Canon’s Chickens Come Home To Roost With Crippled Canon EOS R5 Flagship 8K 35mm Sensor-Equipped Mirrorless Stills & Video Hybrid Camera

Given the trials and tribulations of living in lockdown for the past few months I have not been following the release of Canon’s EOS R5 and EOS R6 mirrorless hybrid cameras as closely as I should have. Apologies, so here is a catch-up.

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Canon EOS R5 flagship mirrorless hybrid stills and video digital camera with Canon RF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM zoom lens. Image courtesy of Canon via B&H.

My lockdown-born distance from recent digital developments suddenly changed when I came across a rather shocking Instagram post by camera accessories company Tilta featuring its Tiltaing Cooling Camera Cage for Canon R5, featuring its Canon EOS R5 Cooling Kit, a fan-driven and heavily-finned device designed, apparently, to rapidly reduce the camera’s temperature to one that makes it a little more usable.

Camera accessories maker SmallRig also appears to be working on a solution for the Canon EOS R5 and R6 cameras’ overheating problems, a Cool Cage for R5, and the company may take a different approach to that of Tilta.

Time will tell just as it will as to the actual usability of the R5 and R6 for their designed purposes, but for now enough camera reviewers with a professional background have shed whatever Canon fanboy tendencies they might still harbour in order to share some of the many problems they have been having with both cameras.

Canon EOS R5

Images courtesy of Canon via B&H.

Canon describes the R6 as having “… four times the detail of 4K” making it “the world’s first interchangeable lens digital camera with 8K movies” and the specs for the R5 and R6 certainly look impressive.

But, given the comments I have been reading from credible reviewers like Philip Bloom, Gerald Undone, Andrew Reid and Matthew Allard, the R5 and possibly the R6 appear to be major fails that may lead to class action lawsuits against Canon given the R5 at least does not live up to its marketing claims.

Canon EOS R6

Images courtesy of Canon via B&H.

Might Canon fanboys be better off with the R6 just as a stills photography camera given it is slightly cheaper than the R5?

Tilta Tiltaing Cooling Kit for Canon EOS R5

Images courtesy of Tilta.

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You know what the most annoying thing about the Canon R5 is? It’s that if it didn’t have these ridiculous issues it would be such an amazing camera. This is the first camera I have used in memory that punishes you for using it. Shoot stills then down goes your ability to shoot video in all but the basic line skipped normal speed mode. It is capable of utterly stunning images but there is absolutely no way this could ever be used as a hybrid camera, which it is marketed as, unless you are willing to live with the basic video mode. After shooting about 15 minutes of 8k (just basic IPB mode not raw) today spread out over an hour and then leaving camera off for 90 minutes I was never able to get the 8K option back, nor the 4K 120p, not the 4K HQ and not even line skipped 4K 50p! Basically if you want to use the good video modes use them first, don’t think shooting line skipped means you can use them later. Everything you do reduces the amount of time you can use those modes I mentioned above. The only time you can get the max amount is when you first turn on the camera. Please don’t tell me to use an external recorder. They should be used to bring new features to your camera not because your camera won’t let you record internally anymore as you’ve “shot too much”! I love the form factor of the small body especially for handheld. An external recorder would kill this. I love the stills, I love the video quality in the 8K and HQ mode. I love the animal video autofocus BUT I loathe being unable to use my camera as I want to most of the time. Please don’t accuse me of bias. I have none. I love Canon and have a lot of history with them. I spent £4200 on a camera I cannot use most of the time and that’s ludicrous! I truly hope they find a way to fix this debacle.

A post shared by Philip Bloom (@philipbloom) on

In his Facebook post on the EOS R5, Philip Bloom adds:

Please don’t accuse me of bias. I have none. I love Canon and have a lot of history with them. I spent £4200 on a camera I cannot use most of the time and that’s ludicrous! I truly hope they find a way to fix this debacle.

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You either love it or hate it. Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM zoom lens, prone to the all-too-common aperture control ribbon cable failure.

Unlike Mr Bloom, I do not love Canon and nor do I have a lot of history with the brand’s products.

My first Canon camera was the once revolutionary but even-then crippled EOS 5D Mark II which was initially only available in a kit with the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM zoom lens.

From the start there was a problem with the 5D Mark II, its erase button remaining pushed in after first attempt at using the camera so it went straight back to Canon Australia and eventually returned with the button repaired under warranty.

A straight-out replacement would have been a better option.

Then, just after the warranty for camera and lens expired, the 24-105mm kit zoom lens failed spectacularly and I have still not been able to have it restored to working order.

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Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM kit zoom lens.

Despite urgings by my BFF to get rid of my 5D Mark II, I have kept it despite not having a working Canon EF lens for it, instead occasionally using it with a couple of adapted M42 manual focus lenses via a Gobe M42 to EF adapter.

My beloved late uncle Brian Bell aka Sir Brian Ernest Bell CSM, KBE, CStJ, of the Sir Brian Bell Foundation and the Brian Bell Group of Companies, paid for my Canon EOS 5D Mark II and its Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM zoom lens, and I simply cannot let them go given I barely knew him and yet he proved to be so kind to me and understanding of my situation in his final years alive.

Uncle Brian gave me the 5D Mark II and lens as a gift in order to help me start a new life in photography and video after too many years away from them due to often insurmountable health issues.

At the time I knew nothing about the mirrorless hybrid revolution that was going on at Panasonic and to a lesser degree at Olympus so did not, to my regret, immediately buy into those two company’s Micro Four Thirds system that offered so much more than Canon in terms of affordability and video production capabilities.

Despite my misgivings about Canon’s clear lack of adequate quality control, thus quickly coming to rely instead on Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic cameras and lenses, I continued to hope that Canon might eventually see the light and provide the necessary alternative to the smaller sensor-based systems.

So, what a disappointment Canon’s attempt at matching if not surpassing Panasonic’s S-Series cameras has turned out to be, but I should not be surprised given what my BFF has told me about Canon’s research and development efforts before and during the time she worked there in an engineering role.

For fifteen years, apparently, Canon’s Australian R&D division was at the cutting edge of global camera, lens, printing and other technologies and creativity and innovation were anything but dirty words.

Canon had bought an independent Sydney-based R&D company then turned it into the major part of its worldwide product and technology development effort, replete with top engineers, mathematicians, physicists and other scientists and technologists.

Then the suits and the marketing types began taking it all for granted, replacing all this talent with the cult of process engineering, resulting in employees voluntarily departing or being fired en masse to the point where Canon’s R&D division no longer existed.

The scientists and technologists with the genius to solve problems like those apparent in the Canon EOS R5 and R6 were no longer there and, with the company now in the hands of marketing men, this mess is the result.

The chickens that became so apparent in the long years my BFF worked at Canon have finally come to roost, with a vengeance.

The “cripple hammer” described so often by my BFF and increasing numbers of professional customers has found its mark on the cameras that were supposed to firmly establish Canon as a pro-quality force in the mirrorless hybrid realm.

There will be nasty outcomes for Canon from all of this.

For a start, in his latest article at time of writing on the R5, Andrew Reid of EOSHD states that:

If it is proven that Canon purposefully hobbled the camera, or artificially restricted recording times in firmware, with heat as an excuse, in all the highest quality video modes on the EOS R5 they advertised as key headline grabbing features, I will never buy another Canon camera again for as long as I live and I think the full force of consumer law should be brought to bear.

Lastly, here is a comment from my BFF:

“Having worked for over ten years in the Canon research arm (CiSRA) I’ve seen first hand the erosion of innovation, given in to a vast implementation of process engineering.

Contrary to the process engineering activity curve rising sharply, our USPTO patent and innovation curve dived to nearly nothing in the space of three years.

It was all about keeping us engineers heads down with endless vacuous new policies thrown at us, while stifling us with excessive process engineering admin activities such as process management, configuration and release management, excessive performance waterfall adherence and the endless justification to Canon head office that we were worth keeping as a world-class Australian research facility, all the while shedding staff; some of the most brilliant sw and hw engineers, math professors, physicists and other ground-breaking innovators.

The company eventually closed its doors in 2016 after having spent millions moving office space.

In the end, the pointy-headed managers and their cohorts raked in the money while everyone else suffered.

Canon management only have themselves to blame.

Being a Japanese company, the way that female engineers get paid less than male engineers is bad enough, but the way management has destroyed innovation in this company is a crime.”

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Meike Cinema Prime Lenses for Micro Four Thirds & Super 35 Fill the Chasm Left by the Demise of Veydra Mini Primes

The sudden closure of Ryan Avery’s Veydra cinema prime lens design and manufacturing enterprise several years ago created a huge gap in the affordable ciné lens market and many self-funded independent moviemakers were dismayed if not devastated by the ending of the line. 

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Meike Cinema Prime Set in 12mm, 16mm, 25mm, 35mm and 50mm T2.2 lenses with Micro Four Thirds mounts. Meike Cinema Primes in 65mm and 85mm focal lengths are coming later this year, 2020. Image courtesy of Duclos Lenses.

Luckily, HongKong Meike Digital Technology Co., Ltd has ramped up its lens division to the point where the company appears to be rivalling if not outstripping Mr Avery’s noble efforts.

Veydra, thwarted

Duclos Lenses came up with a Fujifilm X-Mount option for Veydra’s Mini Primes that can cover the APS-C format. Image courtesy of Veydra LLC.

I had been planning on obtaining my own set of Veydra Mini Prime lenses for native use in documentary production on Panasonic and Blackmagic Design cameras, spurred on by Duclos Lens’ creation of its interchangeable mount to enable using a subset of the Veydra lenses on Fujifilm X-mount Super 35mm/APS-C cameras.

Two things dampened my enthusiasm, however.

First was the sheer cost of a complete set of Veydra lenses in M43 mount along with the Duclos X-mount kits needed when adapting them for Fujifilm X-mount cameras.

Compare the cost of the Meike primes with the now discontinued Veydra primes by looking at the Duclos Lens product pages for proof of the radical price differences between lens lines.

Compare the Meike lenses’ USD400.00 average price and reported superior quality to the Veydra lenses’ USD1200.00 average price and the conclusion is clear – consider investing in a set of Meike cinema primes.

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Meike 4 Lens Cinema Prime Set 12mm, 16mm, 25mm, 35mm T2.2 for Micro4/3 MFT at Revar Cine website. Image courtesy of Revar Cine.

The current price of the four-lens set for Micro Four Thirds as above at Ryan Avery’s Revar Cine website is USD1595.00, about one Meike lens above the cost of just one Veydra lens.

At time of writing, seven focal lengths are available as Meike Cinema Primes in M43 mount :

  • 12mm = 24mm in the 35mm sensor format
  • 16mm = 32mm
  • 25mm = 50mm
  • 35mm = 70mm
  • 50mm = 100mm
  • 65mm = 130mm
  • 85mm = 170mm

A subset of the Meike Cinema Primes is available for Super 35/APS-C cameras in Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount:

  • 25mm = 37.5mm in the APS-C/Super35 sensor format
  • 35mm = 52.5mm
  • 50mm = 75mm
  • 65mm = 97.5mm
  • 85mm = 127.5mm
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Meike 65mm and 85mm T2.2 Cinema Primes, listed by Meike as coming later in 2020. Image courtesy of Meike.

Whether for  M43 or Super 35 cameras, the Meike Cinema Primes provide a well-spaced and feature-matched set of focal lengths that should meet most cinematographers’ daily needs.

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The Voigtlaender Nokton f/0.95 Micro Four Thirds lens set, minus the matching and more recently released Voigtlaender Nokton 60mm f/0.95 M43 lens. Left to right: 10.5mm, 17.5mm, 25mm and 42.5mm focal lengths. Duclos Lenses offers ciné-modded versions of these stills lenses, making them more suitable for video production. Meike needs to offer a wider lens than its current 12mm.

I would very much like to see Meike release a super wide angle in the 10mm to 10.5mm range, and an 18mm moderate wide angle lens with coverage enough for M43 and Super 35.

I have written before about the need for a professional-quality 18mm lens for stills photography with Fujifilm X-mount cameras, as an alternative to Fujifilm’s quirky and semi-pancake Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R.

Meike’s current cinema prime lens offering for Super 35 goes no wider than 25mm and a complete lens set needs, nay, demands, a medium wide and an ultra wide lens in the equivalent of 28mm and 21mm.

That is, an 18mm and a 14mm.

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Veydra 50mm and 25mm Mini Prime Cinema manual focus lenses with imperial or metric markings, made by Veydra LLC.

Ryan Avery had been pursuing an 8.5mm ultra wide-angle Veydra M43 lens design but eventually ruled it out due to cost and size considerations.

And then disaster struck with a break-in at the company’s lens storage facility, followed by a court case with Mr Avery’s Veydra business partner.

Matthew Duclos of Duclos Lenses recently shared all he knows about Veydra’s demise at his personal blog.

Meike Cinema Lenses with Ryan Avery

Meanwhile, Ryan Avery is retailing Meike Cinema Primes at his Revar Cine website.

“Meike Cinema Prime lenses are designed specifically for mirrorless cameras. Available for MFT, Sony E, and Fuji X Mount cameras from Micro4/3 to APS-C size sensors. Compact, lightweight and perfect for a true cinematography experience on most mirrorless cameras.”

Meike Cinema Primes on Fujifilm and Panasonic hybrid and Blackmagic Design cinema cameras

Meike’s cinema lens lineup for Micro Four Thirds, Sony E-mount and Fujifilm X-mount are welcome indeed given their affordability and the absence of OEM cinema prime lenses by brands such as Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic and Sony.

After the end of Veydra, I was contemplating the direction to take with video-capable prime lenses for Super 35/APS-C and Super 16/M43.

I grew up relying on prime lenses for filmmaking and still feel most comfortable with cinema primes for video production over the reportedly excellent zoom lenses in several lens mounts made by Fujifilm in its Fujinon MK pairing for X-mount, E-mount and M43.

With Olympus’ recent announcement that it had sold its camera and lens division, and the possible outcome of its excellent M.Zuiko Pro zoom and prime lenses going the way of Veydra, I have been wondering if my beloved Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro should plan on welcoming some M.Zuiko Pro siblings if there was a sudden sell-off of the lineup.

But the M.Zuiko Pro lineup does not answer the need for X-mount cinema lenses whereas Meike appears to be on the right track not only with its current Meike Cinema Prime offerings and possible additional focal lengths but also its coming so-called “full frame” aka 35mm sensor format cinema prime lenses.

More power to Meike’s arm, though I do hope the company will see fit to loaning cinema primes to a range of well-qualified stills photography and video production reviewers so we can get the full measure of these exciting new lenses.

Now to find out if there is a way of converting their M43 mounts to Fujifilm X-mounts when needed.

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Fujifilm X Summit Shibuya 2019 and the Fujinon XF 33mm f/1.0 Super Fast Prime Lens

First topic to be tackled at Fujifilm’s X Summit Shibuya 2019 on September 20 was lenses and specifically the Fujinon XF 33mm f/1.0 superfast standard prime lens so often requested by Fujifilm aficionados in online polls such as those run by Patrick Di Vino of Fuji Rumors. 

Before tackling that lens, though, the soon-to-be-released Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR standard zoom lens was displayed onstage and its size and apparent weight hinted at it soon being a very in-demand lens and a viable alternative to Fujifilm’s three other standard zoom lenses, the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit lens, the Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR travel lens and the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR Red Badge premium-quality lens. 

The surprise of the lens segment, though, was the 33mm f/1.0 being shelved in favour of a Fujinon XF 50mm f/1.0 prime lens due to size and weight problems Fujifilm encountered in the design process. 

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Leica worked out the best prime lens focal length line-up for documentary photography and photojournalism in 35mm years ago and it remains the benchmark and role model for other lens makers to this very day. The only focal length missing from this lens collection is 40mm, which Leica made for the Leica CL rangefinder camera which was later taken over by Minolta as the Minolta CLE with 40mm standard lens as well as a 28mm and 90mm lens. Too many contemporary lens makers leave out 28mm and 75mm lenses and their equivalents for other sensor formats. Why? Both these focal lengths are the most essential for documentary photography and photojournalism.

I was not cut up about Fujifilm swapping the 50mm f/1.0 for the 33mm f/1.0 given I have never been a fan of 50mm and thereabouts standard lenses and their 33mm to 35mm equivalents in APS-C/Super 35 sensor cameras.

I much prefer 40mm equivalent “perfect normal” standard lenses due to their versatility and and proximity to the effects of human vision, finding 50mm lenses a little too much like short telephotos.

I often carry an X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 “pancake” lens attached and love this focal length as much for use in video as stills photography, for portraiture and interviews as much for multiple figure documentary work.

I even rely on my 27mm f/2.8 lens for handheld product shots, though in other camera systems and sensor sizes I tend more towards 50mm equivalents due to these lenses often being given away with the camera or at least at give-away prices.

I would love it if Fujifilm produced a weather-resistant aperture ring-equipped 27mm lens with manual clutch focus in line with the company’s commitment to pro-quality video production, to sit alongside the similarly-designed XF 14mm f/2.8 R, XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR and XF 23mm f/1.4 R lenses.

While Fujifilm’s X-mount Fujinon MKX 18-55mm T2.9 and MKX 50-135mm T2.9 parfocal cinema zoom lens pair appears to be an excellent solution for video production, we also need prime lenses more suitable for cinematography and stills photography on Fujifilm’s hybrid cameras.

Fujifilm’s surprise XF 50mm f/1.0 would make a suitable 75mm equivalent lens for stills and video as would a revamped XF 35mm f/1.4 R so long as both are also equipped with manual clutch focus.

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Nikon Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 manual focus, manual exposure macro lens, the lens with which I became a portrait photographer.

If Fujifilm’s lens designers can retain the optical qualities of the current 35mm f/1.4 lens, often referred to as the “god lens”, but encased inside a fast autofocusing, weather resistant, manual clutch focus housing then we would have a decent set of matched primes  for Fujifilm’s X-Tn and X-Hn series cameras as a viable alternative to the MKX zooms.

Even better would be if Fujifilm produced a fast maximum aperture 70mm prime lens, equivalent to 105mm in the 35mm sensor format.

Although portrait photography benefits from access to a range of standard or normal to longer focal lengths, from 40mm through 50mm, 75mm and 105mm to even longer ones contained within the Fujinon XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS Red Badge zoom lens, my personal preference for most portrait work is 105mm given I started in portraiture with Nikon’s Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 in my art school days and still yearn for a Fujinon APS-C equivalent.

A wider maximum aperture than f/2.8 would be even better, something closer to Sigma’s 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens than its 105mm f/2.8 Macro lens.

I might add that the 18mm focal length in APS-C and Super 35, equivalent to 28mm in the 35mm sensor format, is my number one preference for documentary cinematography and stills photography, and the lack of a professional quality 18mm prime lens in Fujifilm’s X-mount system is a constant thorn in my side.

If such a lens existed it would take up permanence residence on my prime documentary camera with a, preferably, fast 75mm or even a 105mm equivalent lens on my second cameras in a two-camera, two-lens documentary set-up.

Think Nick Nolte’s photojournalist in Under Fire or David Douglas Duncan with a long lens on an SLR and a wide lens on a Leica M-Series rangefinder camera.

Imagine a matched set of top-quality lenses for stills and video to choose from consisting of 14mm, 16mm, 18mm, 23mm, 27mm, 35mm, 50mm, 56mm and 70mm, all with weather resistance, manual clutch focus, fast autofocus and aperture rings.

No more hoping that third party lens makers might somehow see fit to come up with a full set of matched manual focusing optics so that Fujifilm’s Super 35-shooting X-mount cameras might have the video prime lenses they so richly deserve.

Documentary photographs using a two-camera, two prime lens set-up

Prime lens alternatives to the Fujinon XF 50mm f/1.0

My first two lenses for the X-Pro2 were the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R, and my choice was based on the available light documentary-style wedding photography practices of Kevin Mullins as generously shared on his website f16.click.

My budget was limited so other lenses on my list for consideration then, the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 and Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R OIS kit zoom, had to be excluded.

Over the years I have found the XF 56mm f/1.2 R to be an excellent portrait lens with the aperture set at or near f/1.2.

The 56mm’s downsides are the slowness of its focusing motors, its lack of manual clutch focus, that its closest focusing distance is not close enough for my full face portrait style, and its 84mm focal length equivalence means I often must step back too much when framing groups of people in crowds for images like the ones above.

Kevin Mullins’ style is not mine and it has been a long time since I photographed weddings to put myself through university art school.

Mr Mullins appears to mostly photograph weddings with wide open aperture, in program mode, and in search of a blurry, gritty, grainy, funky look whereas my ways of seeing and photographing derive from the deep focus and laser beam sunlight-lit places in which I grew up.

I have tried the Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR out for urban documentary and it performed well, alone and in combination with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 and that pairing has worked in a similar way to when I relied on Leica M-Series rangefinder cameras with 28mm and 75mm Leica lenses.

The Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR in combo with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0

If only Fujifilm would at least update its 18mm f/2.0 to match the optical and mechanical quality of its 50mm f/2.0, or even better come up with an f/1.4 18mm manual clutch focus alternative for video production and stills photography.

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Fuji Rumors Publishes Sketches of Fujifilm X-Pro3, Fujifilm X Summit Shibuya Scheduled for 1:00PM GMT, September 20, 2019

Patrick Di Vino of Fuji Rumors has done it again with a series of rumors about the much-anticipated Fujifilm X-Pro3 and which hardware features will make it into the successor to the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and X-Pro2. 

Mr Di Vino’s sources tend to be reliable and apparently none more so than the individual who supplied Fuji Rumors with a set of hand sketches of the X-Pro3, featuring several surprises including removal of the D-Pad and the addition of a downwards hinged LCD monitor. 

Will Fujifilm supply more information about the X-Pro3 at Friday’s Fujifilm X Summit Shibuya event? 

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Fujifilm X-Pro2 black with Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens and Fujifilm X-Pro2 graphite with Fujinon XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens.
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Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R prime lens. Although I badly needed this camera, Fujifilm’s first interchangeable lens X-Series camera, to supplement my Fujifilm X100 for use in charity documentary work, I had to forgo buying it due to its lack of built-in diopter correction, instead turning to Panasonic’s excellent Micro Four Thirds cameras with the added benefit of great video capabilities. I bought back in to Fujifilm after the X-Pro2 was released along with second generation and later interchangeable lenses that surpassed the turgidly slow focusing mechanisms of the first generation lenses including the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R, XF 35mm f/1.4 R and XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro.

Although Fujifilm generally listens to its user base and mostly acts positively on their requests, the company has been known to make some very odd decisions and none more so than the X-Pro1’s lack of the diopter correction essential for those of us needing to wear eyeglasses while we work.

As a result of that and other problems with its first generation professional-tagged rangefinder-style camera and lenses, Fujifilm lost me as a customer for several years while I explored another of the triumvirate of affordable digital photography and video innovators, Blackmagic Design, Fujifilm and Panasonic.

The many benefits of, for example, Panasonic’s fully-articulated LCD monitors on cameras like the Lumix DMC-GH4, DMC-GX8, DC-GH5, DC-GH5S, DC-G9 and more recently the coming 35mm sensor-equipped Lumix DC-S1H, became readily apparent when using these cameras for documentary stills photography and video.

Going from full articulation to the many and various one, two and three-way tilting monitors is feasible but uncomfortable, with too many sacrifices to be made in losing that key functionality and if every pro-level hybrid camera followed Panasonic’s lead then I would be very happy.

But then, cameras with fixed monitors or no monitors at all are not outside the bounds of usability either, so long as one does not need them for work in a wide range of genres from studio-based still-life to architecture, portraiture and documentary cinematography and photography, as I do.

I can do without any form of articulation on the X-Pro3’s LCD monitor if Fujifilm improves its electronic viewfinder way beyond the X-Pro2’s often irritating EVF, but I would most certainly need to add an X-T3 to my kit for everything else other than documentary photography or turn to Panasonic to affordably fill the gap.

I can do without the X-Pro’s D-Pad on an X-Pro3 so long as the camera’s Q Menu allows access to all the camera’s essential functions.

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Leica M-D (Typ 262), without LCD monitor or function buttons. Radical purism for those who can afford it.

I can do without yet another analog film simulation so long as the X-Pro3’s video functionality is improved beyond that of the X-Pro2’s pointlessly crippled video, as I was reminded this afternoon when in a situation that could just as easily have demanded recording video as much as stills depending on a possible sudden turn of events.

I can do without in-body image stabilisation aka IBIS on the X-Pro3 so long as the Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR proves to be the one-lens documentary cinematography and photography solution I have long been hoping for.

I look forward to learning more about the X-Pro3 and hope that Fujifilm has not taken an absurdly purist approach in imitation of, for example, Leica and its monitorless M10-D.

As much as I love Leica M-Series rangefinder cameras and lenses, and have a long history with them dating almost back to my start in professional photography during the analog era, most of what I do these days demands more of a camera than some sort of perverse ideological purism.

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Limited edition black Contax G2 with Zeiss Planar 45mm f/2.0 T* prime lens. Image by Japan Camera Hunter.

Leica was not the only maker of rangefinder cameras throughout the long history of analog photography, and the Leica M-Series is not the only role model available.

 

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Adobe Australia’s ‘The Big Picture’ Free Filmmaker Development Program Needs to be Available Throughout Australia, Not Just Melbourne During 2019’s St Kilda Film Festival

Adobe Australia is presenting an educational program during the St Kilda Film Festival in Melbourne on  Saturday and Sunday the 22nd and 23rd June 2019, and it is, apparently, entirely free of charge. 

The Festival organizers describe the Adobe Presents: The Big Picture program thus: 

The 2019 St Kilda Film Festival‘s two-day filmmaker development program covers everything you need to know about making a short film, from inception to distribution and everything in between.

Sounds great, but I want to see this program or something even better offered all around Australia or at least in Sydney. 

How about it, Adobe? 

When I was a kid growing up in another state of Australia, there were two possibilities there for training in film and television, a film and television institute and the state branch of the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Minorities needed not apply.

The institute was for wealthy, Anglo white boys from the “right” background and the cadetship at the ABC was for not-so-wealthy Anglo white boys from the “right” background or something very close to it.

This was a state still dominated by its Anglo Ascendency and having money and the “right” background remain the prime requirements for getting through the door.

Heaven help you if you were poor, ethnic, indigenous, working class, rural, non-male, of a certain age, a member of the LGBTQI community or some combination of these.

Heaven help you if the stories you wanted to tell fall outside the approved types or genres.

Heaven help you if that meant breaking the rich, white, non-ethnic male dominant narrative which we all perfectly well know is far from the only one that needs to be shared and the near-total dominance of which has lead to the dangerous state of the world today.

Pity if you have been discriminated against all your life, always coming up against closed doors, and yet are still trying to make a positive change for yourself and for those whose stories you need to tell.

Pity if you don’t have the cash or the means to take out a loan to move interstate and get yourself into a course at AFTRS, a university, a private college or some other film, television and digital media training organisation.

Even when Metro Screen in Sydney was operational, its short courses in various production skills were unaffordable for those without the “right” background.

That is why I was pleased but disappointed when I spotted mention of Adobe Presents: The Big Picture on social media.

An overview program like this is certainly better than nothing even if it is not as in-depth and as hands-on as one might like.

An overview program like this is certainly better than the nothing that is accessible to those of us not from the “right” background.

Adobe Presents: The Big Picture – two-day program

 

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Panasonic UK Lumix Ambassador Nick Driftwood Shares His Lumix S1 Custom Modes Settings File for Video

UK Panasonic Lumix ambassador and longtime video innovator Nick Driftwood is kindly sharing his custom settings file for shooting NTSC and Pal video with the newly-released Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 35mm sensor format hybrid stills and video camera. 

Creating settings like these can be a painstaking enough business with Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras and even more so with the Lumix S1 given it offers a total of thirteen, yes thirteen, custom settings slots as opposed to the five of its smaller-sensor siblings. 

Mr Driftwood has my gratitude for creating this settings file and even more so for making it available for free instead of a fee, at his Nick Driftwood’s Filmmaker Emporium

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Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R with Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4.0 zoom lens.

As I discovered last week, the Lumix S1 and S1R are great cameras for stills photography though I have yet to try them out for video.

Mr Driftwood confirms my observation about the S1’s photography capabilities, and he has more to say about it as a video camera:

This is a great camera for photographers with its 24MP FF sensor offering really good low light performance – its very clean even at 10000 ISO!

But it also translates over to decent looking video with its 4K 24p, 25p, 30p, 50p, 60p performance. Then there’s also the brilliant 4K/6KPhoto mode that can shoot 60fps in 4K/ 30fps in near 6K (for example 4:3 aspect mode is 4992×3744 pixels).

Switching around manually all these settings can be tiresome, so, I wanted to invite users to take a look at the custom mode features where you can set and store all your favourite settings and recall them in an instance. It saves so much time being able to load settings all in one go!

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  • Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S1R cameras, lenses and accessoriesB&H

Third-Party Adapted or Native Lenses for Documentary Stills and Video, and Portrait Photography, in APS-C and M43?

I try to buy the most appropriate photography and video production hardware and software that I can afford, and no more and less than what I need for the things I do. 

There are several reasons for that: I am a self-funded independent creative with limited means like most of that ilk, have limited space for safely and securely storing hardware, and I can only carry so much gear with me on location without paying a penalty in potential physical damage or at least neck and shoulder pain. 

Lastly, gaps still remain in manufacturers’ offerings of cameras, lenses and accessories for my chosen sensor formats and camera types, which right now include Fujifilm APS-C and Blackmagic Design and Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras. 

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Sigma lenses on special at the local Camera House camera store.

This morning I walked past the sole remaining local camera store, a small Camera House outlet, and saw that it is discounting a number of Sigma lenses at the moment.

As illustrated in the snapshot above, the store is offering discounts on native M43 lenses including Sigma’s 19mm, 30mm and 60mm f/2.8 DN Art lenses as well as the company’s apparently excellent 18-35mm and 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lenses with Canon EF mounts for APS-C sensors.

At the moment I am considering what new lenses may be useful in order to lift my portrait photography and documentary video game now that Fujifilm has come out with the X-T3 and Blackmagic Design has released its Blackmagic Raw codec, “world’s fastest RAW format with better quality and better features!”.

Being able to shoot 4K raw video on a small, affordable, dedicated M43 video camera with the potential of RED camera quality is exciting especially as we are seeing so many documentaries and fiction TV shows now being shot on the latter and they look terrific even when broadcast at 1080p.

Fujifilm’s X-T3 and for that matter the older X-Pro2 produce excellent quality X-Trans raw files that rival images from 35mm sensor cameras and I am gradually settling on Fujifilm cameras for portrait photography in particular as well as documentary photography especially in available light, or more often available darkness.

I would love to make portrait photographs on Fujifilm’s medium format sensor-equipped GFX cameras given their output appears to rival 4″x5″ sheet film in image quality but the cost of GFX cameras and lenses is a factor especially when all I would really need for medium format portraiture is a camera something like a view camera but without view cameras’ back and lens board movements.

Perhaps Fujifilm may eventually release the rumored modular compact GFX body that could be used in a stripped-down form as if it were a minimalist view camera, then all one would need is a set of two lens for portraiture, one medium wide for environmental portraits and a medium telephoto with macro capabilities.

Back to the here and now, however.

I continue to use M43 cameras alongside Fujifilm APS-C cameras for documentary and portrait photography, each for its particular strengths and differences.

I publish images shot on both together in the same project, and one is hard put to tell which image comes from what sensor when seen at web page and social media sizes.

Printing them large for gallery show exhibition may well reveal something very different, which is why I am leaning towards Fujifilm X-Trans APS-C at the moment.

Then there is the question of the best and most affordable X-mount lenses for documentary video, given Fujifilm’s reportedly excellent MKX18-55mm and 50-135mm T2.9 X-mount cinema zoom lenses are out of reach.

Fujifilm needs its own equivalent to Panasonic’s in-development Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens which looks terrific for documentary photography and video.

Its focal length range in 35mm sensor terms of 20mm through to 50mm is tailor-made for most work in the genre and such a lens only needs to be supplemented with a wide aperture telephoto prime or zoom lens when 50mm is not long enough.

In the meantime, perhaps I need to further research adapted rather than native lens solutions, and look at the equivalent focal lengths available when adapting Sigma’s 18-35mm and 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens to APS-C and M43 via third-party adapters with and without optical elements to widen its field of view and open up its maximum aperture.

Time to get out a calculator and do the maths.

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DPReview: Open letter to Panasonic: Innovations in manual focus could make Lumix S a winner for cinematographers

https://www.dpreview.com/opinion/3202272540/open-letter-to-panasonic-long-overdue-innovations-in-manual-focus

“Jack Lam is a cinematographer based in Beijing and Hong Kong. His body of work includes TV commercials, seasonal TV drama series and theatrical feature films. His commercial clients include Cathay Pacific, Lenovo, Airbnb, Alibaba, and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. He also works with DJI as a design consultant for their cinema products….

… As a working cinematographer, I am super excited by Panasonic’s announcement of the Lumix S mirrorless camera system. The Panasonic GH5 is so well-designed, it has become a reliable workhorse for many video shooters. I have no doubt a full-frame version of it will be amazing, and everything I read about the S1/S1R confirms that.

However, Lumix S has the potential to become much greater that what we see in this product launch. With this brand new camera system, Panasonic has a unique opportunity to create the perfect small camera system for professional cinematographers. But doing so requires Panasonic to address a long-standing problem that is overlooked by all other camera makers, as well as some rethinking of conventional ideas on camera design.

This missing feature – one that can become a potential killer feature for Panasonic – is good manual focus control for video….

… I want MF control that is simple, accurate, reliable, repeatable, predictable, measurable and ergonomically sound. It should also be wireless-capable and highly integrated as part of the camera (so that we can keep the camera small and don’t need to add six other accessories just to pull focus). Do you know of any small (DSLR/mirrorless) camera in the market that fulfills all of the above requirements? I have found none.”

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Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 35mm sensor mirrorless camera with Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS standard zoom lens.

Commentary

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

Please note that Jack Lam’s open letter was written late 2018 before the official launch of the Panasonic S1 and S1R cameras and lenses, before detailed specifications were released.

The elephant in the room of mirrorless and DSLR hybrid cameras is manual focusing, and it is pleasing that Mr Lam has addressed it in depth.

The autofocus capabilities of modern mirrorless cameras have been steadily improving for use in stills photography, but I often find myself flipping over into manual focus whenever starting off with autofocus when shooting video, no matter how much innovation has gone into each camera’s video autofocus functions.

The problem of manual focusing limitations in cameras is further compounded by the manual focusing and focus pulling limitations of the lenses that are made for them, with their reliance on non-linear focusing control rings or lack of focusing rings altogether.

Whenever possible I invest in lenses that have manual clutch focus mechanisms and hard stops at each end of the focussing scale, but these lenses can be far and few between in any camera system.

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Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R prime lens with manual clutch focus, equivalent to 21mm in the 35mm sensor format.

Lenses manually focused via control rings are more common, whether the option of switching from non-linear to linear operation is offered in cameras’ firmware or not.

Given a choice, I will always select a manual clutch focus lens over autofocus-only or control ring-only lenses, but then there is another factor, the all-too-common lack of an aperture ring.

The ideal lens for me has both, with a switch for clickless and clicked operation of the aperture ring being the best option for riding exposure in variable light.

I write about this stuff as often as I can but I am nobody and no camera manufacturer pays attention to what I have to say.

It may be a different matter for Jack Lam.

I hope that Panasonic is not the only camera and lens maker that may read Mr Lam’s open letter.

I want Blackmagic Design, Fujifilm and Olympus to read it and act positively upon it too.

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Olympus O-MD E-M1X camera with fully-articulated LCD monitor. I relish having fully-articulated monitors on my Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras and use them constantly for photography and video. I am not so enamoured of the two-way, three-way and non-articulating monitors that have been appearing on recent cameras by other manufacturers including Fujifilm, Sony and now Panasonic in its S Series cameras. Full articulation, please, camera makers. 

Manual focus and focus-pulling for video with mirrorless hybrid camera should not have to suck.

I am beyond tired of it sucking on the cameras that I try out and consider for purchase.

I am tired of having to mention it all the time in my articles in the hopes of things changing for the better.

I am sure that my contacts at the camera and lens companies are tired of me and reportedly many others asking them to lift their game.

Mr Lam makes a number of other excellent suggestions on page two of his article as published by DPReview, or you may wish to read it at source, at Mr Lam’s The Right Lens web log below.

For good measure, here is his list of other necessary features, all of which I agree with:

Other Good-to-have Features

While we are at it, here are some good-to-have features that I’d like to see in the Lumix-S system. But they are not nearly as important as a good focus control system.

– GH5-style Flip-out Screen. It is already so good. Don’t change it.

– High-bright Screen. Make it viewable under sunlight. I know it eats battery and heats up quick. But it really is super useful outdoor.

– Internal ND

– 4K 10-bit Log 60fps

– Build-in Video Transmitter or make it an add-on module that is highly integrated with the camera. Monitoring thru WiFi isn’t reliable enough. (I know I am getting greedy…)

– Sturdy, Positive-locking Lens Mount. For the time when we do use a cinema lens. (Just like the mount upgrade option on the Canon C300 MK2)

– Ergonomics. For the video-centric pro model, please, don’t make it too large, otherwise the whole talk about small cameras getting good focus control becomes moot. At least give us one video-centric model with DSLR-like form factor. And please, for god’s sake, don’t make it shaped like the Canon C100 / C300. They have the worst ergonomics.

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Bounce-Back and Sore Eyes: Why to Choose Black-Bodied Cameras Over Half-Silvered Ones

I have been trying out a Fujifilm X-T3 loaded up with the latest firmware in order to shoot some HLG video footage and further try out the camera’s radically improved autofocus functionality which will reportedly be getting better again in a future firmware update, possibly in April this year. 

The first X-T3 I borrowed was half silver and half black while the current loaner is all black, and what an unexpected and pleasant difference that has made.

I made great use of the silver X-T3 in a two-day documentary photography project and shot quite a bit of footage with its Eterna and F-Log picture profiles, on location in available darkness and the brightest of high UV sunlight.

Each time, halfway through the day I would notice my eyes becoming sore and by day’s end the soreness would be unbearable, especially in my right eye.

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Plenty of reflective silver. Fujifilm X-T3 minimally rigged for video with Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS kit zoom lens, 58-77mm step-up ring, variable ND filter and lens cap for protection in your camera bag when out walking about.

I am ambidextrous and tend towards right eye dominance though that is not exclusive, and with DSLR-style cameras always use my right eye to view through their electronic viewfinders.

I had attributed the unaccustomed soreness to the slowly worsening eyesight of my ageing myopic eyes, and had feared the worst for my eyesight despite recent eye tests showing expected slow, steady but not marked deterioration in vision.

I wondered whether using an EVF camera might be the cause of the soreness given I own two Fujifilm viewfinder cameras, an X100 and an X-Pro2, and use their optical viewfinders in preference to their EVFs.

But then I also have two Panasonic Lumix EVF cameras, one viewfinder-style and the other DSLR-style, and have never experienced problems like this with either of them.

This week, after extensive use of the black X-T3 for shooting video and stills, I am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the silver X-T3 and its highly reflective silver-coloured magnesium upper body might be the reason for my previous and constant eye soreness.

I have had no eye soreness with the black X-T3 at all.

Of course, this observation about the difference between the two versions of the X-T3 is a deduction and not the result of any form of scientific test, but it is something worth thinking about when I am in a position to invest in my own X-T3 and the coming  Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR zoom lens.

I had been wondering whether my eye soreness was the product of the EVF in the X-T3, and was worried the problem might rule out investing in an X-T3 or any other DSLR-style Fujifilm camera, but the electronic viewfinder clearly is not the source of that problem.

Postscript

I used the black X-T3 in a wide range of lighting conditions throughout the weekend, in bright high-UV sunlight, deep shade and in poorly-lit train stations and experienced none of the eye soreness that I had when using the silver X-T3.

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  • FUJIFILM X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • FUJIFILM X-T3 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 R OIS WR – to be released later in 2019.