Tag Archives: Panasonic

An Inexpensive Cine Zoom for the AF100?

A few months before getting my AF100, I started testing various C-Mount lenses on my GF1, because I knew that [economical] modern cine-style zoom lens options on a Micro 4/3 video camera were going to be somewhat rare. An old TV-C lens can be had really cheap, and I thought that there might be one or two 1″ lenses that wouldn’t vignette too much on the 4/3″ sensor.

Canon TV-16 25-100mm f/1.8 Zoom Lens
Canon TV-16 25-100mm f/1.8 Zoom Lens

I started with a 16-160 f/1.6 Tokina CCTV zoom, which is a tank of a lens. I was really praying that it would work, because I would love to have a 10X f/1.6 lens to play with. I also picked up a Fujinon TV zoom and a Canon TV-16 zoom. As I suspected, the Tokina and Fujinon lenses vignetted very badly, but the Canon actually wasn’t too bad. It vignettes, but I can see how that in some shooting situations, it could be usable. In the mid zoom range, the black edge comes inside of the frame in the corners, but it isn’t as pronounced in the wide and tele positions. It’s there, but it doesn’t punch you in the face; it’s more of a gentle slap. Either way, it still stings a bit. I will post some real-world clips from it soon.

I think that if I could enlarge the image circle 1.4X, the problem would be corrected. I could handle losing the stop of light, but that would mean it would become a 70-280mm (FF 35 equiv). I don’t really want a zoom that long on the wide end. I may have to relegate the Canon to being a special occasion lens.

I’ve seen mods to mount a B4 2/3″ servo lens onto the AF100. That seems a sound option, especially if you get one of the lenses that has the built-in teleconverter because it solves your image circle problem right off the bat. 2/3″ lenses are wider, which allows more general use after magnification.

Another solution is Abel CineTech’s HDX2 adapter, which is an optical B4 to PL adapter that enlarges the lens image circle from 11mm to 22mm (soaking up two stops of light in the process), and also corrects the 3xCCD optics to project for a single sensor. But, at MSRP US$5500.00, it’s hardly the economical option for low-budget users. On the other hand, if it allows a $15,000.00 servo lens to become usable on larger format cameras, I can easily see how it can earn its keep in a production environment.

So, my search continues. If anyone knows of a C-Mount lens that will actually cover a 4/3″ sensor, please let me know!

A Good AF100 Pelican Case

Last Thursday, I decided it was time to get a proper case for my AF100, and since I regularly shoot for a travel show, I made sure to look for one that was of carry-on size. I like to travel light, and I hate checking bags unless I have to. I’ve pretty much got it down to a science, and usually the only thing I have to check are my sticks.

That being a main criteria– well, it was the only criteria, because I already knew I was going to get a Pelican case, since they’ve been so awesome for me my entire professional life. One glance at their site told me that the one to get was the Pelican 1510 rolling carry-on.

A quick Google search revealed that the best price (with foam) was going to be from Amazon, so I ordered one – and another 32GB SD card – for “one day dlivery” that turned into “four day delivery”, thanks to shipping FAIL plus the Presidents’ Day holiday. To be fair, the SD card got here in one day, but the case did not. Luckily I didn’t need it for the weekend.

Looking at it, it seemed a little smaller than I thought it would be, but some foam-plucking time later, and it holds the camera body, battery, EF adapter, batteries, and my 24/1.4 and 17-40 lenses perfectly, which is a great minimalist run and gun solution for quick shots. I highly recommend the Pelican 1510 if you need a smaller, carry-on legal case for light shooting, or of course, as a compliment to more cases for travel.

Pelican 1510 Rolling Carry On Case with Panasonic AF100 and Canon lenses
Pelican 1510 Rolling Carry On Case with Panasonic AF100 and Canon lenses

Panasonic AF100 vs EOS 5D Mark II – I love this video!

This to date is still my favorite AF100 sample video. I think it’s more dear to me because I also love Alfas.

AF100 v1.15 Firmware Update Problem for Mac Users

Panasonic AF100 blog
Treat me right, baby.

Mac users, there is a potential problem you should be aware of before you attempt to update your AF100’s firmware to v1.15. It took me a few minutes to figure out why my camera would not read the file from the SD card (I kept getting a Check Card message, even though I knew I had copied the files onto the SD card correctly), but finally it dawned on me that the hidden files that OSX puts on media were most likely messing with the camera.

My solution was to reformat the SD card using the camera, and then pop it into my Netbook that is running Jolicloud OS. I downloaded the firmware update file from Panasonic on this machine, and then copied it to the SD card, following Panasonic’s instructions. This time, the update worked flawlessly. So be aware, you might have to use a Windows or other machine to update your camera this first time. I heard that Panasonic fixed the problem with this firmware update though, so it should likely not be a problem in the future.

Panasonic AG-AF100 1080p/60 Slow Motion Example

A couple days ago, I took my AF100 with me on a photo assignment to cover the All Armed Forces Boxing Championships, and then to shoot a friend’s band. After I had my stills, I shot a little slo-mo video to test out the 1080p overcranking capabilities. I was not disappointed! Lenses used for this were a Canon 24/1.4 L and a Canon 70-200/2.8 L IS. Panasonic AG-AF100 1080p/60 Test Footage

AF100 Firmware Update to Ver 1.15 Now Available

Panasonic AF100 users, there is a firmware update available for your camera (to ver 1.15). In my opinion, the most important update is this: When you are using the camera in VFR (variable frame rate) mode, now there will be an icon in your viewfinder that tells you that audio is NOT being recorded. In case you weren’t aware, before the update, your audio meters would function as normal, even though your camera was not recording audio in VFR mode. This is a VERY important fix, because even if you are recording at the standard frame rate for your scene file when in VFR mode, the camera will still not record audio, UNLIKE the HPX170, which WOULD record audio when you put it back to your scene file’s frame rate after over or undercranking it. With the AF100, you actually have to go into the menu and turn off VFR mode in the scene file.

Here is a list of the update features:

1. The color of the picture in the LCD display has been improved.

2. During VFR recording, an icon which tells “No audio is recorded” has
been added in View finder and LCD display. There is no change for the
functionality of the camera.

3. Capability for handling the invisible file made by Mac has been added.
The firmware update for the items below has been made possible by using
Mac.
– Camera body of AG-AF100 series firmware update
– Lens firmware update by using AG-AF100 series

Click here to download the firmware update from Panasonic. Be sure to read the update instructions carefully!

Read my Horrible Tale

Panasonic AG-AF100 with Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 L lens
The New Love with a Canon 24/1.4 L

Like many people, I’ve drooled over the Panasonic AF100 since it was first announced several months ago. Working as a DP on indie films for about seven years now, I’ve struggled with finding that perfect camera system to satisfy the desires of the discerning no-budget filmmaker while delivering a satisfying image. At first, I used 3CCD cameras like the venerable Panasonic DVX100 and Sony Z1U mounted to a Redrock Micro M2 adapter in order to achieve the “cinematic” look, but I never found much satisfaction in that. Lacking a better alternative I begrudgingly continued on with it until the day Canon announced the EOS 5D Mark II, which was an immediate game-changer in the world of indie cinema, as we all know.

By profession, I am a stills photographer/photojournalist, as that is how I make most of my money. Cinematography has always been a paying hobby for me. So, when Canon announced the 5D2, it was easy for me to justify getting one. Oh, what the heck, I’ll use it for movies too…

Canon EOS 5D Mark II cine mode
The 5D2 in Run-n-Gun mode

At first, I loved the 5D2 for filmmaking because I was drunk on the joy of that shallow depth-of-field, and I didn’t pay much attention to anything else. Then, about halfway through the first feature I shot with it, I started to get really annoyed with trying to use the DSLR form factor in the field, and the primitive audio controls were killing me slowly. The firmware update to allow manual video and audio level control was superb, but it did nothing to satisfy the other problems of trying to film with a DSLR.

After we wrapped principal photography on the first feature, the editors got down to business, and they kept telling me how awesome it looked. Indeed, it did look great, especially when compared to my old footage from the 1/3″ cameras. However, after I received the locked FCP file from editors and began my process of color grading the piece, I noticed a lot of quirks and anomalies in the footage that are now well-known to DSLR filmmakers (we shot our film very early after the 5D2 was released. To this day, as far as I know, ours was the first feature film to be shot on DSLR. Seriously, we started filming a couple days after the 5D2 started shipping. I was waiting for it.). There were a lot of problems with moire, and there was a lot of noise in shadow areas, etc. Plus, since the camera records straight to H.264, it was really easy for the footage to look dirty, especially in low light situations, even though I was shooting with my f/1.4 Zeiss primes most of the time. They helped with sharpness and contrast, but good glass can only do so much when you’re recording to such a compressed codec.

On the set with EOS 5D Mark 2
On set with the 5D2

When I started shooting the second feature, I wasn’t thrilled about using DSLRs again, but they were still the best choice. The next film was shot on my 5D2 and a 7D. Once again, I was also the colorist, and when I started work, I was horrified to see how different the footage from each camera was, even though the color settings and white balance were unified in each scene. I had to do some major work to get them to match up, all the while seeing the same old problems that irked me on the first film.

HVX200 with Redrock Micro M2 adapter and Marshall monitor
The Great Beast that is the HVX200 with Redrock Micro M2 adapter.

By the time that film wrapped, the Panasonic AF100 had been announced, and I vowed that I would never shoot another feature on a DSLR, unless it was being utilized as a B-cam. I launched a grand scheme to get an AF100 as soon as they were available. The grand scheme, of course, was to sell as much of my surplus camera gear as I could by the time its December 27th ship date rolled around. As it happened, last week I got stupidly lucky and found a used AF100 on eBay, of all places. The owner had bought it for personal use, and decided it was too complicated, so he put it up for auction. I saved about $800.00 and got a week-old camera. Score.

Testing lenses on my Panasonic AF100
Lens testing with the AF100

And now, I am completely in love with my AF100. I’ve found my new A-cam. When looking for online places to share the AF100 love though, I was disappointed to find that there just aren’t that many sites yet. So, I made this one, dedicated to the AF100 and indie filmmaking in general. Please enjoy the content – I promise there will be more very soon.

Darren