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    FS100 and AF100 compared
    Sony and Panasonic have both launched large-sensor video cameras, targeted (presumably) at the market of indie filmmakers and video professionals who want to create cinematic-looking footage, as an alternative to the DSLR with its various shortcomings. I was an early adopter of the AF100, and I have been evaluating the FS100, to see how they stack up against each other. Here are some of my findings.

    1. General Summation: both are large-sensor, interchangeable-lens, shallow-DOF AVCHD 1080p camcorders with XLR audio inputs and headphone jacks, recording to SDHC memory cards, in the about-$5,000 price bracket. In that respect, both manufacturers are to be applauded for responding to the changing market that has been demanding such a product.

    2. Nutshell summation: the Sony FS100 uses a somewhat larger sensor and provides higher potential gain settings for the ability to see in darker conditions. The Panasonic AF100 offers more professional features, frame rates, recording modes, and connectivity, while still providing very shallow DOF and excellent low light performance, on par with the FS100 up to the AF100's maximum 3200 ISO.

    3. Design differences: Even a cursory examination of the two products will reveal that they were designed by very different groups who had highly different priorities in mind. The FS100 has a very DSLR-oriented design; it really does seem like a DSLR with XLR inputs and a headphone jack – which is, frankly, what many DSLR shooters had been asking for. It lacks many of the common and expected features and functionality of a conventional video camera (such as SDI output and ND filters, things that DSLRs also lack). The AF100, on the other hand, is from the design school of “give us a pro video camera but stuff in a larger sensor.” It has the features and functionality of their AG-HMC150, HPX170, and new AG-AC160, with the primary difference from them being that it has a large sensor and interchangeable lenses. (For purposes of disclosure, I was invited to attend one of their early focus group meetings, as did several other DVXuser members, cinematographers, ASC members and IATSE Local 600 members. Panasonic asked us what we wanted, and we basically told them to give us an HPX170 with a large sensor.)

    These design differences crystallize what is, in my opinion, the primary way to determine which of these is the right choice for any given buyer. If one absolutely loves the way the DSLR works, but just wishes that it had a little better aliasing performance and some XLR ports, then the Sony is aimed towards that buyer. If, instead, a buyer is wanting all the features, connectivity, and capabilities of a professional video camera, but with shallow DOF and interchangeable lenses, the AF100 was designed for that buyer.

    4. Performance: I'm sure this will surprise some folks, but I've been exhaustively testing these units, and the result is: these cameras are so close in performance that it's really not even worth doing a whole raft of charts and graphs. I mean, I've done those tests, and really it's nitpicking to choose between them; especially after grading the footage, you can make them look virtually identical. And besides, people usually complain about charts and want to see “real world” footage.

    Accordingly, here's an example: this is a scene that was set up for, designed for, and lit for, an FS100. The FS100 had optimal image settings dialed in as per the DIT and director of photography. This scene was actually borrowed from a short film that was being shot on the FS100; I piggybacked onto the film set to get an equivalent shot from the FS100 and the AF100 in a "cinematic" setting. I had previously set the AF100 to image settings that largely matched the FS100; I then graded the shot slightly in post to get them even closer. Here are the results:

    Yes, those really are from the two different cameras. As I said, the results are nearly identical in general shooting. There is no gulf of performance difference between these two cameras, just as a reasonable person would expect – considering that both companies hire the best camera engineers in the world, and given the constraints of the price tag, it's not surprising that the net result is performance that is generally comparable. Configured for maximum range, the AF100 shows 10.5 stops of dynamic range; I got the FS100 to do a tiny bit better, it shows 11 stops on the same chart. Rolling shutter performance is practically identical. Chroma clipping and highlight rolloff are extremely comparable. In terms of sharpness, they're once again very much on par with each other; the AF100 delivers observed alias-free resolution of 700h x 680v; the FS100 delivers alias-free resolution of 670h x 720v, with the net effect being equivalent overall sharpness.

    5. Sensitivity and Gain: Overall the cameras perform very similarly, but there are two notable image-performance differences: gain performance, and aliasing/moire. Let's first examine the gain/noise/sensitivity issue. For reference, the Panasonic is calibrated in either decibels of gain or in film-standard ISO values, and its default 0dB rating is 400 ISO. I tested the FS100 and found it responds at exactly 320 ISO. Note – other testers have rated the Sony FS100 at 500 ISO, but I can't replicate that. In my testing I put the AF100 and the FS100 both on Rec709 gamma and Rec709 color matrix, put equivalent Zeiss ZF's on them, set them at the same shutter speed of 1/60th, and pointed them at an identically-lit chart, and set both lenses to exactly f/11. In order to deliver identical brightness, I had to set the AF100 on 320 ISO, meaning that if we're comparing these two, 0dB on the FS100 equates to 320 on the AF100.)

    In terms of noise performance, the AF100 is basically noise-free and grainless to ISO 1600, and very low noise up to 3200. You can see my prior test of AF100 ISO performance in this video.

    For comparison, here's the link to the Sony FS100 gain/noise video. I set up the same scenario, same chart, same lens, and configured for lower-noise settings, to create a comparable video.

    By my viewing, the FS100 exhibits low/no grain up to about 15 to 18dB. Anything beyond that has noticeable noise. Coincidentally, an FS100 at 18dB is an ISO equivalent of close to 3200 – which puts these two, once again, on par – at least as far as the AF100's ISO goes. The AF100 tops out at 3200, but the FS100 can go further. It can be turned up to 30dB, which is two stops more sensitivity than 18dB. Yes it results in more noise and grain, but it's still surprisingly manageable even at that level. Compared to cameras of just a few years ago, the AF100 is comparatively nearly grainless throughout its ISO range, and the FS100 is nearly grainless up to about 15dB and picks up from there; even so, at its maximum of 30dB, it's about on par with a traditional camcorder at maybe 9dB.

    For a more direct comparison, I re-shot the AF100 at 3200 ISO vs the FS100 at +18dB of gain. Here's a direct pixel-to-pixel side-by-side as well as a 2x blowup version.

    Maximum gain is one thing; a usable range is something else. The Panasonic is designed to operate in an ISO range from 200 to 3200 (or 3 to 3200 when combining its ND filters); the Sony ranges from 320 to 10,240. This results in an interesting difference – the Sony's range is biased heavily towards low/no-light situations, but is basically useless in broad daylight without some manner of heavy external ND filtration. The Panasonic's ISO range is targeted towards all-purpose shooting scenarios from noonday sun down to one candle. (For a lark, I had previously done a shot on the AF100 to show just how much brightness it can get out of a single candle; this shot took place in a pitch-dark room and the only source of illumination was a single candle):

    I've never felt limited by the 3200 ISO of the AF100; after all, I'm used to shooting on film, which maxxes out at 500 ISO, and hey, an entire interview setup on a single candle... well, I'm satisfied that the AF100's ISO range is quite adequate. But there are scenarios where more would always be appreciated; and if you really need more than a clean 3200 ISO, the Sony can deliver more. Its gain switch is targeted towards low light sensitivity and in that regard it performs quite well. If you were in a scenario such as a dimly lit reception hall and had only a slow kit zoom lens, the Sony's additional gain might prove to be quite handy. If, on the other hand, you're in a lit environment such as a film set, the additional gain is complete overkill, at the expense of the ability to lower the sensitivity. And sometimes you really need lower sensitivity! Film goes down to 25 ISO for use outdoors, for good reasons, but the Sony's lower limit is 320. To use a car example, the Sony is like a sports car that can go faster than 200 mph – but can't go slower than 60. Whereas the Panasonic can go from 0 to 120mph. It has a range that is applicable to nearly all shooting scenarios, whereas the Sony has bragging rights to the most gain, even if it makes it an impractical camera for brightly lit scenarios. Someplace where I can see where that additional gain would be handy would be trying to shoot a wedding or similar event in a dark interior, with only a slow kit lens that doesn't open up to more than maybe f/4. In that case, the additional gain could be quite useful.

    6. Aliasing: The other image performance difference I found worthy of note is the aliasing performance between the two. Aliasing is the bane of the DSLR; aliasing (and its brother moire) are drawbacks that are part and parcel of the way a DSLR samples its sensor. These cameras have greatly minimized the effect as compared to a DSLR. The Panasonic has been tuned to eliminate all chroma aliasing and nearly all luma aliasing; the Sony appears to be tuned more for apparent sharpness at the expense of exhibiting more aliasing in color and, in certain cases, it can exhibit the chroma moire patterns that are typical of the Canon DSLRs, especially on fine weave fabrics or on bricks. In terms of actual resolved detail they are extremely closely matched, but the Sony can sometimes have the “appearance” of some extra sharpness due to the false detail of aliasing, whereas Panasonic has tuned their sensor to minimize or eliminate as much aliasing as possible. The result is that the Sony can show colored aliasing and chroma moire patterns on some finely detailed patterns, whereas the Panasonic just never will.

    Here is an example of the FS100 showing the chroma moire pattern on some bricks (at normal size and then at 3x magnification). The Vimeo compression kind of squishes out all the aliasing on the wide shot, which is why I included the 3x shot. If you want to see it in the wide shot, download the original file instead of the vimeo-recoded streaming version.

    It's not that big of a deal, but it's there, even though it certainly is reduced as compared to the Canon DSLRs. In other words, there are many scenarios where the Canons would show the rainbow patterns, where the Sony will avoid or resist showing it; however, on the finest detail and repeating patterns the Sony can and does exhibit the same type of artifact, so a prudent Sony shooter will still need to keep an eye on fine patterned fabrics or bricks or other fine repeating patterns to make sure that they're not exhibiting moire. In terms of aliasing, this is one place where I found a difference worth showing: they both show some luma aliasing beyond their measured limits, but the big difference is that the Panasonic is immune to the colored purple/orange chroma moire, whereas the Sony shows quite a bit more aliasing, especially in color, as shown in the previous bricks pattern but also can be seen in this comparison of the DSC Labs “Wringer” chart:

    The Wringer is a color resolution chart designed to reveal the limits of a camera's imaging capabilities. For this test I recorded directly to the NanoFlash, to get the full-resolution 4:2:2 signals. The differences are pretty huge -- the AF100 handled the chart much better than the FS100, with much less aliasing. Of the four quadrants in the video, the FS100 handled the yellow & black (lower right) quadrant best, it shows some aliasing in the cyan/purple quadrant (upper right), and shows substantial aliasing and lower resolution in the two quadrants on the left. The AF100 performs much better, showing higher resolution and way less aliasing.

    (Be sure to watch all these videos in full-screen mode on a 1920x1080 monitor; if you're watching it downrezzed you won't be seeing the actual pixels or the actual effect.)

    7. Sensor size and Wide-Angle shots: One question I've heard asked several times is – doesn't the bigger sensor give you a wider angle field of view on the Sony? How do you get wide enough on the Panasonic? The Sony does have a substantially larger sensor, and in terms of field of view, for any given lens, the Sony will show a noticeably wider field of view, and the Panasonic will show a tighter field of view. The relative crop factor between them is approximately 1.33x. For example, when the Sony is using a 35mm lens, the Panasonic can match its field of view by using a 28mm lens. This doesn't result in any change in perspective at all, of course; you will achieve identical perspective between the two shots when the camera is at the same distance to the subject . However, it does mean that there will be a slight depth of field difference between the two shots, because of the focal length difference between the two. You can compensate for that by opening up the AF100's lens by approximately 1/2 to 2/3 of one f-stop. If you can use a 1.33x wider lens and open up the AF100's lens by 1/2 to 2/3 of an f-stop, you can match the depth of field, field of view, and perspective of the Sony exactly. Now, that won't always be possible, of course – if you're using an 8mm Ultra Prime on the Sony at f/2.8, it's not exactly likely that you're going to find a 6mm f/2.2 lens to put on the Panasonic! But that's an extreme example. Again, I refer back to the restaurant scene at the start of this article – that was shot using a 35mm lens at f/2.8 on the Sony, and a 28mm lens at f/2.2 on the Panasonic. Same field of view, same depth of field, just as wide, and the same perspective – basically identical footage. In short, they can both do the job. Both these cameras have large sensors that are near to 35mm cinema film in size. The Panasonic's sensor is about 18% smaller than 35mm cinema film, and the Sony's is about 15% larger than cinema film.

    In general, it's true that any given lens will show a wider field of view on the bigger sensor, but the question of whether you can get “wide enough” on the Panasonic is easily answered by the excellent and relatively inexpensive Lumix 7-14mm. As an AF100 owner I've found that lens answers every wide-angle question I've encountered, as it delivers a field of view that's wider than what a Tokina 11-16 would show on the Sony. It's as wide as a 14mm on a full-frame SLR. It's not overly fast, at f4, but the gain on both these cameras is plenty clean enough to allow for boosting it by 6dB to get the relative brightness up to the equivalent of f/2.8. The point being: wide-angle solutions exist for either camera. For any given lens the Sony will have the wider field of view and the Panasonic will have a more telephoto field of view, but you can get wider lenses for the Panasonic, and more telephoto lenses for the Sony, so the net result is that either can deliver the field of view you're looking for.

    8. Grievous shortcomings: each camera has an inexcusable omission or two, in my opinion. In the case of the Panasonic, it's the lack of magnified focus assist. While its focus-in-red is workable in most scenarios (especially when combined with turning the viewfinder to B&W mode), it's just silly that the magnified focus assist is missing. It's been a staple of video cameras since at least 2005! It should be there, and it isn't. (By comparison, the Sony does offer magnified focus assist.)

    The Sony has three glaring omissions which I find egregious: the lack of neutral density filters, the lack of HD-SDI output, and the total lack of any way to view what the camera's doing when it's placed at eye level or higher. First, the ND filter is such a basic staple of the professional camera, that its lack is just glaring and punitive. The FS100 has no negative gain, and no way to lower brightness below its default 320 ISO. How are you supposed to shoot in daylight? You can't. The only thing you can do is crank up the shutter to some brutally short speed and/or stop the lens iris down to f/22 or more, which will result in stuttery/jagged motion and the loss of all shallow DOF and may also cause soft blurry footage because of diffraction from using such a tiny aperture. Not acceptable. (By comparison, with its ND filters, the Panasonic can go to easily 25 ISO equivalent, and down as low as 3 ISO; by combining 200 ISO with the strongest six-stop ND filter, it delivers an equivalent ISO of 3). That means you can easily shoot at a wide-open f/2 at 1/50th of a second, even in the brightest noonday sun on the Panasonic.

    Second, the Sony's use of HDMI instead of HD-SDI is a consumer-oriented cop-out and unacceptable in a world of SDI recorders and SDI monitors. HDMI doesn't even carry timecode, although Sony has created their own nonstandard variant of HDMI to wedge timecode into it; the result is that your HDMI device may or may not work with the Sony's output. Just silly. I mean, their own NX5U costs $1,000 less and has SDI output on it -- there's no justification for it being missing on the FS100. And the lack of SDI means there's a lack of standardized timecode, which means there's no synchronizing of cameras for a multi-camera shoot, no 24PsF output, and reliance on an HDMI cable and connector that were never designed or built for the rigors of video production. (By comparison, the Panasonic offers both HDMI and HD-SDI, including 24PsF output, timecode, and record start/stop flags for external recorder use.)

    And, finally – who approved the placement of the LCD? It's ridiculous. By putting the LCD on top and squarely in the middle, it makes it obscured or even invisible if you've got the camera at eye level or higher. The little GH2 was roundly praised for having an articulating LCD that could be seen when the camera was at any angle, as opposed to the earlier Canon DSLRs with their fixed flat screen on the back; but at least with the Canon screen you could at least see something when the camera was higher than eye level; the Sony's screen is completely blocked by the camera body. Won't be a problem if you always shoot with the camera waist-level like it's a Hasselblad or something, but anyone who's ever covered live events, sports, news, press conferences, conventions, docs, or in any other type of less-controlled environment is going to be cursing this design. (By comparison, the Panasonic offers both an eye-level viewfinder and an articulating LCD panel that rotates to accommodate viewing with the camera at any height).

    Some of these shortcomings can be overcome with third-party accessories; the Panasonic's lack of focus assist and the Sony's lack of ability to be seen from various angles are both easily solved by adding an external monitor. That's an extra-cost option, but equally necessary on both if you want to overcome those particular shortcomings. The Sony's lack of ND filters can be worked around by using external ND filters, but that brings its own share of complications – external glass is another source of potential reflections, flares, dust, and fingerprints; screw-in filters need to be moved to every lens that you use, or you need to bulk up the camera rig with a mattebox and rails in order to use ND filters. Then you'll also need to carry multiple filters, or spend for a proper variable ND filter such as the Heliopan, which is a $450 item, and will still need to be moved from lens to lens every time you change a lens. As for the lack of SDI, that just can't be made up. Yes, you can get a $500-ish box that converts from HDMI to HD-SDI, but that won't compensate for the questionable HDMI connector, or the lack of standard timecode, or the lack of 24PsF, or the lack of simultaneous record flags (present in SDI, but missing in HDMI). In the end, it's up to you to determine as to what you can live with, what you can't live without, what you can work around, and what workarounds you don't want to put up with.

    9. So how do you decide? Deciding between these two cameras seems to be overly complicated by emotional reactions put forth on the internet and through forums, as has always been the case and will likely always be the case. And many times people would rather believe what they've been told or what's been frequently repeated, rather than just evaluate the products on their individual merits side-by-side. In my evaluation I've satisfied myself that the footage between them (in any reasonable shooting scenario) can be graded to be nigh unto identical, so it's not like one's going to have some big massive advantage over the other – they are both excellent cameras that both deliver excellent footage. Perhaps the biggest question is: do you really need faster than 3200 ISO, and are you willing to give up the rest of the features the Panasonic offers, in order to get that faster ISO? As I come away from evaluating these two, to me, that is the primary question. The major advantage to the Sony is its faster top speeds; in nearly every other way the Panasonic has the advantage in terms of features and usability and connectivity. So determine what's important to you, what you need, what you can work around, and what you can't live without.

    As for what is different between them, I went through the owner's manuals of both and catalogued the differences. As such, here are two lists. The first is a list of things that the Panasonic
    does, that the Sony doesn't. The second is a list of things that the Sony does, that the Panasonic doesn't.

    Things the AF100 does that the FS100 doesn't:
    1. The AF100 has three physical neutral density filters, the FS100 has none.
    2. The AF100 has SD-SDI and HD-SDI output, the FS100 has no SDI output at all.
    3. The AF100 is a “world” camera with 50/60Hz PAL/NTSC switchability, the FS100 is a 60Hz-only camera.
    4. The AF100 offers a waveform monitor; the FS100 has only a histogram.
    5. The AF100 offers a vectorscope, the FS100 has nothing comparable.
    6. The AF100's LCD is rotatable and articulated; the FS100's is only top-mounted. That makes it impossible to use the FS100 overhead for high-angle shots.
    7. The AF100 is immune from rainbow moire; the FS100 can exhibit rainbow moire similar to (but much less frequently than) the Canon DSLRs
    8. The AF100 can record 1080/60p overcranking on a Class 6 memory card; the FS100 requires a Class 10 card to do the same.
    9. The AF100 has a wide variety of frame rates for overcranking and undercranking, including over 2 dozen frame rates. The FS100 is extremely limited; it has only 8 frame rates, and only two slow-motion frame rates. The AF100 offers slow motion at 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 37, 40, 42, 44, 45, 48, 50, 54, and 60 fps. The FS100 offers only 30 and 60fps.
    10. The AF100 can change its sensitivity via changing either the ISO or the gain; the FS100 doesn't have any reference to ISO; it's gain only.
    11. AF100 offers interval recording for time-lapse.
    12. AF100 offers a pre-record function, which is buffering up to three seconds of footage prior to pressing the “record” button. FS100 doesn't have any pre-record capability.
    13. The AF100 has 1080/24PsF output, the FS100 doesn't.
    14. The AF100 offers a 3-year warranty, the FS100 is only a 1 year warranty
    15. AF100 has two levels of zebras, the FS100 has only one.
    16. The AF100's zebra range is wider, it goes down to as low as 50 IRE; the FS100's minimum zebras are 70.
    17. The AF100 has a Y Get Marker (“spotmeter”) function, the FS100 doesn't.
    18. The AF100 has a nearly-infinitely-variable Syncro Scan shutter system, the FS100 has nothing like that. No ClearScan, no Syncro Scan.
    19. The AF100 has a timecode output/input port for synchronizing timecode with an LTC-compatible device such as a broadcast camera or a timecode slate; the FS100 has no way to synchronize timecode.
    20. AF100 offers a Skin Tone DTL function for smoothing out skin for more flattering portraits, FS100 doesn't offer anything like that.
    21. The AF100 can save its scene files (“picture profiles”) to a memory card, which can then be recalled later or used in another camera to synchronize look settings. The FS100 can't do anything like that.
    22. The AF100 can save its operational settings to a User File on a memory card, so an operator can keep his/her favorite settings and configure another camera to operate like s/he prefers, instantly; the FS100 has nothing like that.
    23. The AF100 has a separate viewfinder and an LCD; the FS100 only has an LCD (which can have an added viewfinder tube to make it a viewfinder; but adding the viewfinder tube means nobody else can monitor from the camera, only the operator can see.)
    24. The AF100 can set its shutter angle in terms of a film camera's shutter, meaning you can select the angle of degrees of the shutter and the shutter will compensate exposure based on the frame rate selected. The FS100 doesn't have any type of comparable capability.
    25. The AF100 provides a distance readout for the focus position of the lens, in feet and inches (or meters); the FS100 only provides “infinity” and “minimum” focus markers.
    26. The AF100 can report a zoom lens's focal length in exact millimeters. The FS100 only has a bar or 0-99 number.
    27. The AF100 has a slower minimum shutter speed, 1/2 second vs. the FS100's 1/3 second.
    28. The AF100 has seven gamma curves; the FS100 has four gammas.
    29. The AF100 can perform relay recording from one card to the next, the FS100 can't.
    30. The AF100 can fade to black or white, the FS100 can't.
    31. The AF100 can capture a single-frame still either from a live feed or during recording; the FS100 can only extract a still during playback.
    32. The AF100 allows you to group clips together and sort them on playback (i.e., grouping by marked shots, or same format); FS100 doesn't.
    33. AF100 provides low sensitivity down to 200 ISO; FS100's minimum sensitivity is 320 ISO.
    34. AF100 can adjust sensitivity in 1/3-stop increments, FS100 adjusts sensitivity in 1/2-stops.
    35. AF100 has a 2.35:1 widescreen frame guide, FS100 doesn't.
    36. AF100 has automatic face detection and face focus tracking (when used with an appropriate lens); FS100 doesn't.
    37. The AF100 has an “area” function for prioritizing the area of the screen to focus on or expose to
    38. The AF100 has a Dynamic Range Stretching function; FS100 has no equivalent.
    39. AF100 can shoot in B&W mode, FS100 can't.
    40. The AF100 offers a Last-Clip Delete function, FS100 doesn't.
    41. The AF100 offers backlight or spotlight compensation functions, FS100 doesn't.
    42. The AF100 has a Focus Bar focus assist graph, the FS100 doesn't have anything like that.
    43. The AF100 has an Iris Meter over/under exposure aid, the FS100 has nothing comparable.
    44. The AF100 has two card slots, the FS100 has only one.
    45. The AF100 has an internal iris for automatic black balancing; the FS100 requires you to physically cap the lens to do a black balance.
    46. The AF100 has a built-in stereo microphone; the FS100 has no built-in mic but does include an external mic.
    47. The AF100 can input sound from either an external mic, the internal mic, or a mix of both; the FS100 can only input sound through an external source.
    48. The AF100 has a built-in speaker, the FS100 has none.
    49. The AF100 displays its remaining battery time down to the minute; the FS100 instead only has four graphic icons that show when the battery is below 20% capacity, below 40%, below 60%, or greater than 60%.
    50. The AF100 doesn't overheat. In the FS100 manual there are warnings on page 2 about not using it in direct sunlight, because the battery pack or camcorder might overheat. I have not encountered any overheating yet, but the manual does warn about it.
    Things the FS100 does that the AF100 doesn't
    1. It's slightly smaller and lighter
    2. Its sensor is bigger, thus yielding a wider field of view
    3. It has magnified focus assist; the AF100 offers focus-in-red and the focus bar but no magnified focus assist.
    4. Higher possible gain (up to +30dB for effectively 10,240 ISO, vs. the AF100's max of 3200 ISO.)
    5. It has 4:4:4 RGB output on its HDMI port
    6. It has a touchscreen for playback
    7. It has analog component output; the AF100 has SDI/HDMI/Composite but no analog component
    8. Can use Memory Stick Pro Duo cards in addition to SDHC/SDXC
    9. Can record Standard Def; AF100 is only HD.
    10. It can record 1080/60P as 60P (meaning, the “live” mode, with sound), at 28mbps. The AF100's 1080/60p is only for slow-mo and doesn't record sound, although it records at 35mbps.
    11. Max shutter speed = 1/10,000; AF100's max = 1/2000
    12. It has the capability for auto audio level control, as well as manual; AF100 is manual-only
    13. Mic input level is adjustable from -60 to -30 in 6dB steps, as opposed to AF100's -50 or -60
    14. More knee control with separate point and slope adjustments, the AF100 has a fixed slope and three adjustable points
    15. Individual color channel controls for R/G/B/C/M/Y
    16. White Balance shift controls include individual red/blue gain
    17. More extensive control over detail including h/v balance
    18. Has a GPS for tagging location in footage metadata
    19. Has 120fps mode, even though it's very low quality and very short duration
    20. Rec Check plays the whole last clip, not just the last 2 seconds
    21. Six user buttons instead of the AF100's three. There aren't really any more functions, but there are more buttons to customize.
    22. Can make subclips of clips that have been recorded, AF100 can't.
    23. Can automatically adjust gain, and you can set the limit of how much gain is allowed. The AF100 can also automatically adjust gain to a limit you set, but that capability is only available when the camera is in fully-automatic mode.
    24. Can do date/time stamp burned into the footage, AF100 can't.
    25. Has wind reduction feature for the microphone
    26. Can offload footage to a USB drive, and play back footage from a USB drive
    Last edited by Barry_Green; 08-31-2011 at 11:22 AM.

    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.

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    Senior Member dustylense's Avatar
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    Nov 2010
    CA. USA
    Great write up Barry. Thanks for this. In the end both camera are great. I will agree that the top side LCD on the Fs100 is really a design flub.


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    Senior Member simonpwood's Avatar
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    Apr 2011
    Super article. People will find this invaluable to help them decide which camera best suits their specific needs. Looks like the AF is really the one for me - it seems Panasonic were paying attention to the wish-list of pro DSLR users...



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    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Nice write up for sure, very thorough. I personally would add that I think the 'integration' of the Sony with the kit lens has some benefits to
    'video' shooters who are not film or DSLR people familiar with DSLR lenses. Smooth iris adjustment not 'steppy' and really good image stabilization
    and autofocus.....they seem to be better than what the AF 100 has. The biggest issues with the FS 100 in my opinion is the lack of ND (I had to spend
    $400 on the Heliopan, which is really nice, but an added expense) and the LCD placement, both which you referenced. In the interest of trying to help
    other FS 100 owners, the work around I have come up with for shooting high angles, is to put the LCD screen flat against the body of the camera
    (facing up), and hold the camera upside down (so that you can see the LCD screen right above your head) and then you have to flip the image in post.
    Pain in the butt, but unless you want to buy an external EVF (which is a good idea if you can come up with the money....again you are spending extra
    money to get features the AF 100 has built in...), it is the only workaround I have been able to come up with. One other thing that you referenced in
    your list, the 'world camera' has been confirmed by Sony, that the FS 100 will receive a free firmware update to make it into a 'world camera' as was on Philip Bloom's blog a couple weeks ago.
    Last edited by alaskacameradude; 08-31-2011 at 02:03 AM.


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    Dark Side of the Camera Postmaster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Great write up Barry - as always.

    Personally I don´t care about build in ND filters and the monitor placement, - don´t used to have that on film cameras too and nobody saw that as a problem,
    but yeah, no SDI is a real bummer.

    By the way, IMHO the second shot on the restaurant scene was the FS100.
    Until that was not introduced in post, the redish shadows tell the tale.

    Really looking forward to the "world camera" update though.

    Last edited by Postmaster; 08-31-2011 at 04:08 AM.

    Real men edit their films in a hex editor.


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    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    I choose the AF101 over the FS100 and bought it yesterday, after long time thinking which was better to my style of working.
    Add to this that I found a special offer kit on the AF101 that made me save lots of bucks.


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    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    I'm gonna go out on a limb and bet that the first shot is FS100. Why? It is naturally sharp, not oversharpened like the last. Both have been cc'd so I'm not basing it on color.


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    Quote Originally Posted by maarek View Post
    I'm gonna go out on a limb and bet that the first shot is FS100. Why? It is naturally sharp, not oversharpened like the last. Both have been cc'd so I'm not basing it on color.
    The FS100 shot was not CC'd. It is presented exactly as it was shot, using the settings that the DP and DIT had determined would give them the look that they wanted. The AF100 shot was CC'd to try to match the natural/un-CC'd shot from the FS100.


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    Senior Member nyvz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    New York, NY
    Quote Originally Posted by maarek View Post
    I'm gonna go out on a limb and bet that the first shot is FS100. Why? It is naturally sharp, not oversharpened like the last. Both have been cc'd so I'm not basing it on color.
    Agreed, clearly FS100 is first, AF100 is second. Having shot on both a lot, it seems obvious from the increased and coarser noise and clippy yellow-shifted highlights that the second video was the AF100. I have a lot of trouble shooting on the AF100 after using the FS100 since I get so used to the lower noise and great looking highlights (cinematone1) on the FS100. The AF100's gamma curve, noise level, and sensor size always seem like a step backwards from 5D/7D, though the resolution is nice.

    I'm not really sure how the AF100 could be called noise-free at any gain setting, let alone iso1600. I've had a director complain about noise on the AF100 at iso640. This isn't surprising since the AF100 has photosites about the same size as my EX1, and accordingly I've seen pretty similar noise performance between the two, whereas the FS100 uses photosites about 7x the size (potentially a 3stop improvement in capturing light). Actually from the candle test, it looks like AF100 at iso3200 has a surprising amount of blue banding noise, but that may just be exacerbated by the low color temp white balance required by the candle.
    Last edited by nyvz; 08-31-2011 at 09:00 AM.


  10. Collapse Details
    Quote Originally Posted by nyvz View Post
    I'm not really sure how the AF100 could be called noise-free at any gain setting, let alone iso1600.
    Did you watch the noise comparison video I posted? Using the low-noise settings, there's just ... no noise. At all.

    This isn't surprising since the AF100 has photosites about the same size as my EX1, and accordingly I've seen pretty similar noise performance between the two, whereas the FS100 uses photosites about 7x the size (potentially a 3stop improvement in capturing light).
    Yet there is no 3-stop improvement in sensitivity, or in noise. They are, instead, nearly exactly the same. In terms of base sensitivity and noise performance, the FS100 is practically identical to the AF100 at the same ISO/gain setting. That raises questions about what Sony means when it says that the FS100 has only 3.43 million "effective" pixels.

    Whether the claim is that the pixels are actually that much larger, or they're confusing the issue and calling a red/green/blue/green bayer block an "effective" pixel, or whatever, I cannot currently answer. But in any case, I am quite satisfied that whatever the claimed number of pixels, the actual performance is absolutely directly on par and equivalent.


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