3 days in Japan with the Panasonic AF100/101

With Nikon 80-200mm F2.8 Lens

Hirano San: Shot on Panasonic AF101 from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Turn the volume down on the vimeo player (the little bars towards the right on the controls) and play the commentary. It’s MUCH longer than the film so start audio first and follow instructions as to when to hit play and pause on the video. You can download the commentary if it makes it easier for you, just follow link below the waveform. Loads of info not in the review. I really recommend you listen to it…

Commentary to “Hirano San” by Philip Bloom by PhilipBloom

Travel is not glamorous. Ok, that is not strictly true. If you are billionaire with your own jet and crew then I am sure it is! I travel a lot, especially this year I have been away from home for most of it…no matter how nice a hotel you are staying in there is nothing like home. Now I am not complaining…far from it. I am lucky to be in this position and I know it. I am lucky to be offered awesome opportunities, both in my capacity as a DP and as a teacher.

I have just finished a very intense week of teaching DSLR cinematography in association with Vistek in Canada. Very rewarding and very fulfilling but absolutely knackering as I would do a full day workshop then go to airport to fly to another city in Canada. At the end of my last workshop in Ottawa I flew back to Toronto then back to London. I went home briefly to unpack and repack and then I flew out to Japan at the request of Panasonic Europe.

Now I used to be a Panasonic owner, I used to own an HVX200 but never really loved it. Part of the issues was the then huge expense of P2 media and I struggled in low light with it and much more. I did review other Panasonic cameras since, the HPX171 which I thought was much better than the HVX, the HPX 300 and the far superior HPX 371 earlier this year. But, the only Panasonic cameras I currently own are the GH1 and GH2 as well as a couple of point and shoots and a consumer camcorder.

It was my review of the HPX 371 and GH1 that made Panasonic Europe get in touch with me about taking a look at their new camcorder, the potential game changing AG-AF101 (101 is the Europe model, a different number for every region, but the good news is all the cameras have the same multi region functionality) Why game changing you may ask? For these reasons…this is the first affordable professional camcorder to come out with a large sensor, all because of the DSLR revolution. It’s a micro four thirds chip. Essentially half the size of a full frame 5Dmk2 sensor but not hugely smaller than a S35 sized sensor. So still big. The thing is this baby is priced at under $5k. In camcorder terms that is really aggressive pricing. Sony recently announced their S35 sized EX style camcorder and the specs look great but the price is way more than this. This camera is directly targeting the DSLR user. As a big fan of the DSLR movement (I own all the Canons, two Nikons, two Lumix cameras) and someone who uses them professionally for about 2/3rd of my work I really wanted to see if this camera was any good. It also helped that as a GH1 owner I already own a few micro four third lenses.

I had the camera a couple of weeks back for just 3 days but was only able to shoot with it for 1 as I was working the rest of the time. The camera was just 75% finished so a lot was not working but I still enjoyed shooting with it and was happy with the results….not ecstatic but happy. The main issue being simply the expected bugginess of the pre-production camera caused me issues.

Panasonic prior to this had invited me to come to their factory in Osaka, Japan to give them feedback directly. A really lovely invitation that I did not think I would be able to do due to my insane schedule, but with a bit of work I was able to make it happen. It also meant I was able to check out an almost finished camera.

15 hours of flying later (I had to fly via Frankfurt) I made it to Japan and met up with my European colleagues….and of course DVXuser main man Barry Green who is going to produce an AF100 book. Barry is the man when it comes to Panasonic cameras. He knows them inside and out, so it was fortuitous for all of us that he was there.

Barry Green
Barry Green

First day I arrived I more or less slept as we arrived in the morning as I was f*****! Big mistake as this screwed up my sleep pattern for the rest of the trip!

Next day we went to the Panasonic Osaka factory where we had the most wonderful friendly welcome, so nice, and everyone there was great. We got to speak to the people who actually designed and made the camera and gave them the feedback we had so far from our limited experience with the camera. They listened intently and we were told to me as frank as possible. They didn’t want to hear just the good, they wanted to hear everything that we had issues with and how what could be improved. A really awesome breath of fresh air. I was worried about how frank I could be but after Barry told it like it was so did I!

They took everything on board which was great. Barry and I were in agreement for most of the things. Of course what we wanted from them was a perfect camera, which is naturally unrealistic. There is only so much that can be done with a camera which about to go into production, but for any future version they know exactly what else could be added to improve it.

We had a tour of the factory which was fascinating. Seeing how their big cameras were made and  tested and the attention to detail was amazing. Utterly painstaking work. No way would I have the patience to do that!!

Then the thing that we had been waiting for, we were each given an AF101 to take back to the hotel with us for a test shoot in Kyoto the next day. I took one of their Vineten Vision 5 tripods and an Olympus F2 14-35mm. An amazing lens. So fast and sharp…but not cheap. I brought my own lenses too. A Zeiss ZF 50mm. 85mm F1.4, Sigma 20mm F1.8, Nikon 35mm F1.4, Nikon 80-200mm F2.8 and my Leica M lenses, the 35mm F2, my Voigtlander 35mm F1.2, Voigtlander 50mm F1.1. I also of course had my Lumix 20mm F1.7, 14-140, and the awesome 7-14mm F4. So a LOT of lenses. They had some CP.2 Zeiss M43 mount but I only played with them, I didn’t shoot with the…

CP.2 M43 mount

I didn’t bring my Kessler Crane pocket dolly as I wanted to travel as light as possible, but I brought my Gitzo traveller stills tripod and my metal Gorillapod.

I did plan on doing some low light shooting that night in Osaka but was simply too shagged and we had an early start. So just one day of filming with the camera again. Not ideal. To really get the best out of any camera requires knowing it and shooting with it…so we were flying blind here mostly and made the best of it!

We went off in two buses 3 shooters in each and some Panasonic engineers too…

The awesome Vicenc Asensio Rovira
The lovely Emmanuel Pampuri
Carmen Mendoza from Panasonic EU. She was brilliant!

We went from place to place, not really spending much time in each and tried to shoot as much as we could. Everyone has a very different shooting style so when the others post their stuff I will embed it here so you can check it out. All my shots were on the tripod apart from in the bus, for that I adapted my gorillapod into a shoulder rig.

Our driver Hirano San

At the first stop, the temple, tripods were a big no, so I left the Vinten behind and did my best with the Gitzo but was kept on being told off, so I swapped it for the gorillapod and did most on that.

Settings wise I simply had no idea is what I had the camera set up for was best, even Barry was not sure. I has the sharpness up higher than for the previous shoot, this time at -3 as opposed to -7. Detail set to 0 had nasty halos. Barry tweaked a few more of my settings but he said he was guessing, the key one though was Cine Gamma D which gave me a nice flat curve, I used cine gamma V last time (or was it other was around?) whichever one I used it was the flattest.

GH2 with CP.2 AF100 with 14mm Pancake!
With my "Movember" Moustache! Please donate!!

I did have a Panasonic P2 gear so I could record onto P2 cards but I simply did not use it. Far too awkward to mount with the zero accessories I had. It’s about the same size as the camera…for the last shoot I used my Nanoflash….I came close to getting to try an Atomos Ninja but I just missed the guy from Atomos by a day so was not able to get a unit to use with it. This would have been cool. It’s HDMI only at moment but records directly into high bit rate pro res, perfect for me as an FCP editor and it doubles as a monitor AND is cheap! But I did not have it, so I simply recorded at 24mb/s AVCHD. Which is fine, but a real shame as I wanted to see how much better the SDI output was. Filippo Chiesa did use his Nanoflash so hopefully we will get a comparison soon…

Filippo Chiesa

I filmed everything in 1080p 24p and a hell of a lot of it at 60fps within 24p. I love that you can simply access this mode by a button at the back and more importantly I was not limited to 720p as I have been with every other camera I have used with overcrank. This is huge to me. Full HD 60fps looks beautiful as you can see in the edit I did.

Barry Green


I tried out the timelapse a couple of times, both at normal shutter speeds and at ½ second exposures. Would be good to have more options for intervals as the model I used went from one frame every 1 second to 1 frame every 10 seconds. This may change. It was one of the things we asked.

Have a listen to the commentary for my thoughts whilst shooting the piece and to get an idea of how and why I did stuff. There is a lot of info in there so I thoroughly recommend it!

Everything has been graded with Magic Bullet looks and it graded well. I have little experience with AVCHD and was concerned as the bit rate seems really low to me, but it’s super efficient and not far off XDCAM EX codec.

Barry with P2 gear

So here are my thoughts on the camera, based upon this pre-production model so some of this may change!

It was a real pleasure to shoot with, despite not being overly familiar with Panny menus I got used to them pretty quickly. I did not record any additional sound other than the camera mic so I cannot comment on the audio quality but I am sure it’s great as it is a proper camcorder after all. For me this is what stood out…

I saw no moiré on any shots. Check out the artist in the park at around 1:40 or so, look at his jacket. That would moiré on my Canons, not here. A joy! I also saw no sign of aliasing.

Rolling shutter issues as expected were still present but way less pronounced that DSLRs. I did shoot out the side of the bus whilst moving and there was still some skew, enough for me not to use it but a lot better than what I have become used to.

LOVE that 1080p overcrank.

LOVE the ability to stick on just about any lenses. I didn’t use any of my Canon lenses as I don’t have a mount with iris control yet but I hear it is coming…

LCD was good. Detail enhancement and peaking helped focus enormously. One thing I really missed though was a digital punch in to help me get focus which the other Panny cameras have, I hope they put it in. Exposure was pretty easy…there are zebras, waveform and vectorscopes which are spot on and a very nice little addition that the previous model did not have, a meter like a DSLR has. Neat.

SDHC media is cheap and all you need is Class 6, even with overcrank. Class 4 is fine but won’t record overcrank. I used Class 10 as I like the fast offload speed.

Battery life was good with the big chunky ones.

Great to have 4 ND filter wheel. What a joy!!

Proper audio…a headphone jack too!

Things I didn’t like….

Coming from the EX3 with it’s awesome viewfinder and using a Zacuto Z-Finder on my Canons, looking in the EVF was like looking at a small screen at the end of tunnel. It was hard get focus with it. I have no idea what the resolution is of it but if it was magnified it would be a lot easier to use. BUT, this is simply due to me being spoilt by the Z-Finder and EX3 EVF. It’s looks to be about the same as the HPX 371 quality EVF, not bad then!

Button placement was odd. Because the hand grip is removable and has no electronics there is no record start stop where you expect it…there is also no record button at the front. That’s the AWB button so annoyingly when you go to hit record you accidently change your balance. Oh well, something I would get used to.

I need more timelapse flexibility. Something more akin to the EX1 and 3 with more interval choices and better slow shutter.

It would be nice to be able to overcrank to 60fps in 25p mode like the EX1 and 3 but you are limited to 50fps, 60fps is only available in 60hz mode.

AVCHD seems OK but for broadcast work I really need at least 50mb/s. The nanoflash fixes this but it would be great for it to record on a better codec than this.  Would I prefer P2? Probably, despite the cost as it would most likely mean AVC intra 100 which is an awesome format and would propel this camera into the big leagues.

Ergonomics are horrible, but then I find that with all handheld camcorders. The only cameras I have ever used with good ergonomics are the shoulder mounted cameras.

3200 ISO is noisy and should only be used when absolutely essential. 1600 was pretty good. Just be careful of the 3200, you can of course clean it up a bit. The noise is a different sort of noise to the Canons and easier to clean up. It doesn’t suffer any of the vertical banding that plagues the GH1 at 800 ISO and above.

What I found with this camera is it likes your exposure to be pretty damn close to spot on. Underexposure I found did the image no favours…getting it right helped a lot and with all the help it offers you it’s a lot easier to get it right than DSLRs which also suffer the same issue with getting exposure right.

The 2x crop means I am limited on the wide end. That Olympus lens was a godsend as was my 7-14mm, but that distorts on movement and is slow at F4. What is great is all those lens choices though..it’s just most are more telephoto than I am used to. I have recently ordered a Voigtlander 25mm F0.95 This is going to be a great standard lens for this camera and whilst in Japan I bought the 100-300mm F3.5-5.6 zoom lens. It has autofocus and is super long on that 2x crop, giving me effectively 600mm. Sure, a constant aperture would be great but for that focal length, weight and price I wish I had had it for the Kyoto shoot! I found my old 80-200mm F2.8 to be a bit soft…

The compression was evident is some of the shots and I really need to nail that picture profile as it makes a huge difference to the image. But with good grading you can get a very filmic image out of it. My first grade I did very quickly as we had no time to edit before showing our footage to the Panasonic team so I regraded on the plane back home. Much better and evens out the shots a lot more and gets rids of a lot of those blown out highlights from the first grade. I am very happy with my new grade (Magic bullet looks preset I created my self…you can get 20% off Magic Bullet looks with code bloom20 when buying it from RedGiantSoftware.com), it’s way more filmic looking and more flattering and soft.

So…is it better than say a Canon 5Dmk2? Image wise yes and no. Aesthetically the 5Dmk2 is in a class of it’s own, nothing comes close but it has many issues like moiré and aliasing. The M43 sensor gives a totally different look, it a totally different aesthetic. A bad one? No..just different. Shallow DOF is still very easy to get and as you saw it is capable of beautiful bokeh with the right lenses, check out the artist again, shot with my Zeiss lenses.

It’s not as good as the 5Dmk2 in low light either but has all those functions which make shooting so much easier. Focus assist, exposure assist, proper audio, proper overcrank. Don’t like the EVF at all though….much prefer my 5Dmk2 with a Z-Finder on.

It’s a small camera, but obviously bigger than a DSLR. So if you want to shoot in places and get away without permission, this camera will be harder to use successfully. I travel with 3 or 4 DSLR bodies. If I get an AF100 I will travel with just one of them and it won’t go in my photographic carry on, it will need a proper camera bag.

So overall…really good and very powerful camera and prices so aggressively I am sure it’s going to sell bucketloads. Is it perfect? Nope, then again no camera is. Is it good value for money? Yep! Will it replace my DSLRs? Nope and Yep. I am definitely going to buy one, although I will be at the back of the pre-order list now as I have waited so long! This camera is going to be great for my documentaries and lots of other work where the DSLRs are just so much harder to use in those situations.  But I am still going to shoot on them, I will most likely end up shooting most of my work on both…The AF100 is good in low light, but it’s not 5DmkII good.

This camera is not a DSLR killer. There won’t be…I believe there will always be a market for DSLRs as the price point and convergence factor cannot be beaten AND they will get better and better, the issues of moiré and aliasing will be reduced and hell we may ever get raw recording at some point out of those massive sensors. It is just a lot easier to use than DSLRs and is a proper video camera! Don’t underestimate how important having a proper video camera can be.  After all I run full day workshops on how to make your DSLR work like a proper video camera!!

Next up is the new Sony…what will that be like. Things are moving fast. Great times to be a shooter! I don’t know if I will be able to get my hands on it though. There is an event I was invited to on the 17th but I cannot make it. A real shame, hopefully at some point I will be able to try it out and report back!

Enjoy the photos of the trip. The black and white ones are from my Leica M9…man I love that camera!!

But first is footage from 3 of the other shooters, good to look at as they all have very different style of shooting to me. First is Filippo Chiesa’s footage from the same day..as well as his fun video blog. Below that is Vicenc Ascensio‘s footage from the same day and then Emmanuel Pampuri’s.

Day #03 (Kyoto) from Filippo Chiesa on Vimeo.

Osaka day #02 from Filippo Chiesa on Vimeo.

Vicenç Asensio – Panasonic AF101 from Visual13 on Vimeo.

Kyoto avec l’AG-AF101 Panasonic from Emmanuel Pampuri on Vimeo.


  1. Hi Philip

    This is awesome! I can’t wait for it to come out. I’ve always wondered why they never combined a video cam with a dslr… I guess panasonic beat everyone to it with a head start. Do you think Canon will be rolling one out soon? The sony one looks way too expensive and I have a hunch that if Canon makes one it’ll be similar in price to the Sony as they wouldn’t want it cutting into their dslr sales…

    1. I was realy happy after watching yours demo, now even more certain about Af100 is my chose. For the past mount I am thinking about lens conbinations and crop x2 is a headache. My question, are the zeiss cp2 focal distance is for super 35 or full frame diagonal ? The hardest part is to chose what non fish lens for wide,
      Voigtlander 12&15 mm are intresting and leica M&R adapter gives lot of options. Nice job Philip hope to see more maybe AF100 & AJA KI mini and more lenses.

  2. Nice one, Philip.

    It’s great to finally see this camera in action. It’s a hybrid camera, that’s what you get when a normal camcorder and a DSLR mate, and that’s what the images look like. It’s shallow depth of field, but very different from DSLRs – more camcorder-ish, I also think sometimes a bit over-sharpened and with some colour fringing.

    I have always adored how Panasonic carefully listens to customers’ and professionals’ feedback. Back in the days of the DVX100, they went through the list of requests by filmmakers on dvxuser.com one-by-one and enhanced a much better version next time. It’s a really great idea to invite opinion leaders like you from around the world to actually see how it is all done.

    Looking forward to your thoughts not only on the camera, but on your impressions after an inside view of Panasonic.

  3. Hello Philip

    Beautiful work as always. Looks like you had a great time too.

    I just have a quick question, I noticed whenever there were car tail lights in shot, they looked rather blotchy. Is this Vimeo compression or something else.

    Sorry to jump straight in with a criticism.

    Kind regards

  4. The image look’s very good for the price. To bad it’s not full frame, and the not perfect compression it records. Further I would like the screen a little bigger. But that are things you walk in to if you don’t spent 10K+ for a cam

    But I’v put some money to the site for buying it. I love the external look of the camera. I’t reminds me to the ‘old school’ DV-panasonic camera’s used for most skatevideo’s.

    Thanx for blogging Phil. You always let me know some stuff I wanted to know (besides from how you look with a moustache).

  5. STUNNING! Well done Phil, I felt as if i was in the cab with Hirano San myself – worked so well with the music – good old Gustav – I’m guessing that Panasonic are going to be VERY happy with that effort. Exciting to see the camera used in a doco style too – do you think this is a viable doco camera Phil? I’m a little concerned about the lack of a good mid range zoom – but you seem to have pulled it off more than admirably.

    I was seeing some pixelation at some points (in the saturated reds) but I’m guessing this comes down to the down rezzing to h264 and Vimeo – or my crap monitor!

    Congratulations again – very heart warming – you should be very …very happy…bastard! (Not jealous at all you understand).

  6. this reminds me of a Steven Spielberg quote when speaking about first seeing George Lucas’s work…”man i hate that guy, hes so much better than me!”

    With a lot of your work, the one biggest question i always have is “how do you get those people to let you shoot them so naturally”? the people in your pieces always look so natural and at ease…that’s what i want to learn about at the next session.

    the first high iso shot of the driver, what iso was that at?

    beautiful beautiful stuff, sharp and great colors…i’m off to buy more Gustov Holst cds now 🙂

  7. Philip thanks for the material, beautifully and accurately, however as always
    I have a question – why 1280×540?
    4:10 – awful color artifacts and noise on the cheek. This is the source material? or so after clamping Vimeo? A lot of noise in the shadows! VERY! Is bad

  8. The camera looks great. As seen in the pic you used a Nikon lens so I assume Canon lenses can be used as well? How is the LCD screen? Hopefully an improvement from the HVX 200 🙂

  9. Hi Phil,

    Very nice, peaceful, colourful and very intimate. You are an expert in translating an atmosphere into film.
    That is why i am feeling, as a spectator, all the more awkward and confused about what is going on in Taiji in Japan, every year and right now.

    These are the images i have in my head, all the time, thinking; why ?

    So thank you for bringing some peace into the equation !


  10. Philip, I love this video and the other stuff you do. I have a quick question. When you shoot people do you go and get their permission to shoot them. If so do you do it before hand or after. I’ve all ways wondered this because I get caught up in the legality of what I do.


  11. This may be the dumbest comment ever…but I find it hard to tell the difference between each camera that was used to shoot your films. They all look great. Maybe I don’t have an eye for this stuff but I don’t notice any major or minor differences, for the most part, between this film and, say, A Day at the Races.

  12. I thoroughly enjoyed your short film! Your and Filipo’s footage of the “Rat Pack” in Japan looked like a great time, and we look forward to your reviews of the AF100 and GH2. Excellent taste in music also over the years- inspirational …

  13. Great stuff!

    Thanks so much for posting this. Absolutely love the shot of the Lumix with the big Cine Lens on it pointing at the AF100 rocking the little Pancake. Brilliant 🙂

  14. Hiya Phil,
    I am so glad you took the advice to got to Kyoto, rather than stay in Osaka. You captured the feel of the place quite beautifully…Thank you!!! I can’t wait to return there next Spring!
    All the best.

  15. I have a Varicam AJ-HDC27F and a Grass Valley Viper LDK7500 4:4:4. Should i sell them and buy this new and more affordable cam? The low light shoot looks very good with no noise.

  16. Great footage. I know you will go into this in the full write up but what lenses where you using with the shallow DoF shoots. Where they the Panasonic lenses?

      1. Wow…AMAZING is not a word I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say before. I never thought there would be any lenses as good as my L Series Canon’s. Do they extend much when zooming or focusing…or is it al internal? Thanks my brother…..

  17. Hi Philip,
    First, I think the short was great! I played it on my 100in. viewing wall out of HDMI and it looks wonderful!
    I read some posts over a dvxuser and I just have to disagree with most of the comments over there. I think they have to understand that you had limited time with the camera and like you said, not much experience with panasonic. So in terms of the “video look” I feel they need to relax. There are plenty of shots in this short that look filmic to me. ANd anything looking video, well..It’s a video camera! One that will sell for less than $5,000!!!! Come on people, this is still a pre-production unit! Let’s thank Philip for what he has shown us here as a promising recorder!
    Here is what I see though, or don’t see more likely…NO MORIE and VERY LITTLE ALIASING!!!! Even the shot of you in the minivan filming the driver looked great. That jelly didn’t make me sick as an HDSLR would have had you used it.
    I think the camera is going to be wonderful! I’m going to buy it for sure. Then, I’ll have my 5d, HVX, T2i, Nex10 and this as a tool shed to get the right shot on the right camera. For the same price as a Canon 1dmk4, you can’t really go wrong..
    Thanks Philip for shooting real images with this, and showing what the camera is capable of.

  18. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed and appreciated every second of it. I miss Japan and all the beauty of it. I think having a Canon and a Panasonic would be a great combination for a filmmaker.

  19. As I just posted, no screamed at the top of my lungs over at the DVX forum, you MUST see this footage on a big 50″ plasma or something proper, from the full HD file, to appreciate this camera. It is STUNNING. I just sent the recently uploaded full HD version of Phillip’s film through my PS3 to the big Panny plasma, and this is a game-changer folks. Many don’t know it yet, because they haven’t been able to see it like this. My question remains though – what of this footage was shot with a lens i wouldn’t be allowed to touch, let alone afford?

    But, bravo, Phillip. I’m not sure if you’ve been able to see your film properly displayed yet, but even at 8 mb/s, it’s really amazing. Especially the low-light stuff.

    Any idea whether this camera will have a “Cine-D” setting, like the soft, painted look of the HVX cine-d gamma?

  20. Hi. I think your coverage of AF101 is brilliant.

    I just bought an Olympus OM 55mm F1.2 and aim to get very similar shallow DOF as you get when you film people in portrait. Or like when you filmed the taxi on 3:50.

    I wonder one thing tho, does the camera compress differently in 1080p overcrank? Is it still 24Mbit in 25fps playback?

  21. Great work Philip. I gotta say, I’m really interested in this camera. I’ve been needing to buy my own HD camera. But i’ve dragged my heels. I come from a very videocamera background, so the idea of using a DSLR as my main camera seems very foreign to me still.

    the AG-AF100 seems to not have a zoom servo. Is this true? Is this just that 5% that still might be missing? It seems like a pretty big drawback for the videocamera crowd. Or should I just change my shooting style to adapt to this?

    1. Phil can correct me, but there will be no zoom rocker on the AF-100. It is not designed to work with servo lenses. If you need servo lens control you’ll need a separate servo motor (or a different camera). FWIW, many of the lenses that would be used on this camera are not parafocal so a servo zoom would be tough.

  22. Great work on the video.

    But I have issues with the image the Panny gives, it’s got this camcorder-ish quality to it in a lot of shots, certainly not on 5D mk2 level, but I guess it’s not full frame so that’s to be expected. I don’t know what it is, and maybe I’m taking crazy pills but it lacks a certain oomph. If a 7D doesn’t compare in IQ to a 5D then what hope does a jazzed up GH2 have? (that’s probably being a little unfair, but it’s still a 4/3rds cam at the end of the day, it’s not seeing the scene the same as a 5D IMO).

    Phil is a brilliant filmmaker so it’s gotta be the camera. I don’t think you could make ‘Sophia’s people’ with this cam, or Solitude or any other of the really good 5D films, I just don’t think it’s got the chops to produce that kind of eye-popping shot.

    Still, I think it’s a great camera for doco makers where a film like image is not the key, but for indie filmmakers after the ‘film look’ I think you are better off slugging it out with 2x5D mk2s for the money, or maybe wait to the mk3, sure life will be harder on the 5D, you’ll spend more time in post, but you’ll get a richer image as an end result, which after all is what it’s all about in the end.

    On a side note the lack of image stabilisation in any way on the camera is pretty frustrating, this microjitter than you can get on the 5D drives me bonkers so it’s a shame they couldn’t nip this in the bud.

    1. No motion 35mm film camera has ever had a “full frame” like the 5D. So to say, “I think it’s a great camera for doco makers where a film like image is not the key”, you think that the image is not film like?!? Don’t get me wrong I LOVE the image that a 5D puts out but I think you’ve been watching too many 5D Broll Films with super duper shallow DOF. I think we’re going to see ALOT of inde films shot on these cameras. The AF100 is the first video camera (not DSLR) for this kind of money to exist and everything about it gives a film like image in my opinion.

  23. Hi Philip,

    Thank you so much for posting this review. I have been patiently waiting for this camera to come out and for someone to review it before I bought it. The video was stunning!!! I agree with Dan, when it all comes down to it, the client rarely notices the little details that all of us tech nerds do. They only notice the beautiful shots, the art and skill of the shooter and a well told story. You do such a wonderful job in all of that. In the end it is not the sword that matters, but the swordsman….

    Out of all the lenses that you used, which one would you recommend the most? That is going to be the hardest part I think, deciding which lens to buy. Do you think it is worth it to get the Zeiss?

    Thanks in advance!


  24. Hi Philip,

    great coverage of the af-101. is there any difference to the af-100 model you tested earlier? (i thought, you could switch between 50/60 fps on any model…). can’t see the nanoflash on the photos of you filming – so this is all shot using the avchd-codec, isn’t it?

  25. There were a few moments that I thought I was watching a real Hollywood multi-million production, the shots are that good.

    I believe the importance of this camera far outweighs the image quality it delivers. It makes other makers re-examine their positioning and affordability. That Sony APS-C camera price is obscene and Sony should be ashamed since the truth is it is only a different sensor in a very similar form factor. One of many to come I’m sure.

    Thank you for the commentary and excellent images!

  26. what lenses are you using in shots 1:28 – 1:40 ?? stunning shots…

    Very nice Phil, thanks so much for that – also just wanted to say how much I love your stills !! Amazing shot of the B+W Japanese couple – really captured the moment.

    Also appreciate the huge wealth of BTS photos you upload – great seeing the setups / shots around you whilst you work.

    Good work Panasonic on being first in with a solid effort.



      1. SCRUMPTIOUS – perfect choice for that part!! ( my fav as well )

        fantastic commentary – totally forgot to check it out the other day after watching / reading the review – thanks again !

        zeiss + nanoflash combo will be pretty solid…

        Cheers Phil – hope you give yourself some time out after all this epic info you keeping giving us!

  27. looks good!

    I can’t say it’s anything more than I already expected from this camera though, and can’t say it blows DSLRs ‘out of the water’ considering the price. can’t wait to hear a full review and jello, dealing with post flow with this footage vs dslrs.

    good on you mate!

  28. Loved your film, as always 🙂
    I see you using Carl Zeiss lenses in the photos, is there a real and noticeable difference (better quality etc) between those and Nikon, Canon lenses ?

  29. Very interesting stuff and beautifully shot as well. However, if I wanted to go commando…oops I think it’s called ‘guerrilla style’ in order not to get noticed I would definitely stick with my HDSLRs every time.r

  30. Philip, I would like to know if you are planning to make a review of the Sony PMW-500. I have read great things about it but your opinion is always of consideration.
    Thank you.

  31. im loving the images this camera is producing and can’t wait to get my hands on one…but also cant wait for you to get your hands on the new sony pmw f3k to see what thats like. bet your looking forward to it too.

  32. Thanks for the peek at the new gear. I noticed that the screen format is very wide, (2:35?) is it an in camera option or a post crop? Also, is the rear viewfinder large/sharp enough for easy focusing?

  33. Thanks, Phil for doing this…its always tough to turn down a trip to Japan. (I lived there for 5 years)

    After watching “Hirano San” a couple of times it seems the footage does have a more VIDEO look to it than my Canon dslr’s. Am curious to see more footage to prove this initial impression wrong.


  34. Great to hear your thoughts on the Panny and your trip. How great to be even invited ; ) I take it you converted your AVCHD to Pro Res LT in FCP? Didn’t go native in Premiere CS5…I’d like to know how well that works out on a reasonable spec lappy.

  35. un gran abraso phil
    siempre panasonic , ha tenido problemas con los visores y pantallas,
    y todos esperavamos un gran cambio en la forma de esta camera pero sigen con ese rectangulo y ese visor en la parte trasera,
    no se porque nunca no pregunta a los d,f y camarografos,
    a mi gusto lo mejor es que se puede acoplar el nanoflash.
    pero no veo mayor evolucion que el audio. y la eos 5d y eos 60d lo esta logrando .pero entre precio y funcionalidad.
    todabia me quedo con las dslr
    un gran abraso


    1. He sends you a hug, although (abraso is with ‘z’ not ‘s’). He writes spanish like my 8 year old cousin.

      Overall, his complaining about the EVF and the shape of the camera. He expected more from Panasonic. Also, he wonders why they’ve never ask DPs and photographers… I think he refers to the design, not specs (he doesn’t specify)… likes the nanoflash compatibility… lets see, what else? man his bad…

      He doesn’t think there’s more evolution on the audio, although in my experience I’ve never had a problem with previous Pannys. He thinks the 5D and the 60D are getting there, and between price and functionality he stays with the DLSRs.

      Another poorly written hug and a thanks.

  36. Very very nice, honest, and thorough review Philip, especially so considering Panasonic paid for the trip. I really, really enjoy your commentary tracks.

    I think for 5K this is a very very good proper large sensor videocamera, though as you mention the toss up in image quality/aesthetic vs a 5D (for some shots) makes the purchase decision for people who can’t afford both a little more difficult. (A 5D Kit with all the extras and lenses and so forth will still be significantly cheaper than this camera, though not by that much).

  37. Philip, I really want this camera, but would love to be able to use my P2 cards. Is there any point in waiting for that to happen? Also, have you seen your AF100 Japan short on a really nice big monitor? It’s stunning.

  38. I have looked at these clips extensively, from the file, played back through a PS3 (which has some of the best HD decoding you or the Air Force can buy), onto a 50″ plasma. You cannot really judge this camera until you’ve seen the footage this way. It is stunning. It looks, in my opinion, more truly filmic, because the DOF is actually much more akin to 35mm than the DSLR DOF. DSLR DOF is much more narrow than motion picture 35mm or Super16, and I can always easily identify it when I see it at a festival. It looks forced. When you see the AF100 on a big screen, you can see the subtle changes in DOF which simply are much harder to see in lower res or on a smaller screen. Honestly, seek out a buddy or someone you know who can play the downloaded files back on a real monitor. Just throw the mp4 on a jump drive into a folder you name “Video”. PS3 will see it and play it back. It’s easy and worth it. Then tell us what you think.

  39. Philip,

    First, thanks for the detailed review of the camera and your experience in Japan.

    ” I am very happy with my new grade (Magic bullet looks preset I created my self”

    Is this something you would be willing to share? I would love to check it out.


  40. Thanks for the gorgeous video and the precious information on the camera!
    Does the Olympus work with AF? What would be a good lens kit you would recommend to shot a narrative film with this camera on a budget? Would you go with the Pannies or would it be worth it to go with the Zeiss to get a better look and better workflow?

  41. Here’s my rough translation of what Philippe was saying, anyone wanting to correct it please feel free

    A big hug Phil.

    Panasonic have always had problems with viewfinders and screens and we were all waiting for a big change in the format of this camera but they keep on with this rectangular shape and viewfinder at the back.

    I don’t know why they don’t ask the DPs and cameramen (and women).

    For me the best thing is that you can hook up the nanoflash but I don’t see such a huge evolution in Audio over what the 5d and 60d are already achieving

    Between price and functionality I’m sticking with the DSLR

    A big hug



  42. Hey phil,

    Excellent video. You must really know and like your job. I downloaded the MP4 and watched it directly on my 32″ 1080 LCD, and wow! I really felt the Cinema experience on this one. I barely notice the rolling shutter on the first shot, and almost none on the rest. This camera will be HUGE and a MUST.

    Thanks for sharing!

    When you mention “Olympus F2 12-24mm” aren’t you referring to the $2.4K “f2 14-35mm” glass?

  43. Philip,

    I first came across your blog with the review of the JVC GY HM 100 you posted back in April. Loved the insightfulness, frankness and completeness of your commentary then and now you have done it again with this review. Especially commendable is how quick you were to draw out a piece with the shots of the driver, the overcrank, scenery, everything brought together with the music! You never disappoint. And that is why I check your blog out 5 times a week!

    On the image quality of the AF101, I have to say that even a novice like me can tell the difference in the depth/breadth of colors and picture clarity that a large sensor like the 5DmkII can produce vs. the AF’s 4/3 sensor. In my opinion, a world of difference. Asides from the overcrank at 1080 (which I will miss out on for now), I think I will have to go for the D7000 -I’m holding off because (1) it seems to be impossible to get one right now; and (2) eagerly awaiting your review! (I’ve invested in some Nikon glass already so I hope it gets your stamp of approval!)

    Thanks a million Philip. Best,


  44. Hello, Philip. I’ve read your reviews with interest for the past few years. I wanted to ask, in your opinion, are the final results with the AF101 better than what you could achieve with a Sony EX3? I’m still using an XHA1 but am very interested in what I’ve been reading about the AF camera in recent months.

  45. Hi Philip,

    Thank you always for sharing great information!
    I noticed that purple fringe is severe in some shots.
    Is Panasonic aware of this problem?

    I compared the fire test with my 7D.
    It’s not the best example, but I think it brings a discussion about the purple fringe issue with the AG-AF100 to the table.


    Hope this helps!

    p.s. I’m Japanese but I agree with you about the green tea haha

  46. Thanks Philip for all the hard work you do to help us spend our dwindling dollars wisely. Do you have any idea how to access the test footage shot by your other colleagues there?

  47. Hi Philip,

    Could you please in your reviews visably show how you focus and change iris settings while filming? This test isn’t very helpful as far as ergonomics, as far as the actual act of filming is concerned. And when will you give us a test of the GH2?

    Thanks, David.

      1. Dear Philip,
        For instance you are filming on a street, then you walk through a door and enter a house. It would be really useful if you show in detail all the acts you have to do to turn up aperture, white balance, how you turn off the filter etc. Ideally you would film your hands during these acts. F.i. Canon 7d has an Iris wheel on the back. Only after using that i found how terrible this wheel works while filming. In a test i would appreciate to actually see how this wheel works and what the resulting footage is. Thanks in advance!


  48. The commentary is awesome. It really helps to connect with what you are thinking about the camera or whatever you are reviewing. Please continue to do this in the future. It sets your blog apart from the others…


  49. Nice work Philip, still find it difficult to buy panasonic after speaking with panasonic Australia..
    i live between Essex and Queensland and travel to the states a bit, when i was looking into buying the Hpx 500, i could buy the 500 for 5 grand less in the states, but was told (by Panasonic) the warranty is void when you leave the country, thats gotta be the last thing anyone would want to do is buy a camera then take it out the country, lol
    would be nice to see a real life review of companies warranty procedures and back ups,
    no good if your camera goes down and you wait 6 months for a fix.
    cant wait for the F3, her indoors thought she was getting a new car,

  50. wonderful stuff as always phil. question on focus. dose it have a quick focus mode like the canon dslr’s, (where you point at target subject press a button and it focuses) or is it all manual focus. thanks.

  51. Witaj Filipie.
    Bardzo dziękuję za dobre wiadomości. Wiążę z tą kamerą duże nadzieje, jednak uważam, że w standardzie powinna zapisywać 1080p 50 i 1080p 60.
    Może też powinna obok HD SDI mieć wyjście optyczne!
    Panasonic nie ujawnia informacji, czy z HD SDI możemy mieć próbkowanie koloru 4:2:2 czy jedynie 4:2:0?

    Pozdrawiam panjacek

  52. Very interesting stuff, this camera is out of my price range and way beyond my needs… but its fun to see how the footage compares etc.
    Was that the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto you were at? Been there a few times stunning views : ) look forward to your edit.

  53. Hi Philip,

    Another big thank you for sharing your thoughts, knowledge, vision, … Like many others, I’m learning a lot from you !

    What is your opinion about the image-quality and the handling of the AF100/101 compared to the ex-1/dof-adapter combination ??? (I am an ex1-owner, thinking about buying an dof-adapter or a new camera …)

  54. CMOS sensors were originally developed to improve noise and battery life in digital SLRs. I can understand their use in vidDSLRs…they are primarily intended as still photo cameras, so JELLO is not an issue.

    I find it laughable that Panasonic (and Sony) are, for their manufacturing convenience, using non-Global Shutter CMOS sensors in “professional” video cameras. I guess that none of the invited “experts” were wildlife videographers who need to shoot fast action with expreme tele lenses (or ENG where flashes might be going off constantly…).

    Until the manufacturers develop a Global Shutter CMOS they should stick to CCDs for their attempts at pro video cameras.

    To me the AF100 seems nothing more than an overgrown, overpriced “happy-snapper” …no doubt great for Vimeo arty stuff but limited for serious pro use.

      1. They are incredible cameras…just very limited for the sort of work I do. Wildlike requires long tele lenses (or extreme macro) and subjects often move fast. Underwater I’m sometimes with other diver’s shooting stills…their strobes play havoc with any CMOS sensor. I’ve seen a lot of great UW footage shot on RED ruined this way. This is not the case with 35mm/16mm film or CCD sensors. Also, he bigger the sensor…the worse the problem. The trend to CMOS is driven by STILL camera photography. Unfortunately, manufacturing economics are such that CMOS is being forced onto “Pro” video cameras before the technology is fully suitable for ALL videographers…not just those working under controlled studio type conditions.

        The problem will be solved when global shutter CMOS becomes available. By the way RED and Arri Alexa are simply entry level to a lot of folks…and leave much to be desired. That’s why Sony F900’s and up still use CCD.

        Francis…now sit down and have your JELLO…

        1. We need an email reminder when people reply to comments. I missed this.

          Your example of flashes while underwater is ridiculous, if you have enough money for the camera, why dont you make sure that you arent with a bunch of photographers when your shooting, I would think many flashes going off would ruin the image no matter what, CCD or CMOS. It would just be annoying.

          The Alexa is far far above entry level. Price-wise but not feature-wise.

          I dont have any Jello to eat sorry. RED is a widely accepted format… I would say it is in use for broadcast and “high end” film more than the F900, especially here in Toronto.

          Of course the people who made the camera’s weren’t wildlife videographers,
          you guys are a minority, and barely anyone needs to have extreme telephoto and fast pan like you do. Dont stick everyone into your boat. Just sit happy with your F900.

  55. Hey Phil, nice work. Do you think it is possible to pull focus for narrative / fiction work with the OLYMPUS 14-35 F2.0…

    The AC’s will probably hate it…no? Would be Nice to have a cine version of this lens…


  56. Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL film, Phillip!!!
    You really captured the atmosphere there!
    LOVE the pot opening/steam coming out!

    Since highlights clipping is a big concern, my big question is…
    Did you use the waveform? Some? None? Would it help in the contrasty light situations?

    Also, did Panasonic consider getting a French DP named Philippe, so you would have Philip, Filippo and Phillipe? ahh… sorry… :^)

    Thanks for all your work on testing this exciting new camera (under the influence of jet lag, no less!), and so sorry for some of the posts on… the other forum.

    Well done!

  57. For what it’s worth, I’ve seen the drubbing you’ve received at DVXUser and elsewhere, and I’m so sorry. Let me just say as one of the less-vocal people following your blog and forum posts, that I appreciate your incredible work and the time you take to teach others about cameras and filmmaking. I’ve learned so much already, and I’ve only recently discovered your blog.

    I hope the awful immaturity and nastiness stops, and that it doesn’t stop you from being willing to share your work and experience with us. Though I’d certainly understand if you decided to stop!

    Finally, I hope that in ten years I can shoot a tenth as well as you do. Seriously.

  58. Hi Philip,

    Just amazing trip you had ^_^
    also so the video shoot was great as always !!! the camera looks great too!!

    Why don’t visit Sri Lanka. if you come here you can shoot may things, wild animals, water falls, people, etc….

    hope you visit Sri Lanka 🙂


  59. It looks like the difference between the video and film look on this camera comes down to the glass, talent of the shooter, and wether you use an off board recorder or not, if you have that trifecta, then I’m guessing we’re going to be producing some beautiful digital film with this beauty.

    Looking forward to getting my hands on this thing at the Government Video Expo here in DC in a couple weeks.

    So when are you going to add the Panasonic logo to the “They trusted me” collage of awesomeness? :^D

    thanks for all you do for the community,

    Kris Miller

  60. Mr. Bloom, Great footage. Thank you for satisfying just a bit of my inquiries and FAQ’s about the Panasonic AF100. Is there any way that you take on apprentices at their own expense. I could learn so much from you hands on. Let me know and I will get my passport stamped and hop on the next thing smoking.

  61. Thanks, Philip, for all the footage you and your colleagues have provided. Very, very helpful. There is just one nagging question at the back of my mind. Panasonic keeps referring to this camera, and its prototype releases for these tests, as “AF-100/101 and even 102 models. Are they testing future models? B&H Photo calls this the Panasonic AG AF-100 HD Camera. If I put my money down today for this camera, which I am more than willing to do based on this test footage, am I really going to get the camera you and your colleagues have been testing, or not the the “Full Monty”?

  62. Great review, Philip.

    Have you had a chance to mention the (future) option of LANC to Panasonic?

    As I now have a Kessler crane, I’d like to be able to control a camera remotely (focus, zoom, start/stop), so a LANC would really be a welcome addition, even if it means having to buy a few Panasonic lenses.

  63. Phillip,

    I ran your various pieces through my HD projector onto a 7′ projection screen and was absolutely blown away not only by the Panasonic footage, but your talent as a filmmaker. The camera is always secondary to what’s done with it. I have a fondness for the Saint-Saens music and think you used it well as you did with the other pieces of music in your work.

    I am getting ready to move into HD from the SD mode I’m in now with my DVX100. I have looked at DSLR cameras, but have heard they (the Canon 7D, particularly) overheat and have to shut down (sometimes within a half hour). Is this a common problem with DSLRs? Most of my work is documentary, so this would be an issue for me.

    Based on what I saw with your footage, the AF-100 looks like my best bet right now, but I am still considering the DSLR option as well. No matter what I decide, it’s probably time to sell my Eclair NPR camera (same model camera they shot “Woodstock” with) that provided me with so many fond memories back in those old days of film.

  64. Interesting camera, very exciting ! 35 mm adapters are DEAD ! I wish they replace the 4/3 sensor with a 35 mm one… Amazing video Philip ! definetly the nicest one of them on this page ! And thanks for the great reviews !

  65. Phillip

    Finally got my hands on the AF 102 yesterday, very impressive and we matched up a variety of lenses including the Red 18-50 on the PL adaptor. Visually this stood out though the little Lumix wide angle impressed as well.

    Couple of software short-comings bugged me, but moving from an EX that is understandable as one gets so used to having certain functions at ones fingertips.

    Hopefully Panasonic add a full clip review instead of the 3 second review plus a WFM link to one of the user buttons, so one can switch on and off when the screen is laid flat against the side of the camera.

    Big question now is what lenses to go for. The magnification on the PL mount lens was disappointing, and it begs the question if this can be reduced with S16 lenses or maybe they won’t provide sufficient coverage. Trying to find some good cine zoom glass that will offer wide coverage might prove a challenge unless someone develops a shorter adaptor.

    I have a love of things manual, so PL mount is to be my standard, plus I am more likely to find faster lenses in the cine range as most of the modern camera lenses are rediculously slow.

    Anyway I went ahead an placed an order, so hopefully there is a belated christmas parcel.

    Would appreciate your input on lenses.

  66. Hi Philip,

    I’d love your impression of the Olympus Zuiko 14-35mm f/2.0…do you think its worth the investment over other brands of lenses that may be more versatile? Or is it really only useful if you commit to the Panny m4/3’s system? Did it do autofocus well? Did you try it on your gh2 or gh1? Thank you for all your hard work!


      1. Im so new to this blog stuff.
        You just ordered one?
        I too just ordered one from Vancouver.
        I should be one of the first to have it once its here in Canada.
        I made my deposit today.
        You have me pretty stoked about this Panasonic.

  67. Philip, I was interested in getting one of the Joby Gorillapods you used on this trip. I am between the Joby GP8-01EN (supports 11 lbs.) and the Joby GP3-A1EN (supports 6.6. lbs.). The latter sounds like more than enough for a Nikon D7000 + battery pack. I was wondering what your thoughts were. Cheers,

  68. so if u were in my choose to pick up either the 5dmkII or the AF101, which one you would choose regarding the Image Quality?
    in video mode, could u plz tell us whats the exactly difference between both of them, including the ISO comparison and the ect things.


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