Panasonic Prices AG-AF100 Four-thirds HD Camcorder

SECAUCUS, NJ.: Panasonic placed a price on its new 4/3-inch HD camcorder this week, and announced a shipping date. The AG-AF100, the industry’s first professional micro 4/3-inch video camcorder optimized for high-definition video recording, will start shipping on Dec. 27, at a suggested list price of $4,995. The camcorder was unveiled at the NAB Show in April.

The camcorder is said to deliver “a shallow depth of field and wider field of view” because if the larger imager. It has native 1080/24p recording, variable frame rates, professional audio capabilities, and compatibility with SDHC and SDXC media.

“The design of the AF100’s best-in-class 4/3-inch sensor affords depth of field and field of view similar to that of 35mm movie cameras in a more affordable camera body,” said Jan Crittenden Livingston, product line business manager for Panasonic Solutions Co.

Crittenden said Panasonic resolved the “aliasing and moiré that has haunted the DSLR shooter.”

From Panasonic’s announcement: The AF100 incorporates a large 4/3-inch,16:9 MOS imager that minimizes skew with fast imager scanning, and incorporates low-pass filters for elimination of aliasing and moiré. Additionally, it has a built-in optical ND filter. The camcorder records 1080 at 60i, 50i, 30P, 25P (native) and 24P (native), and 720 at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p and 24p native, in AVCHD’s highest-quality PH mode (maximum 24Mbps).

The AF100 also records in AVCCAM’s HA (17 Mbps) and HE (6Mbps) modes, 1080i only. Ready for global production standards, the camcorder is 60Hz and 50Hz switchable. The camcorder has an interchangeable micro 4/3-inch lens mount, and can utilize a variety of low-cost, widely available still camera lenses as well as film-style lenses with fixed focal lengths and primes.

Variable frame rates are available in 1080p, selectable in 20 steps from 12p to 60p at 60Hz and 20 steps from 12p to 50p at 50Hz. Standard professional interfaces include uncompressed 4:2:2, 8-bit HD-SDI out; HDMI out; and USB 2.0. It records SMPTE timecode and is able to perform timecode synchronizing via the video output seeing timecode in. It has a built-in stereo microphone and features two mic/line, switchable XLR inputs with +48V Phantom Power capability. The camera can record 48-kHz/16-bit two-channel digital audio recording (in PH mode only) and supports LPCM/Dolby-AC3 in any of the modes.

This newest Panasonic AVCCAM camcorder is the first of the line to make use of advanced SDXC media card compatibility in addition to existing SDHC card support. SDXC supports memory capacities above 32 GB and up to 2 TB. With two SD slots for continuous recording, the AF100 can record up to 12 hours on two 64GB SDXC cards in PH mode, with automatic clip spanning across the two cards.

It also offers focus assist that can be used while recording, which is color-on peaking and a focus bar; two sets of adjustable zebras; two manual black and white balance choices, and preset White Balance at 3200K, 5600K or variable; a waveform monitor and vectorscope for more accurate monitoring of broadcast safe levels. Other essential features include pre-record; an intervalometer function that can be set for up to 24 hours, programmable User Buttons; a Smart Battery interface for recording up to four hours with a 5400mA battery; metadata recording; and a wireless infrared remote controller.

The AG-AF100 weights 3.5 pounds sans battery and lens. Panasonic will support the AF100 with a three-year limited warranty--one year plus two extra years upon registration.