Review of the Panasonic AG-AF100
Photo Electric has just taken possession of the AF100 so this will be a short review based on the handful of shoots I’ve done with this new toy. And I use the word “toy” with the utmost affection, I’m a boy and I love my toys.
We purchased the camera, batteries and the kit lens (Lumix 14-140) from Videotex Systems in Dallas. While I have seen and played with other AF100′s, I’m still struck with it’s appearance… it’s ugly. It looks like it was designed by 1950′s era Russians, you know, when everything they designed looked like tractors, even their Migs. However, like a face only a mother could love, I’m beginning to come around to it’s unbalanced, squat, brick-like appearance. One more minor peeve; it’s name hardly strikes fear in the hearts of its enemies. How come it can’t have a cool name like the Viper, Red, or Mysterium (which I know isn’t a camera, but it’s a very cool name for a chip). The only thing I can figure, is that the Cadillac naming division must have had some leftover numbers and letters and passed them on to Panasonic.
The video I’ve gotten out of the camera has been quite amazing, considering that, up to this point, I hadn’t made changes to any of the scene file settings. My green screen edges have been sharper than from my JVC-HM100U and produced much better results with much less fiddling about in post. My limited experience with the camera tells me that the Lumix 14-140 needs a lot of light (more on the lens in a moment) but should do well outdoors. I’m sure as I spend more quality time with the AF100, I’ll work out the lighting issues. In my green screen work I had to kick up the gain, but it didn’t appear to introduce any noise in the shot. I shot an interview with a woman wearing a white jacket over a black top and was amazed at how well both highlights and shadows came out. Some of my previous cameras would be screaming in agony if I tried that. The onboard WF monitor is a very handy tool along with our stripey friends, the zebras, for keeping the highlights under control.
This is the first video camera that I’ve owned with no powered zoom. I had to give myself a good talking to in order to take the plunge into interchangeable, unpowered lens territory. Being that I rarely zoom anymore, I figured I could live with the limitations. Still, zooming the lens to set your framing is no fun. It may be just my lens, but the manuel zoom action sucks. It tends to stick and not glide smoothly throughout its range. There are points in both zooming in and out that I have to put so much pressure on the zoom ring, that I wonder if I have a defective lens. I don’t remember any of my 35mm lens behaving this stubbornly. The bottom line is any thought of trying a manuel zoom with the Lumix 14-140 is probably right out. In addition, the iris is fighting to keep up with the zoom action. What I see, is the iris “pumping” to find it’s setting and not moving smoothly along with the zoom setting. Maybe this is how it’s supposed to behave? If so, I’m a bit disappointed, but so far, it’s the only disappointment… OK, along with the wimpy name and squatty design.
More to follow.