Articles & News

L-rumors.com: (L5) Major Panasonic S1-S1R announcement will happen around January 30

https://www.l-rumors.com/l5-major-panasonic-s1-s1r-announcement-will-happen-around-january-30/

We are now 99% certain that Panasonic will have a major S1-S1R related announcement on the days around January 30. This means we will likely get the full specs information and preorder pricing.

Stay tuned for more info to come!…

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Panasonic Lumix S1R 35mm mirrorless digital camera.

Panasonic S1 and S1R

Scenes from photokina 2018 and CES 2019, photographs courtesy of Panasonic.

Commentary

I bought into Panasonic’s excellent DSLR-style and rangefinder-style Micro Four Thirds sensor camera and lens system for documentary stills photography and video when Fujifilm dropped the ball with its first try at an interchangeable lens APS-C mirrorless rangefinder-style camera, the X-Pro1.

The problems making that camera sadly unusable for me were remedied with the later X-Pro2 and also the DSLR-style X-T1 and X-T2, with the recently-released X-T3 delivering almost everything one might desire in a DSLR-style stills/video hybrid camera with the exception of raw video recording via external monitors/recorders such as the Atomos Ninja V, in-body image stabilization, and a fully-articulated LCD monitor for maximum viewing usability whether shooting movies or photographs.

I was so impressed  by my experience of a loaner Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 that I ordered one immediately for documentary work and added a Lumix DMC-GX8 as a second video camera that almost immediately became my number one photography camera.

Both cameras constituted my documentary stills kit with the addition of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens with manual clutch focus, the lens that changed my mind about zoom lenses.

I soon added a second Olympus zoom, then a Panasonic prime followed by a Panasonic zoom lens.

I am holding off on more Micro Four Thirds lenses while waiting to see how developments with Olympus’ coming E-M1X pro-quality photography and video camera, Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lenses, Panasonic’s Lumix S Series and the amazing Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 wide-to-normal zoom lens work out this year.

Rumors have it that Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro lenses are designed in collaboration with Sigma, and whether true or not, Sigma’s membership of the L-Mount group alongside old allies Leica and Panasonic is exciting.

As a longtime though sadly no longer Leica camera and lens user, I would love to be able to afford their current cameras and lenses but Sigma’s Art line prime and zoom lenses’ specifications, image quality results, prices and most of all range of focal lengths impresses as does the company’s cine lens collection.

As I discovered with Fujifilm’s XF APS-C lenses and Panasonic’s M43 Lumix G and Leica DG lens lines, the seldom-spoken downside to new sensor and camera ranges is that it takes years and buckets of manufacturer cash for them to eventually acquire full collections of lenses to suit all their users’ needs.

It is estimated that Canon, for example, took 40 years to achieve that goal with lenses for its 35mm sensor DSLR camera line.

Will Sigma’s presence in the L-Mount consortium and its promised large L-Mount lens collection be persuasive enough to turn 35mm sensor camera users’ heads away from their Canons and Nikons?

The recently announced High Resolution stills and HLG video modes of the Lumix S-Series cameras are impressive but there is more to know about its other features and those of Panasonic’s other cameras in the series.

As a documentary and portrait photographer, I tend to prefer the more portrait and magazine-friendly 4:3 or 3:4 aspect ratios of Micro Four Thirds cameras over the often too-narrow 3:2 or 3:2 of 35mm sensors, and find that fully-articulated LCD monitors are far more useful than any fixed, two-way or three-way tilt screen solutions.

On the other hand, sensor megapixel counts of around 50 or more help produce portraits that possess an uncanny sense of being there especially when printed beautifully and large.

I am looking forward to Panasonic’s January 30 announcements and product shots.

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Design Your Life: Episode 011 with the Douglas Brothers [Podcast]

http://designyourlife.com.au/podcast/ep011-vince-frosts-design-your-life-with-the-douglas-brothers/

“British photographer/director siblings Andrew and Stuart Douglas are renowned creatives, known primarily for their rebellious approach to photography and film direction.

Having grown up in Southend Essex and later, London, the pair’s legacy began in the midst of the London punk movement, where they used their “incorrect” style to snap some of the world’s most iconic figures during their youth, including Richard Gere, Morrissey, Timothy Roth and Tilda Swinton.

Since then, their work has evolved and continued to disrupt the creative and commercial worlds alike, with their left-of-centre work for Adidas, Coco Cola and Hollywood feature-length films.

In this episode, Andrew and Stuart share their personal and professional stories – which are often one in the same.

They recount their origins, moving from stills to videos, how working with your brother can simultaneously result in your best work and decade-long feuds, and ultimately how they “find wellness while keeping the hamster-wheel going.” …”

Daniel Day Lewis, copyright The Douglas Brothers. This was apparently their breakthrough image, the one that established their style, and it was made for US start-up magazine ‘Mirabella’. As ‘Mirabella’ publisher Julie Lewit Nirenberg said after the magazine’s demise in the year 2000, “It had such amazing potential. There was a really wonderful vision behind that magazine.” Been there, done that, saw the same kind of thing occur with ‘not only Black+White’. “It was such a promising magazine.”

Commentary

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The Douglas Brothers for the Gap ‘Individuals of Style’ advertising campaign, photographed in the early 1990s by Annie Leibovitz. Image kindly supplied by the inimitable Dave Dye, formerly of The Leagas Delaney Partnership.

Kudos to Australia-based strategic designer Vince Frost of Frost* collective for recording this podcast with The Douglas Brothers, Andrew and Stuart.

Whether they realized it or not, the Douglas Brothers played an instrumental role in my life when they recommended me to their apparently one and only advertising agency client at the time, the brilliant copywriter Tim Delaney of the then Leagas Delaney Partnership, on the basis of my having come up with the idea of ‘not only Black+White’ magazine.

I had travelled to the UK as the magazine’s European Contributing Editor several years after its founding in order to meet some of the great photographers I had been working on articles with remotely, via telephone, in those days before everyone used email, chat and the World Wide Web as they do now.

I was rewarded with considerable time spent face-to-face with many of them, met plenty more of them and better yet experienced an acceptance and a respect from all entirely unknown to me back in Australia before or since.

My experience with The Douglas Brothers was a standout, and that is saying something.

Their work, their experiences and backgrounds had some key similarities to my own, enough to amply validate a saying I had long shared with my photography students over the years before leaving Western Australia, “Be yourself, only, more so”.

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Self-portrait © by The Douglas Brothers.

The Douglas Brothers’ approach to portrait photography came about through the same lack of time allocated with their subjects, lack of funds available for the best and most versatile equipment and back then a lack of recognition from potential clients able to grant them real money for their work.

That recognition was about to come, though, due to the way that photographers overseas were not locked into career-limiting labels like magazine photographer or newspaper photographer as apparently occurs here in Australia still.

At the time I met them, The Douglas Brothers had begun producing longer-form television commercials, evolving beyond the 10-second spots with which they broke into directing, their TV work possessing as much the unique Douglas Brothers stamp as their photographs.

They truly were being themselves, only, more so, a lesson that should have been well-heeded by the students  mentioned in a comment made by Stuart Douglas in an article for advertising industry bible Campaign:

On their photographic style: ‘We used to see students’ photography portfolios with work that identically copied ours, only it was better. We never knew how to take this,’ Stuart comments.

During the time I worked at The Leagas Delaney Partnership, now simply named Leagas Delaney, I encountered quite a few young photographers toting portfolios of work copying that of their idols though The Douglas Brothers did not count among them.

My advice to those fresh young wannabes?

“Be yourself, only, more so.”

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Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras, Saturday November 17 2018, in The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

I attended this year’s Fujifilm Australia People with Cameras event in Sydney’s The Royal Botanic Gardens on Saturday, November 17, carrying my Fujifilm X-Pro2, Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens, Fujifilm MHG-XPro2 metal hand grip and Fujifilm LH-XF23 lens hood in a Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic Plus waist bag.. 

I also had a Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens in my Think Tank Photo MindShift Gear rotation180° Travel Away backpack, now sadly discontinued, along with a surprising amount of personal and other items carried in the event of rain during this strange weather we have been having. 

The event was very well attended, with Fujifilm Australia supplying a large amount of free food and drink later that afternoon, and I was grateful for the ease with which both bags held all my gear and took the weight off my permanently damaged spine and shoulder. 

With the end of photography trade shows in Sydney for several years now, events like this where one can see and try photographic hardware before making the decision to buy are welcome, crucial even, and I would love to see Fujifilm and other vendors put on more such events more frequently.

The previous Sydney People with Cameras feels like it happened over two years ago now even though it was in October 2017, and I hope that Fujifilm and other vendors will be offering some see and try events before the next People with Cameras in Sydney.

The space in front of Fujifilm Australia’s tables at this year’s event was densely packed, attesting to the amount of interest in Fujifilm’s X and GFX cameras and lenses.

Fujifilm Australia’s People with Cameras, Saturday November 17 2018, in The Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Fujifilm X-Pro 2 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR

I am about to begin rebuilding my portrait photography portfolio using a new approach aided by the latest generation of raw processing and image editing software, and have been pondering which lenses would best do the job.

My Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R is a great choice for environmental portraits featuring people in their surroundings while my Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 is excellent for full-face or head-and-shoulders portraits especially with aperture set to just under wide open.

I have a gap in my Fujinon XF lens collection for portraiture however, midway between both focal lengths, for use in full-figure portraits when photographing subjects sitting or standing.

Right now I am considering three lenses as candidates to fill that gap, the Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8, Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR, but have only had the chance of a reasonable try out with the latter lens.

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Made with Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujinon XF 35mm f/2.0 R WR “Fujicron” prime lens.

I reached through the crowd at People with Cameras to pick up the 35mm f/1.4 lens, tried it on a couple of quick shots, but not enough to come to any conclusions.

I had a chance to try out the 27mm f/2.8 several years ago for some urban documentary photography and was impressed at the results but would prefer a lens that is also useful for shooting video and so has aperture and focus rings, the latter offering the option of manual clutch focus rather than just focus-by-wire.

Nikon Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 and Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8

Two of the two lenses that got me started in portrait photography back in art school were the Nikon Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 and Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8, alongside a Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 lens for environmental portraiture.

Both Micro-Nikkor lenses were great for close-up as well as normal distance portrait photography and quickly taught me the emotive and informational differences of standard and longer focal lengths with photographing people.

These three lenses on a secondhand Nikon F were my gateway into serious portrait photography and I soon graduated into relying on 120 roll film and then 4″x5″ sheet film cameras.

I much preferred the 3:4 and 4:5 aspect ratios of roll film and sheet film, especially when making photographs in vertical/portrait format  and when compared to 35mm’s tighter 2:3 aspect ratio.

I would love it if Fujifilm came out with lenses like these two Micro-Nikkors, especially given I prefer manual focus for portrait photography.

Another possibility is to mount these lenses on a Fujifilm camera via Metabones Smart Adapters and Speed Boosters or their equivalents in other brands, although there might be a focal length penalty that may translate 55mm and 105mm into something a little longer.

Time to pull out the slide rule and do the numbers!

I need a second Fujifilm X-Series camera as a backup to my X-Pro2, for use with wider and longer focal lengths and zoom lenses, and the X-T3 is a good candidate for that given its excellent electronic viewfinder and Super 35 video capabilities.

Another possibility is to wait for the Fujifilm X-H2 for the sake of in-body image stabilization which has proven handy for portraiture on my Panasonic cameras, as well as the video features that are on the X-T3, but the X-H2’s release may be some years off according to some pundits.

It just occurred to me that there is one more possibility again regarding Fujifilm APS-C lenses for portraiture, the coming Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4.0 zoom lens.

Although this lens is apparently aimed at travel photography, its 24mm to 120mm focal length range contains the equivalent to the two Micro-Nikkor 55mm and 105mm lenses as well as other personal favourite focal lengths such as 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 75mm, and its f/4.0 maximum aperture is not too much of a penalty when photographing subjects where bokeh is not essential and when I prefer to stop down to f/5.6 or smaller.

So far there is no word on the 16-80mm’s possible close-focussing capabilities, and given the need for critical focus it would best be used on an X-T3, X-H1 or X-H2 for the sake of their excellent EVFs.

Mind you, if the X-Pro3 appears with an EVF much-improved over the one in the X-Pro2, then my preference for rangefinder cameras may well convince me to invest in that instead.

Image Credits

Photographs by Karin Gottschalk, all rights reserved, made on Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens as raw image files processed with Phase One Capture One Pro using film emulation styles with some images further processed in Skylum Luminar 2018.

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  • Cosyspeed camera bagsB&H
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New articles will be published less frequently until moving the ‘Untitled’ office, studio and home is completed in December

As we are in the process of moving our offices, studio and home right now, new articles will be less frequently published than usual.

Apologies to all our dear readers.

Normal service will be resumed once this move is completed, all the many known and unforeseen complications of the Christmas/New Year season allied with the effects of extreme climate change and our tragically worse-than-mediocre national telecommunications infrastructure aside. 

My Modern Met: Interview: Online Directory of Female Photographers Challenges Gender Bias

https://mymodernmet.com/alreadymade-female-commercial-photographers/

“Tired of the marginalization of female photographers in the commercial world, Jill Greenberg decided to take matters into her own hands. The successful photographer, whose work went viral due to her set of crying toddler photos, has started the directory Alreadymade. The site serves to take away any excuses for clients who feel as though they can’t find talented female photographers for high-end commercial photo shoots by giving these talented women a platform.

Although women are responsible for 85% of consumer purchases, female photographers are passed over for the majority of entertainment shoots and advertising campaigns. This means that male photographers are shaping the way we see and perceive the world the majority of the time (up to 90%)….”

Commentary

It is great to see that Jill Greenberg has added her reputation and energy to the fight for equal female participation and representation in the creative media with her Alreadymade. initiative but sad to see that, despite a long history of great photography by female photographers, the numbers continue to be so against that equality.

Some influential, inspirational female photographers in my past

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The Photojournalist: Two Women Explore the Modern World and the Emotions of Individuals; Mary Ellen Mark & Annie Leibovitz; text by Adrianne Marcus, with the editors of Alskog, inc., Masters of Contemporary Photography; New York; 1974. One of the first books on photography I ever bought.

While writing this article, I began compiling from memory a list of female photographers whose work has been crucial in shaping my own way of seeing since I first picked up a camera, and that list just grew and grew.

Growing up in an isolated little town in the uttermost west, I did not have access to other photographers or to museums or galleries and certainly never saw exhibitions of photography anywhere back then, but I could and did order books from lending libraries in other towns across the state via the state library system and occasionally managed to buy photography magazines, so my access to other people’s work was limited.

As I added names from memory, this list just grew and grew and it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Further information about these photographers and links to their websites and other sources are available at Wikipedia’s List of women photographers.

  • Annie Leibovitz
  • Berenice Abbott
  • Bettina Rheims
  • Cindy Palmano
  • Deborah Turbeville
  • Diane Arbus
  • Doris Ulmann
  • Dorothea Lange
  • Edith Tudor-Hart
  • Ellen von Unwerth
  • Fay Godwin
  • Florence Henri
  • Gertrude Käsebier
  • Graciela Iturbide
  • Helen Levitt
  • Hilla Becher
  • Jane Bown
  • Jill Furmanovsky
  • Jo Spence
  • Joyce Tenneson
  • Julia Margaret Cameron
  • June Newton née Browne aka Alice Springs
  • Laura Gilpin
  • Lauren Greenfield
  • Lee Miller
  • Lisette Model
  • Lotte Jacobi
  • Lucia Moholy
  • Margaret Bourke-White
  • Markéta Luskačová
  • Martine Franck
  • Mary Ellen Mark
  • Nan Goldin
  • Peggy Sirota
  • Pennie Smith
  • Sally Mann
  • Sarah Moon
  • Sirkka-Liisa Konttinen
  • Susan Meiselas
  • Sylvia Plachy
  • Tessa Traeger
  • Tina Modotti
  • Vivian Maier
  • Yevonde Middleton

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Frame.io Insider: Speed Up Your Editing Using Final Cut Pro X’s Browser

https://blog.frame.io/2018/11/05/fcpx-browser-editing/

“At last year’s FCP X World in London, people were dazzled by watching London-based commercial editor Thomas Grove Carter of Trim Editing cut together an Audi commercial live. The speed with which he conducted the edit was mesmerizing….

… But FCP X, with its magnetic timeline and the powerful tools packed into its browser, is built for lightning-paced cutting—you just have to know how to use it!

As I see it, there are two standout techniques involved in Thomas Grove Carter’s process:

  • Mastery of three-point editing (and its keyboard shortcuts)
  • Mastery of FCP X’s browser-based system of organization and labeling…”
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Apple Final Cut Pro X on Apple 27″ iMac Pro with Retina 5K Display (Late 2017)

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Tilta Announces “Tactical Assault Armor” Professional Camera Cage System for Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

In an intriguing departure from the more customary minimalist approach to creating cages for hybrid and cinema cameras, Tilta has announced a complete professional cage and accessories system for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and it looks amazing. 

The system appears to be named BMPCC 4K Tactical Assault Armor, thus taking on a rather unfortunate military note, but it impresses with the attention to detail Tilta’s design and engineering team has paid to the BMPCC 4K’s accessories needs for use in demanding productions. 

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Tilta cage system for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Blackmagic Design’s latest pocket camera is anything but a fit-in-the-pocket cinema camera, and from feedback from early pre-order customers it appears to be as capable of run-and-gun documentary work as it is of feature-style documentary or narrative moviemaking.

Tilta’s BMPCC 4K cage design philosophy appears based on making the cost of entry low with the half cage priced at US$69.00, full cage at US$99 with the top handle priced at US$79.00, making the most basic cage combo US$148.00 with an extra US$30.00 for full cage instead of half cage.

Other products in the system tackle BMPCC 4K weak points such as cabling, external SSDs, sun-shading and external power as well as the need for a fast and easy focus-pulling solution for solo operators.

At such a low price for entry into the system, independent documentary moviemakers are able to get a foot in then add to it as bigger productions demand.

Tilta BMPCC 4K Tactical Assault Armor Cage for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

So far Tilta has not revealed the BMPCC 4K Tactical Assault Armor cage system’s release date but interested potential customers are invited to sign up for updates.

I will be keeping an eye out for hands-on reviews of the system in all its forms.

One thing that appears to be missing from the system so far is provision for easily, safely attaching a tilting and swivelling monitor such as the recently-released  Atomos Ninja V but perhaps that solution is still in design stage and will be illustrated in use in a future version of the Tilta BMPCC 4K Tactical Assault Armor cage system web page.

Some other Tilta camera cages

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Skylum Updates Luminar 2018 Raw Processor/Image Editor with Artificial Intelligence-Driven AI Sky Enhancer

While it seems that most Australian professional photographers of my acquaintance depend on Adobe Bridge’s Camera Raw module in conjunction with Photoshop as their first choice for raw processing and imaged editing, followed by Adobe Lightroom in order of popularity, there are alternative products and alternative software companies.

One of the most creative is Skylum, formerly named Macphun, maker of Aurora HDR and Luminar, the first a high dynamic range image merging and editing application and the second a raw image processing and image editing application the features of which are ever-growing and unlike any other image editor in their scope and innovation. 

Luminar 2018 recently gained an artificial-intelligence driven feature, the AI Sky Enhancer, and the long-awaited major update, Luminar with Libraries, due sometime in December 2018, will add sync and batch editing, image organizing, rating, labelling and tagging to improve Luminar’s photo management and editing editing workflow.  

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Skylum Luminar AI Sky Enhancer filter applied to a Fujifilm X-Pro2 raw file of a local landscape after initial processing with Iridient X-Transformer. Photograph © copyright Karin Gottschalk 2018. All rights reserved.

Ever since Apple signalled the coming end of its support for Aperture, one of the best media management, picture sorting and editing, raw processing and image editing applications ever, relied upon by photographers as well as picture editors, magazine publishers, advertising agencies, deign firms and more, photographers have been searching for a direct replacement and the available solutions have been found wanting to various degrees.

Since then I have tried a number of media management applications and modules built into raw processing and image editing software and none of them have filled the bill in exactly the way I need them to.

Skylum has verb working on a media management solution aka library for Luminar for some time and it looks like it will finally make its appearance soon.

I cannot want to try it out and with luck it will be the media manager cum image library I have been after for all these years.

Skylum Luminar 2018 AI Sky Enhancer Before and After

How Does AI Sky Enhancer Work?

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Sky detection & object recognition: With the help of our deep neural network, Luminar analyzes the image and detects the sky. This neural network had been trained using hundreds of thousands of images with different amounts and different types of sky, whether it’s a tiny patch of blue peeking through a skylight, a cloudy sky flaunting sunset colors, or a dark, ominous sky signaling a storm.
skylum_luminar2018_skyenhancer_08_1920px_60pc
Semantic Segmentation: Once image analysis is complete, Luminar performs what we call semantic segmentation, separating the image into different layers, based on the semantic and contextual meaning of the objects it detects. This analysis allows the most precise and intelligent sky enhancement with minimal noise, halos, and negative impact on other areas of the image. The AI detects objects in the foreground, defines edges, and analyzes the textures and tones of the sky itself. The deep neural network that powers AI Sky Enhancer had been trained using thousands of real life examples we’ve either taken ourselves or obtained from other professional photographers.
skylum_luminar2018_skyenhancer_07_1920px_60pc
Smart masking: Following sky detection and segmentation, Luminar applies an automatic mask to the sky that’s invisible to you as the user. When you move the slider to the right, you only notice how the sky becomes more and more beautiful. Just like a professional photographer, AI Sky Enhancer treats different images differently. It applies a custom set of adjustments to a sky, depending on its look. This means that a blue sky will get a treatment far different from a grey sky, and a sunset sky will be enhanced differently from a mid-morning one.

LUTs in Skylum Luminar 2018 and Aurora HDR 2019

I have been developing an approach to portrait photography based on five to seven bracket images batch processed in Iridient X-Transformer then merged in Skylum Aurora HDR 2019 with maximum image editing done in Aurora’s 16-bit colour space including applying film emulation and looks LUTs.

This has only been possible in the way I have long envisaged it since the release of Aurora HDR 2019 and its amazing realistic automatic tone-mapping, a huge evolutionary leap beyond previous versions of Aurora HDR and other HDR software I have used over the years.

The addition of the LUTs feature in both items of Skylum software is welcome as I have assembled an enormous collection of camera profile, film emulation and looks LUTs over the years and enjoy applying the film emulation LUTs in particular to portraits.

The challenge when editing with LUTs is to choose exactly the right one, or two or more of them in combination, to communicate the information and emotions I visualized for the finished image when I made the exposure.

Right now selecting that one or more perfect LUT from a big collection of them is a time-consuming process of trial and error, loading and looking, rejecting then choosing again.

Some video editing applications and colour grading applications and plug-ins have LUT library previewing capabilities that speed up the processing of choosing the best LUT for the job and I want to see the same functionality added to Skylum Luminar 2018 and Aurora HDR 2019.

In illustration, the above three portraits have been graded with three different film emulation LUTs, one from a medium-sized collection and the other two from a far bigger set of LUTs.

Choosing the looks I wanted took far too long and I skipped over thousands of other possible candidates.

Small previews of how each LUT would render the image would have sped up the process considerably.

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Fujifilm GFX 50R Medium Format Rangefinder-Style Camera Touch and Try Event at Ted’s World of Imaging, Sydney, Thursday 1st November 2018

Warrewyk Williams of Fujifilm Australia presented the Fujifilm GFX 50R Touch and Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney. Photograph copyright Karin Gottschalk 2018, all rights reserved.

Fujifilm Australia’s Warrewyk Williams arrived at the Touch and Try event at Ted’s World of Imaging in Sydney last night with one of the few, if not the only, Fujifilm GFX 50R medium format rangefinder-style digital cameras along with a selection of G Mount lenses, Fujifilm GFX 50S DSLR-style medium format camera, Fujifilm X-H1, Instax printers and more. 

The event provided an opportunity for a brief but informative hands-on with the GFX 50R with the proviso that the camera is a pre-production model with pre-release firmware and so comes with possible quirks and operating speed reductions. 

This event was particularly welcome as I have not had the opportunity to touch or try the X-H1, GFX 50S or any of Fujifilm’s Instax products, given the closure of our local top-end camera stores, and I have long been hoping and waiting for a digital version of Fujifilm’s justly loved and celebrated “Texas Leica” 120 roll film analog cameras of the past. 

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Fujifilm GFX 50R with Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens, equivalent to 35mm in 35mm format.

Some “Texas Leica” medium format rangefinder cameras from the analog era, made by Fujifilm, Bronica and Mamiya

Fujifilm, as well as Bronica and Mamiya, made some remarkable 120 roll film rangefinder cameras with Fujifilm producing a huge variety of “Texas Leicas” in the 6×4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm, 6x8cm and 6x9cm formats and for all I know may well have produced 6x9cm and 6x12cm cameras too.

I continue to search for top quality photographs of these and other cameras in the hopes of preserving some of the camera-building achievements of the past, some of which may trickle down to the present day.

The Fujifilm GFX 50R has clearly benefited from Fujifilm’s analog innovations, its look and feel reminding me of the company’s larger 120 roll film cameras while also sharing a great deal of the X-Pro2’s own DNA.

Fujifilm GFX 50R Touch and Try

Reeling off a few snapshots with an unfamiliar and pre-production camera is hardly a thorough real-world test but the experience reminded me that documentary photography and portraiture with a medium format camera is a very different thing to making the same sorts of photographs with a small, fast, agile, gestural camera like the X-Pro2 or X-T3.

Making reportage and portraits photographs with the GFX 50R and GFX 50S is more akin to how I used to work handheld with my Hasselblad, Mamiya 7 and even my Crown Graphic 4″x5″ sheet film 4field camera – slower, more deliberate and with fewer shots than I would make on APS-C or Micro Four Thirds cameras.

I tried two lenses, the Fujinon GF 45mm f/2.8 R WR and the Fujinon GF 120mm f/4.0 Macro R LM OIS WR in emulation of the two-lens moderate wide and medium telephoto kits I had for my medium and large format analog cameras.

I learned that, aside from the coming-soon Fujinon GF 50mm f3.5 R LM WR pancake lens, equivalent to about 40mm in the 35mm sensor format, more wide prime lenses are planned for GF mount cameras along with the  Fujinon GF 45-100mm f/4.0 R LM OIS WR and Fujinon GF 100-200mm f/5.6 R LM OIS WR zoom lenses currently slated for 2019 and 2020 releases on Fujifilm’s G Mount Lens Roadmap.

The Fujifilm GFX 50R is, for me, a combination rangefinder-style and small field view camera, for use primarily handheld but also on a portable but sturdy tripod such as 3 Legged Thing’s Winston or those made by Really Right Stuff, for making environmental and full-face portrait photographs.

My quick and dirty test shots indicate that it has the image quality of an analog sheet film camera rather than a 120 roll film camera, and I would prefer to use prime lenses with it rather than zooms.

Warrewyk Williams estimates the focal length equivalence factor at 0.79 for Fujifilm’s G Mount lenses, making the 45mm equivalent to 35.55 in 35mm terms and the 120mm equivalent to 94.8 in 35mm terms.

Other lenses worth considering for my sort of portrait photography include the Fujinon GF 110mm f/2.0 R LM WR equivalent to 86.9mm and hopefully a soon-to-come 35mm GF lens equivalent to 28mm.

Not to be discounted is the Fujinon GF 32-64mm f/4.0 R LM WR zoom lens which provides at least three useful focal lengths for different forms of portraiture, in 35mm equivalent terms 28mm, 35mm and 50mm, and is available right now rather than waiting for fast prime lenses to come.

A two or three lens kit for the GFX 50R may be all I would need for portraiture should I invest in digital medium format.

While it is too early too come to conclusions about the GFX 50R and its lenses, I have been particularly struck by the superb 3D image rendering in the available light snapshot portrait of Warrewyk Williams above and am very much looking forward to exploring more of the creative possibilities of Fujifilm’s GFX camera and lens system very soon.

Links

Image Credits

Portrait of Warrewyk Williams made by Karin Gottschalk on Fujifilm medium format camera with Fujinon GF 120mm f4.0 R LM OIS WR Macro lens as five autoexposure brackets processed in Skylum Aurora HDR 2019 with film emulation LUT applied and further processing in Skylum Luminar.

Documentary photographs made by Karin Gottschalk on Fujifilm X-Pro2 with Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens.

Header image of GFX 50R made by Jonas Rask for Fujifilm.

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