Considering the Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR, Part 4

It seems like only yesterday: the first hint that the Fujifilm X-Pro1 was on its way years ago now was the appearance online of an image made by a Magnum Photos photojournalist with that camera and the Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R pancake-style prime lens. 

I can’t remember who spotted the relevant camera and lens EXIF data in the JPEG but it made me feel that Fujifilm was paying special attention to the very specific needs of documentary photographers and photojournalists with a camera and lens combination that promised to become a default of those trades. 

Eventually I managed to briefly try two of the three first Fujinon XF lenses on an X-Pr01 in the now long-gone Foto Riesel professional camera store in Sydney, and sadly set aside my desire to invest in the lens until Fujifilm fixed the camera’s diopter problem. 

Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R, Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R and Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro prime lens, the first set of Fujinon XF lenses released by Fujifilm in March 2012. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Global.
Brad Latta in heavily mixed light, made with Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R. Characterful wide open but slow to autofocus. Photograph © Karin Gottschalk 2021.

I was doing volunteer work for an unfunded human rights charity at the time, had a Fujifilm Finepix X100, but had needs that otherwise revolutionary camera couldn’t meet: video, and much wider and longer focal lengths.

I had to look further afield than the X-Pro1 and its first three lenses, but finally came back to the fold with the X-Pro2, Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and XF 56mm f/1.2 R after Fujifilm staff members promised that 4K video was on its way.

That didn’t happen, not in the way that I needed then, so I made a foray into Micro Four Thirds with Panasonic Lumix cameras and Olympus M. Zuiko Pro lenses specifically for video but stayed for M43’s depth-of-focus documentary photography sweet spot and Olympus’ legendary optics.

No camera and lens system meets all one’s needs

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR wideangle zoom lens on Fujifilm X-H1 with VPB-XH1 Vertical Power Booster Grip. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Running parallel camera and lens systems was not my intention, but I had to do the same during the analog era and the digital era has turned out in a similar way with an ever-growing variety of camera types, sensor sizes and lens ranges for stills and video.

The coming Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR and the rumoured XF 23mm f/1.4 Mark II, XF 56mm f/1.2 Mark II and XF 33mm f/1.4 high resolution prime lenses designed for professional photography and cinematography have validated my investment in Fujifilm hardware, as has the rumoured Fujifilm X-H2.

Those new and revised primes are a welcome addition to the Fujifilm XF lens collection, and validation for professional users investing in the system, but several more fast primes and updated primes are as necessary as the 18mm, 23mm, 33mm and 56mm “Fujilux” lenses above.

These are:

  • XF 14mm f/2.8 Mark II – a wider maximum aperture might be nice but f/2.8 will fill the bill given Mark I’s full optical correction.
  • XF 27mm f/1.4 – a contemporary alternative to the legendary “Hollywood 28” versatile “perfect normal” vintage lenses.
  • XF 70mm f/1.4 – a portrait photography and video big close-up necessity.

I enjoyed the Fujifilm X-H1 loaner enormously and, despite its internals being outdated at time of release, its unlikely Fujifilm will make the same mistake twice especially with a flagship camera designed for top performance in stills and video.

I was reminded of how highly Fujifilm’s stills and cinema lenses are regarded in the movie industry at a screening last week, and the company will do well amongst professional users with a future-proofed flagship X-H2 for the most demanding stills photography and cinematography.

The Fujifilm X-Pro4

Fujifilm Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR with Fujifilm LH-XF18 Lens Hood on Fujifilm X-Pro3. Image courtesy of Fujifilm Australia.

Fujifilm’s X-Pron digital rangefinder camera series will remain my default for documentary photography but the company needs to make good the most disappointing shortcoming of the X-Pro3, its lack of 18mm bright lines and enough OVF width to permit viewing outside them.

When the X-Pro4 rumours appeared, I had hoped the camera would be accompanied with a professional-quality 18mm lens given how 28mm equivalent focal lengths are the default for so many documentary photographers and photojournalists.

Some pundits believe that Fujifilm chose 23mm bright-lines as their maximum in the X-Pro3’s optical viewfinder due to the coming XF 18mm f/1.4’s filter diameter being 62mm and thus protruding into the lower right of the OVF.

Leica, however, did not see OVF protrusion as problem for some of its wider M-Series lenses and minimized it with vents in their lens hoods.

The company also provided optional external optical viewfinders to sit on camera hotshoes, as has Fujifilm itself with its VF-X21 with 21mm and 28mm equivalent lens bright lines, that is, for the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R and XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR lenses.

Leica M-mount lens maker Cosina, under its Voigtlaender brand, has produced a number of hotshoe-mounted external OVFs as has Ricoh for its GXR system cameras, so there is clearly a user base for this optional view-finding solution and I have successfully used external OVFs on other cameras in the past.

Lens hoods and external optical viewfinders for Fujifilm and Leica digital rangefinder cameras

Another key improvement for the Fujifilm X-Pro4 needs to be in its LCD monitor.

I have yet to try the Fujifilm X-Pro3 and its unique monitor solution which was apparently designed on the basis that it is for “real” or “pure” photography.

I have engaged in “pure photography” in its documentary form for decades and have welcomed as many viewfinder, ground-glass and other image viewing possibilities as camera makers can provide.

Give me more, not fewer, ways of seeing the image so I can handle all the many ways circumstances and my subjects dictate.

Fujifilm, please rethink your current point-of-view on the X-Pro series’ LCDs with a mind to the needs of professionals in the field and not some ideological stance that shapes and limits what we can do and how we can do it.

Whether fully-articulated, fixed, two-way, three-way or something else again, please rethink the X-Pro4’s LCD monitor, Fujifilm.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 rangefinder-style camera and Fujifilm X-Pro3 digital rangefinder camera. Similar but different, and a very different user experience from DSLR-style cameras, especially suited to documentary photography and photojournalism. More creative options with the GX8’s versatile LCD monitor than the one in the X-Pro3. Image courtesy of Compact Camera Meter.

Photographs by magazine photographer Stefan Finger with Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR prime lens

Photographed by German photojournalist Stefan Finger with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR. Photograph © Stefan Finger 2021.
Photographed by German photojournalist Stefan Finger with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR. Photograph © Stefan Finger 2021.
Photographed by German photojournalist Stefan Finger with the Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR. Photograph © Stefan Finger 2021.

“For me, the FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR (a 35 mm equivalent of 27 mm) is an absolute gamechanger. For one thing, the autofocus and image quality of the lens are outstanding. For another, it brings me back to a focal length that I very much enjoy. Often my FUJINON XF16mmF1.4 (a 35 mm equivalent of 24 mm) has been too wide-angled for me. However, the FUJINON XF23mmF1.4 (a 35 mm equivalent of 35mm) didn’t provide a wide enough angle. The XF18mmF1.4 fits perfectly into this gap.” Stefan Finger

Imagine photographs like these and better again being made by magazine photographers like Stefan Finger on a Fujifilm X-Pro4 with in-body image stabilization, more versatile LCD monitor and 18mm bright-lines in an OVF designed to maximize the usability of the XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR.

Fujifilm, how about it?


Press Release: FUJIFILM Announces New FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR Lens, by Fujifilm Australia

FUJIFILM Announces New FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR Lens

Incredible optical performance in a lightweight and compact body with an 18mm focal length (27mm in 35mm format equivalent) and a wide F1.4 aperture

FUJIFILM Australia Pty Ltd is pleased to announce the introduction of the FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR lens (XF18mmF1.4), set to be released at the end of May 2021. Having a 35mm equivalent focal length of 27mm and a maximum aperture of F1.4, it is the 39th lens in FUJIFILM’s collection of interchangeable lenses.

Measuring 7.56cm in length and weighing just 370g, the XF18mmF1.4 has a filter size of 62mm and a minimum focusing distance of 20cm. This makes it an ideal lens for capturing everything from landscapes and cityscapes to portraits and weddings. The lens’ wide F1.4 aperture offers the ability to shoot in dimly lit environments and also produces incredibly smooth bokeh.

Keeping to the X Series philosophy of creating lightweight and compact imaging solutions that produce outstanding image quality, the XF18mmF1.4 provides incredible optical performance without being heavy or bulky. The XF18mmF1.4 is an easy choice among many photographers compared to other lenses that have a similar angle of view and aperture.

Product features

Exceptional optical performance, even at F1.4

  • The XF18mmF1.4 utilises three aspherical lenses and one ED lens among its 15 lens elements, spread across 9 groups, to minimise chromatic and comatic aberration. This means the finest details of an image will be reproduced with high levels of detail and sharpness.
  • To deliver consistent sharpness the focus group, made up of six lens elements, move in unison to reduce aberration fluctuations that can occur when focusing.

Designed for versatility

  • The XF18mmF1.4 has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 27mm and can achieve Minimum Focus Distance on subjects as close as 11cm from the front element of the lens (MOD 20cm). This gives it a broad range of applications from being used to capture images of everyday moments to sweeping landscapes.

Fast, accurate, and near-silent autofocus

The XF18mmF1.4 uses an internal autofocus (AF) system, driven by a powerful linear motor, to provide fast, accurate, and near-silent AF. From the lens’ minimum object distance (MOD) of 20cm the focusing group of lens elements moves 2.5mm. This means focus can be achieved in as quickly as 0.04 seconds*1.

Focus can be achieved from MOD to infinity in as quickly as 0.25 seconds.
All components in the manual focusing ring have been designed to deliver precise control when manual focus is in use.

Compact, lightweight and weather-resistant

The XF18mmF1.4 has a 62mm filter thread that measures 7.56cm in length, and weighs just 370g. This makes it incredibly lightweight and portable. While the lens barrel is made from metal, it is designed to weigh as little as possible without compromising its overall strength.
The lens has weather-resistant seals at eight locations along the lens barrel, making it resistant to dust, moisture, and temperatures as low as -10°C.
The new aperture ring design with an ‘A’ position lock prevents accidental movement of the aperture ring from the Automatic setting.

Optional accessory

LH-XF18 Lens Hood for the XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR. A rectangular, aluminum lens hood for XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR that helps prevent lens flare and ghosting, which can occur when beams of light strike the front of the lens.

2. Product name, accessories, release date, and pricing

Product name: FUJINON XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR Lens

Release date: Late May 2021

Recommended retail price (including GST): $AU 1,749

Product name: LH-XF18 Lens Hood for XF18mmF1.4 R LM WR

Release date: Late May 2021

Recommended retail price (including GST): $AU 99

*1 When using the FUJIFILM X-T4 in High Performance mode with phase detection AF active, measured internally according to CIPA Guidelines.


Fuji Rumors: Fujinon XF18mm f/1.4 R LM WR Announced: Reviews, Samples, Pre-orders and More


Fujifilm Australia’s public relations consultants have yet to release the customary press release and images package for the long eagerly-awaited Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R LM WR lens and its optional but essential metallic lens hood, so the best I can do for you right now, dear readers, is point you in the direction of the ever-ready and ever on-the-ball Patrick DiVino of Fuji Rumors.

While I am waiting for the press pack to be released, I will catch up on the specifications sheet and the videos that Mr DiVino has shared in his post.


Film Riot: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro Review

“Is the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro worth it?”

Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K Pro aka BMPCC 6K Pro, the kind of camera I would have killed for as a student and even more so when I was trying to get movie projects through the broadcast TV production system during the pre-DSLR era. Image courtesy of Blackmagic Design.


The Blackmagic Design Production Camera 4K features a Super 35mm sized image sensor with a global shutter and a Canon EF or Arri PL lens mount. Image courtesy of Blackmagic Design.

To my comment in the caption above I would add that, like Ryan of Film Riot, I am also looking forward to future versions of the BMPCC 6K Pro that should have in-body image stabilization, autofocus, improved low light capabilities and a fully-articulating LCD monitor.

A global shutter would be even better.

Blackmagic Design had a global shutter in its long-discontinued Blackmagic Design Production Camera 4K, apparently a favourite rental camera with many documentary moviemakers some years ago.

Other than all that, investing in this camera is, as Paul Leeming tells me, a no-brainer given its low, low price for a pro-quality cinema camera that would be incredibly useful for documentary moviemakers.

The days of independent self-funded documentary moviemakers having to rent rather than purchase their own cinema-quality movie production hardware are definitively over and we will never go back to how it used to be.



Of Two Lands: Shooting Handheld | Tips on getting stable footage ( BMPCC 4k / 6K )

“Here is a video about shooting handheld. How and when, as well as tips to get stable footage….”


Some great handheld cinematography tips and gear kit recommendations from a seasoned Sydney-based globetrotting documentary and travel moviemaker couple, Florent Piovesan and Amberly Kramhoft.

I look forward to their coming hands-on review of the amazing Blackmagic Design Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro.

Meanwhile there are plenty of other excellent educational and inspirational videos on Of Two Lands’ YouTube channel.


Fuji Rumors: BREAKING: Next Fujinon X Mount Roadmap to Include Fujinon XF 18mmF1.4 WR – Commentary

“… And I also confirm what I just published today: a new XF18mm f/1.4 will be added to the next X mount roadmap.”

Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens. Old design and quirky optical and mechanical design and manufacturing.


Leica Summilux and Summicron lenses from 21mm through to 90mm for Leica M-System rangefinder cameras. Leica worked out an optimum well-spaced focal length collection years ago and it remains a guide for other lens makers. Divide these focal lengths by a factor of 1.5 for their equivalents for APS-C/Super 35 cameras like Fujifilm’s X-Series.
Fujifilm X-Pro1 with Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R, Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R and Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 Macro prime lens, the first set of Fujinon XF lenses released by Fujifilm in March 2012.

This is fantastic and completely unexpected news if the rumour proves true.

I and many others have been requesting a professional-quality update to Fujifilm’s original 18mm f/2.0 R from the company’s very first set of Fujinon XF prime lenses eight years ago.

Contacts at Fujifilm Australia confirmed this each time I asked them in person, telling me that an 18mm is the most-requested lens update of all.

Despite the 18mm focal length being a decades-long staple for documentary photographers and photojournalists in its 35mm sensor format equivalent of 28mm, I have been in two minds about Fujifilm’s 18mm ever since trying it out back in 2012 on an X-Pro1 at the sadly long-deceased Foto Reisel pro retail store in Sydney.

I had been waiting for the rumoured Fujifilm interchangeable lens camera ever since buying an X100 the year before, but I passed on the X-Pro1 due to the camera’s then lack of a diopter correction solution as well as other issues.

There are more than just neck straps these days. Peak Design Cuff Camera Wrist Strap (Charcoal).

After making some test exposures in the store with the 18mm and 60mm lenses, I resolved to come back for another look when the X-Pro1’s successor appeared along with more lenses.

I am very familiar with both lenses’ 35mm equivalents, 28mm and 90mm, from my Leica M-Series analog rangefinder camera days and often relied on this combination in a two-camera, two-lens set-up for fast documentary and photojournalism work in the field.

How I managed to carry this rig on two conventional camera straps around my neck I will never know, given how time has taken away my ability to carry anything much around my neck anymore.

Thank you, Peak Design and Think Tank Photo, for offering us completely new ways of carrying our gear via straps, belts, harnesses, bags and backpacks.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro professional prime and zoom lens collection as of late 2017, all with the best manual clutch focus, invaluable for fast, accurate and repeatable manual focusing as well as linear focus-by-wire and autofocus.

The X-Pro2 took its time to show up and meantime I had invested in a Panasonic Lumix M43 camera due to the larger collection of lenses and brands of them available for it, and particularly its video capabilities.

Fujifilm X-Photographer Kevin Mullins’ documentary-style work with the X-Pro1 then X-Pro2 and the Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R and XF 56mm f/1.2 R was interesting and I noted that he sometimes used the 18mm, but each time I borrowed one its performance in available darkness was less than stellar, and it was noisy.

My medium wide-angle benchmark was high, a Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 from the 1980s, and I found the equivalent Fujifilm 18mm wanting though it performed well enough when stopped down to f/5.6 and f/8.0 for use in brilliant sunlight.

I was less impressed with the XF 18mm f/2.0 as an all-round default documentary and photojournalism lens attached to my X-Pro2 and so the XF 23mm f/1.4 R assumed that role when needing to carry just one lens and one camera about each day.

Every lens needs a lens hood as protective as this. JJC LH-JXF23 lens hood for Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R prime lens. I also have one on my XF 56mm f/1.2 R.

I continue to miss having a 28mm (the 35mm sensor equivalent to the 18mm) as my daily carry, though, especially for the focal length’s naturalistic rendering in the tight spaces and crowds I often find myself within when covering events or simply walking through the city and suburbs.

I have tried Fujifilm’s Fujinon XF 16mm f/2.0 R “Fujicron” 24mm equivalent lens and although it is good for extremely tight spaces where exaggerated perspective may be not be a problem, its corner-stretched and volume-deforming rendering cannot be described as naturalistic.

There is a time and place for naturalism just as there is for exaggeration but, when comparing photographs of similar documentary subjects made a 16mm and an 18mm lens, naturalism wins hands down.

Time and again I find that exaggeration draws attention to itself to the detriment of the subject while naturalism respects the subject, allows it to speak for itself and as I am often told, makes viewers feel as if they are standing right there in the scene where I stood when I made the photograph.

A few bright sparks have pointed out that I should just step back a bit with a 16mm lens then crop in to simulate the 18mm’s framing and perspective but, as you may have noticed when looking through my Photo Galleries pages, I design my images tightly and the last thing I want to do is resort to loose image design then chop into it in an attempt to tighten it up a little.

I have put my critics’ thoughtful suggestions to the test and it doesn’t work for me, just as I have run exaggerated perspective images shot with a 16mm lens through DxO ViewPoint to counteract the volume deformation of ultra wide-angle lenses.

A Walk Around Sydney with a Fujifilm X-T2 and Five Fujinon Prime and Zoom Lenses on November 1, 2016
An icon in ultra wide-angle: the Sydney Opera House from harbour-side, made with a Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R prime lens.

Which is not to say that I don’t like ultra wide-angles as such: the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R is an incredible lens, almost perfectly optically-corrected with a micro-contrast and resolution rarely found in many wide-angle primes and even fewer wide-angle zoom lenses, and it has Fujifilm’s version of manual clutch focus which in my opinion is an essential for speedy and easy video focus-pulling.

I do prefer the approach to manual clutch focus taken by Olympus in its M. Zuiko Pro lenses, though, where the focusing ring turns loose in fly-by-wire mode and when needing manual clutch focus you simply pull the ring straight towards the camera, set it where desired, shoot, then push forward back to where it was before.

Fujifilm’s approach appears more geared towards setting hyperfocal distance where the focusing ring moves off left or right a little rather than straight back.

Taking video more seriously again with primes

With the X-H1 followed by the X-T4 and then sometime next year, the X-H2, Fujifilm has finally begun delivering on its promise some years ago to take video seriously.

Fujifilm has a long and proud history in making movie film, movie cameras and high end cinema lenses just as it has of making extraordinary analog film cameras, lenses and film under the company’s own brand names as well as supplying lenses and cameras to Hasselblad for sale under that company’s branding.

Fujifilm not only makes high-end, high-priced cinema and broadcast lenses under the Fujinon name: it released two lightweight, compact and relatively affordable cinema zoom lenses under the MKX Series name.

Where Fujifilm needs to lift its video game next is in supplying prime and zoom lenses that excel for video and stills photography, for autofocus and manual focusing, and that possess a closely related set of design and manufacturing parameters in the way that Olympus, say, has with its M.Zuiko Pro range.

Although three lenses in Fujifilm’s Red Badge zoom range are often recommended for video production, the Fujinon XF 8-16mm f/2.8 R LM WR, XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR and the XF 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR, most of Fujifilm’s prime lenses are wanting in the autofocus department as cinematographer Philip Bloom demonstrated in a video earlier this year.

Fujifilm needs to upgrade more than its 18mm and 27mm “pancake” lenses: it needs to review its whole XF lens line for video production readiness and with the input of cinematographers such as Mr Bloom.

Meike 35mm T2.1 Super35 Cinema Prime with EF or PL mount, on Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. The lenses in this collection can be adapted to fit Fujifilm’s Super 35/APS-C XF series cameras.

At the very least Fujifilm needs to ensure that at least a subset of current and future prime lenses have enough design similarities to constitute the type of matched cinema lens set that other lens makers such as Meike have been aiming at lately.

For example, I would choose these current prime lenses for a starter set for video production, autofocus capability and manual clutch focus or not:

  • XF 14mm f/2.8 R – 21mm in 35mm equivalent.
  • XF 23mm f/1.4 R – 35mm in 35mm equivalent.
  • XF 50mm f/1.0 R WR – 75mm in 35mm equivalent.

I would add these coming lenses if, that is, they are up to scratch for video production:

  • XF 18mm f/1.4 R – 28mm in 35mm equivalent.
  • XF 27mm f/2.8 R Mark II – 40mm in 35mm equivalent.

Many celebrated feature films have been shot in just one lens or at most two, and if it came down to just two lenses for shooting documentary movies then I choose 18mm and 27mm (28mm and 40mm in 35mm).

Let’s see what Fujifilm comes up with when it makes it new products announcements at its X Summit Omiya 2020 on October 15 at 10pm Japan Standard Time.

Meanwhile I have my fingers crossed for an excellent Fujinon XF 18mm f/1.4 R WR lens design and would love to see the 27mm upgrade also eminently suitable for video production as well as documentary photography and photojournalism and not simply as a compact and affordable pancake lens for travel.


Muse Storytelling: Ninja Filmmaking – Commentary with my own hardware & software recommendations

The current state of the world has posed challenges for all of us. As filmmakers, our challenges have been extra unique. Budgets are reduced, crews need to be smaller, and we are generally expected to work with less resources. That’s why we created the free Ninja Filmmaking mini-course: to show you how to create big results by outthinking your challenges. We’ll break down exactly how to plan out your story and be a far more proactive, stealth and intentional filmmaker.


The Muse Storytelling folks have launched a free online short course under the title Ninja Filmmaking that is aimed at helping moviemakers cope and survive if not thrive in this pandemic-affected world.

The camera that accidentally changed everything. Canon EOS 5D Mark II with Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 L IS USM kit zoom lens. Image courtesy of Canon.

If things were difficult enough for independent self-funded documentary moviemakers before the arrival of COVID-19, they are even more challenging now with personal income and resources radically reduced and yet even more need for us to produce compelling visual storytelling to production standards that are constantly growing higher and higher.

Luckily, we are in the post-DSLR filmmaking revolution era, the now well-established mirrorless hybrid era with high quality, affordable cameras that can record excellent stills as well as video footage to current UHD broadcast and cinema projection standards.

Moviemaking remains, however, a predominantly white, middle-class occupation except in places where those of us locked out of the system have banded together in cooperatives with the support of donors and mentors to equip and teach ourselves to tell our own stories.

The last such organization located in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Paddington shut its doors several years ago after charging high fees for equipment rental and training during its later years.

Any free or affordable training by well-qualified moviemakers is welcome and I am for grateful Muse Storytelling’s ‘Ninja Filmmaking’ online course and advice on what for current production standards by one-person bands.

Moviemaking remains costly here

As Drew Turney of shared in a recent newsletter:

We all know moviemaking is an inherently expensive exercise. Even the amount of money we’d consider low (or no) budget filmmaking would be enough to get the average middle class family out of debt for the rest of their lives.

Drew bounces between Perth in Western Australia and Los Angeles, and is doubtless aware that moviemaking is an even more costly exercise in Australia than it is in the USA, with our exchange rates, lack of importer and retailer competition and local unavailability of many key items as well as non-representation of a number of useful, even essential, brands.

Nonetheless the equipment list shared by the Muse/Ninja folks is a good one based on the currently most affordable and versatile feature-quality Super 35 hybrid camera, the Fujifilm X-T4, supported by microphones from Australia’s own world-famous audio equipment maker, Røde Microphones, along with other currently popular lighting and grip products.

Production hardware recommended by Ninja Filmmaking

The list is a useful starting point though I would recommend considering alternatives from brands like 3 Legged Thing, Olympus, Panasonic, Rotolight and many others.

Some alternatives and extras to the above

The Muse Storytelling team’s Ninja Filmmaking gear list is a good one and in the best of all possible worlds would be affordable and findable at local retailers, had COVID-19 not arrived to disrupt supply chains and global air freight not to mention Australian and US postal reliability, or rather, the lack thereof.

Approved by Netflix for top quality broadcasting production. Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H rigged with Zacuto moviemaking accessories. Image courtesy of Zacuto.

As underlined by the Ninja Filmmaking list’s reliance on Røde Microphone’s products for audio recording, Australian brands such as Atomos, Blackmagic Design and Miller Tripods are highly regarded in video production around the world for their affordability and durability under challenging conditions.

While Fujifilm’s X-T4 Super 35 hybrid camera is an impressive performer and the company’s Fujinon prime and zoom lenses are justly respected by cinematographers, there are other approaches to video production.

Panasonic has been making strides in its S-Series 35mm sensor hybrid cameras with the Netflix-approved Lumix S1H while the recently announced S5 looks like a respectable and affordable lower-specced alternative A or B camera.

Panasonic’s G-Series Micro Four Thirds hybrid cameras like the Lumix GH5, GH5S and even the G9 have impressive video capabilities, excellent IBIS and a documentary-style Super 16 4K look and feel, though many moviemakers regret the company’s reliance on DFD contrast-detection autofocus when autofocus rather than traditional manual focus-pulling is becoming increasingly important for one-person bands.

Meike T2.2 Series 6x Cine lens Kit for MFT + Cine Lens Case, containing Meike cinema prime lenses for Micro Four Thirds cameras.

While Westcott’s Flex Lights are impressively versatile in combination with the company’s Scrim Jim bounce and diffusion system, I have long relied on industry-leading Rotolight’s LED lights for stills and video.

Sachtler’s Flowtech tripods are reportedly fast and efficient to use on location by solo moviemakers while Miller’s solo user tripods are solid performers and prove great investments, lasting for many years in the trenches.

Independent stills and now video tripod maker 3 Legged Thing continues to expand its range with constant innovation in a field where innovation was sluggish for years.

Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro manual clutch focus cum fly-by-wire autofocus professional lenses are benchmarks of lens design in any sensor format whereas Meike’s expanding collections of affordable geared cinema lenses show real promise in independent production compared to the exorbitant prices usually charged for cinema primes.

The question is, then, what look and feel, what visual and operating style suits you, your personality and your personal circumstances best?

Hardware and software Ninja Filmmaking forgot

The Muse Storytelling folks have assembled a great core list of hardware recommendations but they left out some essential items of hardware and software for the “proactive, stealth and intentional filmmaker.”

PolarPro Variable Neutral Density Filter, Peter McKinnon Edition., Combo Set comprising 2 to 5 stops and 6 to 9 stops filters.

To date no hybrid camera other than Fujifilm’s X100 series comes with built-in neutral density filters so one must invest in sets of fixed value neutral density filters or the variable neutral density filters that are most appropriate for one person run-and-gun moviemakers.

Quite a few documentary and video journalism cinematographers have matching variable NDs permanently attached to each lens in their kit to avoid exchanging filters on the spot.

Brands to look out for include Aurora-Aperture, Breakthrough Photography, Formatt-Hitech Firecrest, PolarPro, SLR Magic and many others.

If you are collecting filters with industry-standard diameters of 77mm or 82mm then you need step-up rings to attach them to lenses with smaller filter diameters.

Brands I use and recommend include Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan, PolarPro and Sensei, but I lean towards hardened aluminium or better yet brass, and look for knurled step-up rings for ease of use, and fast removal and attachment in the field.

Lastly, whatever camera you are using, you cannot go wrong with Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT Pro system for creating perfect colorimetry and colours indistinguishable from what your eye sees.

Expose your footage using Mr Leeming’s recommended ETTR aka expose to the right method, demonstrated on the Leeming LUT Pro web page, and your footage will be eminently gradable to feature film standards in editing and grading software like Final Cut Pro and DaVinci Resolve.

Other Links

  • 3 Legged Thing – “The most technologically advanced tripod system in the world.”
  • Apple – Final Cut Pro X
  • Blackmagic DesignDaVinci Resolve – “DaVinci Resolve 16 is the world’s only solution that combines professional 8K editing, color correction, visual effects and audio post production all in one software tool!”
  • Fujifilm-X Global
  • Leeming LUT Pro – “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 Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading. The Pro II LUTs are designed for perfect Rec709 colorimetry and have a linear luma curve, with an average measured dE(2000) of less than 1, meaning they are visually indistinguishable from reality to the human eye.”
  • Muse StorytellingNinja Filmmaking
  • OlympusM.Zuiko Pro – “With no compromises made, M.Zuiko PRO lenses are amazing in every aspect.”
  • Panasonic Lumix Global
  • Peak Design – “Our products must be innovative, beautifully crafted, and quite literally the best in their category. “
  • Røde Microphones
  • Rotolight – “From the very first LEDs to offer the shoot what you see benefits of continuous lighting and High Speed Sync flash all-in-one, to the brightest 2×1 soft light ever made, Rotolight LEDs streamline the workflows of imagemakers across the world.”
  • Sachtler Flowtech 75 MS

The Joy of Documentary Photography

Documentary photography is, in my opinion, one of the noblest, most socially useful and most personally rewarding pursuits one can engage in with camera in hand.

Photograph by David Turn from ‘Wales 1970s’ published by Café Royal Books.

It is regrettable that fashion and the death of magazines that relied upon documentary photography and its subgenre photojournalism have conspired to assign the genre into the waste bin of history only to be revived and celebrates by the likes of Café Royal Books, but that should not put off contemporary would-be documentary photographers.

Documentary photography at its best frames a mirror before the events, people and places of its time and is even more important in an age where entertainment is preferred to information, fantasy is preferred to fact and religion is preferred to science.

Against this background, documentary photography is an act of resistance born of seeing the world and all within it with supreme clarity.

Even if documentary photography’s current lack of fashionability and respectability, sees the genre absent from galleries, away from museums, off the television and out of print, I encourage all who may be so inclined to take on its mantle and practise it each and every day, where you live, where you work and in the streets of your city, town and country.

Do so especially if you are one of those whom the gatekeepers reject, whose experiences and views of the world are traditionally denied and ignored.

Do so especially when the gatekeepers may appear to accept your right to exist and be a documentary photographer but dictate rules and regulations at you that are designed to keep you, your vision and your work under control, compliant and conforming.

Do so because your right to to be you, to see as you do, to depict as you do and to tell your stories in your own way is unassailable no matter what lies you are told and what power games and punishments are enacted against you.

Above all, documentary photography is fun, demanding as it does a deep and constant engagement with this world and all that is in it to the point where it is possible to enter a flow state, also known as being in the zone.

Documentary photography is, in my experience, the surest way to achieve flow state that I know, a gateway into sheer joy.

Ways and means of production

The hardware and software of digital photography have come a long way since it began replacing analog film-based photography to the point where most cameras, lenses and processing software will do the job well enough now.

While most of the wide range of the analog era’s cameras, lenses and types of films, processing and printing materials no longer exist, contemporary digital cameras offer analogies of some of those upon which documentary photographers once relied:

  • Rangefinder cameras in 120 rollfilm and 35mm formats.
  • Single lens reflexes aka SLR.
  • Twin lens reflexes aka TLR.
  • View cameras in field camera and studio versions.

The mirrorless cameras of the analog era and now the digital age offer the advantage of silent operation and the lack of mirror slap and shutter shake, especially when shooting in electronic shutter mode.

Without the ongoing punitive financial burden of film, processing, proofing, printing and archival storage, digital photography is more affordable than analog so consider future-proofing and capability-expanding yourself through wise investment.

Hybrid digital mirrorless cameras open up the world of documentary moviemaking in ways that never existed for analog just with a little extra expenditure on video production accessories.

With DSLR giants Canon and Nikon finally seeing the light and slowly coming up with viable soon-to-be-released mirrorless alternatives, and mirrorless pioneers Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic already well established with a wide range of mirrorless cameras and lenses at several price points, there has never been a better range of choices in equipment.

Hybrid mirrorless cameras open up the world of documentary moviemaking in ways that never existed during the analog era and, with a little extra expenditure on video accessories, allow you to create professional-quality productions.


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

I will add to this section soon, so please come back again if it is useful.

Rangefinder and Rangefinder-Style Cameras

  • Fujifilm MHG-XPRO2 Metal Hand Grip for X-Pro2B&H
  • Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H
  • Fujifilm X-Pro2 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 23mm f/2 Lens (Graphite)B&H
  • Match Technical EP-XP2 Thumbs Up Grip for Fujifilm X-Pro2 (Black)B&H

David Thorpe: Big and Bad, Little and Good.

Equivalence. It’s the bugbear of anyone who reviews Micro Four Thirds lenses. You are being conned says the incoming mail. Your f/1.4 lens is really an f/2.8. And your so called shallow depth of field is commensurate with f/2.8, too, not f/1.4. It’s an argument I’ve heard so many times and while factually true, is pointless and irrelevant. The only rational response is -so what?…

Put simply, a native Micro Four Thirds lens is just that. A native Micro Four Thirds lens. It isn’t a Full Frame lens. It won’t fit a DSLR and if it did it wouldn’t cover the whole frame. I’ve tried more and more to describe lenses according to their angle of view since that is universal. If you know what angle of view you want, you can choose a lens to get it. Thus, I know that I like as a standard prime a lens with a moderate wide angle, around 54° horizontal. A quick calculation at Points In Focus Photography tells me that for a Micro Four Thirds sensor it would be 17mm, for FF 35mm and for Medium Format 55mm. Easy.”
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 with Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric zoom lens. David Thorpe has adopted the G9 as his prime stills camera for professional work and uses and range of Olympus and Panasonic lenses.


The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro, Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro and Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 Pro.

Former Fleet Street newspaper photographer David Thorpe is in my humble opinion one of the best and most useful writers and reviewers on Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses though it is a pity that camera and lens makers don’t give him the credit and access to review gear that he deserves.

Mr Thorpe comes from a 35mm and 120 roll-film single lens reflex (SLR) background during the analog era whereas I have always relied on rangefinder and view cameras and prefer digital cameras that give me some semblance of those unique ways of seeing and photographing.

The other big difference between Mr Thorpe and I is that I rely on all my cameras, to varying degrees, when making photographs as well as videos and video is better served by fully manual lenses or at least manual clutch focus lenses such as those made by Fujifilm in APS-C X-Mount format and Olympus in M43.

As a result there are M43 lenses, especially small, light and relatively affordable prime and zoom lenses, that I quite like for stills photography but that are ruled out for serious video production, and more specialized M43 lenses such as those made by Veydra in their Mini Prime range, and those made by Olympus under their M.Zuiko Pro brand.

“… I can understand and agree with every reason put forward for those big, expensive optically superb f/1.2. And yet, in my heart, ever since I bought into Micro Four Thirds I’ve retained my original reasoning. Put an Olympus 17mm f/1.8 on a Panasonic GX9 body and go out street shooting in Soho. Now go out with a 17mm f/1.2 on the front. What can I say? Little and good, big and bad….”

Shooting video only? Veydra Mini Prime 6 Lens Master Lens Kit with 6 Lens Case (MFT Mount, Meters). I would swap the 19mm lens for the 85mm lens and have some Veydra Mini Prime Fuji X-Mounts on hand when needing to use some of them on Fujifilm cameras.

Not quite, insofar as hybrid street shooting goes.

Although I have been tempted by the idea of the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 given its focal length is my own perfect all-in-one go-to, in reality this lens is apparently a little too compromised for documentary video production, according to a number of pro video reviewers.

I have yet to lay my hands on one for serious try out and review, but the first thing to consider is the practicality of attaching fixed or variable neutral density filters to its 46mm filter diameter via a step-up ring.

I have standardized on 77mm and 82mm diameter variable and fixed NDs in order to keep down costs, but need to maintain a selection of step-up rings to fit those NDs on a range of lenses.

Experience has taught me to stick to brass step-up rings to avoid binding, preferring brands that knurl the outside of their rings for best grip in challenging conditions but then that narrows brand choice down to Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan, PolarPro and Sensei Pro.

Heliopan 37-58mm Step-Up Ring (#789), which then needs to be attached to a 58-77mm or 58-82mm step-up ring to allow attaching variable or fixed ND filters for video production. I recommend knurled brass set-up rings by Breakthrough Photography for the purpose.

Of those only Heliopan makes rings for smaller filter diameters like 46mm but they don’t step-up to 82mm; for that you will need to attach a 77mm to 82mm step-up ring for which I would automatically choose the one made by Breakthrough Photography.

Compromises, compromises.

The same goes for other small M43 lenses some of which may be more suitable for video production such as Panasonic’s Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS with its 37mm filter diameter, the Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II Aspheric Mega OIS with its 46mm filter diameter, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 with its 46mm filter diameter and manual clutch focus, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 with 46mm filter diameter but no manual clutch focus and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8, again with no manual clutch focus but with a 46mm filter diameter.

Some made by Olympus, some by Panasonic. some with manual clutch focus, some without, none with wide filter diameters and all needing one or two step-up rings to get them to the magic 77mm or 82mm filter diameter, the latter of which I have chosen as my new default given better ND filter choice in that size now.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens line-up as of late October 2017.


  • Breakthrough Photography Step Up Ring
  • David Thorpe – Big and Bad, Little and Good.
  • Digital Trends – Olympus M. Zuiko F1.2 Pro lenses prove there’s life left in Micro Four Thirds – “Naturally, these lenses are fantastic for portraiture. The sense of depth they give at f/1.2 is like nothing else we’ve ever seen on the format. In fact, the remark that kept coming to mind was, “This looks like film.” It is probably the first time we’ve ever felt that way about Micro Four Thirds…. Olympus’ goal with the F1.2 Pro series was to craft a specific quality of blur, which the company calls “feathered bokeh.”
  • Digital Trends – Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 Pro review – “… until now, there hasn’t been a fast, wide-angle prime that really targeted high-end and professional users. The Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm F1.2 Pro changes that, combining the largest aperture of any wide-angle lens available for the format with exceptional build quality.”
  • Digital Trends – Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 Pro review – “… [the] Olympus M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2 Pro, however, is a technically excellent lens that may also just be special enough to inspire you emotionally. It highlights the impressive move that the Micro Four Thirds system has made into the world of professional photography.”
  • Digital Trends – Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.2 Pro review – “… the 45mm is perhaps the most exciting entry in the series — everything about it is finely tuned for portrait photography… In fact, it is our favorite portrait-length lens for the MFT system.”
  • Olympus GlobalM.Zuiko Pro
  • Points in Focus – Depth of Field (DoF), Angle of View, and Equivalent Lens Calculator
  • PolarProStep-Up Rings
  • SenseiStep-Up Rings
  • Veydra

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Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 lens with lens shade, also available in black. Great for stills photography, not so much for video?

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

  • Heliopan step-up ringsB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2 LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. LensB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. LensB&H
  • PolarPro step-up ringsB&H
  • Sensei Pro step-up ringsB&H
  • Veydra 19mm T2.6 Mini Prime Lens (MFT)B&H
  • Veydra Mini Prime 6 Lens Master Lens Kit with 6 Lens Case (MFT Mount)B&H
  • Veydra Mini Prime Fuji X-MountB&H

ePHOTOzine: Top 12 Best Panasonic Lenses 2018

“We’ve taken a look at the Panasonic lenses that we’ve reviewed to date, crunched some numbers and have combined the results in a round-up that features the highest scoring lenses so you can make a more informed choice when making your next purchase….”


Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS standard zoom lens, provided as a kit lens with some of Panasonic’s more affordable rangefinder-style cameras but a very worthy lens to consider for all of their cameras, though it is not available for sale on its own in many territories. This lens can be bought new or in good used condition at eBay, and other online and offline retailers.

With a dearth of local retail outlets where one might see and try before one may choose to buy and an over-reliance on online reviews that are often not specific enough, sites with well-qualified reviewers and enough history to have broad, deep overviews prove invaluable.

I came across ePHOTOzine through the video reviews of former Fleet Street photographer David Thorpe and thus discovered his articles for the magazine as well as his own website, and now ePHOTOzine benefits by basking in his expert glow.

All of Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds lenses as of April 2017.
Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II Aspheric prime lens, another highly-regarded small, affordable lens and that is the equivalent to 40mm in the 35mm sensor format, often referred to as “perfect normal”. The legendary Leica/Minolta CL/CLE analog cameras were supplied with 40mm lenses as standard.

I have had few enough opportunities to discover the many pleasures and challenges of Panasonic Lumix and Leica Micro Four Thirds lenses in real life, and so rely on these “best lenses” lists to better my understanding.

Given an unlimited bank account I would first choose Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lenses for my professional documentary stills and video work given their many advantages and especially their manual clutch focus, but photography is my daily passion as well as my less frequent paid work and so cheaper, smaller hardware has its uses too.

Panasonic Lumix GX8 with Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric II Mega OIS kit zoom, a more manageable small outfit for daily carry than with the larger, heavier though excellent Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro.

Right now I am considering adding a handful of tiny Panasonic Lumix G lenses to my smaller daily carry kit bag, for use with smaller cameras like my beloved Panasonic Lumix GX8, and ePHOTOzine’s list as well as the ones below is proving invaluable to me as I hope they will to you too.

I will be buying some of these lenses online and secondhand as local camera stores seem have given up on buying and selling secondhand gear, and the usual caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies.

The Cosyspeed Camslinger Streetomatic Plus Camera Bag is an excellent waist-pack for carrying a minimal kit such as a GX8 plus two or three small lenses or one large one.

If purchasing from sites like eBay ensure that the seller provides a good selection of close-up photographs, all the correct information and model details, and pay through PayPal so that refunds can be made if the lens does not live up to its description.

Above all else, do your research and if you have access to stores that sell secondhand then give them a go before buying online as there is no substitute for try before you buy.

Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II Aspheric prime lens

Here is my own long list of small, discrete Panasonic Lumix G lenses for purchase secondhand:

This is my three-lens shortlist of small, reasonably fast Panasonic primes:

  • Panasonic Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II Aspheric
  • Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II Aspheric
  • Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS

If I could carry just one prime lens for any format it would be the equivalent of 35mm in the 35mm sensor format, which is 17.5mm in Micro Four Thirds.

Panasonic does not make a 17.5mm lens though, and the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 is reportedly suboptimal for effective video and stills use, so my affordable one lens solution needs must be a zoom lens that includes that focal length and others:

  • Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS, or
  • Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II Aspheric Mega OIS


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The Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Power OIS, an excellent lens with a very Leica-like optical look and feel, if you can afford. I preferred German lenses and especially Leica lenses during the analog era when I was shooting colour transparency film, but nowadays I am exploring other brands of lenses and their own particular ways of rendering flesh and blood.

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

These lenses are listed in order of recommendation in ePHOTOzine’s Top 12 List of 2018.

  1. Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPHB&H
  2. Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 Asph OISB&H
  3. Panasonic Leica DG Elmarit 200mm f/2.8 Power O.I.SB&H
  4. Panasonic Lumix 35-100mm f/4-5.6 Asph Mega OISB&H
  5. Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 IIB&H
  6. Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 AsphB&H – only available bundled with certain Lumix cameras in some territories and now unavailable as a standalone purchase via B&H.
  7. Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPHB&H
  8. Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8B&H
  9. Panasonic Lumix G 20mm II f/1.7B&H
  10. Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/4.0-6.3 ASPH ProB&H
  11. Panasonic LUMIX G 25mm f/1.7 ASPHB&H
  12. Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 AsphB&H