Real Techniques Makeup Brushes Have Excellent Handmade Synthetic Bristles, Though Black Rubber on Mine Has Deplasticized, Handles Too Sticky to Use – UPDATED

The most important lesson that I learned in art school was buy the very best brushes that you can afford, and the second most important was to clean them carefully, thoroughly and regularly.

I preferred the relatively new acrylic paints over traditional alternatives such as watercolour, gouache, tempera and oil paints, and applied my acrylics with hog bristle, sable and synthetic fibre brushes as well as palette and painting knives for more vigorous effects. 

Synthetic fibre brushes were somewhat primitive in those days and so I reserved them for less exacting tasks, hoping that they would improve and perhaps someday surpass in quality the pricey and often fragile brushes made from natural fibres. 

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Real Techniques and EcoTools makeup brushes and accessories at one of the closest Priceline stores to where I live.

Besides being cruelty-free, those synthetic fibre brushes handled acrylic paint better than natural fibre alternatives though synthetic fibre brushes lacked the handling finesse of so-called natural fibre brushes.

Until now.

Some Real Techniques brush sets and accessories from which to build your collection

Start at the upper leftmost image and click rightwards to see how thorough the Chapman sisters and the Real Techniques product developers have been in creating a rational cosmetics application system, filling every gap in a way I have not seen in any other brand.

A while back I was preparing for a personal portrait photography project aimed at depicting female creatives in their workspaces.

During my Australian magazine editorial portrait career, photographers rarely had the time or the budgets for assistants, hair and makeup artists or high-end lighting equipment.

I had experienced something very different in my time working on the other side of the fence at magazines and in advertising agencies in the United Kingdom, and the necessity for a creative team and adequate time was proven again and again.

It helped that the photographers I was commissioning and production-managing were often at the top of the profession, were accustomed to being treated well and I was paying them ample fees and costs to do their job to the very best of their and their teams’ abilities.

In other words, the very opposite to what I and my fellow magazine photographers had experienced over the years in our own country.

I was determined to do it differently in my personal portrait photography projects and, with the help of a little knowledge gleaned from watching my former partner at work as a UK-based MAC makeup artist, decided to build a collection of cosmetics and makeup brushes and accessories to carry with me.

I am no makeup artist, have no high-end training in the profession like my ex-partner, but quickly learned the necessity of providing for skilled hair and makeup professionals when commissioning photographs of female and male subjects for magazine and advertising shoots.

Now I would have to stand in as one for my own projects or at the very least provide a well-rounded kit for my subjects to use as needed.

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Some Real Techniques brush and accessories sets at the closet Priceline store to where we live. Sets like these are a great idea in my humble opinion, especially when assembling your own kit and not befitting from years of experience as to which brushes are most appropriate for what you wish to do.

Discovering Real Techniques

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Some of my Real Techniques makeup brushes, in close-up. The black rubber on the handles of all Real Techniques brushes in my collection has deplasticized to the point where the brushes themselves are almost unusable. The black liquified polymer transfers to users’ skin as well as other surfaces and is hard to get off.

When I came across several Real Techniques brushes in a Sydney city Priceline store, I was gobsmacked.

Here were synthetic fibre brushes miles ahead of the early ones I had used and found so frustrating during my art school days and beyond.

I bought one and found it was made to a standard I had not seen in the synthetic fibre brushes I often perused in the high end art supply stores I sometimes dropped into while working on urban documentary projects in the city.

The late photographer and fashion stylist Karl Lagerfeld apparently used top quality makeup brushes when creating his fashion designs, fashion illustrations and caricatures, and I could see myself using Real Techniques brushes for applications in photography and design as well as in applying makeup.

As more Real Techniques brushes began showing up in a couple of CBD Priceline stores, I added more to my collection and hoped that the Real Techniques might organize their brushes into sets for specific tasks.

Watching my former partner doing makeup at model test shoots confirmed that line of work was as skilled and as creative as any other creative profession and as reliant on possessing the best tools and consumables money could buy.

My project is set aside

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The same kind of black rubber coating was applied by Esprit to its full-size umbrellas and it, too, has deplasticized and liquified to the point where they are too sticky to use. These umbrellas are, otherwise, the best-made mechanically and in terms of their fabric covering. We continue to look for some way of making them usable again.

Ill health and other factors over which I had no control meant I had to put off my documentary portrait photography project, but recently I began assembling the kit needed to resume it when health and other conditions improve.

My Real Techniques brush collection, still not as complete as I would have liked, had been carefully stored in a dedicated closet well away from each other and any volatile substances or fluids, and went unused for several years.

Then moving day came and I discovered to my horror that my Real Techniques brush collection had succumbed to the same fate as some other treasured objects.

All of my Real Techniques brushes have black rubberized lower handles, all the better for good grip in the same way as our collection of full-size Esprit umbrellas, LensPen screen and sensor cleaning tools and even some control buttons and dials on our Mercedes sports car (secondhand but well-loved and cared-for by previous owner).

All these items have succumbed to their black rubber coating deplasticizing often to the point of liquidizing, becoming sticky and unusable to various degrees, picking up detritus that becomes embedded in their surfaces and then transfers to the fingers and other items of equipment.

I dropped into a couple of Priceline pharmacy stores not far from where I live to see if Real Techniques products were still being sold here, and found that the company’s product range had expanded considerably since I bought my brushes.

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LensPen Lap Top-Pro screen and keyboard cleaners, from our collection of five of them. All suffered from varying degrees of deplasticization aka surface liquidization of the black rubber coating as has my LensPen SensorKlear Loupe Kit. They are all unusable as a result. As with all my professional equipment, these cleaners and sensor cleaning loupe kit were stored in Sistema storage boxes with rubber grommets to ensure that no undue substance made their way into the boxes and onto the items inside them.

Going online to the Real Techniques website revealed even more new and more specialized products than appeared in-store.

Although some of the brushes on sale appear to be made with a rubber-looking black coating on their lower handles, many others looked as if they were made with plastic down there rather than rubber.

Has Real Techniques replaced the deplasticizing black rubber of its earlier generation brushes with a material less prone to the same break-down?

So far my enquiries have not drawn definitive conclusions but I certainly hope they will soon.

My initial tests with the brushes several years ago were so encouraging that I was prepared to invest hard-earned readies in a collection of them.

The black rubber’s liquefaction on all brushes in my collection is disappointing, to say the least, just as the same degradation in my LensPen items, Esprit umbrellas and Mercedes control surfaces was disappointing.

Have these coatings not been tested properly before applying them to product runs?

Were they simply a fashionable gimmick at the time and were they withdrawn when purchasers began complaining?

The makers of those other items did not have any useful advice as to what could be done to render them usable again, but I am hoping for something better with my Real Techniques brushes.

Meanwhile I have been looking at those brush and accessories sets in the photo gallery further up this page, pondering how they might help contribute to a well-rounded hair and makeup location kit like the rather larger one my ex used to carry around all over the UK, Europe and the Middle East.

I need something I can transport around Sydney in a backpack, containing enough tools and cosmetics to at least subtly groom my subjects if not do a full hair and makeup job if needed before photographing them.

Time to get into practise on myself?

Meanwhile, I have provided a number of links below if you wish to read up on Real Techniques and the inspirational sisters who front the brand and teach makeup techniques on their online channels, one sister being a former MAC professional makeup artist.

Postscript

I am still in dialogue with the customer support representatives at the Real Techniques brand’s parent company Paris Presents Incorporated but so far there has been no useful resolution nor any suggestions from them as to how to make my Real Techniques brushes usable or whether the company will take responsibility for its products and replace them.

The latest email from Real Techniques appears to be a deflection, in fact.

Here is the first reply:

Thanks so much for your email, we really appreciate the feedback. Many customers have found that sometimes brush cleaner can make the rubber handle peel or bubble. Try not to put any wet brushes next to the handles of other brushes, or get them wet in any way. This often happens when customers clean on the go and then throw the brushes in a case to transport them.

Here is the second:

Thanks for reaching out.  Can you please give us an approximate purchase date, the name of the retailer, and the name printed on the side of the brush?

And here is the latest:

We’re so sorry to hear what happened! Please contact the retailer where your product was purchased for a solution according to their return policy. Unfortunately, we can’t accept returns for products purchased from retailers, but we trust that all our retailers have fair return policies.

Australian retailers often have a seven or sometimes fourteen day returns policy on products that are clearly defective when purchased, and I seem to recall that under Australian law the return and replacement period may be longer, possibly thirty days.

Retailers always ask for the cash register receipts as proof of purchase but the ink on cash register receipts rapidly fades to the point of invisibility, so keeping old and ancient cash register receipts just in case a product later proves unfit for purpose is a pointless exercise.

I do not have the receipts from when I purchased all my Real Techniques brushes, so fronting up to the various Priceline stores in the city from whence they came may well also prove to be a pointless exercise.

Some manufacturers take full responsibility for their products whether they prove defective at purchase or unfit for purpose over time, and offer full replacements.

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The LensPen folks kindly replaced this defective lens cleaning pen without complaint and without deflecting my enquiry. The retailer is no longer in business and I do not have the faded-to-blank cash register receipts.

For example, LensPen replaced one of their lens cleaning pens after the cleaning surface suddenly popped off of its own volition while sitting in a storage box.

I have followed up my initial enquiry about the defective LensPen Lap Top-Pro screen and keyboard cleaners and LensPen SensorKlear Loupe Kit with the LensPen folks and am hoping for a similarly positive outcome.

The Esprit umbrella situation is unresolved as the company closed its stores here and I have yet to make contact with the company’s head office.

Again, I no longer have the faded-to-blank cash register receipts from the long-closed Esprit store Pitt Street Mall store.

I would love to know the true story behind this black rubber coating that seems to have been popular amongst product manufacturers but that turned out to be such an abject failure.

Hopefully it is no longer in use.

I wish to see the original developer of this coating take full responsibility for it as well as the manufacturers that were duped into using it.

Post-Postcript

Success! Amazing what a great deal of gentle but forceful rubbing with methylated spirits aka methanol can do.

Whatever you do, do not ask anyone who has never had this problem for suggestions and solutions as they can be widely off the mark.

A friend just came by, looked at the computer stand that I currently have soaking in a bowl of methylated spirits and told me I would be better off spraying it in layers of epoxy resin to seal in the liquified rubber compound.

Right.

Stick with soaking in and rubbing with methylated spirits and you will be okay.

Avoid vicious solvents like full strength acetone, lacquer thinners, petrol, kerosene and anything else helpful friends suggest.

Especially avoid making the problem exponentially worse by spraying or dipping thew affected object with paints, lacquers, resins and all sorts of nasties.

After discovering the problem with my Real Techniques brushes, I did a thorough search throughout all my possessions and found that this nasty black substance has been used on all manner of items including automobile interiors and control surfaces, mirrors, photographic equipment, television sets, radios, hi-fi equipment, computer accessories, pens, and plenty of other items whether cheap or expensive, old or new.

Links

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Cages for the Panasonic Lumix GH5: At Least Two Being Designed Right Now – ARTICLE UPDATED

Prescript, as it were

Since I wrote this article near the beginning of 2017, a number of camera cages for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 have appeared on the market and I have been able to take a look online at many of them. In the case of one GH5 cage, Seercam’s Cube GH5, I have been kindly sent one and have had the opportunity of taking a closer look than websites permit. 

Seercam's Cube form-fitting GH5 camera cage with one-touch quick-release Classic Plus top handle, finger support handle and quick-release rod riser.
Seercam’s Cube form-fitting GH5 camera cage with one-touch quick-release Classic Plus top handle, finger support handle (not shown) and quick-release rod riser.

I admit to a degree of well-informed bias. I have a Seercam cage for my GH4 and it has served me and my GH4 well, amply living up to Seercam’s mission of providing the best protection possible. If it were not for that cage, my GH4 might be in pieces due to an accident that occurred shortly after I bought it. The cage took the impact and my GH4 was saved.

Motion9 GH4 cage at left, Seercam GH5 cage at front and SmallRig GX8 cage at rear right.
My current cage collection: Motion9 GH4 cage at left, Seercam GH5 cage at front and SmallRig GX8 cage at rear right.

Seercam, by the way, is the new international trading brand name for the South Korean camera accessories company Motion9 and so my GH4 cage was branded as a Motion9 product.

After buying my GH4 cage, named the CubeMix GH4/3 due to it fitting the GH4 and GH3, Motion9 improved its design with the addition of a quick-release top handle and a quick-release cable clamp under the new product name, CubeMix GH4/3 Pro.

If those accessories were still in production, I would snap them up in a second as they solve the single biggest problem I had with the GH4 cage back then, the need to rapidly remove and reattach the CubeMix GH4/3’s three handles when working fast on location.

Quick release accessories, whether attached via dovetail rails, NATO rails or Arri rosettes, are clearly the way to go for speed and efficiency and permit safely carrying your caged camera about in a backpack or shoulder bag then quickly removing it and snapping on handles and other quick release accessories ready for work.

None of my current shoulder bags or backpacks are dedicated video camera bags permitting carriage of fully assembled video rigs, but Peak Design’s 30-litre Everyday Backpack with its flexible internal space has proven to be a good solution for carrying cage-mounted cameras and other oddly-shaped and sized video equipment.

UK Lumix Luminary Nick Driftwood's anamorphic moviemaking rig. Panasonic's Lumix GH5 is suitable for tripod-mounted big rig moviemaking as well as mobile handheld video cinematography.
UK Lumix Luminary Nick Driftwood’s anamorphic moviemaking rig. Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 is suitable for tripod-mounted big rig moviemaking as well as mobile handheld video cinematography.

Sometimes though, transporting a fully assembled video rig is beyond the capabilities of even the best and biggest bag. Nick Driftwood’s GH5 rig for anamorphic moviemaking above, also depicted further down this page, is a case in point.

Anamorphic lenses aside, big rigs like Mr Diftwood’s are not uncommon when shooting full-length documentaries, the main purpose for which I bought my GH4 then added Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 cage followed by a Panasonic DMW-BGGH3 battery grip for stability and added power in handheld video and stills photography.

Seercam's Cube GH5 camera cage, Extension Kit for GH5, rod riser and Classic Plus Handle can accommodate some hefty camera rigs if need be. Alternatively, their Cube GH5 cage is lightweight yet protective enough for stripped-down rigs consisting of camera and lens only.
Seercam’s Cube GH5 camera cage, Extension Kit for GH5, rod riser and Classic Plus Handle can accommodate some hefty camera rigs if need be. Alternatively, their Cube GH5 cage is lightweight yet protective enough for stripped-down rigs consisting of camera and lens only.

Communications with the Seercam team reveal they are working on further GH5 solutions including an international-standard external battery pack, a special longer rod for the Extension Kit for Cube GH5, left and right side handles and an updated quick release rod riser.

Links


The original article

With the March 2017 release of Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 Super 16/Micro Four Thirds looming, my attention turns to the many and various accessories needed to make the most of this revolutionary camera. One essential accessory for filmmakers seriously considering the GH5 is a cage, and at least two cage-makers are known to be working on designs at the moment. 

Camera accessories maker SmallRig is currently working on this lightweight cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 and is inviting input from interested parties. I have a SmallRig cage for my Panasonic Lumix GX8 and recommend it. Seercam, formerly Motion9, is also working on a cage for the GH5.

I am most familiar with two brands of cage makers – SmallRig and Seercam, formerly Motion9, links below. I currently own one cage made by each and would definitely consider purchasing from both again.

The folks at SmallRig design their new products via a crowdsourcing process, as it were, seeking input and new ideas from users. Seercam is interested in hearing from potential users and I have, accordingly, sent them the photograph of Nick Driftwood’s GH5 anamorphic rig below.

More images of SmallRig’s GH5 cage currently in development

The Seercam folks tell me that they are waiting to test one of the three GH5s currently available in South Korea and will finish their design at the beginning of March. They will be showing it and other products off at NAB in April.

Nick Driftwood’s GH5 rig for anamorphic moviemaking

UK Panasonic Lumix brand ambassador Nick Driftwood’s anamorphic GH5 rig featuring the GH5, battery grip, XLR1 audio adapter, Atomos Shogun Inferno monitor/recorder for 4K 5pp/60p 10-bit 4:2:2 ProRes, SLR Magic 35mm x2 anamorphic lens, Lanparte matte box, Røde NTG2 microphone phantom-powered from the XLR1 hotshoe. “We need to see a special GH5 cage design for the XLR1 from hardware companies,” Mr Driftwood says. That XLR1-savvy design should allow placing the unit anywhere off-hotshoe via a custom cable.

At the very least a cage must offer protection for the camera within and prevent twisting and damage when accessories are mounted on it.

I am not fond of mounting large or heavy microphones or recorders on hotshoes – I would much prefer to attach them via coldshoes on a cage. If something untoward happens to the coldshoe then it can be replaced. Not so a hotshoe.

I am becoming enamoured of battery grips especially when shooting battery-sucking 10-bit 4:2:2 4K or DCI. I prefer attaching recorders beneath the camera and attaching mics to them via coiled XLR cables.

At present I don’t use a rig like the one in Mr Driftwood’s photograph, but I may well need a rig like that minus the anamorphic lens when shooting a feature-length documentary.

The rest of the time my typical rig will be stripped right down for MOS (without sound) handheld video, or with a recorder beneath camera-plus-battery-grip and a microphone on top of the cage. Plus variations.

If a cage and its accessories can be made to accommodate all the typical scenarios one encounters in the course of a typical working career in stills and video – I often use cages for both applications – then I will be very happy indeed.

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris. Apologies to ELP.

Photograph of Nick Driftwood’s Panasonic Lumix GH5 rig courtesy of Nick Driftwood.

Tech Notes

Hero image of SmallRig cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 processed in Alien Skin Exposure X2 using a cyanotype preset.

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Camera, Kits, Battery Grip and V-Log L

  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 8-18mm Lens KitB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-35mm Lens Kit – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery Grip – B&H
  • Panasonic V-Log L Function Activation Code for DMC-GH4, DC-GH5, and DMC-FZ2500B&H

SDXC V90 cards

  • Angelbird 64GB AV Pro UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Panasonic 128GB UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H

L-Plates

  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set for Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Camera Body  – B&H

Camera Cages

  • Movcam Cage for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Movcam Cage Kit for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Seercam GH5 CageB&H
  • Seercam Cage for GH5 with Classic HandleB&H
  • Seercam Extension Kit for CUBE GH5 CageB&H

Will Fujifilm Release Its Long-Awaited X-E3 Rangefinder-Style EVF Camera Later in 2017?

Rumour site Fuji Rumors is one of the more interesting sites of its type on the Web alongside sister rumour sites 4/3 Rumors, SonyAlpha Rumors, Canon Watch and Mirrorless Rumors. Of the five, I read 4/3 Rumors and Fuji Rumors the most, on a daily basis, and a recent scan of the latter reminded me of how much both mirrorless camera systems I use have in common. 

The article that got me thinking is a rumour about Fujifilm’s X-E3 being announced if not released later in 2017. 

Fuji Rumors recently published an article about the APS-C rangefinder-style EVF camera the Fujifilm X-E3 being announced later in 2017.

Fujifilm’s X-En – with n standing for a number – rangefinder-style camera series is not one that I have seriously considered until recently. I have yet to look at one in a camera store much less try one out with the prime reason being the X-E2 and X-E2S’ sensors remaining at 16.3 million pixels when the X-Pro2 and X-T2 are at 24.3 million pixels.

Although pixel counts as such can be overrated, as the previous decade’s pixel wars proved, the 50% pixel jump from 16MP to 24MP comes in handy when producing images for gallery shows, an indulgence in which I engaged during the analog era and may well revive in digital form sometime soon.

Anything over 20 million pixels

Anything over 20 million pixels is a serious moderately large exhibition print contender in my book and now the GFX 50S and its successors have really captured the mega-high millions pixel end of the market.

Then there is the X-En series’ current lack of a joystick, a feature essential to speedy use of contemporary digital cameras that Panasonic has now adopted for the GH5 and no doubt all its future high-end cameras. The X-Pro2 and X-T2’s joysticks have been a joy to use.

I can’t speak about other possible issues with the X-E2s and X-E2 due to my inexperience with both but the X-En series possesses some clear advantages, most especially its rangefinder-style form factor ensuring easy sighting through its viewfinder with the right eye while keeping the left eye open to observe the wider scene ready for the moment approaching objects, or people, are about to hit their marks.

In this the Fujifilm X-E2S matches the Panasonic Lumix GX8 with its similarly rangefinder-style design, a camera I bought as a more affordable backup for my GH4 than a second GH4, primarily for shooting video.

I quickly discovered that the GX8 is also a terrific stills photography camera with its 20MP sensor, exposure zebras and most especially its brilliant tilting EVF.

Panasonic’s rangefinder-style Micro Four Thirds stills and video camera the Lumix GX8 is one of my favourite cameras for both uses and is unique amongst digital cameras for its tilting EVF.

Zebras, PLEASE!

Every camera, including those made by Fujifilm whether for shooting stills, video or both, must be equipped with zebras for achieving perfect exposure under the ETTR – expose to the right – principle amply explained by Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming at his Leeming LUT One website.

Quite why Fujifilm has not added accurate ETTR capability to its X-Pro2 and X-T2 flagship cameras via exposure zebras remains beyond comprehension.

Zebras-based ETTR on my Panasonic Lumix cameras continues to get me out of sticky stills and video lighting situations where high values burn-out is a very real risk.

I quickly grew to love my Lumix GX8 and when I add a GH5 to my Super 16 documentary moviemaking kit, the GX8 will double as a third 4K camera for three-camera interview set-ups while remaining one of my prime Micro Four Thirds stills cameras.

Panasonic’s MFT cameras should not be underestimated as small, portable, responsive documentary and photojournalism cameras. For me, they are our digital equivalent to analog’s small 35mm hand cameras while delivering image quality equivalent to or surpassing the 120 format in its 6×4.5cm frame size.

Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 and X-T2 flagships are, in my estimation, our digital answer to 120 format in the 6x9cm frame size with the GFX 50S matching or surpassing 4″x5″ fine grain sheet film in its image quality.

X-E3, the natural stills companion camera for the X-Pro2?

When production of Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success is well underway I will be in need of a second APS-C documentary stills camera and it will, of course be made by Fujifilm. But which one?

The X-T2 is an excellent EVF companion for the X-Pro2, but both remain without exposure zebras even after the latest firmware updates. While the Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder-equipped rangefinder-style X-Pro2 is unique and has a permanent place in my heart due to that, the X-T2 is something of a curate’s egg, mostly very good but a little annoying too, promising but the risk it may not fully deliver on that promise, as outlined by Paul Leeming in his letter to Fujifilm.

Will the rumoured coming Fujifilm X-Tn “super camera” be the DSLR-style Super 35 video/stills technical camera hybrid I would have loved the X-T2 to be? Might the X-E3 be a more affordable wider and longer prime and zoom lens companion for the X-Pro2 which works best with prime lenses in the 18mm to 56mm focal length range?

If Fujifilm grants it some essential professional features then it may well be. At time of writing, the black Fujifilm X-E2S is priced at around AUD739.00/USD699.00 and the black Fujifilm X-T2 at around AUD2199.00/USD1599.00.

An X-E3 with a feature set attractive to professionals and priced in similar ratio to the X-T2 would make it extremely tempting as a back-up or companion rangefinder-style EVF camera.

My Fujifilm X-E3 features wishlist

  • AFC-C custom setting presets – same as the X-Pro2.
  • Hand grip – an essential for all Fujifilm cameras in my experience, and a mystery as to why Fujifilm has not produced one for the X100F.
  • Dials and buttons – situated wholly on the right for consistency with the X-Pro2.
  • ISO/shutter speed dial.
  • Joystick – a must for all future cameras of any brand.
  • Rangefinder style – a given, especially as my default camera design preference is exactly that and not DSLR style. If DSLR-style then such cameras must have fully-articulated monitors while a rangefinder-style camera can do without, though I do like the GX8’s fully articulated rangefinder for video.
  • X-Trans 24.3MP sensor – essential in order to match the X-Pro2’s image quality.
  • Same viewfinder options as the X-T2 – dual, full, normal and vertical, with dual my favourite of them all.
  • Small and light – compared to the X-Pro2, just like the GX8 in relation to the GH4.

Links

Image Credits

Header image created in Macphun Luminar and Affinity Photo using a Fujifilm press photograph while the two in-body photographs were created in Luminar.

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Clicking on these affiliate links helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled: Stories of Creativity, Innovation, Success’.

  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 23mm f/2 LensB&H
  • Fujifilm X-E3 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 18-55mm LensB&H
  • Fujifilm MHG-XE3 Metal Hand GripB&H

No Panasonic Lumix GH5 Hands-On Tours Where You Live? Watch PhotoJoseph’s Excellent GH5 Videos Instead!

GH5 Sample Footage No. 5; Slow Motion, 2160p @ 60fpsI continue to read about hands-on tours and launch events elsewhere in the world for the exciting new Panasonic Lumix GH5 Super 16/Micro Four Thirds mirrorless hybrid stills/video camera but there is no sign we will be seeing anything like that happening here in Sydney anytime soon. So, what to do? Watch videos about the GH5, that’s what! 

panasonic_lumix_gh5_splashproof_square_1920px

Joseph Linaschke aka PhotoJoseph of PhotoJoseph Studios in Ashland, Oregon, is sharing a number of videos about the GH5 at his YouTube.com channel and I am posting them here for your watching convenience.

I have a GH5… wanna see?

Behind The Scenes With The GH5! | Photo Joseph’s Photo Moment 2017-2-15

LUMIX GH5 with Sean Robinson from Panasonic — A Conversation with PhotoJoseph

LUMIX GH5 Extended Interview with Panasonic’s Sean Robinson, Part 2 A

LUMIX GH5 Extended Interview with Panasonic’s Sean Robinson, Part 2 B

LUMIX GH5 Extended Interview with Panasonic’s Sean Robinson, Part 2 C

LUMIX GH5 Extended Interview with Panasonic’s Sean Robinson, Part 2 D

Who wants to see the GH5 menu system? We go through the CAMERA settings and that’s it

GH5 Menu system explored, part 2

More GH5 info from the LUMIX Luminary Summit — PhotoJoseph’s Photo Moment 2017-02-22

GH5 Autofocus System Explained! — PhotoJoseph’s Photo Moment 2017-02-21

GH5 Sample Footage No. 1; Follow Focus in UHD 60p

GH5 Sample Footage No. 2; Follow Focus for Stills & 6K Photo

GH5 Sample Footage No. 3; Low Light Video & Stills

GH5 Sample Footage No. 4; Slow Motion, 1080p @ 180fps

GH5 Sample Footage No. 5; Slow Motion, 2160p @ 60fps

GH5 Sample Footage No. 6; Focus Transitions

GH5 Bit Depth Difference Electronic vs Mechanical Shutter? | PhotoJoseph’s Photo Moment 2017-03-01

Response to Cinema5D GH5 Criticism | PhotoJoseph’s Photo Moment 2017-03-02

Image Credit:

Header image by Carmel D. Morris.

Tech Notes:

Hero image of the GH5 processed in Macphun Luminar using the Magical Moments preset in the Vivid Wonderland presets pack.

The Leica M10 Rangefinder Camera, First Digital Leica I Would Consider Buying

In assembling the very first Leica camera in 1913 and 1914, Oskar Barnack created the archetypal small, solid-bodied roll-film camera, an archetype that has influenced cameramakers to this day. The first Leica, often referred to as the Ur-Leica, helped introduce the concept of exposing small negatives then enlarging them to finished size.

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This breakthrough came at a time when professional photographers were required to own a range of sheet film cameras or at least sheet film holders in the various sizes required for the final print which was made by contact.

Leica’s cameras, using short lengths of 35mm movie film, were an economical and versatile alternative, though their contemporary pricing places them out of the reach of all except the wealthy or those most dedicated to the Leica brand, quality and experience.

Leica cameras and lenses do, however, last for decades, easily repaying their initial purchase price over their working lifetime.

The Ur-Leica, the beginning of it all.

While Leica cameras were popular with enthusiasts, or amateurs as they were referred to in those days, they were viewed with suspicion by many if not most professional photographers in the brand’s early days. However, they were especially favoured by the growing legion of picture magazine photographers, many of whom contributed to the growth and establishment of photojournalism.

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Leica creator Oskar Barnack at his Leitz company workstation.

The Golden Age of Photojournalism is commonly reckoned to have existed between the 1930s and 1950s, only starting its decline with the ascendancy of television broadcasting and television news reporting.

That golden age was partially attributable to the arrival on the scene of the first commercial Leica camera in 1925, the Leica 1.

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By way of background, most magazine and newspaper photographers of that time and for some decades to come relied on sheet film and large roll film press not unlike the Graflex Century Graphic 4″x5″ sheet film camera depicted below, in an extract from a camera manual.

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I owned and frequently used a Graflex Crown Graphic 4″x5″ sheet film camera for magazine photography assignments, often for editorial portraits, when I could cart about the camera, tripod and flash units in a van or hire car but I always carried one or two Leica M-System rangefinder cameras as well.

Each type of camera gave rise to its own unique aesthetic, the product of its design, size, film requirements, and most of the all the linked experiences of photographer and subject.

I could produce not dissimilar styles of photographs with my Crown Graphic and my Leicas – note the presence of a rangefinder on the side of the camera above – but the experiences both sides of each camera were very different, leading to different interpretations of the same type of subject matter.

And so to the Leica M10, after that long but useful history lesson.

The Leica M10

This event being a launch and not a hands-on tryout, there was no time for getting an in-depth feel for the Leica M10. However I have been kindly offered an hour with an M10 and several lenses in the city and will be taking up that offer soon.

Meantime, I can say without a doubt, even having only had the Leica M10 with Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 Aspheric lens in my hand for a very short time that this is the very first digital Leica that has me tempted.

It is solid, really solid, and gives the impression it is machined out of one big chunk of brass. I sometimes found myself in difficult circumstances when I relied on my pair of Leica M analog rangefinder cameras, and their solidity meant I could rely on them to withstand any conditions, above ground in a celebrity’s living room or deep down below in the mines of Western Australia.

The Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 lens felt equally solid and sure in my hand, focusing dead fast and accurately. Lens and rangefinder of this manual focussing only masterpiece of hand-built precision felt far better than my former cameras and lenses.

The M10’s hardware interface is elegant, well engineered and beautifully made. The ISO selection dial is intuitive and fast to use. The limited set of buttons felt equally intuitive in use though I did not have the chance to do any deep diving. That may well come later.

If my invitation to try a Leica M10 comes off then I will have more thoughts and information to share here at ‘Untitled’.

To summarize, though, the Leica M10 felt like my Leica analog cameras and lenses reborn into the digital world, their ghosts hovering around me while their newborn descendant almost guided me into operating without thinking.

It was an uncanny experience and a good one.

The Perfect Lens Set

If money were no object, this is the full set of lenses I would choose for available light (and available darkness) documentary or photojournalism projects. It includes fast 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm lenses, left to right. Leica’s all-manual, solid brass lenses can last for decades when treated with care and maintenance every so often. As with the Leica M10, this lens set will serve you well for a very long time and help you cope with a wide range of subjects and conditions. A good starter subset of these five lenses would include the 28mm, 35mm and 75mm. If you can afford only one lens, make it the small and versatile Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 Aspheric, second from left. If two lenses, then the 28mm and 75mm.

The Leica M10 Launch Event, by Carmel D. Morris:

The Leica M10 Launch Event, by Karin Gottschalk:

Specifications:

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris. Product photographs and historical photographs kindly supplied by Leica. Images from camera manuals available at OrphanCameras.com/Butkus.us Camera Manual Library.

Tech Notes:

Event photographs made with Fujifilm X-Pro2 and X-T2 cameras with Fujinon XF 23mm f1.4 R and Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lenses then processed in ON1 Photo Raw 2017 with Bogart Warm or Bogart Cool presets.

Billy Luong of The Fuji Guys States X-Pro2 4K Video is Possible and is Fighting for It

When the Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera was first announced there was a great deal of excitement about the fact that its brand new 24MP X-Trans III non-Bayer sensor would be capable of 4K video. Although the X-Pro2 was released  with 1080p Full HD video capability only, I was informed early last year by a Fujifilm staffer that the camera’s 4K video capability was forthcoming, to be released sometime after the 4K-capable X-T2. That never occurred. 

The Fujifilm X-T2 Super 35 4K camera rigged for video. Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 has the same 24MP X-Trans III sensor and can be 4K capable as well via a firmware update, according to Canadian Fuji Guy Billy Luong. He says that he is fighting for it. I support him in that fight.

I was deeply disappointed. I want the X-Pro 2 to be fully 4K video-capable  and I suspect more than a few purchasers of Fujifilm’s X-Pro2 camera were too, although they may not be so vocal about it or have simply given up on the idea and have placed their faith in the X-T2 as a viable Super 35 4K video camera.

Although there is nothing wrong with shooting video at FHD 1080p, given most television channels still broadcast FHD-delivered programs at 720p, the differences between shooting and editing in 4K then downscaling for distribution and broadcast, and shooting and editing FHD, are observable. The quality is much better.

Shooting, editing, outputting and archiving at 4K for 4K distribution when the means finally arrives makes good business sense. Why fail to future-proof your work by working only in FHD when 4K and the infrastructure you need to handle it is here now and continues to improve?

I was first alerted about Fuji Guy Billy Luong’s statement about the X-Pro2’s 4K capability and his fight for it at the FujiRumors website, in their article of the 12th February:

The half line skipping when shooting 4K allows the X-T20 to shoot 4K without overheating. Take asks Billy if this could be implemented to the X-Pro2 via Firmware update. Billy answers: “I hope so, it’s something I’m pushing all the time. I don’t understand why the X-Pro2 has no 4K like X-T20, since there is a solution for that. I’m fighting for that in Japan.“

The video by bigheadtaco aka Take Kayo where Billy Luong makes this statement is below.

The Fujifilm X-T20 is a DSLR-style EVF-only spin-off, as it were, of the X-T2 and it “is capable of recording both Full HD and 4K video using the X Series’ famous Film Simulation effects“, apparently through half line skipping.

Further, “… the FUJIFILM X-T20 also supports 4K video for amazing movie quality with minimal moiré and artifacts. The camera accepts both an HDMI monitor and an external microphone for full-scale video productions.

When I wrote my first article about the Fujifilm X-Pro2, I tested the X-Pro2’s video functionality and was impressed by its ability to shoot movies in Fujifilm’s justly celebrated film simulations. The downside then, besides the lack of 4K support, was the X-Pro2’s lack of other features necessary for high quality video.

I cover those still missing features in my article, How to Make the X-Pro2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Request to Fujifilm by Karin Gottschalk, which is a spin-off of director.cinematographer Paul Leeming’s own letter to Fujifilm about how to make the X-T2 a real force in Super 35 moviemaking, How to Make the X-T2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Letter to Fujifilm from Paul Leeming.

ebook_fuji-xpro2_video_setup_guide_cover_1024pxVideographer Steve MacDonald is also a fan of the potential of the Fujifilm X-Pro2 rot be a great video camera and has written a soon-to-be-published ebook on the subject, The Fujifilm X-Pro2 Video Set-Up Guide, based on its current 1080p FHD-only incarnation.

I won’t reiterate my own arguments for cameramakers refusing to do a Canon, as it were, by not crippling their own cameras’ capabilities in firmware. I also will not restate how useful it is to be always carrying a camera equally capable of top-notch video as well as stills for those moments when amazing or important things suddenly happen in front of you.

I will state here though that Mr Billy Luong has my full support in taking his fight for 4K video in the Fujifilm X-Pro2 to the powers-that-be at Fujifilm in Tokyo. No more crippling core camera functionality, please!

The Video:

What is Line Skipping?:

Further Link:

Nick Driftwood’s Panasonic Lumix GH5 Top 10

I have been reading about the many Panasonic Lumix GH5 roadshows that have been going on elsewhere in the world with no small amount of envy. There has been no news of any such events happening here so I am sharing the next best thing, a graphic featuring Brighton-based moviemaker Nick Driftwood presenting his Panasonic Lumix GH5 Top 10. 

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Panasonic Lumix UK brand ambassador Nick Driftwood presents his Panasonic Lumix GH5 Top 10.

Panasonic brand ambassador Mr Driftwood has been touring the UK with a pre-production GH5 and has some years of experience with Lumix and Panasonic video cameras and camcorders.

Image Credits:

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris.

On the Røde Again with the New VideoMic Pro+ & VideoMic SoundField Microphones

Australian audio brand Røde Microphones, part of the Freedman Electronics Group along with Aphex, Event Electronics and SoundField, celebrated its 50th year at the group’s RØDEShow 2017 event in Las Vegas earlier this year. Six new products were announced during RØDEShow 2017 with two specifically of interest to filmmakers, the VideoMic Pro+ and the VideoMic SoundField.

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The Røde VideoMic Pro+ with similar circuitry to the Røde Stereo VideoMic X (SVMX), Rycote Lyre shock mounts, hinged battery door and provision for two AA batteries or the Røde LB1 rechargeable lithium ion battery.

Røde Microphones made a major contribution in turning the then dirt track of audio recording for independent video production into a sealed super highway with its very first on-camera video microphone, the VideoMic, released in 2004.

Since that first innovation the market-leading company has released a series of new and updated video-centric recording products along with top-end microphones for audio studios and live music recording on-location.

It wasn’t so long ago that Røde revised its VideoMic and VideoMic Pro hotshoe-mounted shotgun mic lines with the addition of Rycote Lyre shock mounts, reportedly the best such mounts in the business.

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Rycote Lyre shock mounts made by Røde Microphones rolling out of the new assembly line at Røde’s Silverwater, New South Wales, factory complex.

Since then Rycote shock mounts have found their way into all new Røde video microphones with Røde investing in a computer-controlled manufacturing machine to turn out its own Rycote Lyre mounts under licence.

I had the pleasure of a guided tour of the Røde factory over a year ago and it was an impressive facility back then. With its ongoing R&D, recent new Freedman Electronics Group acquisitions, new products, new staff and new computer-controlled manufacturing machinery, the Røde factory is no doubt even more impressive now.

The Røde VideoMic Pro+ Microphone

The new Røde VideoMic Pro+ flagship monaural on-camera directional mic is heir to a tradition begun almost thirteen years ago, before the DSLR moviemaking revolution sparked off by Canon adding Live View video capability to its Canon EOS 5D Mark II at the special request of the Reuters news agency.

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The new Røde VideoMic Pro+ has a redesigned, hinged door and accepts two AA batteries as well as the coming new rechargeable LB1 lithium ion battery. This battery can be recharged via USB cable whilst remaining inside the VideoMic Pro+’s battery enclosure.

The original Røde VideoMic was a child of its time, when camcorders were king and the Sony PMW-EX1 Full HD camcorder was the weapon of choice of independent documentary moviemakers along with Sony wireless lavalier and shotgun microphones.

The EX1 and its stablemates were far too costly to own. You had to rent them day-by-day or on a weekly basis, and indie documentarians could only do that if they succeeded in running the gauntlet of funding bodies, broadcasters and any other organization, or politician, with an interest in the story you were proposing to tell.

The directional microphones of the era matched the size and cost of the cameras they were created to work with. The arrival of Røde’s VideoMic turned all that on its head. At about 25cm in length, the original VideoMic suited the length of the camcorders of its time but it was affordable enough for moviemakers like me to buy, not rent.

The current Rycote-equipped VideoMic Pro is a more compact proposition at 17cm in length and a better fit for the 4K mirrorless stills/video hybrid cameras starting to make a real dent in independent filmmaking.

The Røde VideoMic Pro+ may be same size or a little larger, but its innovations are big, with flocked microfibre replacing former models’ detachable windshields and the same sophisticated circuitry and switches of Røde’s high-end Stereo VideoMic X aka SVMX.

The hinged battery door – no more dropping or fumbling on location especially when in extreme conditions – is so welcome as is the coming lithium ion rechargeable LB1 battery.

I am a fan of removable screwed-in audio cables – I am sure there is a better name for them – from when I owned my own Sony wireless lavaliers. I am looking forward to trying the VideoMic Pro+ out – there is little doubt it will be as popular as the very first VideoMic.

The Røde VideoMic SoundField Microphone

Røde’s VideoMic SoundField may be something of a sleeper amongst those unfamiliar with the world of ambisonics but it is something my research into alternative recording methods touched on several years ago.

Back then the most achievable combination of surround with directional audio miking was the mid/side method which required encoding/decoding with audio plug-ins like Voxengo‘s free Mid-Side Encoder-Decoder aka MSED.

I ruled out mid-side recording due to it being too unwieldy for one-person crew field use, without investing in a whole new M/S-miked field recorder. Røde’s all-in-one VideoMic SoundField microphone is a whole other proposition that could conceivably replace two or three different types of microphones with the common pick-up patterns illustrated below with just one mic that has all three patterns built-in.

Common Microphone Patterns

Or in effect, far more than three audio output patterns. I am still at the start of learning about the ins and outs of ambisonics recording and processing so the best I can do is point you to some online resources, below.

VideoMic SoundField Patterns

My hope is that Røde will write their own book, as it were, on ambisonics so that the applications and processing methods of the VideoMic SoundField microphone and its output will be well-known on its arrival. Clearly Røde has the in-house expertise to do so with the Freedman Electronics Groups recent company purchases.

Processing SoundField Audio Files

So far though the book has yet to be written about how to to get the best out of the hardware and how to best process ambisonic audio files. I have begun the research process early, before the microphone is expected to be released, in order to be ready.

The free Harpex Player, with a free .AMB ambisonics audio file playing. Harpex also makes a paid-for plug-in for processing ambisonics files in DAWs.

It is an ongoing process, but so far I have found two free items of software, the standalone Harpex Player, above, and the SoundField SurroundZone 2 plug-in. Harpex also makes a premium-priced plug-in available for a 30-day free trial or for purchase at €498.00 ex VAT.

The free SoundField SurroundZone 2 plug-in for digital audio workstations (DAWs), in this illustration Pro Tools.

Search in any search engine for ambisonics plug-ins or free ambisonics sample audio files with the suffix .amb and you can get a head start on understanding this fascinating audio format and how to process it.

There are also some good learning resources available, including Welcome to the Wonderful World of Ambisonics, A Primer, by John Leonard, at the A Sound Effect website. A Sound Effect has a number of ambisonics sound effects libraries available for purchase.

At the moment I am trying to work out how to use these plug-ins in my DAW of choice, Apple’s Logic Pro X as companion to Final Cut Pro X.

RØDEShow 2017 Video:

RØDEShow 2017 New Product Releases from RØDE Microphones on Vimeo.

Image Credits:

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris.

Product shot still frames extracted from RØDEShow 2017 video.

Is the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Poised to Make Waves in the 4K Video World?

Olympus Australia and digiDIRECT held a launch event in Sydney for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Micro Four Thirds/Super 16 hybrid digital camera recently. I am often asked when I am going to try out and write about various cameras, lenses and accessories of interest to independent digital filmmakers and stills photographers, so the launch was a rare chance to see the OM-D E-M1 Mark II in the flesh, as it were, along with some of Olympus’ reputedly excellent M.Zuiko Pro professional lenses

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I am also often asked for the best advice I can give stills photographers and moviemakers just starting out as well as long-established professionals in both fields. Opportunities to see and try production hardware are few and far between here so my ability to provide that advice is limited by that, but one colleague in particular wanted to know my opinion of the Olympus OM-D cameras and Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional lens series.

He is considering revamping his production kit now that small camera 4K movie production has become an affordable reality and wanted to know which lenses he should buy and what camera system in particular. He prefers primes over zooms but is happy to use zooms when he needs to.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Micro Four Thirds/Super 16 Hybrid Camera

I did not have an opportunity to try out the OM-D E-M1 Mark II at the event so the best advice I can give is to check out the plethora of product reviews and information available online.

If a review loaner is available sometime soon I will be very keen to put the OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s 4K video and other capabilities to the test.

One thing I was told about the OM-D E-M1 Mark II was a standout – it is equipped with a button on the front of the camera that is allocated to custom white balance, crucial when shooting video and yet one that makers of other video-capable hybrid cameras often seem to forget.

The Olympus Micro Four Thirds M.Zuiko Pro Lens Lineup

Left to right, the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional lens lineup as of January 2017, including the 7-14mm f/2.8 wide-angle zoom, 8mm f/1.8 full-frame fisheye, 12-40mm f/2.8 standard zoom, 12-100mm f/4.0 travel zoom, 25mm f/1.2 prime, 40-150mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom and 300mm f/4.0 prime telephoto lens.

For the work my colleague does, a fast 25mm prime lens – equivalent to 50mm in 35mm format – is a mainstay so he wanted to know what I thought of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro especially in combination with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II for shooing video.

My moviemaking colleague has other cameras to which M43 lenses can be attached without adapters, including those made by Blackmagic Design or via adapters such as Digital Bolex‘s D16 CCD sensor global shutter Super 16 cameras. So any new lens purchases need to work with a range of cameras, current and future, mostly in manual mode but with autofocus when advantageous.

He is a documentary cinematographer so matched manual cinema lens sets such as as those made by Veydra are not in consideration, though they certainly would be were he a feature filmmaker or specialized in the sort of pre-planned, focus-pulling style of cinematography that Veydra primes suit perfectly.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro

One of the two most recent M.Zuiko Pro lenses to appear, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro is the second prime lens to join the Olympus professional lens collection.

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Although the 25mm focal length, equivalent to 50mm in 35mm format, is not one of my favourite local lengths of all time, 25mm most certainly has its uses when shooting stills and video. It is useful for full-length and half-length portrait photography, covering events conducted in available darkness as this product launch was, and is a much-used focal length in documentary and feature filmmaking.

I like 25mm lenses for face-to-camera interviews, interviewer-and-interviewee two-shots and product shots when I don’t need the immersive deep space feel better suited to extreme wide-angle lenses.

Although slower 25mm lenses have their place especially when breaking into video and stills photography, fast 25mm primes are invaluable when faced with a range of lighting conditions such as the one under which I shot the photograph below.

With aperture set at f/1.2 and my Panasonic Lumix GX8 at A for aperture priority and auto ISO, I manually focussed the lens on the eyes of the Olympus Australia staffer in the centre, allowing everything else in the image to fall into defocus aka bokeh.

One of the unknown pleasures of the GX8 is its clean HDMI-out 4:2:0 8-bit 4K video, non-DCI for sure but great for documentary moviemaking as a lightweight but powerful rangefinder-style camera, a well-kept secret that only filmmakers like Rick Young of Movie Machine seem to appreciate.

Invest in the coming Leeming LUT One for the GX8, set your camera up as recommended, shoot ETTR (expose to the right), apply the LUT in your NLE, rinse and repeat. Do the same for your other cameras. Doubtless a Leeming LUT One for the OM-D E-M1 Mark II will appear soon enough.

One of the several joys of Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro professional lens collection is their clutch manual focus. Draw the focus encoder ring back towards the camera, spin it left and right, watch critical detail snap into focus with focus magnification or focus peaking, then shoot.

Under this focussing system the encoder ring goes from close to infinity in a quarter turn, perfect when focus-pulling or needing to snap from one focussing distance to another and back. Count me as a major fan of this form of manual focussing in contrast to manually focussing via encoder rings that spin and spin and spin.

My colleague tells me he is in the market for a fast wide-angle prime lens in the region of 12mm, and is considering the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 Aspheric lens as he is very happy with his Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Aspheric Power OIS lens. I wonder if Olympus is planning on expanding the prime lenses in its M.Zuiko Pro collection soon?

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 Pro

Although I had all bar one M.Zuiko Pro lens on my mental list to try out at the event, that exception being the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro that I have had for a while now, the new M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.o Pro travel zoom was second on my list.

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My interest in the travel zoom lens category had been piqued when trying out Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR zoom lens last year. Given the long focal length range travel zooms encompass, there will be compromises in optical correction and the same applies to the lenses’ maximum apertures.

I managed to snap off a couple of frames before the lens was needed the other side of the room, but in the image below one can see a slight amount of optical distortion in the white columns and ceiling.

This barrel distortion can be corrected automatically with in-camera JPEGs – I rarely shoot them as I much prefer shooting raw files only – and in correction-savvy raw processors and image editors.

Optical distortion when shooting video is another matter again though. Optical correction in non-linear editors (NLEs) would be far too processor-intensive and so one must grit one’s teeth and bear it. Hence the curved parallel horizontals and vertical one often sees in television shows.

This lens is in interesting proposition, with its long focal length range, slower maximum aperture than the M.Zuiko Pro collection’s other zoom lenses, relatively small size and low weight for its reach, and Olympus’ very first attempt at in-lens optical image stabilization (OIS).

The OIS in this lens reportedly works in conjunction with the OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s 5-axis IBIS (in-body image stabilization) though I would prefer to test that out in practice. The big question for Panasonic users is, will this lens’ OIS also work in conjunction with the IBIS in the GH5?

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Pro

Older than the other two lenses I tried out, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Pro was also on my wishlist of lens tryouts. Fisheye lenses are a low priority – I have resisted the temptations of the GoPro camera range – but this lens has potential for special situations like time-lapse stills and video in tight, poorly-lit spaces, or extreme close-ups.

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The outstanding feature of this lens is a much higher maximum aperture than other full-frame fisheye lenses of which I am aware, and its good light distribution with lack of noticeable fall-off though I was using it in poor lighting.

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The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Pro is definitely one to try again in future.

Snapshots from the Event

Conclusions

I managed to achieve two out of three goals that night, briefly trying out the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 Pro zoom lens. My short play with the  Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Pro was an unplanned bonus.

Other than the  Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro which I already own, I want to give the 7-14mm f/2.8 wide-angle, the 40-150mm f/2.8 telephoto zoom and perhaps the 300mm f/4.0 prime telephoto lenses a go.

The same applies to the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, the ostensible star attraction at the event but one which I did not manage to spend enough time with. From its specifications list, the OM-D E-M1 Mark II looks like it is a Super 16 hybrid video camera to be taken very seriously indeed, especially given Olympus has got it right with the small but essential things like custom white balance.

I look forward to learning more about the OM-D E-M1 Mark II’s video production features soon. This year is already a very interesting one for 4K video and the question now is which new camera and which range of lenses to consider investing in.

Image Credits

Header image by Carmel D. Morris.

Tech Notes

Colour photographs made with Panasonic Lumix GX8 camera using three Olympus lenses, the M.Zuiko ED 8mm f1/8, 25mm f/1.2 and 12-100mm then processed with ON1 Photo Raw 2017.

Monochrome event photographs made with Fujifilm X-Pro2 and XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens, then processed with ON1 Photo Raw 2017 using the Bogart Cool preset.

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