I have been using several different types of medical and non-medical face masks for a while now to help protect against coronavirus infection amongst the many locals who have yet to receive the memo about safety in the age of COVID-19.
So far none of the masks I have tried have done the job well enough, all of them fogging my eyeglasses up to various degrees.
The last straw was this morning when having my eyes tested at an optometrist and neither my own mask nor the one provided by staff there worked entirely fog-free.
Time to look for something better.
Social distancing and wearing masks are not popular where we live
Photographs by Karin Gottschalk.
Given members of my family are highly vulnerable to infections due to genetic variations, it is crucial that we make greater efforts to protect ourselves and others than those who live around us.
As the owner of a local café told us recently, the locals where we live “just do not care” about social distancing.
Good enough for them, perhaps, but not for me and mine.
When Emily Skye shared on Instagram that she had chosen the Hudson Spider Shooting Mask for her cast and crew on a feature film about to start production, after exhaustive tests of many such products, I enquired about availability.
My objective was to purchase one mask to try it out with my usual eyeglasses and in my customary all-day shooting scenarios.
Here is the reply from Sarah Hudson of Hudson Spider:
The biggest issue we have right now is with no passenger planes coming in from the US, shipments times into Australia are impossibly long, usually more than 3 months. We can definitely Fedex quickly but the cost is more than the mask, so we’d need a bulk shipment to make it worth It for the buyer…. The irony is when the jets return to Australia you will no longer likely be required to wear masks, catch 22.
We sometimes have shipments going to Framelight in Sydney (literally last week we sent one) but I can let you know next time we have a shipment heading downunder.
Movie lighting company Hudson Spider now offers two types of face masks
Images courtesy of Hudson Spider.
The Shooting Mask by Hudson Spider.
So, still without a good enough solution to the fogging problem, I have begun looking beyond masks as such and cast my mind back to my days as European Contributing Editor for not only Black+White magazine.
I had often encountered globetrotting photojournalists, documentary photographers and cinematographers sporting the large cotton scarfs known as shemaghs or keffiyehs due to their ability to wick moisture away as well as help protect against dust and other airborne particles.
Now I am off to Amazon and eBay to research this other potential solution, possibly choosing a keffiyeh or shemagh in blue, grey or black to match my usual shooting clothes and aid in blending into the background when needed.
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.
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.
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.
Real Techniques Prep + Prime Set: “The prep + prime set has 4 skin prep tools for your pre-makeup routine. These tools help create a smoother skin surface for better makeup application.”
Real Techniques Complexion Blender Brush: “MIX MAKEUP WITH SKIN CARE PRODUCTS. The complexion blender brush has a unique swirled cut for blending skin care products with your favorite makeup for a smooth, natural complexion.” Use in conjunction with the Real Techniques Prep + Prime Set when preparing skin before applying makeup.
Real Techniques Color Correcting Set: “EVENLY APPLY + BLEND COLOR CORRECTING CONCEALERS. Make color correcting easier with the color correcting set. Apply, buff, and blend color correcting concealers for an even tone complexion before makeup application. Each brush corresponds to a key correcting concealer color to avoid color mixing.” A brilliant idea for keeping colour correcting cosmetics separate and clean by allocating one brush for each correction colour. Some faces need correcting in several different colours and I gave seen makeup artists use the same brush for different colours, needlessly diluting them and making extra work for themselves.
Sephora Collection Must-Have Face Palette: “Curated colour sets to demystify contouring, colour correction, strobing, and blush sculpting.” Almost a perfect match for Real Techniques Color Correcting Set.
Real Techniques Expert Face Brush: “OUR #1 BEST-SELLING BRUSH. Our expert face brush is ultra firm and broad for perfectly buffed foundation and an airbrushed finish. Ideal for cream and liquid foundations.”
Real Techniques Flawless Base Set comprising contour brush, detailer brush, buffing brush, square foundation brush and brush cup.
Real Techniques Sculpting Set: “NATURAL CONTOURING. Accentuate favorite features, create defined contours for added depth, or simply enhance your natural bone structure with our sculpting set. With the use of light and dark makeup this set gives you the flexibility to take your look to the next level.”
Real Techniques Brow Set: “Create the perfect arch with our brow set. We have included all of the tools you need to clean up, fill in, define, shape, and highlight your brows.”
Real Techniques Enhanced Eye Set comprising medium shadow brush, essential crease brush, fine liner brush, shading brush, lash separator and brush cup.
Real Techniques Perfect Crease Duo: “FOR A DEFINED CREASE. The perfect crease duo brushes are designed for an easy to achieve defined crease. Use with eye shadows.”
Real Techniques Instapop Eye Duo: “HIGH IMPACT COLOR WITHOUT THE MESS. The instapop eye brush duo is designed for full coverage shadow application. Use to sweep on loose pigment shadows.”
Real Techniques Eye Detail + Define: “PAIRED FOR EXPERT EYELINER APPLICATION. The eye detail + define brushes are designed for precision eyeliner looks…. Bonus Liner Guide For steady liner application.”
Real Techniques Eye Shade + Blend: “EASY APPLICATION. The eye shade + blend brushes are designed for easy two-color shadow application.”
Real Techniques Eye Smudge + Diffuse: “FROM SUBTLE TO DRAMATIC, OUR EYE SMUDGE + DIFFUSE TWO PACK IS PAIRED FOR EASY EYE LINER BLURRING. The eye smudge + diffuse brushes are designed for expert smudging and blurring of eye makeup. “
Real Techniques Lip Color + Blur: “The lip color + blur brushes are designed for easy application of on trend lip looks and effects.”
Real Techniques Instapop Cheek Brush: “HIGH IMPACT COLOR WITHOUT THE MESS. The Instapop Cheek Brush is designed for one-sweep application of bold cheek color.”
Real Techniques Blush Brush: “FOR A FLAWLESS FINISH. Preferred 2-to-1 over a leading department store brand. Our blush brush is custom-cut to contour and define cheeks for flawlessly blended, high definition results.”
Real Techniques PowderBlue Collection: “FauxBleu™ Technology engineered to layer powders evenly for a soft, flawless finish. Known for its fine filaments, luxurious softness, and flawless powder application, blue squirrel hair is the one of the rarest and softest bristles used in prestige makeup brushes. Our FauxBleu™ Technology uses synthetic bristles engineered to perform as well as blue squirrel hair.” These sound amazing, cruelty-free and of the same high quality as the legendary Russian Blue Squirrel brushes used by top watercolour and gouache painters in preference to sable.
Real Techniques Blend + Blur Brushes: Look perfect for short-sighted spectacle wearers like me who must get up close to the mirror or apply makeup between spectacles and eye lids.
Real Techniques Rebel Edge Trio: “Cropped head puts you in control to define + blend powders your way.”
Real Techniques Foundation Blender: “FOR FOUNDATION. Small, dense bristles blend + buff for flawless foundation coverage. Blend. Press. Buff.”
Real Techniques Face + Body Blender: “FOR FOUNDATION + BRONZER. Large, dense bristles blend + buff for even full body coverage. Blend. Press. Buff.”
Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Palette: “Great makeup application starts with a clean brush. The brush cleansing palette helps sweep away makeup, oil, and impurities from bristles to give you truer, more consistent color application.” I have used this palette with a range of brushes and M·A·C Brush Cleanser fluid and it works better than any other brush cleaning method. I have yet to try Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel.
Real Techniques Brush Cleansing Gel: “Designed for deep cleaning, with the cleansing power of a concentrate, this formula is laboratory proven to effectively remove nearly all makeup residue*. It removes what you see…and even impurities you can’t see for a new brush clean.”
Real Techniques Stick & Store Organizer: “Tame your counter clutter – keep everyday essentials clean and within reach!… Sturdy silicone with Miracle Cling™ technology sticks instantly and adheres strongly to glossy surfaces yet peels off easily so you can remove and reposition.” Excellent idea! In my experience most bathrooms are small with inadequate bench top space and inadequate storage via drawers and closets making it way too hard to be organized and lay out your cosmetics and tools for easy use. These storage containers can apparently stick to mirrors or tiled walls.
Real Techniques Stick & Dry Brush Drying Rack: “Tame your counter clutter! Sturdy silicone with Miracle Cling™ technology sticks instantly and adheres strongly to glossy surfaces yet peels off easily so you can remove and reposition.” A brilliant idea for drying brushes without laying them down flat on a bench top or towel and risking them drying out of shape.
Real Techniques 3 Pocket Organizer: “CLINGS TO MIRRORS + MORE! MIRACLE CLING™ giving any space instant beauty storage”
Real Techniques 6 Miracle Sponges: “3 STEPS: COVER. CORRECT. COLOR. These essential 6 miracle sponges are the key to well-blended, airbrushed looks.”
Real Techniques Everyday Essentials: “FOR FOUNDATION + CONCEALER + BLUSH + HIGHLIGHTER + SHADOW. Your one and done set to master pro-styled looks! Cover. Color. Blend.” A good starter set for basic looks?
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.
Discovering Real Techniques
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
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.
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.
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:
Were 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 cant 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.
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.
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.
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.
EcoTools– website – “Armed with a mission to make women look beautiful on the outside and feel just as good on the inside, sisters Jen and Stacey set out to create a brush collection that was not only environmentally friendly, but chic, high-quality, and affordable too. After sourcing recycled materials, renewable bamboo and better manufacturing processes, in 2007, EcoTools® was born.”
Kryolan – “There is only one real professional make-up maker. There is only one Kryolan. Kryolan have been supplying the film, theater and television industries for over 70 years, which makes us one of the world’s first professional make-up brands. We’re still the number one choice for make-up artists today, thanks to our extensive range of over 16,000 high-quality make-up products and accessories.”
M·A·C – “Make-Up Art Cosmetics started life in Toronto, Canada. Makeup artist and photographer Frank Toskan and salon owner Frank Angelo became frustrated by the lack of makeup that photographed well, so they decided to create their own.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Videographer 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Stereo Cardioid-like pattern
Super Cardioid-like pattern.
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.
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.
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.