Phil Peel

Film, video, photography, sound and story

One of my earliest students was Andy Portch, whose gone on to have a distinguished career as a news cameraman for Sky. He’s recently taken to using the Panasonic GH2 and has written a really interesting report on using it and the AF101.


Size matters: By Andy Portch

A full size HD broadcast camera is picture perfect and looks impressive. The large camera also screams “TV Crew” and too often gives a ‘warped’ view as people react to the big camera or simply turn it away.  Twelve months ago the Micro four thirds (MFT) system caught my eye. The Panasonic AF101 and smaller GH2 stills/video hybrid cameras are cross compatible, sharing lenses and shooting the same AVCHD format. The AF101 is also significantly cheaper and smaller than the alternative Sony F3.

I went ahead and purchased the AF101 (AF100 in the USA) because it has all the video camera features: Neutral Density (ND) filter wheel, XLR audio inputs, Variable Frame Rate, SDI output and a dial in white balance. The AF101 ND filter wheel is the critical plus factor for me. I would not recommend any video camera without built in ND filters.

In the bureau with the Panasonic GH2

Working alongside my AF101 I have the GH2 which is small and discrete, with improved video functions over my old Canon 5D mkII. The GH2 has a crisp EVF with image magnification which means you don’t need an LCD loupe. Depth of field is shallow, but more manageable for video than a full frame sensor. I can still use manual full frame lenses with low cost adapters. In fact the beauty is I can carry the same creative stack of lenses for use with my GH2, GF2 or AF101 video camera.

I’ve used the combination of GH2 and AF101 extensively this year and to illustrate various points and lessons learned about the cameras’ use I’m going to refer to a portfolio of five news stories which I’ve done. Each is shot with Holly Williams, my correspondent in the Sky Beijing bureau. She has supported my tireless and sometimes tiresome quest for better imagery:-

Andy’s blog full report

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