though better camcorders use three of them – one for each color. You still get more total area with one 4/3″ sensor.

There are lots of other factors that affect the end result (like the size of the pixels packed into the sensor area) but more sensor area means the potential for better pictures.

While Panasonic’s SLR cameras take great pictures they don’t have the respect of Canon or Nikon in the professional photographer community. Panasonic camcorders do have respect in the professional video community and now they are jumping in where neither Canon nor Nikon have yet to tread.

As the press release and this list of specs show, Panasonic is targeting the digital film making community with this camera. It’s supposed to be available by the end of 2010 and you can look for pre-orders to be taken by major suppliers as soon as pricing is released. First mover advantage clearly goes to Panasonic with release of the AG-AF100.

Okay Sony. It’s your turn.


PS – Here’s another link to the press release

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • vanahom May 4, 2010, 9:38 pm

    Allright, there you go, the idea tht i have been keeping to develop the prosumer level camcorder just gone….phewwww…this was exactly wht i have been researching to cater the digital filmaking community. anyway i will never give up.

    • adriel May 4, 2010, 10:26 pm

      Never give up – that’s a sure key to success!

  • A.J June 15, 2010, 1:42 am

    I have always been a loyal Canon user since The XL-1 days. Unfortunately despite all my best efforts for the past two years I haven’t been able to excite them about a camcorder and SLR marriage. Ironically they had all the elements sitting before them (5 and 7D), it was just a matter of putting the pieces together. I’m sure Sony will be next and eventually down the road Canon with some kind of prototype.

    • adriel June 15, 2010, 9:18 am

      The only thing for sure is that this market will keep changing. Exactly how and when is anybody’s guess!

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