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Cable-free AF100 rig with electronic follow-focus needs no rails

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    Cable-free AF100 rig with electronic follow-focus needs no rails

    As a GH2 user, what made the AF100 appealing was the promise of a self-contained video camera with all necessary professional features built-in. The GH2 captures great video images, but its DSLR-style audio, instrumentation and controls require a number of bulky workarounds. I use both Lumix auto-focus and Nikon manual lenses, and while the GH2 is flexible, it's not really adept at giving me hands-on control of either type of lens. On practical shoots, I've resorted to using 15mm rails to mount audio recorders, follow focus, filter holders, and external monitors on the GH2 to compensate for its gaps. By the time you add on everything you need, a GH2 rig isn't any more compact than a stand-alone AF100. Here's one example:

    P1040600.jpg

    When using an external audio recorder, microphone and headphone cables tend to tie down your mobility with tethered constraints. Wireless mics and headphones can eliminate the cables, but there are few good places to hook up transmitters and receivers on a typical GH2 rig. Here's where the AF100 offers a handier solution, with no rails required:

    Panasonic AF100 Wireless Sony Rig Right Side.jpg

    The cold shoe on the right side of the AF100 is well-positioned for mounting the Sony URX-P2 Wireless Lavalier Receiver next to the camera's XLR input. The Sony UWP transmitter and receiver are compact units that run for several hours on a pair of rechargeable AA batteries:

    http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/cat-aud...ct-UWPV1/3032/

    The audio signal can be headphone-monitored from either the Sony receiver or the AF100's audio jack. I use the compact Sennheiser MM 400-X headphones, either with a cable or wirelessly via Bluetooth:

    http://www.sennheiserusa.com/bluetoo...oldable_504511

    The 400-X supports the relatively new APT-X codec which delivers substantially better quality stereo than Bluetooth has previously been known for. (There is, however, a perceptible audio latency that can make Bluetooth annoying in some situations.) While the AF100 lacks a Bluetooth audio transmitter, the remarkably tiny Avantree APT-X Audio Transceiver can be easily Velcroed to the side of the camera:

    http://www.avantree.com/Product-Blue...added_632.html

    The built-in battery in the Avantree transmitter lasts for several hours and can be recharged via the AF100's USB port. I found a convenient spot to mount it under the top handle of the AF100:

    Panasonic AF100 Wireless Sony Rig Left Side.jpg

    Another component that mounts conveniently on the top handle is the Manfrotto 521PFI Focus/Iris Controller:

    http://www.manfrotto.com/focus-iris-...-for-panasonic

    While the Manfrotto electronic controller was not originally designed for the AF100, I've found it works reliably with a number of Lumix and Olympus lenses, including the Olympus 14-35mm f2.0 zoom in manual-focus mode:

    http://asia.olympus-imaging.com/prod...s/14-35_20swd/

    With the AF100's live read-out of focal length, aperture, and focus distance, the Manfrotto can be used for precise hands-on electronic lens control of the 14-35mm zoom. This makes it a far more responsive lens on the AF100 than on the GH2, which only has in-camera lens controls. The Manfrotto controller also provides a pair of min and max focus distance trimmers, which can be used much like hard stops on a follow focus knob to rack focus between preset limits. This feature alone makes the AF100/14-35mm f2.0 combo unbeatable for wide-angle narrow DOF shots.

    For me, the big win with this lightweight rig is how it allows me to position the talent and the camera anywhere at all without the encumbrance of external cables. I can continuously monitor the audio and walk away from the camera at any time without having to unplug my headphones. The freedom of being completely untethered and unburdened by the camera is well worth the technical complexities that make it all possible.
    Last edited by Lpowell; 11-17-2012, 11:29 PM.
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    #2
    Great post lpowell. Closing the circle soon....After all this insane bashing on forums, it seems that the AF100 will experience a kind of renaissance and become a cult camera.
    I have ordered the BlackMagic Cinema Camera, I own a Canon 5DMarkIII (wonderful piece of hadware btw) and a Panasonic GH2 (terrible DR, does not handle contrast well), but will seriously consider to keep the AF100 as a serious, sturdy, extremely versatile allrounder. The AF100 does a lot of thing modestly, but does them ALL, contrary to many non-alternatives.
    Last edited by danap; 11-18-2012, 07:28 AM.
    danap
    ...just another filmmaker
    "Would you please shut up 1/48th of a second?"

    Comment


      #3
      I like that rig, thanks for posting, especially the position of the manfrotto focus/exposure remote control. Did you have a reason for not adding a rifle mic or is it added as a need arises.
      Everything involving the pig is above board.

      Comment


        #4
        The only issue I see, you can't use flowmotion with the af100

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          #5
          Originally posted by maranfilms View Post
          The only issue I see, you can't use flowmotion with the af100
          Sure you can, attach an external recorder.

          Comment


            #6
            Regarding the 521PFI:

            - Have you found it reduces the maximum aperture if your lenses? (I found this with a VariZoom remote)
            - What Lumix lenses have you used with it, and how did they perform?

            I badly wanted my old HVX VariZoom to work as you're mentioning, but found the focus was oversensitive and the aforementioned stop-down issue (automatically closes every lens down 1/3 stop) made it useless.
            Pudgy bearded camera guy
            http://mcbob.tv

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Vultch View Post
              Did you have a reason for not adding a rifle mic or is it added as a need arises.
              As you can see, the cold-shoe on the front of the AF100's top handle is available for mounting a shotgun mic. I find that handy for picking up room ambience to mix in with the main microphone.
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              GH1 Blackout-Powell Patch
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              GH1 100Mbps Max Latitude Patch

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                #8
                Originally posted by mcbob View Post
                Regarding the 521PFI:

                - Have you found it reduces the maximum aperture if your lenses? (I found this with a VariZoom remote)
                - What Lumix lenses have you used with it, and how did they perform?
                The Manfrotto 521PFI remote controller has worked properly with all Micro 4/3 lenses I've tried. With legacy Four Thirds lenses, it controls the iris properly, but can control the focus only on certain lenses. The focus on older Four Thirds lenses, like the Panasonic 14-50mm f2.8-3.5 and the Sigma 50mm f1.4, cannot be controlled by the 521PFI. Newer Four Thirds lenses, like the Olympus 14-35mm f2.0 and the Panasonic 25mm f1.4, work properly with the 521PFI.

                Here are aperture read-out results I got from testing a number of lenses with the Manfrotto 521PFI:

                Olympus 14-35mm f2.0 Four Thirds
                2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.4, 2.5, 2.7, 3.0, 3.2, 3.5, 4.0...

                Panasonic 25mm f1.4 Four Thirds
                1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 1.8, 1.9, 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.4, 2.5, 2.7, 2.8, 3.0...

                Olympus 9-18mm f4-5.6 Four Thirds
                9mm: 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.8, 5.0, 5.3, 6.0...
                18mm: 5.6, 6.0, 6.3, 6.8, 7.6, 8.0...

                Panasonic 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Micro 4/3
                14mm: 3.5, 3.8, 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.8, 5.0, 5.3, 5.6...
                42mm: 5.6, 6.0, 6.3, 6.8, 7.1, 7.6, 8.0...

                Panasonic 45-200mm f4-5.6 Micro 4/3

                45mm: 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.8, 5.0, 5.3, 5.6...
                200mm: 5.6, 6.0, 6.3, 6.8, 7.1, 7.6, 8.0...

                Olympus 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 Power Zoom Micro 4/3
                12mm: 3.5, 3.8, 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.8, 5.0, 5.3, 5.6...
                50mm: 6.3, 6.8, 7.1, 7.6, 8.0...

                Panasonic 45-175mm f4-5.6 Power Zoom Micro 4/3
                45mm: 4.0, 4.2, 4.5, 4.8, 5.0, 5.3, 5.6...
                175mm: 5.6, 6.0, 6.8, 7.6, 8.5...
                Last edited by Lpowell; 11-21-2012, 04:31 PM.
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                GH1 Blackout-Powell Patch
                GH1 75Mbps GH1 Peak Reliability Patch
                GH1 100Mbps Max Latitude Patch

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                  #9
                  I just did some quick tests comparing Manfrotto's 521PFi, & VariZoom's "Panasonic DVHD" (which I used back in the HVX days). All my conclusions are based solely on the AF100's LCD displays, & haven't been confirmed by any other manner.

                  When utilizing the Manfrotto the widest aperture available on the 12-35/2.8 is f/3.5. On the 35-100mm f/2.8 the maximum aperture is f/3.4.

                  When the VariZoom's the aperture opens to f/2.8 on both lenses, but when zoomed to their longest focal length neither focuses beyond about 80 ft, & can't hit Infinity.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Bern Caughey View Post
                    When utilizing the Manfrotto the widest aperture available on the 12-35/2.8 is f/3.5. On the 35-100mm f/2.8 the maximum aperture is f/3.4.
                    Thanks for reporting your test results. That's disappointing to hear that Panasonic's new f2.8 zooms aren't compatible with the Manfrotto 521PFI remote controller. I did find the Panasonic 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 fully compatible, and added those test results to my previous post. I'm interested to learn whether the Panasonic 14-140mm f4-5.8 is compatible, if anyone has access to that or any other MFT lenses.
                    GH2 100Mbps Flow Motion v2 Patch

                    GH1 Reliable In-Camera Playback Patch
                    GH1 Blackout-Powell Patch
                    GH1 75Mbps GH1 Peak Reliability Patch
                    GH1 100Mbps Max Latitude Patch

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                      #11
                      Love the wireless headphones aspect... how bad is the delay?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Got my 521 PFI a few days ago. I'm experiencing similar issues to mcbob - lenses won't open fully. Here are the max aperture results I got from my native Panasonic MFT lenses on my AF101 today:

                        Lumix/Leica 25mm/1.4: f 1.9

                        Lumix/Leica 45mm/2.8: f 3.5

                        Lumix 14mm/2.5: f 3.2

                        Lumix 20mm/1.7: f 2.2

                        Lumix 14-140mm/4.0 to 5.8: f 5.0 to 5.8

                        Lumix 100-300mm/4.0 to 5.6: f 4.8 to 5.8

                        Lumix 14-42mm/3.5 to 5.6: f 4.2 to 5.6

                        I'm awaiting a call from the dealer, but it looks like the 521 might be going back. Shame, because it's an otherwise nice enough bit of kit and the damping on the focus wheel is just right.

                        Ben.

                        www.matobo.co.uk
                        www.bengiles.co.uk
                        Ben Giles BFE BAFTA

                        www.matobo.co.uk

                        @MatoboLtd

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by bengiles View Post
                          Got my 521 PFI a few days ago. I'm experiencing similar issues to mcbob - lenses won't open fully.
                          The one lens we both have is the Lumix 14-42mm f3.5-5.6, which worked properly with my Manfrotto 521PFI. I wonder if I may have been lucky with the 521PFI I matched up with my AF100? It could be there are unit-to-unit variations in 521PFI's that make some work well with the AF100 and others not quite compatible.
                          GH2 100Mbps Flow Motion v2 Patch

                          GH1 Reliable In-Camera Playback Patch
                          GH1 Blackout-Powell Patch
                          GH1 75Mbps GH1 Peak Reliability Patch
                          GH1 100Mbps Max Latitude Patch

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by Bern Caughey View Post
                            I just did some quick tests comparing Manfrotto's 521PFi, & VariZoom's "Panasonic DVHD" (which I used back in the HVX days). All my conclusions are based solely on the AF100's LCD displays, & haven't been confirmed by any other manner.

                            When utilizing the Manfrotto the widest aperture available on the 12-35/2.8 is f/3.5. On the 35-100mm f/2.8 the maximum aperture is f/3.4.

                            When the VariZoom's the aperture opens to f/2.8 on both lenses, but when zoomed to their longest focal length neither focuses beyond about 80 ft, & can't hit Infinity.
                            simple solution is out there!!!! if u dont need iris control on your manfrotto - then just dont use it and cut the cord that controls is.... thats it! or even better just buy a simple sound cord..... as u may see the connector is same as in any sound devise like headphones.... so u need just new cord that has JUST 1 CORD inside, not 2 like in manfrotto! and thats it u control focus and iris opens in full!

                            Comment


                              #15
                              There is an extensive discussion about remotes and iris control here. http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread...ic-14-140-lens

                              It focuses on the Foxi and Manfrotto. While the Foxi has adjustments to fix focus range, it seems the Manfrotto does not (not saying this is fact, it's just inferred from the discussion).

                              The final comment in the thread:

                              I returned a 521PFI due to it's limitations, but Manfrotto is supposedly working on a remote specifically for the AF100.

                              Hope it will work with the Birger adapter while awaiting their focus control.
                              Awarded Best Clear Com Chatter, 2001, PBS Television

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