AF100 and Voigtlander 25mm F0.95 hands on

I was guest of ReWo today at MBF, a rental shop in Berlin. They originally planned to do a head to head with a RED and Sony F3 but since these cameras were stuck in Frankfurt we instead had a play with the GH2 versus AF100.

The AF100’s rolling shutter is definitely better than on the GH2, but there is nothing else in the image which really gives it an edge, from what I’ve seen so far both hands on and on recent tests. I also dislike some of the build of the AF100, it’s very plasticy for a 5000 EUR camera. The GH2 has more rolling shutter on it’s HDMI output than in live view on the LCD, which is strange. What appears to be happening is a bit of line skipping to produce a low resolution live view feed for the LCD, whilst the more sophisticated pixel binning technique is used for HDMI and it’s full 1080p obviously, so rolling shutter is worse. The AF100 doesn’t have the same issue, but it’s LCD is just as rubbish as on the GH2, and it’s internal viewfinder looks like it’s taken from the GH2 as well! For that extra 4000 EUR you get some ND filters, better firmware, and a bigger plastic case. Vitaliy Kiselev recently confirmed that the AF100 uses the same CPU for it’s image processing as the GH2 as well, so it really as if Panasonic scavenged the consumer department’s spare parts bin to produce the AF100. It’s not 4000 EUR better than a DSLR, at least not in my eyes.

A SmallHD DP6 and TV Logic VFM-056W were in charge of monitoring. The TV Logic is better but again, it is a little like the GH2 versus AF100. The DP6 is just so much better value, and in some ways nicer to use. If it wasn’t for the waveform monitor and slightly better colour on the TV Logic it’d be hard to tell them apart. Two preset aspect ratios are available on the TV Logic – 4:3 and 16:9, from what I could tell, but there is a custom horizontal and vertical width option so you can anamorphic monitoring on it. The DP6 didn’t seem to pick up on subtle pink skin tones in the same way that the TV Logic did, but some of that is probably down to the HDMI output of the GH2.

We had a few Zeiss PL mount lenses and a collection of Voigtlander. These are fantastic, every single one of them is worth the money. Voigtlander are the oldest name in photography (invented the first camera, the first zoom lens, and have been around since 1756) but after a game of pass the parcel they ended up in Cosina’s hands, a Japanese optics house and only really exist as a brand now. It’s really a Cosina lens but the Voigtlander 25mm F0.95 feels German. It’s surprisingly sharp at F0.95 with only a hint of purple fringing and of very high quality build. Also on hand was a Zeiss 12mm T1.2 16mm cinema prime in PL mount, which came so close to covering the Micro Four Thirds sensor it was almost painful! Just a tiny bit larger coverage and we’d have a brilliant fast wide. The Zeiss 50mm T1.2 only had 3 aperture blades. Really, for the money, I’d have expected better than that!!

The GH2 cage is under going some manufacturing refinements and improvements and will be available soon, I am getting one in March to review.

It’s interesting to hear of opinions on RED and the Arri Alexa. An Israeli company whose main business is to supply military cameras for ariel photography which are attached to drones, make the sensors for RED and Arri. Of some surprise to me was that the RED Epic and Arri Alexa share the same sensor. 5K (or 4K on the RED ONE) is not really 1:1 pixel 5K, so I was told. The Alexa is capable of 3.5k but downscales it to 2K or 1080p in ProRes form. The general consensus was that the Alexa had the edge in image processing terms.