Panasonic AG-AF1003D was supposed to be THE topic of discussion on the NAB show floor this week, but Panasonic snuck a 2D camera model into the show that grabbed more than its fair share of attention. Designed to help indie filmmakers and others make the move from Super 16 to HD while still capturing a cine-style image, the new AG-AF100 camcorder with its micro 4/3-inch imager captured the imagination of the same videographers who embraced the look of HD video from DSLR cameras, which offer rich depth-of-field characteristics but a lack of some features that video shooters need, like balanced audio and easy timecode. Panasonic’s trying to bridge that gap.

The AF100 records to AVCHD at a maximum of 24 Mbps and supports the updated SDXC standard for memory cards, supporting capacities from 32 GB to (eventually) 2 TB. In case compression makes you queasy, there’s also HD SDI out. Panasonic hasn’t set a price yet, but buzz out of NAB had the company targeting $6,000, which makes the camera a souped-up, videocentric alternative to less-expensive stills-oriented cameras like the Canon 5D Mark II and EOS 7D.

Sony has its own gear coming to that “entry-level” filmmaker space — something Senior VP for Sales and Marketing Alec Shapiro announced at Sony’s press conference as a “smaller, more-affordable camcorder” but with a 35mm-sized sensor. The camera was on stage but not on the show floor. (Maybe next year.) “Our goal is to establish a 35mm camera lineup for every budget,” Shapiro said, “without the need for never-ending firmware upgrades or workflow issues.” Stay tuned.

More camera-related info from NAB and elsewhere …