Phil Peel

Film, video, photography, sound and story

AF-100 in use by Ted Hayash

Posted by Phil On January - 17 - 2011

From: Ted Hayash <ted.hayash@gmail.com>

I’ve played with one – a friend brought one by the other day, and I
shot a little test while I had the opportunity. I liked that we could
go from an 85mm Zeiss CP1 in PL mount to the 14-140 kit lens in
seconds. The camera has many of the foibles of the HPX-200 type
cameras (center-rear mount viewfinder, plastic body…) and many
improvements as well. There’s a wheel on the back of the camera that
allows you to select shutter angle in degrees, including 144, and the
frame rate in frames per second very easily. You can also very quickly
switch back and forth between two preselected frame rates with the
same wheel – very easy. There’s a focus assist that uses a marker on
the flip out screen to indicate what portion of the frame should be in
focus and a bar at the bottom of the screen that shows you when you’ve
hit that mark. We had a Marshall monitor on top, and a Cineroid
viewfinder attached to it too – it’s got HDMI and HD-SDI output that
work at the same time (as long as the menu settings are correct). The
gain switch can be set to any ISO setting – I set it to 200, 400 and
800. The handle on the right side that on an HPX-200 has a zoom
rocker, is just a dead handle, and unscrews easily – I can see a
custom made plate replacing it that lets you screw all sorts of
accessories onto the camera, or perhaps a place for an Anton-Bauer
plate or anything else you might like. The media is easy to deal with
– it took an SDHC card with no problem at 1080p, 60 fps. A 2GB SD card
was a problem, and unlike the RED One that warns you that the “Media
is Too Slow”, certain menu items were simply grayed out.

I shot the test in a sort of real world situation, in mixed light,
with fluorescent, daylight, a bit of tungsten, and one light panel for
a bit of an edge. I shot wide open at 800 ISO, and used the HotRod PL
adapter, a couple Zeiss CP1’s, and the Panasonic 14-140. The Panasonic
lens, while impressively small for a 10:1 zoom, is really a consumer
lens. The lens extends quite far when zoomed in, far enough to elicit
a few laughs. It’s also quite slow. However, it is a 14mm, and the
wide end is where inexpensive pro glass isn’t readily available. The
widest Zeiss Compact Prime is 18mm – a great choice for pro glass, but
this is Micro Four-Thirds, so I think you really want something wider
too. The camera handled well, and kitted out well, but I was a little
disappointed with the image. I found the blacks to be noisy and a bit
gray, and personally I dislike it when the blacks really sit up. I did
shoot with Cine Gamma D, which can be a bit flat, and the choice of
800 ISO certainly influenced the noise levels – I’m sure a lower gain
setting would help, and there are probably more ideal settings than
the ones I used. I do like the Panasonic colors, which always seem
pleasing. Taking the HD-SDI output to a Ki-Pro or something like that
would probably be better than the AVC-HD codec that the camera records
to internally. It did go straight into Adobe Premiere with no problem,
which was nice. I only color corrected one shot, which improved the
shadows immensely.

http://vimeo.com/18834997

Overall, I think it solves many of the problems that shooting with the
DSLRs portends, with the most exciting thing the prospect of a huge
range of lens choices. Voightlander 25mm f0.95 anyone? Olympus 14-45
f2.0? Or how about the Zeiss rectilinear 8mm?

Ted Hayash
Filmmaker
Los Angeles, CA

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