Panasonic's AG-AF100 Micro Four Thirds Professional HD Camcorderrepresents an enormous leap forward in affordable, cinema-quality video imaging. Providing all the professional features that videographers expect in an interchangeable-lens camcorder--manual video and audio control, variable frame rates, HD-SDI and HDMI output, XLR inputs, timecode--the AG-AF100 plays its trump card with a large, 4/3-type image sensor. At 13 times the size of comparably priced 1/3" sensors (and almost 4 times larger than the 2/3" chips found in cameras costing more than twice as much), the AG-AF100's sensor brings the richness of DSLR video into a professional form factor.
Until now, if you wanted a camera that could shoot video with the deep colors, enhanced light sensitivity, and shallow depth-of-field achievable with large-sensor imaging, you had one of two options: an ungainly DSLR kitted out with any number of expensive support accessories, or access to a large bank account. The AG-AF100 not only delivers the image quality, versatility, and control that professional shooters have been clamoring for, but at a price well within most pro-level budgets.
No doubt about it: the large-sensor, interchangeable lens camcorder has finally arrived.
World's First to Adopt Micro Four Thirds
The AG-AF100 series is the first professional HD camera recorder to adopt the Micro Four Thirds standards. These standards were announced in 2008 as an extension of the Four Thirds standards for DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras. Panasonic and some other manufactures have already released a number of digital cameras and interchangeable lenses based on the Micro Fourth Thirds standards.
The "Four Thirds" name is derived from the 4/3-type (approx. 17.3mm x 13mm) image sensor. The size of the image sensor, the standardized lens mount developed for it, and interchangeable lenses designed exclusively for digital cameras form the core of the Four Thirds standards. These standards were established to offer an optimal solution for digital cameras, breaking loose the confines of film camera standards. In establishing the Micro Four Thirds standards, the flange back distance (the distance from the lens mount surface to the image sensor) was reduced by about half and the mount diameter was made about 6 mm (0.24 inches) smaller than that of the Four Thirds mount. The image sensor size is the same as that of the 4/3 type used in the Four Thirds standard. The Micro Four Thirds standards have made it possible to reduce the size and weight of cameras and lenses, and to achieve greater interchangeability of lenses together with video recording capability.
4/3-type MOS Image Sensor
The 4/3-type MOS image sensor in the AG-AF100 series has about the same imaging area* as that of 35mm cinema film. The depth of field and the focal range are also close to those of film cameras. With the AG-AF100 series, you can record beautiful, shallow depth of field, film-like images. The MOS sensor has two control lines as compared to the three lines required by a conventional CMOS sensor, thus providing a larger light receiving area. This has achieved a high level of sensitivity rivaling that of a CCD sensor. Extensive noise reduction measures are also employed, such as embedded photodiodes isolated from noise sources and low-voltage operation. By guiding more light to the pixels, the AG-AF100 series achieves a wide dynamic range and detailed gradation with minimal blocked shadows or blown highlights in high-contrast scenes, for true-to-life textures and rich colors.
*The effective imaging area is trimmed to a 16:9 aspectratio.
A Low-Pass Filter for High-Quality HD Motion Images
The AG-AF100 series' optical low-pass filter is optimized for HD motion images and reduces the aliasing noise that often occurs in motion images captured by an image sensor with a high pixel density. In addition, the MOS image sensor is scanned at a high speed in order to minimize skew distortion.
High-Performance 18-bit DSP
The AG-AF100 series is equipped with a high-performance 18-bit digital signal processor (DSP) for image processing. Optimized for HD video recording, the DSP handles various image rendering processes, such as dynamic range stretch (DRS), gamma, 12-axis independent color correction and detail enhancement, as well as conversion to HD/SD video formats−-all with exceptional precision and high image quality.
Internal Optical ND Filter
The AG-AF100 series has an internal neutral density (ND) filter that is essential for video recording. The dedicated dial on the camera body lets you adjust the setting in three steps (1/4ND, 1/16ND, and 1/64ND) with any type of lenses.
Dynamic Range Stretch Function
DRS recognizes the average brightness of highlight and shadow areas and then automatically adjusts the aperture and uses knee control to suppress blocking in the shadow areas. In scenes with mixed dark and light areas, DRS automatically provides a wider dynamic range with minimal blown highlights and blocked shadows.
7-Mode Gamma for Richer Gradation
Drawing on technologies developed for the VariCam, Panasonic has equipped the AG-AF100 series with advanced gamma functions that address seven different shooting scenarios and enhance your creative abilities. This includes tow cine-like gammas, which produce the characteristic warm tones of film recordings. Other gamma settings include HD Norm, Low, SD Norm, High, and B.Press.
Advanced Image Adjustments
Color setting with matrix table: Norm 1, Norm 2, Fluo and Cine-Like.
Adjustable H detail level, V detail level, detail coring and skin detail.
Adjustable chroma level, chroma phase and master pedestal.
Adjustable color temp: 2400K to 9900K (preset 3200K/5600K).
Knee point settings: Auto, Low, Mid and High.
Adjustable auto-iris level.
AVCHD PH Mode for Professional Applications
The AG-AF100 series uses the AVCHD recording format and also supports the high image quality PH mode. AVCHD complies with MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 High Profile, the latest motion picture compression technology. Boasting a compression efficiency that is more than twice that of the MPEG-2 system (such as HDV), this advanced video file format delivers superb image quality and low data rates. The PH mode was developed for AVCCAM by Panasonic exclusively for high-quality professional video production. This mode boasts a maximum AVCHD bit rate of 24 Mbps (average: 21 Mbps) and records 1920 x 1080 full-HD images.
Uncompressed LPCM 2-Channel Recording
The PH mode supports uncompressed 16-bit LPCM 2-channel digital audio recording for high-quality sound in addition to Dolby Digital 2-channel audio. The HA/HE mode employs Dolby Digital 2-channel audio recording only.
Multi HD Format Compatibility
The AVCHD PH mode is compatible with multiple HD formats, such as 1080/60i, 1080/30p, 1080/24p and 720/60p. Additionally, the AG-AF100 series lets you select 60Hz or 50Hz to support HD systems used around the world. (Actual recording is as follows: 60 Hz = 59.94 Hz, 30 Hz = 29.97 Hz, and 24 Hz = 23.98 Hz.)
1080p Variable Frame Rate Recording
The AG-AF100 series has inherited and further advanced the acclaimed functions of the VariCam, which is widely used in producing movies, TV programs and TV commercials. The new Variable Frame Rate (VFR) function* supports full-HD (1920 x 1080) progressive mode. Armed with a 20-step undercrank (lower frame rate)/overcrank (higher frame rate) function, the AG-AF100 series is capable of producing cinematic images such as a 1/2.5x slow-motion effect and 2x fast motion effect when played in 24p mode.
*Cannot be played in 1080/60p mode. 720p VFR not supported. Class 6 or higher SDXC/SDHC/SD Memory Card is required for VFR recording.
SDXC Memory Card Supported
The AG-AF100 series supports the new SDXC Memory Card. The SDXC Memory Card is a next generation large-capacity data storage device with upgraded versions of the file system (FAT) and physical specifications of the SDHC Memory Card. Thanks to a large storage capacity, which exceeds the 32 GB limit of the SDHC Memory Card, the SDXC Memory Card can handle large data volumes of 48 GB or 64 GB. It also boasts a high maximum data transfer speed of 22 MB/s* and a wide operating temperature range of -25° to 85°C (-13°F to 185°F). The AG-AF100 series can also use the SDHC and SD Memory Cards.
*The data transfer speed varies depending on the operating system of the SD-compatible devices. The indicated rate was measured at a maximum specification point specified by Panasonic.
Two Card Slots for Relay Recording
The AG-AF100 has two memory card slots. The active slot for recording can be switched, and the internal relay recording function enables continuous recording by automatically changing the recording card media. By using two SDXC Memory Cards, the AG-AF100 can record up to 12 hours in PH mode or 48 hours in HE mode*. Video clips can be copied between cards mounted in the two slots.
*The maximum continuous recording time is 12 hours regardless of the recording mode. A Class 4 or higher SDXC/SDHC/SD Memory Card is required for recording in PH or HA mode. For other recording modes, use a Class 2 or higher SDXC/SDHC/SD Memory Card. (The use of a Panasonic SDXC Memory Card is recommended.)
SMPTE Timecode Recording & Synchro Function
The built-in SMPTE timecode generator lets you select the Drop Frame/Non-Drop Frame and Free Run/Rec Run modes and preset. User bits are also provided. Connecting two cameras with a TC preset in/out (video out) connector allows the slave camera, to synchronize with the master camera.1
Still Image Capture (Still Picture)
A frame can be captured from HD video as a still image equivalent to two megapixels (1920 x 1080). (Note that still images cannot be captured during motion image recording or in Pre-rec mode.)
Camera Metadata Recording
Camera settings for recording operation can be saved as metadata in a clip file. By loading a clip file, the saved settings can be immediately applied.
Diverse Recording Functions
Various other recording functions of the AF100 include Clip Thumbnail Display, Interval Rec, Pre-Rec, Shot Mark, Index, Rec Check, and Last Clip Delete.
FILM CAM Mode for Movie Production
The AG-AF100 series features switchable FILM CAM and VIDEO CAM modes. In FILM CAM mode, the variable frame rate can be used. In addition, the synchro scan and shutter can be indicated and set with the opening angle, instead of seconds, while the sensitivity can be indicated and set in ISO, instead of dB. This makes operation easier for users who are familiar with film camera operation.
Area Focusing and Area Iris Functions (Compatible Lens Only)
Using the newly provided 1,2260,000 function knob (cursor key), you can select a desired area in the frame and set it as a target zone for focusing, iris adjustment and YGET (brightness measurement). This new function facilitates the recording of images in which the subject is not in the center of the frame. In addition to the above three modes, there are two other modes: simultaneous focusing/iris adjustment and simultaneous focusing/YGET. You can select and set any of these five modes.
Focus Assist Function
The AG-AF100 series is equipped with an HD focus assist function. The focus bar indicates the focus level and the focus-in-red display shows the focus area. These two display functions help you to focus more smoothly. A face detection function is also provided, and area auto focus and area auto iris are possible.
Wide ISO Sensitivity (Gain) Setting Range
The sensitivity can be set between ISO 200 and ISO 3200 (in FILM CAM mode), or the gain can be adjusted between 18 dB and -6 dB (in VIDEO CAM mode). The 3-position (L, M, H) gain switch can be assigned with three desired settings for quick switching. The negative gain (-3 dB, -6 dB) is effective for reducing sensitivity and reducing noise.
The shutter speed can be set from a slow 1/2 sec to a fast 1/2000 sec in VIDEO CAM mode. The AG-AF100 series is also equipped with a synchro scan function to allow setting from 10° to 360° in 0.5° steps (including 172.8°) in FILM CAM mode. When combined with the variable frame rate, this function enables detailed settings for a blurred or time-lapse effect.
Simplified Waveform & Vectorscope Display
The AG-AF100 series has waveform and vectorscope display functions as well. A single touch of the WFM key displays the waveform or vectors of the captured video signal on the LCD monitor.
Large Viewfinder and LCD Monitor
The large, high-quality 0.45" viewfinder, approx. 1,226,000-dot equivalent (852 x 480 x 3 [RGB]) can be tilted up to a 90° angle. The variable angle color monitor features a 3.45" color LCD panel, approx. 921,000 dots (1920 x 480) with an aspect ratio of 16:9, and facilitates low-angle/high-angle shooting, viewing and menu setting.
Three User Buttons
Three user buttons are provided for one-touch operation of frequently used functions. Two buttons are located on the control panel, and one button is placed at the upper part of the grip handle. Each button can be assigned with any of the following 14 functions: INH, REC CHECK, FACE DETECT, FOCUS ASSIST, CAPTURE, ATW, ATW Lock, SHOT MARK, INDEX, LAST CLIP, BACKLIGHT, SPOTLIGHT, BLACK FADE, WHITE FADE.
SDI (24Psf) Output and Auto Rec
The HD/SD SDI output terminal can output HD signals, including 1080/24Psf, or down-converted SD video signals (selectable from the menu). The terminal also supports Auto Rec to enable backup recording in link with Rec Start/Stop when a Panasonic recorder equipped with the same function, such as the AG-HPG20, is used. Embedded audio is also supported.
*The 24PsF output recording is only possible on the AJ-HPM200 or other third party recorders which support 24PsF input.
HDMI Digital HD Output Terminal
The AG-AF100 series is equipped with a next-generation HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) output terminal for digital transferring of high-quality HD video and audio signals.
XLR Input for Pro-Quality Audio
In addition to the internal high-performance stereo microphone, the AG-AF100 comes equipped with two-channel XLR audio input terminals with a 48V phantom power supply. Each channel can be selected from the internal microphone, external microphone or line input. Large, easy-to-use level dials are also provided.
Down-Converted SD Video Output
The AG-AF100 has an internal down-converter so that it can output SD (480/576) signals from SDI, HDMI or VIDEO OUT. The 16:9/4:3 aspect conversion mode can be selected from three types (side crop, letterbox, squeeze).
The LCD monitor and viewfinder can display a safety zone marker of 90%, 4:3, 14:9, 1.85:1, 2:1 or 2.35:1, or a 3x3 grid similar to the one in a digital SLR camera.
Professional System Design
Grip: The large grip is easy to hold and is also detachable. The grip allows comfortable use in any shooting situation.
Handle: The large handle is designed for professional use. It has a shoe adapter and threaded holes for mounting various peripheral accessories. The handle is also detachable.
Sensor marker/measuring hook: This makes it easy to measure the distance from the subject.
Functions & Specifications Designed for Professional Use
Scene file: Saves six sets of camera settings and allows for a quick change of settings.
Mode check: Displays a list of the camera settings on the viewfinder and monitor.
Zebra: Select any two levels from among 50% to 105%, in 5% steps.
Color bar: Outputs a color bar signal.
Remote terminal: Enables remote operation of iris, focus, Rec Start/Stop and index functions.
USB 2.0: Type mini-B USB port for connection of a PC in DEVICE mode.
Tally lamps: Provided on the unit's front and rear.
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