My AF100 ENG Kit is Shaping Up

I’ve been modifying my Panasonic AF100 to work with ENG lenses, and it’s finally taking shape. The only thing I have left to install is a Y-cable that will power the lens as well as connect to the camera’s LANC port in order to activate REC start/stop from the lens. Abel Cine makes such a cable, but it’s 260.00, which is considerably more than I was hoping to pay. However, I don’t think anyone else is making it, so it looks like I’m going to have to fork over the cash to them.

Panasonic AF100 ENG Kit with Fujinon 10x4.8 Super-wide lens, Cineroid Metal EVF, and Atomos Samurai recorder
Panasonic AF100 ENG Kit with Fujinon 10x4.8 Super-wide lens, Cineroid Metal EVF, and Atomos Samurai recorder. Anton Bauer battery powers the ENG lens' servo zoom.

The latest addition to the kit is a Cineroid Metal HD-SDI electronic viewfinder, mounted on a NOGA articulated arm. The Cineroid arrived a couple of days ago from B&H and it really makes all the difference regarding usability of this rig in the field. Prior to getting the Cineroid, I pretty much had to mount the camera on a tripod to shoot anything. Moving the entire rig back on my shoulder and using the EVF makes all the difference, obviously. When I mounted the Cineroid, I moved the Atomos Samurai recorder from the front-left rail to the right-rear since I no longer needed to use it as a monitor when shooting. In its new position, it can serve as a secondary monitor for the director, and also provides some needed counter weight to the right side of the rig, since the EVF made everything shift left a bit. The Samurai is very reliable, and the battery life averages ten hours on a full charge, so I’m not too worried about not being able to see it while shooting hand-held footage. I know that if the camera is rolling, the Samurai is rolling. It tucks in nicely next to the Anton Bauer battery. You may recognize the AJA accessory plate and rail mount that the battery is bolted to; it used to hold my AJA Ki Pro Mini, which I ditched in favor of the Samurai. BTW, if anyone wants one, I’m selling a Ki Pro Mini…

Panasonic AF100 ENG Kit with Fujinon 10x4.8 Super-wide lens, Cineroid Metal EVF, and Atomos Samurai recorder. Anton Bauer battery powers the ENG lens' servo zoom.
Panasonic AF100 ENG Kit with Fujinon 10x4.8 Super-wide lens, Cineroid Metal EVF, and Atomos Samurai recorder. Anton Bauer battery powers the ENG lens' servo zoom.

To mount the ENG style Fujinon lens, I ordered an adapter from eBay user ciecio7. I highly recommend his adapters, as they seem to be very well built. In fact, this B4-M4/3 adapter is the highest quality I’ve yet seen from any of the adapters I’ve ordered for my AF100; I wish I’d found him earlier. Ciecio7 offers two flavors of this adapter; one with and one without the tripod collar. I ordered the one WITH the tripod collar, as I knew I was going to have to fashion some sort of lens support, since the camera’s lens mount is only rated at four pounds. Otherwise, it’s a sure bet I’d rip the mount right out the first time I used it in the field. I initially feared that it was going to be costly to get a really good lens support that would secure the lens in all directions so I could use the ENG grip, but as it turned out, the threaded 3/8″ hole in the mount adapter’s tripod collar (it also has a 1/4-20 hole) aligned perfectly with a threaded 3/8″ hole in the Redrock Micro M2 baseplate, so all I had to do was get a threaded stud from Home Depot and hacksaw it to 2.75″. That was $1.75 well-spent.

AF100 ENG lens support stud mounted under Fujinon 10x4.8 SD lens
Home Depot Special: AF100 support stud mounted under Fujinon 10x4.8 SD ENG lens

I really, really love having a proper ENG lens to use on the AF100. It really takes this camera from being quirky and odd to being a serious camera for pro video work. When Panasonic released the AF100, I was elated at the thought of what was basically a large-format HPX170 (although without my beloved P2 media), but then I was immediately puzzled when they kept demo-ing the camera with those horrible, slow, M4/3 stills lenses. What?! No servo lens? Unbelievable. So, for a long time, I used my Canon EF 16-35/2.8 L zoom with the Redrock Micro Live Lens adapter as my go-to run and gun lens, and it worked great. Not much reach, but it had the wide-to-medium area covered fairly well, and it was just fast enough to use in low light. It sucked not having a servo zoom though. With this ENG setup, now I have the best of both worlds. Granted, with all of the kit, it makes the AF100 about the same size as my HPX2000, but it’s still lighter.

So, what about image quality? ENG lenses are designed to be used on three-chip cameras, which means the glass projects onto a prism that separates the image into red, green and blue paths. There are two methods of adapting your ENG lens to a Micro 4/3 camera: the “cheap” way, which is to use a lens with a built-in 2X extender that will double the size of the image circle to cover M4/3, or the “proper” way, which is to use Abel Cine’s HDX2 adapter, which not only doubles the size of the image circle but also optically corrects for the three-chip projection so you don’t get color fringing in your highlights. Considering that, it seems to be a no-brainer on which method you would choose, until you consider cost. I got my B4-M43 adapter from ciecio7 for 240.00. That’s the entire cost of the “cheap” method. The “proper’ method is going to belt you for $5500.00 for the relay lens plus the cost of a PL adapter, because – btw – the HDX2 relay lens only comes in PL mount. SO, including the cost of PL/rails support for your AF100, we’re looking at a total cost of $7000.00 to be “proper” if you go with the HotRod-esque option. Ciecio7 also makes a PL-M43 adapter if you already have rails that would work, like I did.

I figured from the start that I was just going to put up with a little color fringing in my highlights. But then, I had a pleasant surprise. The Fujinon 10×4.8* is a really high quality piece of glass, and also considering that it’s so wide, fringing is very minimal. In fact, I don’t notice it at all unless my highlights are totally blown out, and even then, not all the time. In short, the picture looks pretty damned good. I’m sure the “proper” method is better, but I’m not positive that it’s $7000-better. Note that if you use the cheap method, your ENG lens MUST have a built-in 2X extender. With the HDX2, your lens does not need an extender, as the HDX2 doubles the size of the lens’ image circle.

Screen Grab: Fujinon 10x4.8 SD ENG lens on Panasonic AF100 recorded ProRes422 to Atomos Samurai
Post-grade Screen Grab: Fujinon 10x4.8 SD ENG lens on Panasonic AF100 recorded ProRes422 to Atomos Samurai.Click through to see a 100% crop.
Screen Grab: Fujinon 10x4.8 SD ENG lens on Panasonic AF100 recorded ProRes422 (HQ) to Atomos Samurai
Post-grade Screen Grab: Fujinon 10x4.8 SD ENG lens on Panasonic AF100 recorded ProRes422 (HQ) to Atomos Samurai.Click through to see a 100% crop.

* A note about the Fujinon 10×4.8 ENG SD lens: Some variants of it have a 1.7X extender and NOT a 2X extender. These will NOT WORK. You must have a 2X extender to expand the image circle to 22mm in order to cover the Micro 4/3 sensor.

12 thoughts on “My AF100 ENG Kit is Shaping Up”

  1. Wow,
    It looks like a bit of overkill.

    One would wonder why you just did not get a good ENG Camcorder for how you are using the camera.

    I own the AF-100 and a GH2 so don’t get me wrong I think they are good cams.

    1. A very good question. In a word, the answer to why I don’t get an ENG camera instead, is, “versatility.” I actually have a nice ENG cam (Panasonic HPX2000 2/3″ AVC-Intra) but the AF100 produces a nicer-looking image because it produces less shadow noise, and the white balance is more civilized. The HPX2000 is made specifically as a broadcast news camera, and it’s set up as such.

      A newer 2/3″ cam like an HPX2700 or 3700 is just too damned expensive. It would probably cost upward of 30,000 to get into a used 3700.

      My ENG setup of the AF100 is just one of it’s variations, meant for general everyday commercial and editorial use. I can also change it over to a cinema setup, where I use cinema lenses instead of ENG, and fit it with a matte box, follow focus, and other cine-style accessories.

      1. Your rig is indeed coming along well, but certain elements need to be addresses. An off-board NINJA or SAMURAI would be largely irrelevant and cumbersome in the field, Indeed, the mobile unit wouldn’t be able to do anything with it. The point being why acquire 4:2:2 10-bit when television broadcast news (and all TV for that matter) broadcasts at 1080i ? ALSO why a second display after the Cineroid? Who’s looking at it. Not the camera operator. Not nobody – best to leave that item at the station. Here’s a related article that will help :http://hollywoodstudiorentals.com/blog/?p=192

        1. Robert– Your points are valid, but I think you are ignoring a large gray area between ENG coverage and cine style shooting. To address your specific questions:

          – I have my Samurai mounted on the rails behind my camera, on the side, between the body and the AB battery plate. It faces out to the right where I can’t even see it. It isn’t there as a monitor, per se; it is, instead, a very good, reliable, field recorder that just happens to have a screen on it; I don’t look at it when I’m shooting – I use the Cineroid solely. When I have a director working with me in the field, however, he/she can either watch the screen on-camera or I can pop the recorder off the camera and run an SDI cable to it on a stand (or handheld) for the director to look at.

          – Even though TV news largely broadcasts in either SD or HD 720p, many news units edit in FCP, and since the Samurai records native ProRes422, the clips drop straight into their timelines without having to bother with converting or importing. The Samurai can also play out to HD-SDI if you wanted to feed out from a sat truck, etc.

          – My camera is a triple-duty unit. I use it for ENG, commercial video, and cine shooting. The combination of the ENG zoom lenses, the Cineroid, and the Samurai equals a rig that can excel in any shooting environment.

          1. – My camera is a triple-duty unit. I use it for ENG, commercial video, and cine shooting. The combination of the ENG zoom lenses, the Cineroid, and the Samurai equals a rig that can excel in any shooting environment.

            I agree with this statement completely. I am an AF100 owner operator and as my rig isn’t here yet, I hope it will be there soon.

            file:///Users/LWAlveyCreative/Desktop/photo.JPG

  2. I am using the same ENG setup. I actually deliberately purchased the AF100 just so I could use ENG lenses on it. I liked the idea of Servo zooms etc, with a slightly larger sensor so DOF was still there. Also I could easily remove the ENG lens and put on some primes for some drama work.

    Currently my lens is the Canon 15X8, which is really tight so I added a Century 0.8X zoom-thru wide angle. Caught it on ebay for cheap!

    Also I purchased a Y-cable for 150 USD! Works fine.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/12-Pin-Fujinon-Zoom-Adapter-Y-Cable-for-Panasonic-AF-100-JonyJib-/390384895671?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5ae4c0c6b7

    I need to get the Edelkrone EVF mount, as I shot a few events with this setup and with the EVF locked to a magic arm, i needed to re-adjust every time i switch camera positions.

    Do you see significant improvement with the Samurai? I’m considering one, to improve the speed of my workflow.

    Also, how’d you like your lens? I’m always not getting wide enough shots, despite adding a wideangle. I’m considering the Canon J9ax5.2B4 IRS SX12!

    Your blog was the reason I went over to AF100, over the other cameras!

    1. Nathan– Wide shots were indeed a problem, but I found a Fujinon 10×4.8 lens on Craigslist that solved that problem. It is WIIIIDE. Normally they sell for about 3K but I lucked out and found one for 650.00.

      The Samurai is a definite improvement from the AJA Ki Pro Mini, which is what I was using before. The AJA was very quirky, and troublesome to power. I also MUCH prefer the SSD recording in the Samurai vs. having to buy very expensive 600X CF cards for the AJA.

      “Your blog was the reason I went over to AF100, over the other cameras!” –Really? I’m so glad I could help! 😉

  3. I worked with the guy that makes the JonyJib (John Huffman) to make a Y cable that powers the B4 lens and has the S/S cable as well. It’s only $150 and you can buy it direct from John’s Ebay store here:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/12-Pin-Fujinon-Zoom-Adapter-Y-Cable-for-Panasonic-AF-100-JonyJib-/390384895671?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5ae4c0c6b7#ht_905wt_954

    It’s as good as the AbelCine version and almost $100 cheaper. He’ll also customize the cable for you if you need it longer or shorter etc. I use it on all our shoots and it works great.

  4. Hi, I have a question. I use a Cineroid EVF on the AF 100 with the HDMI cable. Now when I hook up the Samurai on HDI than it looks like that I have to switch of all information in the picture to prefent that it will get recorded on the Samurai. Is there a way to still have the Info in my Cineroid vie HDMI and seperatly switch the HDI to a clean signal ???
    I like to see at least the record marker in my EVF when I’m recording but at the moment I can only see it on the side LCD of the camera which sucks when you do shoulder camera.

    1. As far as I know, there is no way to turn off OSD in SDI while keeping it on in HDMI. In the menu, there is only one option for OSD, and it’s “on” or “off”, period. I do wish there was a workaround for this, as it also annoys me that I have no OSD in my Cineroid Metal EVF while using the Samurai. I’ve started leaving my camera’s LCD on and folded flat to the body so I can glance over at it while I’m shooting. It’s really annoying, I know…

  5. Panasonic AF100 seems like a great camera to shoot photos and videos. I think the way you explained the ENG lenses will really help any question asked. The Panasonic is a really great video camera for broadcasters because it shoots amazing video clips. I also like to consider the P2HD. If any clients are interested in the Panasonic AF100, I will now have a better understanding of this type of video camera. I can have clients rent it and know what they are getting into. Thank You

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