We’ve always loved blurring the background and making films look grainy and cinematic in post-production for our conventional videos. A few months ago this new Panasonic AF101 camera spoke to me, promised the world and allowed me to do all this live while filming. This is one of the new breeds of camcorders offering incredible depth of field using standard digital single-lens reflex (SLR/DSLR) camera lenses.

It’s a big step change for us as we’re very much into the reporter “run and gun” style of filming. By that I mean we often have short deadlines and increasingly shorter budgets which mean we’ve adapted to getting the most from a shoot day. We record footage very quickly to maximise our time on site and then add the “extras” and beauty to the video in post-production.


So the idea of fiddling about with lenses and iso settings while on a shoot location to get the perfect balanced shot with a blurred background is an alien concept to us, but we’re loving the challenge! When I took the Panasonic AG-AF101 body out of its box it felt very intuitive and easy to set up. However, worryingly after 10 or 15 minutes of fiddling there was no picture! I tried changing the adapter and the lens but still nothing.

Only once I’d ploughed through a few online forums and posted a few questions did I find that you need to turn off a feature called “Lens Check”, turn the camera off and then your camcorder will ignore the fact that the lens has no electronic functions and will display a picture. (Now I don’t feel so angry or useless as this isn’t really what you expect to have to do when you get a new camera!)

So we’ve got a job coming up in Leicester square in the next week or two where we’ll dare to fully test out the Panasonic in a real world situation. We are very much looking forward to it, and of course I’ll post the results here on the blog

Oh, and if anyone knows of a good shoulder mount for the Panasonic AF101 please let me know, I’m a bit loathed to pay over £2000 for a piece of slightly curved metal and a rolling pin handle!

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Jamie Huckle