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Fujifilm X-E4 & Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR “Perfect Normal” Prime Lens, Part 3

Although the offerings in Fujifilm’s current generation of more affordable cameras – X-E4, X-T30 II, X-S10 and X100V – share similar internals such as sensor, processor, photography and video capabilities, their variations in body shapes, sizes, materials, viewfinders, LCD monitors and controls mean they will be better suited for different main tasks.

There will be some degree of overlap, however. 

This similarity across current generations is one of Fujifilm’s strengths as it takes little to no time to work out how to get the most out of the company’s cameras and how to best  access and control their functionality. 

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Fujifilm X-E4 with Fujifilm Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Of the current generation, the X-E4 takes minimalism to the maximum with just one unmarked function button on the top right with other controls accessible via swiping on the LCD monitor if you choose to switch screen input on.

I used the camera with it switched off for the duration after an initial test of all the camera’s functions at factory setting.

“Selfie” screens and lenses

The X-E4 has a two-way tilting monitor that flips all the way up and towards the subject in what some commentators refer to as “selfie mode” intended, I assume, for stills and video selfies as well as YouTube movies where the moviemaker addresses the camera.

Whether mounting the X-E4 on a selfie stick, tripod or in the hand, those users may wish to consider a wider lens than the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR supplied with the review loaner.

Smaller, wider lenses to consider there include the Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR, the narrower and quirkier XF 18mm f/2.0 R or the even narrower XF 23mm f/2.0 R WR.

I am partial to an even quirkier choice, the superwide XF 14mm f/2.8 R, for its long depth of focus even at wider apertures, its lovely sense of space and separation of objects in the front from those in the back.

The downside of the 14mm for selfie stills and movies may be its slower autofocus speed compared to more recent optics like the “Fujicron” and pancake lenses above, or even the larger and costlier but fast linear motor-equipped “Fujilux” wide lenses including the XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR and XF 23mm f/1.4 R LM WR.

Most days were sunny and vacationers were everywhere in all the local parks, so I tried a tactic I’ve seen used by street photographers like Julia Coddington: flipping the tilting monitor up to use it like a waist-level finder.

Set at default, the LCD was a little too dark but maxing the screen’s brightness setting did the trick.

As soon as I was done shooting, I set the brightness back to normal to avoid running the battery down too fast.

I found that getting the LCD into exactly the right position is crucial: pulled out a little and tilted a little less than 90-degrees to the camera back, to avoid the image inverting.

Image inversion is a good thing when the screen is tilted all the way up and forward for “selfie” videos and photographs but can be challenging when walking through crowds and trying to keep the camera level and the photograph well framed.

With a little practice you get better, otherwise best to stick to the viewfinder.

Tilting, or fully-articulated? Works for Panasonic.

I took a break a while back from Fujifilm cameras to make videos with Panasonic Lumix M43 gear and fell in love with those cameras’ fully-articulated LCD monitors as well as the Lumix DMC-GX8’s tilting electronic viewfinder when making photographs and movies.

With touch turned on and the LCD to camera left, it’s easy and fun to make exposures, choose focus points and select function settings with my left thumb while cradling the monitor in my left hand.

I know some Fujifilm users complain about fully-articulated monitors, preferring various flavours of tilting or fixed monitors, but I’d have no problems with full articulation on every Fujifilm camera.

I do like the ability to protect the LCD by flipping it towards the camera.

The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR

The bundled 27mm pancake lens is the latest iteration of one of Fujifilm’s best yet most underestimated primes.

The first major difference between the original XF 27mm f/2.8 R and the new XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR is signified by the initials “WR” meaning weather resistance.

The second is in the addition of a lockable, clicked aperture ring with a minor optional update being the Fujifilm LH-XF27 Lens Hood.

The LH-XF27 hood reportedly bayonets on to the lens though it looks more like it screws into the lens’ filter threads, making me wonder how effective it might be if one wants to attach a filter first with the hood on top.

The lens’ own cap can’t be attached onto the hood so Fujifilm provides an optional lens cap, the Fujifilm LHCP-27, allowing you to keep the hood attached at all times.

I’m relying on information from the B&H product pages as lens hood and cap are not bundled with the X-E4 plus 27mm kit.

An alternative is to purchase Squarehood’s SquareHood for XF 27mm f/2.8 Mk II.

I have been using one on the XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR and will be reviewing it after also using it on the XF 27mm f/2.8 R.

So far I can report that I enjoyed having it on the X-E4’s lens to protect against flares from low sun as well as rain in what I had hoped might be a dry Sydney spring, until the weatherman announced La Niña was on its way.

Making the most of one Fn function button

Function buttons, D-pads and other hardware input seems to be vanishing little by little in favour of swiping or diving into the menu system, setting up your most-used menu items in My Menu, or choosing from a small subset in the Q menu via the Q function button.

The X-E4 goes further again by removing the MCS switch that’s appeared on every Fujifilm camera until this one, and I have come to rely on it being there.

The alternative is to assign Manual/Continuous/Single autofocus selection to the Fn function button, or dive into the menu system each time.

Instead I chose to allocate AF Mode to the Fn function button to rapidly select from Single Point/Zone/Wide-slash-Tracking when photographing people going about their business outdoors.

Documenting local life under COVID-19 Delta lockdown

The last protest rally I covered was back in June 5, 2021, and a long-planned portrait project has been on hold far longer than that.

The local galleries had been closed for months, so were the non-essential retail stores, and everyone has been on edge thanks to the pandemic.

Despite this suburb being the original COVID-19 ground zero thanks to a café worker coming back from a trip to Wuhan, the locals have had a laissez-faire attitude to social distancing and wearing masks outdoors.

Auto-immune problems run in our family, so we have been extra-cautious and have done our public photography and videography with longer lenses than usual so as to keep our distance and good health.

The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR was the perfect choice, then, for documenting local life in public compared to my pre-pandemic defaults of 21mm, 28mm or 35mm equivalent focal lengths.

That Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR’s “perfect normal” focal length is a little wider than the “standard normal” of 50mm equivalent lenses like the XF 33mm f/2.8 R LM WR or the  XF 35mm f/1.4 R “god lens” and its XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” little sister.

I find 50mm-equivalent focal lengths just a little too long, a little too like short telephotos, and videos and stills made with them feel a bit too distanced, a bit too ironic in the Cartier-Bresson sense.

Since the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR came out, a few photographers have shared their plans to sell their XF 23mm and XF 35mm lenses to replace them with the XF 27 and I can understand why.

Sisters from two other mothers?

The Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8 R WR shares some traits with Leica’s legendary Summicron-C and Minolta’s M-Rokkor 40mm rangefinder lenses for the Leica CL and Minolta CLE 35mm analog film cameras – small size, light weight and an aperture ring.

While those time-honoured and sadly discontinued precursors are manual focus-only, the XF 27mm’s prime heritage is autofocus with manual focus via its rather narrow focusing ring.

In contrast to earlier Fujifilm cameras, I found the X-E4’s processor produced fast and accurate autofocus and so I almost never needed to focus manually when working outdoors.

The exception was when shooting video in the low-angle light of early evening with strongly backlit people against a bright patch of sky, and then I went to the menu system, chose AF/MF SETTING > MF ASSIST and selected Focus Peak Highlight.

Likewise I went to AF/MF SETTING > FOCUS CHECK and selected ON to magnify the image before recording video.

Recording video for sharing or grading

While documenting rare goings-on in the local park, I hit the Drive/Delete button and selected Movie.

I had already made a Custom setting for Eterna, Fujifilm’s excellent analog movie film simulation, shot some clips then switched over to F-Log and made more.

The X-E4 has some impressive video capabilities for its size, weight and price and I used a cinematic combo of DCI 4K, 24fps and 100 Mbps in 10-bit 4:2:0.

The X-E4 is capable of recording 10-bit 4:2:2 when connected to an Atomos Ninja V monitor/recorder via HDMI, and may make a handy little run-and-gun video camera if rigged up with cage, handles and all the relevant accessories as well as a stabilized zoom lens or two.

I took the minimalist path and attached a Manfrotto PIXI Mini Table Top Tripod to the camera via a JJC HS-ML1M Hand Strap for Mirrorless Cameras and an URTH 39mm fixed neutral density filter to the XF 27mm lens.

I’d normally use a variable neutral density filter but mine are 77mm and 82mm in diameter and stepping up from 39mm to either of those demands a stack of step-up rings I don’t have right now.

Instead I’d recommend looking into a 39mm variable neutral density filter, and if you have other VND filters already then stick with that brand as there can be quite a bit of colour variation between brands.

If you want to semi-permanently mount VNDs on each lens you use for video then best to stay with the same brand.

Video loves Leeming LUT Pro

I cannot recommend Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT Pro camera profile look-up tables files for serious video production as well as his recommended custom camera settings.

Buying his Fujifilm X Series LUT pack gets you LUTs for F-Log, Eterna Cinema, Pro Neg Std, HLG for Rec.709 and the first three out of those four can be used with video on the X-E4.

As Mr Leeming writes:

“Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec.709 starting point for further creative colour grading.”

Both Eterna Cinema and Pro Neg Std produce video files that can be viewed and shared with minimal to no colour grading if you wish and F-Log has the best dynamic range of the three but must be graded as it is the flattest of them all.

Best to apply the relevant Leeming LUT Pro camera profile LUT to your video files, though, whichever profile you have chosen, to give you the best base from which to do further grading.

Above all, please expose your videos using the principle of ETTR – expose to the right – to avoid burning out the whites and so the lower values are raised up while avoiding too much digital noise.

Next…

In the next article, I will be sharing a gallery of photographs documenting a little of local life under lockdown, along with stills from videos of the same subject matter.

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Considering the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R Super Wide-Angle Prime Lens

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Fujifilm X Summit Prime 2021, XF 18-120mm, “seamless for both still[s] & movie[s]. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Global.
Fujifilm’s announcement at X Summit Prime 2021 of the XF 18-120mm “…seamless for both still and movie” zoom lens had me thinking about what lens I would carry with it to supplement the wide end. 

While the 28mm-equivalent 18mm focal length is excellent for groups of people or two of them conversing at a distance, more width is needed for scene-setting shots where the figures will be small within a cityscape, landscape or interior. 

My personal reference is the 21mm-equivalent 14mm focal length in a prime lens rather than either of Fujifilm’s excellent wide-angle zooms as a prime can be optically corrected to avoid annoying barrel distortion that can’t be removed in non-linear editing suites.

Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R super wide-angle prime lens

Fujifilm Australia product expert Warwick Williams shared at an event that Fujifilm’s lens designers had been inspired by Leica’s Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8 Aspheric prime lens for Leica M-Series rangefinder cameras and, if the results I achieved during some all-too-short tryouts of the amazing Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R are anything to go by, they have come awfully close to that role model.

I am not dismissing Fujifilm’s current wide-angle zoom lenses, the amazing Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR and the recently-released Fujinon XF 10-24mm f/4.0 R OIS WR as both provide wider focal lengths than the XF 14mm f/2.8 R.

I found the 8-16mm’s “box of primes” optical quality incredibly useful for architectural photography when I had to stand right up close to the subject yet depict all of the building’s facade without distortion.

It also worked brilliantly for immersive, extreme close-up documentary photography covering events like the International Women’s Day March at Hyde Park in Sydney on March 9, 2019. 

I have yet to try out the XF 10-24mm f/4.0 in its new aperture ring-equipped weather-resistant incarnation.

Accessories for the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R

Super wide-angle and medium wide-angle lenses are well-suited for immersive documentary photography and photojournalism, and some street photographers have also adopted them such as Julia Coddington of Unexposed Collective who pairs up a Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R with a Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R for graphic and highly-saturated colour street photography.

Oddly enough, the most popular wide-angle focal length I have encountered amongst contemporary street photographers is 24mm in the 35mm sensor format, equivalent to 16mm in APS-C or 12mm in Micro Four Thirds.

I have documented a few protest rallies entirely with the Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.8 R WR “Fujicron” lens to try and understand the appeal of the 24mm focal length but it continues to feel like neither fish nor fowl to me, not wide enough for some things and too wide for others.

Instead, I’d rather use a 21mm-equivalent lens for events like this, where I only had an XF 16mm, or a 28mm-equivalent XF 18mm lens for events like this (some images were also made with an 84mm-equivalent Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R).

The 18mm is great when one can step back a little while the 14mm is perfect for when one is right in the middle of it all and can’t move an inch in any direction.

A better lens hood & other protection

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Optical Viewfinder of Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R attached. Image courtesy of DPReview.

In any of those applications I recommend protecting the front element of your lenses with an aluminium lens hood that bayonets or screws onto the front of the lens or onto a UV or protective filter.

For protective filters I recommend Breakthrough Photography’s knurled brass traction-frame X4 UV filters as I often need to quickly and easily unscrew them to replace with fixed or variable neutral density filters for video.

Fujifilm’s Protector Filters are also a good choice if you don’t want UV filtration.

Most lens makers provide plastic petal lens hoods with their lenses but they tend to jut into the optical viewfinder of cameras like Fujifilm’s X-Pro series and are not particularly protective against hard knocks.

It’s good to see Fujifilm releasing optional rectangular metal lens hoods in recent years and third party accessories makers are also coming to the party with clones or their own alternative designs.

I did a quick search for third-party lens hoods for the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R at ebay and Amazon.com and came up with two by Haoge and one by RJ Cameras.

Haoge offers two designs depending on your camera and personal preference while RJ Cameras has a vented design where one of the three vents looks like it will coincide with X-Pro series cameras’ optical viewfinder, reducing occlusion in the OVF’s lower righthand corner.

I rather like the more compact look of Haoge’s LH-X13B so will be ordering one soon.

Another way of viewfinding

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More than one way to view-find. Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex AKA TLR cameras with a range of viewfinder options.

Not all of us may wish to rely on the view through our camera’s OVF, EVF (electronic viewfinder) or LCD monitor so there is a fourth option worth considering, external hotshoe-mounted optical viewfinders.

Top-notch external optical viewfinders like those made by Leica, Voigtländer, Sigma or Zeiss are costly but Fujifilm offers its more affordable VF-X21 which has bright-lines for 21mm and 28mm, while Ricoh makes the GV-1 which also has 21mm and 28mm bright-lines.

Both optical viewfinders may be made by the same company, whether Fujifilm, Ricoh or somebody else, but users report that as neither has a locking lever, each should be taped on or otherwise secured to your camera’s hotshoe.

I like the idea of these viewfinders, though I wish they were a little more affordable, as they are not unlike in use the mostly mechanical viewfinders of Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex cameras that are often quicker and easier to use in fast-moving situations than built-in viewfinders and can help you better focus your mind on what is happening around you.

Leica Elmarit-M 21mm f/2.8 Aspheric, the discontinued inspiration for the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R

Some pre-pandemic Sydney photographs made with the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R

Should Fujifilm upgrade the 14mm to a “Fujilux”?

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Leica Summilux-M 21mm f/1.4 Aspheric. Image courtesy of B&H.

In my opinion, no.

It is excellent to see the beginnings of a set of professional-quality fast aperture prime lenses and pleasing that Fujifilm referred to Leica’s 21mm f/2.8 when designing the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R.

I hope that inspiration by some of the best lenses ever made continues and it may have found it way into the current “Fujilux” collection consisting of the Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR, XF 23mm f/1.4 R LM WR and XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR.

The XF 14mm f/2.8 R is at its best when stopped down to f/5.6 or f/8.0 and zone focusing is applied when working outdoors using the lens’ manual clutch focusing ring.

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Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 Aspheric. Image courtesy of B&H.

None of the first three “Fujilux” lenses have manual clutch focusing and the jury appears to be out as to the effectiveness of their focusing linear motors for focus pulling or critical focus in available darkness with wider apertures.

Leica offers a Summilux-M 21mm f/1.4 Aspheric but most users seem to prefer the slower  Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 Aspheric, most likely due to the latter being half the price of the former.

Better to invest in an f/1.4 28mm equivalent prime lens for those near-darkness documentary or photojournalistic images as well as video.

I would much rather Fujifilm adds 28mm and 70mm focal lengths to the f/1.4 “Fujilux” collection so we have fast 42mm and 105mm lenses for “both still[s] and movie[s]”.

Should Fujifilm update the XF 14mm to enhance its best qualities?

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Fujifilm LH-XF23-2 Lens Hood for 23mm f/1.4 R LM WR, also works for XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Absolutely!

Any update needs to take into account and preserve the two prime virtues of the current Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R, its optics and the manual clutch focus mechanism that allows fast and easy  setting of hyperfocal distance as well as reliable focus-pulling.

Given its 21mm-equivalent focal length is a favourite of documentarians and photojournalists who often work in difficult conditions, it must be weather resistant.

It should also have the same dimensions as other lenses with which it will be used, especially in cinematography with focus-pulling devices and matte boxes, the Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR, XF 23mm f/1.4 R LM WR and XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR.

  • XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR = 68.8 x 75.6 mm with 62mm filter diameter
  • XF 23mm f/1.4 R LM WR = 67.0 x 77.8 mm with 58mm filter diameter
  • XF 33mm f/1.4 R LM WR = 67.0 x 73.5 mm with 58mm filter diameter

Optically and mechanically-matched sets of prime lenses are real assets in moviemaking, reducing set-up and swap-over time, and Fujifilm needs to keep working on its video production credibility.

For stills photography in particular, an updated 14mm f/2.8 must be provided with an optional metal lens hood like those made for the above three “Fujilux” lenses as well as those for the older XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR and XF 23mm f/1.4 R primes.

Header image

Made with Fujifilm X-T2 and Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R as a three-shot HDR image processed in Skylum Aurora HDR software.

Links

Legendary Flash Brand Bowens is Alive and Well and Living in Calumet and Wex

While researching Bowens speed-rings for the Rotolight Aeos 2 and Neo 3 Kickstarter article and press release, I discovered that the Bowens flash and accessories brand still exists, apparently after disappearing in 2017 then reappearing in 2020 at British retailer Wex Photo Video. 

I have history with Bowens, my first studio flash unit being a second-hand Bowens monolight with umbrella and light stand. 

When needing a kit of flash units that would be more versatile and more portable, I traded the Bowens unit in for a Broncolor Impact 41 three-light monobloc kit with all the trimmings including stands, umbrellas, filters, barndoors, reflectors, soft-boxes, wider and narrower mesh grids and trigger unit. 

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Broncolor Impact 41 monobloc electronic flash unit. I replaced my original second-hand Bowens studio unit with a kit of these. Image found on ebay.

Where I grew up and became a photographer almost by accident, Bowens was the brand you bought if you couldn’t afford highly expensive Strobe brand studio units with light banks mounted on them and powered by heavy capacitor units rolling about on castors.

Commercial photography there was dominated by two and then three huge studios with all the trimmings, and competing as a self-funded independent was challenging.

My way of seeing had been formed by observing natural light in all its variety and subtlety, and I wanted a way of lighting that approached that, the opposite of blasting my subjects with an array of light banks aka “bank lighting”.

My cinematography studies outside of art school had taught me tungsten lighting with brands such as Lowel and Ianiro, so I bought some of the former as well as a kit of folding diffusers/reflectors.

I added a collection of vintage tungsten lights of all sorts and sizes when rooting through camera stores junk boxes, and did my best to approximate the wonders and subtleties of natural lighting.

Everything changed for the better as soon as my Broncolor Impact 41 kit arrived, I added some Lee and Rosco filters and I began getting much closer to the lighting I had visualized for so long.

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Bowens Beauty Dish. Image courtesy of Bowens.

I created a whole new portrait portfolio with them, carried them east with me to work as an editorial portrait photographer for magazines and newspapers, shipped them to the UK when I moved there as European Contributing editor for ‘not only Black+White’ magazine and then they were stolen from a temporary Mayfair share studio along with all my other gear except for a couple of Leicas and their lenses.

I didn’t have a long history with Bowens flash lights like I did with the Broncolor Impact 41 units, but was pleased to discover a Bowens-equipped hire studio and black+white darkroom in Surry Hills after arriving in Sydney, and even more pleased when the owners showed me the Bowens Beauty Dish that had just arrived one day.

Nowadays Profoto seems to be the premier brand of studio electronic flash units here, the Strobe brand seems have vanished long ago, and there is a slew of electronic flash brands including Godox which seems to be very popular as a more affordable brand.

These other brands have taken up the challenge of shaping, diffusing and filtering electronic flash light in impressive ways that were often not available when I was relying on my Broncolors.

These days, however, continuous light with HSS flash capability is much more attractive with Rotolight the clear innovation leader, and I am so glad I stumbled across young Mister Rod Aaron Gammons in a little booth at a Sydney trade show almost ten years ago.

Links

Press Release: Rotolight Unveil Neo 3 and Aeos 2 Lights in Exclusive Kickstarter Campaign

ROTOLIGHT UNVEIL NEO 3 AND AEOS 2 LIGHTS IN EXCLUSIVE KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN

London, Tuesday 12 October 2021: Award-winning British LED lighting company, Rotolight, is today announcing the next generation of its hugely popular LED lighting products: the Rotolight NEO 3 and AEOS 2. These exciting new products combine the ‘shoot what you see’ benefits of continuous light, with a world-first High-Speed Sync RGBWW flash, providing photographers and filmmakers with unlimited creative possibilities. These two ground-breaking fixtures are available now for pre-order exclusively through Rotolight’s Kickstarter campaign, which will run through until November 16th, 2021.

Rotolight NEO 3

A pocket-sized powerhouse, the Rotolight NEO 3 is the brightest on-camera LED light ever produced. Experience unrivalled power and industry-first innovations in a compact form factor you can take anywhere. Available as an individual light, a three-light kit and with a new, bespoke, high-performance, rechargeable lithium battery, the NEO 3 is a creative companion you can rely on.

Rotolight AEOS 2

Meanwhile, the Rotolight AEOS 2 offers image-makers unmatched versatility. Uniquely lightweight with an ultra-thin design, this new LED from the world’s most innovative lighting brand is the thinnest and lightest 1 x 1 panel ever made at under 1.4kg. With the Rotolight AEOS 2, it has never been easier to achieve beautiful soft light on the move.

For the first time, both of Rotolight’s new products will allow photographers to flash in any one of 16.7 million colours or 2,500 digital filters, whilst zero recycle time ensures you’ll never miss a shot.

New Touchscreen

Access key features and effortlessly recall your favourite settings at a moment’s notice thanks to a new full-colour 2-inch touchscreen display. The intuitive display allows users to save precious time on any shoot with its easy-to-use interface and powerful, feature-rich menu.

Rotolight iOS & Android App

With an all new Rotolight iOS and Android native app, you’re always in control. Easily switch between lighting modes to remotely adjust colour, power, SFX and much more. Create custom groups and projects on up to 20 lights simultaneously; right from the palm of your hand.

Smartsoft Box™

Effortlessly switch from a beautiful soft output to a harder light source at a moment’s notice with the world’s first intelligent softbox designed for AEOS 2: SmartSoft Box™. Electronically adjust your light’s diffusion, focus and spread without the need for gels via the touchscreen display or Rotolight app.

Rotolight Universal Speedring Adaptor

A new Rotolight Universal Speedring adaptor unlocks an endless suite of Bowens-mount modifiers for the Rotolight NEO & AEOS range, making achieving great soft light easier than ever before and demonstrating Rotolight’s commitment to the brand’s loyal global user community.

“The NEO 3 and AEOS 2 are a huge leap forward in lighting technology, and we’re extremely excited about launching on the Kickstarter platform to bring these state-of-the-art products to more people than ever before,” says Rotolight CEO, Rod Aaron Gammons. “For new users, this is a fantastic opportunity to join the Rotolight family, while for our existing customers it’s our chance to say thank you for a decade of support with an exclusive opportunity to be the first in the world to own these revolutionary products.”

The NEO 3 and AEOS 2, are available now exclusively on Kickstarter until November 16th, and will ship from March 2022. View the early bird offers and back the campaign now at Kickstarter.

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Links

Sigma Global: 10/19 21:00 JST | Online New Products Presentation “SIGMA STAGE ONLINE”

https://www.sigma-global.com/en/news/2021/10/12/16568/

“We are pleased to announce the holding of an online event “SIGMA STAGE ONLINE”, which is a presentation of new products. It will be held on Tuesday, October 19th, 2021, from JST 21:00 / CET 13:00 / EDT 08:00.”

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Commentary

We’ll find out exactly which new products, lenses presumably, will be announced at this event on October 19, 2021 at 21:00 Japan Standard Time (JST) aka October 19, 2021, 8:00am Eastern Standard Time (EDT), but I am hoping that one thread will be Fujifilm X-mount lenses and an X-mount version of the rumoured 18-50mm zoom lens, equivalent to 28-75mmm, an excellent set of focal lengths for documentary photography and video.

Links

Rotolight Launches Kickstarter Campaign for Neo 3 and Aeos 2 LED Movie and Photography Lights

British maker of high-end LED lights for movie production and stills photography Rotolight has launched a Kickstarter campaign for their Aeos II and Neo III lights. 

We have been fans and users of Rotolight LED lights for years now since first encountering the company at a Sydney trade show. 

Rotolight products may not be the cheapest of all the LED lights available, but their light quality, features innovation, versatility and manufacturing quality make them worth every cent and we cannot recommend them highly enough. 

Highly recommended for self-funded independent moviemakers and photographers

Unititled.Net has a Rotolight Neo three-light kit in a hard case with barn door and light box accessories and it has proven its value over many years.

If money were no object, we would definitely choose the Rotolight Neo 3 three-light kit and the Aeos 2 Masters kit but even the Neo 3 Ultimate Bundle Pledge #3 would make a terrific start into the latest generation of Rotolight’s product range.

Don’t forget to take a look at some of Rotolight’s accessories such as barndoors and diffusion devices, though one of the many things we especially like about Rotolight LEDs is that they produce beautiful lighting right out of the box as it were, without diffusion, bouncing and light shaping.

I am looking forward to seeing more examples of these lights in action and am keen to see how their light is shaped by Rotolight’s new diffuser domes.

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Can Old Australian Houses be Renovated Into Light, Healthy & Sustainable Homes?

We have lived in and worked from a number of rather dreadful Australian houses and apartments over the years, and our health and productivity have suffered. 

Cold, damp, dark, inefficient, mouldy, unsecured and too often with dangerous fittings that can tear your flesh if you brush too close, some of them could surely have been improved with the smart application of architectural and scientific knowledge rather than being knocked down and replaced with the usual block-filling giant MacMansions that abound hereabouts and which can be almost as dodgy as the houses that preceded them.

Just now I came across a company in Instagram that seems to be doing things the right way, renovating or building new, in Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory, and I wonder if there are more such companies out there?

Links

  • Light House Architecture & Science – Instagram

Panasonic UK: Lumix BS1H full frame box camera

https://www.panasonic.com/uk/consumer/cameras-camcorders/lumix-expert-advice-learn/lumix-expert-advice/lumix-bs1h-full-frame-box-camera.html

“All the power of the S1H in a tiny little box, the BS1H offers amazing 5.9K full-frame recording for cinema, and best quality live streaming over IP for events, says Damien Demolder…

Panasonic has just announced a full frame version of its BGH1 box camera, which has many of the benefits of the Lumix S1H but in a small box form. Remarkably, the box body is exactly the same as that used for the Micro Four Thirds BGH1, so not only is this full frame camera quite tiny it can also share rigs and cages with its side-kick….”

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Press Release: Panasonic announces new full-frame LUMIX BS1H: Box-style camera for live broadcast and cinema production, by Panasonic Australia

Panasonic announces new full-frame LUMIX BS1H: Box-style camera for live broadcast and cinema production

Compact body with 6K 24p / 5.9K 30p 10-bit unlimited video recording capability

Sydney, 8 October 2021 – Panasonic is proud to unveil the LUMIX BS1H full-frame box-style camera. The LUMIX BS1H is designed for video professionals, combining the cinematic video performance of the LUMIX S1H with advanced live stream functionality in an easily-deployable box-style body.

Incorporating a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor, the LUMIX BS1H further enhances its potential by including 6K full-area high resolution video with unlimited recording, impressive flexibility over depth of field and low-light performance, a wide dynamic range of 14+ stops, V-Log and more.

The LUMIX BS1H provides incredible flexibility to support and deliver the creative vision of industry professionals, with industry standard connections and interfaces – such as SDI, HDMI, Genlock IN and Timecode I/O – as well as offering LAN with PoE+ for power and control. With V-Log and V-Gamut, the BS1H also offers the colour reproduction and imagery of the VariCam line of Panasonic production cameras – similar to the S1H full-frame mirrorless camera or the EVA1 compact cinema camera.

The LUMIX BS1H is priced at $5,299 RRP and will be available in November 2021 from leading photographic and video specialists.

1. Cinema production quality video with 35mm full-frame sensor

The LUMIX BS1H utilises the same 24.2-megapixel 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor (35.6 mm x 23.8mm) as the critically acclaimed LUMIX S1H

By maximising the use of the pixels in the full-frame image sensor, the LUMIX BS1H is capable of 6K/24p, 5.4K/30p (3:2 aspect ratio) or 5.9K/30p (16:9 aspect ratio) high-resolution, smooth video recording. It also provides 10-bit 60p 4K/C4K (i) HEVC video recording when using the image area equivalent to Super 35mm. The 4:2:2 10-bit 4K30p is recordable in H.264 at its full area. Its high-resolution data can also be used for creating 4K videos with higher image quality or for cropping images in 4K.

The LUMIX BS1H features V-Log/V-Gamut with a wide dynamic range of 14+ stops, in line with the dynamic range of the Panasonic VariCam, to precisely capture everything from dark to bright areas. Subtle gradations such as skin tones are faithfully reproduced, and consistent colour management is achieved in post-production.

In addition to HDR (High Dynamic Range) video recording, the camera records video with a designated gamma curve compatible with ITU-R BT.2100 and offers Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) in Photo Style.

The camera also incorporates an advanced Deep Learning autofocus algorithm that offers greater accuracy in detecting specific subjects – including humans, people’s faces, and fast-moving animals. In addition to the eye, face and body, the head is also separately recognised by real-time detection technology to provide even more precise focusing. The camera keeps tracking subjects when they move quickly, turn away, tilt their head or move far away from the camera.

2. A wide variety of recording formats, frame rates and resolutions in maximum 6K

The LUMIX BS1H is capable of 4:2:2 10-bit 4K 60p/50p HDMI output. With a highly efficient heat dispersion structure, it can deliver unlimited video recording in a variety of recording formats, including 4:3 Anamorphic mode, to meet professional requirements for long form shooting.

In addition, with two alternatives for RAW workflow (ii), the LUMIX BS1H provides further support for wide- ranging creative needs. [5.9K] / [4K] / [Anamorphic (4:3) 3.5K] 12-bit RAW video data can be output over HDMI to save Apple ProRes RAW video on the Atomos Ninja V or Blackmagic RAW on the Blackmagic Video Assist 12G HDR external recorder.

  • V-Log or V709 is selectable on the external monitor through SDI during RAW output.
  • Shooting assist functions including V-log View Assist, Luminance Spot Meter and Zebra Pattern can be used during RAW output.

VFR (variable frame rate) functionality supports video overcranking and undercranking. Users have access to 2.5x slow (24p/60 fps) in C4K/4K and 7.5x super-slow (24p/180 fps) in FHD. The minimum frame rate for quick motion video is 2 fps. In addition, HFR (High Frame Rate) recording includes audio and autofocus, allowing creation of slow-motion video in post-production.

To support live streaming, the LUMIX BS1H provides an IP streaming function over ethernet that enables high- quality image transmission to a PC on a wired network that can then be live streamed to the preferred social platform using PC software. Notably, the LUMIX BS1H can transmit 4K 60p (50p) video in H.265. H.265 is highly efficient, requiring half the bitrate when transmitting video with the same image quality as H.264, thus providing 2x higher image quality when transmitting at the same bitrate as H.264. Transmitting video in ultra-high definition 4K at low bitrates is possible even in low bandwidth situations.

3. A wide range of connections for unlimited possibilities

With a body frame composed of aluminium and magnesium alloy, the LUMIX BS1H is compact and lightweight yet durable enough for field operation. This box-style camera provides a variety of practical ports. The LUMIX BS1H complies with Power over Ethernet+ (PoE+) which allows the camera to be operated and powered using a single ethernet cable through compatible peripherals. Control over a maximum of 12 BS1H cameras (iii) is available using Panasonic PC software LUMIX Tether for Multicam (iv). Terminals include USB 3.1 Type-C; plus 3G-SDI and HDMI Type-A which can be used for simultaneous output. In addition, Genlock IN (BNC) and Timecode IN/OUT (BNC) functions enable multi-angle synchronised video recording to support a scalable system with third-party external monitors, rigs and gimbals. The camera is also equipped with two SD Card slots for backup or relay recording.

When using LUMIX S Series lenses with the BS1H, Linear Focus control is available for smooth and repeatable focus transitions. In addition, during video recording, Boost I.S. (Image Stabiliser) can be used when S Series lenses with Optical Image Stabilisation are mounted.

4. Other practical features

  • Simultaneous HDMI RAW and SDI FHD output.
  • Simultaneous output and internal recording to SD Cards.
  • Tally lamps (front 1 and rear 1), a network connection lamp.
  • Operation Lock switch and 5 function buttons.
  • Φ3.5 Audio (in/out) jack and compatibility with XLR microphone DMW-XLR1 (sold separately).
  • Generic remote-control unit φ2.5mm.
  • 2.4GHz Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth 4.2 (BLE).
  • Remote camera control using application software (v) (LUMIX Tether for Multicam and LUMIX Sync).
  • Tethered photo shooting with LUMIX Tether for Multicam software.
  • A SDK (Software Development Kit) (vi) or camera control via USB/LAN will be provided for free.

For further information, please visit www.panasonic.com.au or call 132 600.

oOo

  • Apple and ProRes are trademarks or registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the United States and/or other countries.
  • ATOMOS / Ninja V are registered trademarks of ATOMOS Limited.
    ‘Blackmagic Design’, ‘Blackmagic RAW’ and ‘DaVinci Resolve’ are registered trademarks of Blackmagic Design Pty. Ltd.
  • Other trademarks and trade names are those of their respective owners.
  • Some accessories are not available in some countries.
  • Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.

(i) Corresponding to 4K (4096×2160) as defined by Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI).

(ii) Apple ProRes RAW

*Selectable recording mode depends on the firmware version of Atomos Ninja V.
*Please refer to the Atomos website for the information on the corresponding firmware version of Atomos Ninja V.
*Software that supports Apple ProRes RAW is required to edit RAW video recorded with NINJA V. Apply the LUT (Look up table) available on the following customer supports site to make the same color grading as V-Log/V-Gamut
https://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/dsc/download/lut/s1h_raw_lut/
*All functions may not be available depending on the situation.

Blackmagic RAW

*Selectable recording mode depends on the firmware version of Blackmagic Video Assist 12G HDR.
*Please refer to the Blackmagic Design website for the information on the corresponding firmware version of Blackmagic Video Assist 12G HDR.
* DaVinci Resolve or DaVinci Resolve Studio is required to play back and edit Blackmagic RAW data. DaVinci Resolve Studio is required to deliver projects using Blackmagic RAW data in resolutions over 3840×2160.

*All functions may not be available depending on the situation.

(iii) Operation may be unstable depending on the connection environment and performance of the connected PC.

(iv) The SDK for BS1H is available at the following site. https://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/soft/tool/sdk.html

(v) The SDK for BS1H is available at the following site. https://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/soft/tool/sdk.html

(vi) The SDK for BS1H is available at the following site. https://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/soft/tool/sdk.html



Links

Morally Toxic Announces Most Innovative Camera Backpacks & Messenger Bags I Have Seen in Years

Leading British tripod innovator 3 Legged Thing has spun off camera bag brand Morally Toxic, announcing Valkyrie backpack and Wraith messenger bag in two sizes and three colourways, and these first two product releases are now available for pre-order.

From what I have seen if them online so far, I’m impressed.

Camera bag and backpack design has stagnated in recent years with plenty of slight variations and little innovation in successive models released by a range of established manufacturers.

Some of the most innovative designs appeared well over a decade ago and then disappeared as their makers sold themselves to big holding companies or some great products have been discontinued with no further evolution and thus no successors.

Every so often I find myself hunting down a long-discontinued camera bag, pouch or related accessory on the Web when a need becomes gripping and it needs solving by whatever means possible.

More often I find the shortcomings of current bag designs disappointing, even irritating, to the point where I have given them away or, sometimes, chucked them into the charity bin after a little too much irritation overload.

Sometimes camera bags’ fabrics have succumbed to the predations of climate change and our notoriously poorly-built Australian houses to the point of becoming completely covered with black mould.

I have a heartbreaking collection of photographs of hundreds of dollars’ worth of camera bags and backpacks that had to be thrown out lest mould spores and their mycotoxins attack my equipment, my health and my family.

A messenger bag & backpack rethink from 3 Legged Thing’s Morally Toxic spinoff

Morally Toxic’s parent company 3 Legged Thing continues to innovate in tripod systems and camera gripping in a way all too rare still.

3 Legged Thing’s products are not simply innovative, they are beautiful to look at, a pleasure to use and all too tempting to the point where, if I had the means, I would have a bunch of them.

Judging by what I have seen so far of Morally Toxic’s products, the same may well apply there too.

Morally Toxic Valkyrie Emerald Medium 20-litre backpack

Sydney MAY 21 #ClimateStrike at Town Hall in Sydney on May 21, 2021
My Think Tank Photo Pro Speed Belt with Think Tank Photo and MindShift Gear bags and pouches.

All three current Morally Toxic colourways – Onyx (grey), Emerald (green) and Sapphire (blue) – look great but the one I like best right now is Emerald as it blends in just enough but stands out as well, in urban and rural settings.

I am concentrating on the medium Valkyrie backpack here as I have long been looking for an optimally-featured short backpack for years now, to be worn in conjunction with my Think Tank Photo Pro Speed Belt V3.0.

Years of carrying sub-optimally designed and heavy hard cases, long cases, shoulder bags and backpacks have wrecked my back, spine, shoulders and lower skull and I must be extremely careful now in how I carry my gear and with what.

I settled on a set of Think Tank Photo and MindShift Gear bags and pouches to go on my Pro Speed Belt, and hunted down long-discontinued Multimedia Wired Up series bags and accessories by Think Tank Pro from all over the planet.

But first, I need a backpack that plays nice with these…

Given that, I still need to carry other gear such as a second camera, more lenses, audio equipment, tripods, lights and personal items from time to time and especially for documentary photography or video during a long day on location.

Several backpacks survived the climate change mould and mycotoxin crisis in another rental house a couple of years ago but all of them are too long and clash with waist belts and bags, so I need a backpack that is around 40cm in height.

Is Morally Toxic’s medium-sized Valkyrie backpack with 20-litre capacity the answer?

Not all camera bag fabrics are born equal

I learned an important lesson from our experiences in that rather typical rental house: not all camera bag fabrics are equal in their susceptibility to mould infection.

All camera bags are composed of several different types of synthetic fabrics and some, unfortunately, are trimmed with leather.

The photographs of our infected bags show that some synthetics will become completely and densely covered by mould while other fabrics adjacent to them might be mould-free or very lightly infected.

The leather in all except one bag with leather trim became heavily infected and the uninfected bag was, oddly enough, heavily covered with leather while the rest was synthetic fabric.

I can only conclude that the leather in this case was treated with chemicals that worked against mould infection as were the synthetic fabrics.

The second lesson mould infection taught us is that mould, like diamonds, is forever.

We tried every popular remedy kindly suggested by friends including weeks of exposure to direct sunlight, anti-mould sprays, undiluted bleach, you name it, and even if the surface mould came off then it eventually came back and often with a vengeance.

One bag maker investigated the storage practices of their manufacturing contractor in Vietnam and found that their warehouses needed upgrading and may have been the course of their fabrics’ original mould infection, which would then have been reactivated in our former rental house.

Up close on the Valkyrie medium backpack…

Key features:

  • Not your usual camera bag colours and fabrics.
  • Waterproof jacquard main bag fabric.
  • Rain cover for extra protection.
  • ‘Frog’ pocket for stowing wet gear or dry gear or jackets – unique and much-needed.
  • Chest strap and removable waist strap – could a Think Tank Photo Stuffit! or Little Stuffit! be fitted to the waist strap to carry tickets, cards or keys?
  • Water bottle side pocket – handy with Australian summer coming soon.
  • Padded portable computer or tablet storage – up to 13-inch for medium backpack, larger for large backpack.
  • Carrying straps for tripod, umbrella, small light stand or small boom pole.
  • Hidden top rear pocket for cash, cards or passport.
  • Two external side zip pockets for easily-lost small but crucial items like tools, filters, cables or filter brushes and cloths.
  • Internal dividers with pockets – brilliant! I usually have to add extra dividers  across and above partitions to better secure items with odd shapes and sizes but this smartly solves that problem.
  • Enough internal width to hold Rotolight Neo or Neo II LED lights for video or HSS flash – yay!
  • Well-organized and well divided-up space and pockets inside the cover for plenty of small items like pens, lens cleaners, cables, notebooks, drives, SD cards and so on – way too rare in backpacks of all brands and sizes – yay!

Morally Toxic Wraith Emerald Medium 15-litre messenger bag

All except two of our camera shoulder or messenger bags failed to survive the mould and mycotoxins attack at our previous rental house, and all of them were discontinued anyway so could not be replaced simply by ordering new ones.

Until Morally Toxic’s announcement appeared in our inbox earlier this week, we hadn’t given a thought to what we could do about messenger and shoulder bags so, basically, shelved the idea and persevered with an ageing and aged-looking shoulder bag that, frankly, annoys us every day with too many design and manufacturing problems.

We tend towards smaller bags given we are not getting any younger, so right now I am looking for photographs of women wearing and using the medium and large Wraiths to see how large they are in relation to female bodies.

Up close on the Wraith medium messenger bag…

Key features:

  • Not your usual camera bag colours and fabrics.
  • Waterproof jacquard main bag fabric.
  • Rain cover for extra protection.
  • ‘Frog’ pocket for stowing wet gear or dry gear or jackets – unique and much-needed.
  • Detachable long shoulder pad – usually these pads are too short, sliding to either end of the shoulder strap instead of staying where they’re needed.
  • Water bottle side pocket – handy with Australian summer coming soon.
  • Padded portable computer or tablet storage.
  • Hidden external pocket for cash, cards or passport.
  • Internal dividers with pockets as well as under-cover flap storage.
  • Luggage strap for attaching to roller bags or suitcases.

The necessity of shoulder, messenger or sling bags

We don’t only rely on backpacks – some of our ‘lost’ camera bags were shoulder or messenger bags, and until Morally Toxic’s launch announcement we had been researching sling bags as a possible spine-friendly alternative.

One of the Unititled.Net team uses nothing but shoulder bags in several different sizes depending on the kit for that day, while I often need to forgo waist belt-mounted bags and backpacks altogether when stealthy blending in is advantageous, so the smaller the shoulder bag and the less it looks like a camera bag the better.

Another advantage of shoulder bags of all sizes is that they can be pre-packed with specialist gear then locked up ready to liberate when needed.

For example, I am looking forward to Fujifilm’s long-awaited X-H2 professional hybrid camera and the recently announced Fujinon XF 18-120mm stills and video zoom lens.

Pre-pack a large or medium shoulder bag for all the extra gear demanded by video production, leave space for the X-H2, 18-120mm zoom and a Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R, store the latter three items in a dry cabinet, then reunite it all before jumping out the door and into a cab.

Valkyrie & Wraith size comparisons

Given humans don’t come in standardized shapes and sizes, it can be challenging to judge how well a camera bag or backpack may fit your own body by looking online, but these photographs may help.

When you really, really need all that extra gear: Valkyrie 25-Litre Large & Wraith 20-Litre Large

Sometimes you can’t help but need to haul lots of extra gear and that, quite frankly, is when I’d recommend hiring an assistant for the day.

In which case, please consider Morally Toxic’s two larger camera bags, above.

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