Last month I was part of a team that travelled to Malawi to film a documentary for Microsoft and even though baggage allowance for kit was very limited, we dared ourselves to take the Panasonic AF101 as the B camera.

The main cameras were two trusty old workhorses in the shape of Canon XLH1’s - I’m convinced these cameras could solve the global economic meltdown if only given the chance. They have been brilliant cameras for me over the years and once again stood up to whatever was thrown at them on this trip.

We were filming in some very remote villages on the outskirts on Blantyre and for the first couple of days we let the Panasonic AF101 just roam capturing some amazing B Roll footage. We got come great shots of the kids and the stunning views of the surrounding area. Our evenings back in the compound were always taken up reviewing the footage and being blown away with the beautiful depth of field and focus pulls that the camera was capturing.

The only negative was that we did end up with a lot of over exposed footage which I’m sure comes down to our inexperience using the camera rather than the actual camera itself. It is worth noting that we also had to purchase a DVTec shoulder brace before we left the UK as handling this camera is near on impossible after 5-10 minutes.

As mentioned before, the Panasonic AF101 delivered some amazing footage in Africa, but the challenge we faced when we got back to the UK was grading the look to match other footage, most noticeably the shots captured from the two Canon XLH1’s

The key is to white balance the cameras, but the real fix was using a plugin in Adobe Premiere called “Looks” from Magic Bullet. “Looks” has been around for years, but the ability to add defined areas of blur and blanket cover all the footage with the same tone made the contrast between any of the different formats minimal and I thoroughly recommend it.

To  summarise, the Panasonic AF101 is a great camera which has delivered bucket loads of great footage and I’m sure it can only get better  - but I’m so glad we had the trusty Canon XLH1 doing all the foundation work as this was undoubtedly the basis of the video once we hit the edit suite.

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Jamie Huckle