A few buyers of Panasonic's new AG-AF101 camcorder may get them in time for Christmas, but anyone ordering now could be in for a long wait.
Demand for the large-sensor camera has been much higher than expected. "The first shipment has been well over sold. The second shipment is probably pre-sold too," said Richard Payne, Technical Business Development, at Holdan, Panasonic's UK distributor.
Anyone ordering one now would be unlikely to receive it before the end of January, and perhaps even later. Some of its dealers have ordered hundreds of them.
"I've never seen so much demand for pre orders for something no one has seen yet. It's been very unusual," he added. He believes the biggest attraction of the camera is "mainly the ability to produce creative depth of field on a camera costing about £4,000."
He has spent some time with a pre-production model, and says: "It is fabulous. It's as good as I expected it to be." He hopes to buy one himself, and has been demonstrating it to possible customers, such as the National Film and Television School, where it was put through low-light tests in just candlelight. The results looked so good that Brian Tufano, the cinematographer of Billy Elliot, Trainspotting and many TV dramas (who also teaches at the NFTS), said he'd like to use it to shoot a feature film.
It is possible that Holdan will be able to get some shipments to dealers just before Christmas, but most won't have them until the week of the 27th.
The camera: uses a Micro Four Thirds sensor (almost as large as a 35mm movie frame); can be used with a wide range of lenses, including Zeiss Compact Primes and stills lenses via adaptors; records 24Mbps AVCHD onto SD cards, but has HD-SDI and HDMI outputs for 4:2:2 recording; shoots variable frame rates; has none of the aliasing or moiré effects seen on HD DSLR cameras (as it uses an optical filter to reduce the resolution and smooth out any possible defects); has lots of video features, such as peaking, waveform display, various gamma modes, internal optical ND filters, uncompressed audio with XLR inputs, and timecode input/output.