5D Mk II vs. AF100 – Real Life Test: Similar Commercials

Test charts and sample footage only tell you so much. When the rubber hits the road, the real test of a camera is how it delivers on a paying gig. In this regard, I have been able to conduct a rather unusual test: shooting very similar projects, first with the 5D Mark II, and then with the AF100.

The first example is a commercial that I shot on the Canon 5D Mk II for a local construction company.

It was so successful that this year, I was hired to shoot a follow-up commercial. This time, I used the Panasonic AF100. The client specifically requested a similar script, a similar structure to the spot, and the same on-camera speaker. Although the original location was no longer available, I used a similar setting for the on-camera presentation.

The next example is a web video I did for a local upscale restaurant. In this one, shot on the 5D Mark II, the General Manager talks about the restaurant’s ambiance.

Here’s another video, shot in the same restaurant (although from a different angle), also featuring the manager. This time he discusses wine. A couple of the b-roll shots were from an earlier 5D shoot, but 90% of this was shot on the AF100. Although I missed the 5D’s shallow depth of field and wide-angle capability (especially in the small, dark wine cellar) I reveled in the AF100’s slow-motion ability and ease of use.

Obviously, these are not flashy, high-budget projects: I was a one-man-band for the AF100 shoot, and only had the assistance of an audio operator for the 5D shoot. In both cases, I used minimal lighting, and simple editing. Light color grading was accomplished with Colorista II.

Nevertheless, for all intents and purposes, this is as close to an apples-to-apples comparison as you can get without shooting side-by-side cameras.

Take a look, and leave a comment to let me know what you think!

8 thoughts on “5D Mk II vs. AF100 – Real Life Test: Similar Commercials

  1. Pingback: AF100 vs. 5D Mark II (First Impressions) « Vid35

  2. Hi,
    First of let me compliment you on your work, you’ve got great results with both cameras.
    I just watched your clips in their embedded versions and I’ve got to say the AF100 looks a bit soft to me. That and the highlights tend to go off a cliff, or skew when blown out rather than the smoother rolloff with the 5D. Apparent in the wine clip with B roll from the other shoot.
    I really want to like the AF100, but it seems to have such a narrow “sweet spot” where it really shines.
    What lenses are you using on the AF100?
    Regardless, your clients are very lucky to have you producing these very polished spots for them!
    Thanks for posting these comparisons.



    • Thanks for the kind words, Tam. I agree with your observations, but I would volunteer a couple of additional thoughts.

      The AF100 has a very comprehensive range of sharpness settings, and I’ve been turning them up and down to see what looks best. I agree that the AF100 looks a bit softer in the Foundation Repair spot (for which I had turned the sharpness down a bit), but it looked quite sharp to me in the wine video (in which I had the sharpness turned up). As you say, there’s a narrow sweet spot, and I’m still trying to figure out how I like it.

      The highlights have been an issue, no doubt about it. I think part of the problem is that the smaller sensor gives a deeper depth of field, which means that blown-out highlights (such as the window in the background of both Southcoast commercials) are sharper than on the 5D, and therefore less attractive. I’ve been using the knee function in the AF100 (see this post for details on my scene settings), and that definitely helps, but it’s still not the camera’s best feature.

      Funny that you should ask about lenses … I’m currently evaluating some lenses, and those results will be my next few blog posts.
      : )

      However, I don’t want to keep you in suspense: I shoot primarily with manual Canon “FD” lenses for medium-to-long shots, and an EOS-mount Sigma 12-24mm lens for wide shots. The EOS adapter gives me a lot of vignetting, but it’s the only way I have to get a wide-angle shot right now. What I’m doing right now is comparing those lenses to the dedicated Lumix lenses, and seeing how they stack up. Stay tuned!

  3. Yes, the 5D2 will be the benchmark for micro-budget filmmaking for quite a while. I’m doing the majority of my commercial work on the AF100 right now, but as I learn what the strengths and weaknesses of that camera are vs. the 5D2, I will be sharing my findings and, perhaps, going back to the 5D for certain things.

    One of the main advantages of the 5D, which has largely gone unreported, is the enormous number of beautiful lenses that can be used on that camera, versus the relatively limited offerings for the other systems you’ve mentioned. I like the AF100’s ability to accept virtually any third-party lens (with an adapter to Micro 4/3 mount), but the 2x crop factor is a killer! See more on that here: https://vid35.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/af100-lens-comparison-1-sigma-12-24-vs-lumix-7-14/

    • Thank you for sharing your experience. Lenses, of course, have got to be a huge deciding factor. I haven’t the foggiest but could one adapt a Canon lens to the AF100 for a “scientifically pure” test, using the same exact lens on both cameras? Wouldn’t that be perfect. I mean, since the Canon covers full frame, I’d think the AF100 would perhaps(?) gain a tad from having the sweetest part of the Canon lens.

      My first reaction to seeing the Panasonic was:
      Great, in addition to the long shooting periods, ergonomics and other pluses of a video camera, I would think clients would have more respect for it over a HDSLR merely because of it’s appearance since it is starting to look like a mini 35mm Panaflex (without a 1000ft magazine.) Besides, we already know today’s video at 24p/1080 resembles film much moreso than yesterdays.

      Having been a film AC in film amongst other crew roles in my past, recently on Facebook I posted: “A 1000ft MAG. does not make the MAN!” haha. Clearly.

      Enjoy your weekend and Thank you!

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