Coming Soon: F3 vs FS100 vs AF100 (with a little bit of 5DmkII)

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This comparison has be done by myself and with the help of Suresh Kara from for fun. We have tried be as accurate as possible but there will always be anomalies. Do not treat anything in here as gospel.

Neither Canon, Sony or Panasonic have paid us any money for this. This is done in our own free time to give people more information about these new camcorders. Both myself and Suresh are AF101 owners and have been very curious how the new FS100 compares. This is not a Zacuto shootout or anything similar. It is primarily about camera operation and features with a few shots thrown in to compare. I am coming at this from a cameraman’s point of view as to what it is like to shoot with this. The big Zacuto shootout which is incredible is coming in June and covers a huge variety of cameras and compares moire, rolling shutter and just about everything else. Stay tuned for that!

Well I have got my hands on the very interesting Sony FS100 S35 camcorder. As a recent purchaser or a Sony F3 and an owner of an AF100 it’s the perfect opportunity to look at the 3 of them in comparison. As well as this I will do a full review of the FS100.

Big thanks to Suresh who helped me shoot this!

Don’t worry this is not me leaving DSLRs, just trying out new tools. Am still in love with DSLRs and have just bought a Nikon D5100 as it does full HD 25p finally! Review of that coming…

The full comparison review is coming on May the 4th. I have a lot of editing to do on it. Until then here is a few teasers. First off which camera is which? The grading is very rough and will be much more seamless in the final edit….

Which camera is which? F3, FS100, AF101 from Philip Bloom extras on Vimeo.

Well the first one is the AF101, then the F3 and then the FS100. I recommend downloading this file to see it at a better quality.

Big thanks to Mike Tapa of MTF services who is supplying me a PL adaptor for the FS100 and AF100 so I can use my new Zeiss CP.2 glass on all three cameras (I already have his Af100 adaptor)

Here is a sample bit of FS100 footage and below that is a low light test between the 4 cameras. All very unscientific as there are so many variable but I tried, oh and the FS100 is pre-production. I will be uploading a Pro Res LT version of the low light test ASAP for people to download. Remember 4th May…the full video blog and review will be up then! Below that is my original low light comparison test which I cocked up on the shutter speed with so it was a stop less sensitive. That has been removed from that edit. There in now the new test with my dad smoking a big fat Cohiba. All footage in these low light tests are recorded in camera!!

You can now download the 2.31GB Pro Res LT file by right clicking here to download. Thanks to Nino Leitner for hosting this!

Arnie vs the Cohiba: Low light comparison between the FS100, F3, AF101 and Canon 5DmkII from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.


Brief Sony FS100 daytime snippet from Philip Bloom extras on Vimeo.

Shot with Zeiss CP.2 50mm

This is Suresh Kara of with my Fuji.


Low light test: FS100 F3 5DmkII from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

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  1. Hey,
    a comparison of the handling of the three cameras would be very great, because that’s often forgotten beside all the low-light etc. tests

  2. Sam says:

    Sounds awesome, looking forward to it….One question…Do you think that the FS100 will be the game changer for the budget filmmaker looking to make the leap to large sensor camcorders?….I know the AF101 has a similar price but the FS100 seems to have better “out of the box” function.

  3. I had a bunch of friends with you at NAB say that they were very impressed by the 14-stop footage from the F3, but also said that similar recording from the AF100 was “Very solid” when bypassed from internal to external recording. I’d like to see your impressions on both internal and external deck recording of all three units.

  4. Perhaps you can add summarized comparison of how ‘quick’ and ‘reliable’ when we do ‘Run-n-Gun’ shooting between all these camcorders mentioned?

    From FS100 to F3 to AF100 to 5DmII… Thanks! :)

  5. Scott hui says:

    I’d love to know about the weight comparison. I had the trial with the F3 and had no idea that bad boy was heavy. I guess I’ve gotten used to the dslr being portable. :)

  6. Great Philip. Here are my two cents plus change.

    I would like see to a 4 column list with these 3 video cameras plus a 5DMII to offer a full frame DSLR connection to the comparison. I understand the differences of a true, pro video camera but the sensor bar has been set higher so important to relate the 5DMII.

    Then list all of the features starting with sensor size, ISO capability, Pro Audio config (or lack of), video quality res, lens support, avail adapters, video frame rate, ND filter, etc. All those top features.

    Then within the column, rows, link clip samples from each camera within that category, similar to the low light tests you were involved with way back when. This would offer a controlled, head to head chart comparison that would be easy for someone to follow.

    Then of course add your narrative with summary impressions. I believe there would be speaking demands using Keynote to present your findings.

    This would take a bit but would be valuable.

    1. Nate Weber says:

      lol, quite the task list you set up for him didn’t you. Why don’t you just ask to borrow all 4 cameras and test them out for him. :p

  7. This is the shootout I have been looking for. I am pretty set on getting an FS100 when it is available. I would be most interested in image quality comparisons between the 3 cameras, especially DR and image usability/noise levels a higher ISO or gain settings. Your opinion on how the FS100 image compares to the F3 will also be greatly appreciated.

  8. Philip, that is a great picture. It is the same ear to ear grin most of us would have if we had out hands on a new camera with some nice glass to go along with it. Like a kid on Christmas morning. Great stuff, can’t wait to see the reviews.

  9. saeid says:

    Hi Phil, I really want to know about the fs100 HDMI out someone said that at nab when they used the atomos ninja they were only able to get 1080i out of it not 1080p. can you confirmed that?


  10. I am very interested in how the image in the FS100 compares to the F3 particularly the differences in how the compression affects the FS100 at 24mb/s vs 35mb/s in the F3. I would also love to see a test that shows how they compare in the things that DSLR’s do poorly, i.e. rolling shutter and moire. I would also be interested to see how well they perform where part of the image is in shadow and part is in the sun exposing properly for both to see how it holds up in the highlights and shadow areas. Thanks in advance and have fun playing with them!

  11. Andy W says:

    Great – looking forward to the review of the FS100 & a comparision to it’s big brother F3 & the AF101, it’ll be interesting.

    Maybe you should ‘lean’ on Sony a bit to try & get 24P added to the Euro model… that’s the one thing that’s most annoying – maybe we shold petition Sony (LOL). Built in ND’s etc, well, would have been nice, but I think it’s crazy at this point to introduce a PAL-land camera when our cousins in the US get 24/30/60 & we get 25/50.

    Good idea to test the PL glass on all 3 as this will give a good ‘base’ to see differences etc – it’ll also be interesting so everyone can see MFT vs S35.

    On testing, something that might be usefull would be pan tests with high contrast backgrounds – as there’s lots of FUD ATM regarding this on the Panny.

    Welcome back to Blighty!

  12. Marc says:

    The two areas which bother me the most are rolling shutter, jello. And I can get beautiful shots with a GH-13. But get that banding in the sky or in out of focus low detail shots. I realize that is most likely the codec compromising for lower data rate. See if you can get that jiggle and if you can get that Map Contour “banding” ~ Thanks

    I believe I read the Sony does not have the Rolling shutter issue. But I haven’t read anywhere what technology they developed? Do the have a global shutter?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      the sony does have rolling shutter issues for sure!

  13. Faisal Ali says:

    Would be nice to include a brief comparison with 5DM2.

  14. gus almonte says:

    Looking forward to the review!

  15. David says:

    I’d be very interested in seeing how these cameras compare with the hdmi going out to a recording device like the Ninja

  16. John O'Regan says:

    I’m looking forward to this review Phillip. You look like the cat that got the milk, with your F3 and Zeiss CP.2’s, i think id look that happy as well.

  17. damien a says:

    compare how the footage from each holds up to ‘heavy’ grading. also what do you think of the form factor of each camera body?

  18. Kyle says:

    Can’t wait for this review – thanks for doing it, Philip! I would love to know:

    – how troublesome is the 2x crop on the AF101… Is it a nuisance getting wide shots?

    – what camera works best with Canon lenses?

    – how does the moire compare on all 3 cameras?

    – is the lack of ND filters on the FS100 a pain?

    Thanks, Philip!

  19. It would be nice to see real world highlight and shadow comparisons (not charts haha) and low light comparisons using the native file types recorded directly to the camera.

  20. Jiri Vrozina says:

    Phillip can You PLEASE find out if ZEISS will release NEW CP.2 18mm soon and if it will be T2.1..?

  21. real world resolution and moire tests

    you can run them both in one take, shooting handheld some house with moire-prone roof tiles at f/9 or so (or maybe you got a special Ph.Bloom Zeiss CP.2 series that won’t go above f/2.8?)

  22. Really excited for this review, I hope the Mark 3 really fixes a lot of the problems DSLRs face. If it doesn’t I may have to look into one of these 3 options

  23. I know this is a little off topic, but I’d like to find whether those Zeiss compact primes can be used on a 5DmkII and how they compare to Canon L series glass. (or my Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 ;-)

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      They can with the EF mount.

  24. Please shoot charts is a scientific manner. Please explain which charts you are using and why you chose them. Anything short of that is a waste if the purpose is to do a “comparison”.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      sorry Allison, I wont be going anywhere near a chart. My test is real world. That’s how I evaluate cameras. If we went with charts none of us would be using Canon DSLRs.

      1. John Griswad says:

        In reference to Allison’s comment
        Mr Bloom, I find it an outrage that you did not shoot charts and only charts. This would be extremely important to me as I have a whole series of films coming out about charts. You should really check them out. They are appearing in theaters soon.
        Apocalypse Charts
        Charts The Revenge
        The 40 Year Old Chart
        I Can’t Believe it’s Not A Chart

        1. John Griswad says:

          I almost forgot

          Citizen Chart
          Gone With The Chart
          It’s A Wonderful Chart
          The 400 Charts
          Rebel Without A Chart

          1. John Griswad says:

            Here is a piece of advice for anyone who wants to be a true filmmaker.
            You will never get anywhere in this business unless you spend at least 6 hours a day shooting charts.
            I personally have spent the past 25 years shooting charts.

      2. Really great answer Philip!! :-D
        That’s true!

  25. Philip- would also love to see a GH2 or 60d compared to the above. Somebody also mentioned a 5d but I’d rather see a GH2 or 60d just because the sensor size is a lot closer to the cams you are about to compare.



  26. David Charry says:

    I’ve said this before, but the stuff I’m most interested in seeing is how the cameras perform in a high contrast exterior situation…maybe walking from inside to outside–walking outside into a tunnel and back out again.

    I suppose moire and aliasing and rolling shutter tests are always good, although there should definitely be absolutely no issue with those on these cameras, considering their price point.

    I suppose I’m really the most interested in latitude and detail reproduction.

    But seriously–high contrast exterior, or someone walking into a house with an open door in the shot, or a window in the shot…

    Thanks Philip!

  27. Hay Mr. Bloom, like to know your thoughts of Sony FS100 with yout 5DmkII and hope your review of D5100 Video vs Canon Video pros and cons at 25p.



  28. Paul Ream says:

    If you tested each camera with the same 10bit external recorder you could compare camera picture quality rather than just the internal record format? The F3 was designed to be modular, and when launched, Sony called the internal recording a “good proxy solution”. Using the F3 without an external recorder is missing the point a bit… it would sort of level the playing field?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Going to do both Paul. I still think the internal isn’t bad for a lot of stuff

  29. Looking forward to this. If FS100 has the same sensor as F3, coupled with a Ninja, it could rocks !

  30. JW Lee says:

    Very interested in this to see just how close the F3 and FS100 are. We shot a little footage at the Sony booth at NAB and one thing that we were a bit concerned with was the AVCHD codec on the FS100. Any thoughts you can share on this would be appreciated. Any chance you can record some footage out of the HDMI port to an external recorder, say in ProRes? Being able to compare these cameras with the same codec would be very useful considering the many recorders introduced at NAB. Seems like a good workflow.
    Thanks for doing this!

  31. Oh and by the way : will you do some rolling shutter and moiré tests/comparisons ?

  32. If there is any chance you can provide us with a small clip from each camera so that we could download and play with the grading on our own I would be much obliged.

    Also interested in the Nikon review.

    Keep on Truckin’


    1. Philip Bloom says:

      it’s hard for me to do that with AVCHD though…

  33. Philippe says:

    Any quick comparison with a GH2/600D would be great.
    Thanks by advance for your work !

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      i might through in a 5D in there

  34. Another test I would like to see is for you to shoot a sequence with all three cameras and an HDSLR and intercut it to see how the footage works together since in many cases, a lot of us filmmakers will be using these cameras together with DSLR’s. Thanks for the work you’ve done.

  35. Ian Knippel says:

    I would love to see you shoot the same scene with all three cameras maybe also throw a DSLR in the mix too, at the same field of view, exposure, gain levels, etc and then have them color graded to all match as closely as possible and look the best (no heavy stylizing). Then play them back to back in a blind test with no reference to which one is which so we all can let our biases towards brands and idiosyncrasy aside and really see how each image holds up when treated equally and compared to each other. Then maybe talk about the individual challenges of getting each image to that place. Just a thought, Thanks!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      if i had time would love to…but only have one day with the camera really!

      1. Mookie says:

        The blind test is an awesome idea!

  36. a 10 second downloadable clip-PR422HQ straight from the ninja via fs-100 hdmi if possible please. pretty please. this feature (albeit only 8 bit) is the most tempting thing, luring my mind from my 5d. thanks for helping.

  37. Take them out in the sun – it would be interesting to see how they compare in shadows & highlites of a sunny day!
    Would be also interesting to see what “picture style” modes the cameras can deliver – for e.g. the most “cinematic” picture look directly out of the camera and maybe a few shots with the most linear, flat picture style they offer. THANKS Philip ;-)

  38. mark olson says:

    i’m guessing af100 first, fs100 second, f3 third. how did i go?

  39. HDWarrior says:

    When I tested the F3 and the AF101 in low light 18dBs the F3 was slightly better but the main difference was noise and flare.
    You are using the same lens on each camera so flare will be kept to a minimum.
    Phil you like to do tests in the “Real world” can I suggest if you are not going to use charts that you at least use a constant light source, a candle is a very unfair test as it’s light output varies as you move it in front of someones face.
    My low light test at 18dBs (F3 v AF101) does not produce anywhere near the same drop in light that your test seems to show. Did you have AF101 at filter 1 and was the shutter off.
    The other test I assume you are carrying out is noise levels at 18dBs this is where you will see the difference between the F3 and the FS100. The noise levels of the AF101 at 18dBs are still very good but not as good as the £10K F3 but you would expect a camera that’s 2.2x dearer to be better !

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Phil, there was a constant light source. two very low level soft lights under Suresh and a very subtle key coming from the kitchen window to give us a base darkness that was not black. Look at the background and see how that changes.

      Don’t forget the F3 was tested starting at 3200 ISO and then at 6400 ISO. The AF was tested at 1600 and 3200 ISO. Low light is not the strong suit of the AF101 compared to the other cameras. We all know that. It has other strengths. It’s a smaller chip.

  40. Tulio says:

    F3? FS100? AF100? no, give me that X100, where did you get it?

  41. Sami says:

    By experience I can say that the AF101 can also be tweaked a lot in the scene files to get less noise in dark.

    But I am impressed how well the FS100 is doing in low-light circumstances.

    Really appreciate all the tests!

  42. Rob Imbs says:

    I like the 5D the best ;D

  43. jamesbenet says:

    F3 wins in the look dept in my opinion, the FS100 might have more gain but the quality of the picture seems a tad reduced. I think you made the right decision in getting the F3 instead of the 100 for your kit.

    There is no excuse with the F3, you can make a big screen feature film on this with no quality pitfalls.

    Great comparison, the AF101 noise is a disappointment, wonder how a GH2 would have compared in this situation.

    The 5D MkII is still a king, too bad about the bad sampling, you can see the softness a mile away.

    Please include the mighty GH2 if you can in a similar test…

    Good luck in Brussels!

  44. Artwerk says:

    Weird, 5d and AF101 seemed out of focus in the low light test.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      5d was a little off at the beginning. my mistake. af not really.

  45. What is the reason for not producing a test scientifically? A “real world” test could have been done that way.

    Am I crazy, or am missing the point of this exercise completely?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      Because too much guess work is needed especially when using a pre production camera. All effort is made to match them as close to each other.

      For you a test involves charts. Sorry. I dont test a camera’s usability and performance via a chart. If we did that we would not be using Canon DSLRS as they perform terribly with charts but produce great images if you know how to handle them.

      My tests are about practicality

  46. Bill Vincent says:

    Great info, Philip. Makes me hungry for even more info on the FS100, although I think there are going to be more Interchangeable lens videocams coming out in the next year. My gut is telling me to wait at least a while longer to see what shakes out.

  47. Phillip,

    Do you think that the end of DSLRs are in sight? I certainly hope not!! I *love* my 60D!!

  48. Steve says:

    Just what I was looking for. ’bout time un’all! :P

  49. Have you considered shooting at a light bulb? Not for lowlight performance, but for a quick latitude test. I saw that match flame and I was blown away by the level of details the F3 retained.

    I’m in love with the F3 image quality, it showed an excellent balance between shadows and highlights. And that FS100 is a lowlight-king monster. I mean, LOOK AT ALL THE DETAILS on Arnie’s face man!! It looks DAMN good. It’s grainy but it didn’t bother me a lot.

    Here’s an external link of another image quality test of the F3:

    With the AF-101, didn’t see much difference between ISO ranges. 5D…. well, it behaved as expected.

    I would love to see a latitude test between the F3 and the Epic, but thats asking to much. Nice test Philip.

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      maybe if i have time…

  50. Tommy Clark says:

    Thanks for taking the time Phil to share with us your findings. These are exciting times!

    Just wanted to ask what picture profile you used in the low light tests on the 5D – the blacks seem really crushed to me in comparison to the others.

    It pains me to say it as a DSLR owner but they don’t seem to be holding up so well against the others, especially the Sonys. Then again they are still significantly cheaper. I hope a 5Dmk3 could change the game again. Would love to get my hands on an F3 with S-Log though!

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      it was my flat settings, not the techincolor unfortunately which would have helped.

  51. Jose says:

    I look forward to your review of the D5100. It might sound silly but I still don’t want to switch to Canon.

  52. Yasser Saeed says:

    Great preview as always Mr. Bloom. Thanks for your effort …

    I am willing to sell my Letus Ultimate DOF Kit along with the 6 Nikon mounted Carl Zeiss lenses. My target replacement was Sony F3 Kit, but with the introduction of FS100 at far lower price, and Nikon D5100, I am not sure what to choose?!!

    I care mostly about the best picture quality in low light with the lowest noise. My main work is TVCs, corporate films, and documentaries. Which one should I choose considering I am very familiar with Sony EX3, and own 4 of them. My max budget is $20,000.

    Many thanks again for your effort …

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      f3 for sure. you will love it. get the mtf services nikon adaptor and you are all set!

      1. Yasser Saeed says:

        Many thanks Mr. Bloom for your care and quick reply.

        OK, now I know that I will buy the F3, but what is the mtf Services Nikon adapter for? And do you recommend to get the F3 with its lenses package?

        1. Philip Bloom says:

          MTF services make an adaptor to put Nikon lenses on F3. The F3 lenses are quite nice but don’t fit on other PL cameras which is an issue

          1. Yasser Saeed says:

            I see .. the problem is that my Carl Zeiss lenses are Nikon F mount, while MTF Services adapter for the F3 is Nikon G mount! I am confused, any idea?

            Also, is it better to get the F3 with its 3 PL lenses, or just get he F3 body, and buy a 3 similar PL lenses from Carl Zeiss, or use my current Zeiss Nikon mount with an adapter?

            Appreciate your time and recommendation …

            1. Philip Bloom says:

              G mount means it will work with both F and G lenses.

              Dont get the kit lenses, they dont go on any other cameras.

              1. Yasser Saeed says:

                WOW .. thanks for the super-fast reply :)

                Thanks for the info about G & F mounts .. I never new this!

                So, would you advice to use my current SLR Zeiss lenses with MTF adapter, or sell them, and get new PL Zeiss lenses? If buying new PL Zeiss is better, which one? I checked Zeiss website and they have so many PL lenses!!


                I am so sorry that I am bothering you with asking so many questions… I promise you this is my last one in this post …

                1. Philip Bloom says:

                  Look at the ones I used here. The Cp.2 They are not cheap though. Start with your current Nikon Zeiss lenses as they are great

                  1. Yasser Saeed says:

                    Great .., once again, thank you very much for your help and advice.

                    I will start with my current Zeiss lenses ……

  53. Nate says:

    How do you like the Fuji X100? How does it compare to your M9?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      it beats the M9 for low light and it’s a lovely camera. The M9 is still an M9 though and full frame Leica goodness!

      1. Nate Denight says:

        thanks. i think i’ll pick one up. BTW, good job sony.

  54. Francis rene says:

    May 4th and still waiting ;)

  55. Andre says:

    F3 is the winner hands down. Looks like your 5D mark ii is going to spend a little more time on the shelf.


    Maybe Canon has to get off their arse and release the 5Dmark3

    in any case, the prosumer wins!

  56. MARVIN says:

    What scene file settings do you like using on the af101?

    1. Philip Bloom says:

      link to the abel cine profiles on my main blog post about this

  57. Cristi says:

    Suresh is EPIC (HEROES show) :)

    Great infos, Philip. You def. made my mind up reg. 100.