Panasonic took an uncommon turn in its pro video cam lineup tonight by launching the first-ever Micro Four Thirds camcorder. The AG-AF100 uses the mirrorless capturing but SLR-sized sensor to shoot 1080p30 video with the same depth of field and wide angles as a 35mm film camera but in a much smaller size than either film or most digital cameras. Choosing MFT provides an extra perk for optics: movie makers still have the option of interchangeable lenses, including adapters to use lenses from Leica or even rivals like Canon and Nikon.Unlike the home-oriented Lumix G2, the AF100 packs pro input and output with HD-SDI for relaying uncompressed video and two XLR inputs that can generate Dolby AC3-ready audio. Its sensor isn't a direct echo of the still-oriented MFT range and shoots natively in a cinema-friendly 16:9 ratio. Video is captured directly to AVCHD at up to the spec's maximum 24Mbps bitrate and allows for 60FPS shooting at either 1080i or 720p. Equally new to the camera format are timecodes on video and dual SDXC slots that, combined, can handle at least 128GB of total storage and more as larger memory cards ship.
As with many of its more recent introductions, Panasonic isn't supplying a price and has only said that the AF100 will ship before the end of 2010. Costs are likely to be relatively low as the company is aiming the camera at "independent filmmakers" and others with tight budgets.