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.

Links

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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
  • 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.

http://m43blog.dthorpe.net/2018/06/14/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.”

https://creativityinnovationsuccess.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/
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.

Commentary

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….”

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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.

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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.

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

Links

  • 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

https://www.ephotozine.com/article/top-12-best-panasonic-lenses-2018-27053

“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….”

Commentary

panasonic_lumix_g_12-32_f3.5-5.6_white_square_01_1024px
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.

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All of Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds lenses as of April 2017.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Links

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panasonic_leica_dg_nocticron_42.5mm_f1.2_aspheric_power_ois_H-NS043_01_1024px
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

Lucas Pfaff: JTZ DP30 Cage and Shoulder-Kit | Filmmaker System REVIEW

“The JTZ DP30 Filmmaker System offers a great set of classic rig-parts in a high-end fashion. JTZ is the high-end brand from Fotga!…”

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The JTZ DP30 camera cage and shoulder- mount kit for mirrorless cameras like Panasonic’s Lumix GH5S, GH5 and GH4.

Commentary

Every so often I wonder whether I should look further into the idea of shoulder-mounting mirrorless hybrid video cameras in order to approach the way I once used the Super 8 and Super 16 movie cameras on which I learned cinematography.

Then I take a serious look into the prices and the carrying weight of contemporary shoulder mount systems and set that idea aside for another day.

Until I came across Lucas Pfaff’s series of videos on the JTZ DP30 system.

JTZ, Lucas Pfaff tells us, is the higher-end brand of Fotga, the Chinese camera accessories makers whose DP500 follow focus device is used by documentary moviemaker Sol March of Suggestion of Motion.

Neither Fotga nor JTZ appear to have their own websites or retail through B&H Photo Video, so the only recourse is to buy from Amazon or ebay.

Meanwhile I will be looking for videos and other reviews of the JTZ DP300 in action on location to see how it bears up in the field.

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Austrian manufacturer Angelbird makes more affordable V90 SDXC cards than Panasonic’s own alternative and they are reportedly just as reliable.

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

  • Angelbird 64GB AV Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Angelbird 256GB Match Pack for the Panasonic EVA1B&H – special promotional packaging of two Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II SDXC memory cards that are just as usable in other cameras than the AU-EVA1 that also have UHS-II SD card slots.
  • Panasonic 128GB UHS-II SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery GripB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H

Lucas Pfaff: Return of the display loupe? VARY-i cage for GH5s Review

“Nifty, well fitting cage for the Panasonic GH4, GH5 and the new GH5s! A remarkable little set!…”

VARY-i Cage Combination for Panasonic Lumix GH4, GH5 and GH5S with multi angle LCD viewfinder loupe and two VARY-Grips.

Commentary

When I first got back into photography and video with the then revolutionary Canon EOS 5D Mark II, thanks to the advice of my partner who worked in Canon’s R&D division at the time, I looked at several LCD magnifying loupe options online and in Sydney’s inner city professional camera store, now sadly defunct.

None of the solutions available then completely solved the problem of needing to view the camera’s LCD in order to effectively focus and shoot video, and so I set aside the idea of handheld video for a while until a chance encounter with a Panasonic GH3 in a duty-free store, which led to purchasing the GH4 when it became available.

Despite not investing in one at the time, I always thought there might be more potential in the loupe concept if done right and that they could be more affordable than the incredibly expensive third-party electronic viewfinders and graticals that have appeared to take their place.

Lucas Pfaff’s video look at the VARY-i loupe plus case combination for Panasonic’s Lumix GH4, GH5 and GH5S make it look like a very attractive solution for handheld video with the GH5’s in-body image stabilization (IBIS) or the GH4 and GH5S with Panasonic lenses with optical image stabilization (OIS).

Links

Help support ‘Untitled’

Austrian manufacturer Angelbird makes more affordable V90 SDXC cards than Panasonic’s own alternative and they are reportedly just as reliable.

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

  • Angelbird 64GB AV Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Angelbird 256GB Match Pack for the Panasonic EVA1B&H – special promotional packaging of two Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II SDXC memory cards that are just as usable in other cameras than the AU-EVA1 that also have UHS-II SD card slots.
  • Panasonic 128GB UHS-II SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery GripB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H

Panasonic Rumoured to Announce Lumix GH5S 4K Low-Light Video Super Camera on December 15, 2017 US Time – UPDATED

The rumour sites have been running hot with the possibility of a low-light version of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, giving rise to thoughts on what benefits such a camera might offer to documentary moviemakers and photographers working mostly in available light, or often, available darkness. 

The Panasonic Lumix GH5s is rumoured to have the same camera body size and shape as the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, great news for cinematographers and camera accessories makers.

A Micro Four Thirds answer to the Sony Alpha a7S low-light video camera series would be very useful for the sorts of immersive, fly-on-the-wall photo essays and short documentary movies on the cards for the ‘Untitled’ project’s Stories department.

Although I appreciated the Sony a7S series’ larger 35mm format sensor when I reviewed the Sony a7S, I much prefer Panasonic’s hardware design and engineering, its menu system and colour science, and Olympus’ manual clutch focussing M.Zuiko Pro f/2.8 zoom and f/1.2 prime lenses.

Most of all, I prefer the affordability and portability of Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses, even if, as some users complain, some M43 flagship cameras can be a little on the large side.

Sample stills from another low-light, low-resolution high-ISO camera, the Sony Alpha a7S

Images minimally edited with DxO PhotoLab.

Otherwise, though, I obtained some impressive available light results from the Sony a7S’ 12 megapixel, 35mm format sensor, especially when shooting stills in the gritty mixed-source lighting and grotty interiors of Sydney’s ageing inner-city underground railway stations.

Video on the a7S proved more challenging as its S-Log2 logarithmic profile was poorly understood at the time and little well-qualified advice was available on how to get the best out of it via camera settings and postproduction.

Further, the a7S’ S-Log2 base ISO is 1600, demanding the use of strong neutral density filters in a good set of fixed density NDs or a strong variable ND, which I did not have at the time.

The need for speed induces a need for density

Only now are strong, top-quality variable NDs like those from Aurora-Aperture and SLR Magic becoming available to satisfy the needs of documentary moviemakers for whom constant swapping from within big sets of fixed NDs is not an option.

Nowadays, if using the Sony a7S II or the coming a7S III, I would default to using Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT One for Sony camera settings and camera profile LUT.

If the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S proves real and follows Sony’s example in having a high base ISO, then you may wish to consider some of the more recent ND filter solutions that I have written about:

Consider a possible high base ISO GH5S in combination with the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro f/1.2 17mm, 25mm and 45mm prime lenses used wide open or close to it in bright light as well as darkness and the need for a good set of matched variable and fixed ND filters becomes even more urgent.

Low-light stills and low-res sensors

Getting back to stills photography, for some years glossy magazines have commissioned cover portrait photographs to be shot with high ISO RED cameras for the sake of behind-the-scenes videos, raw digital stills and top-quality raw video.

At the start of the digital era, before the camera makers’s megapixels contest began, we were often reminded that 6 megapixels was enough for magazine covers and double page spreads.

The 10.71 megapixels sensor being suggested as Panasonic’s choice for the for the Lumix GH5S should be more than enough for most digital and four-colour press publication, while the Lumix G9 may well be suited for big exhibition prints given its 80 megapixels high resolution mode.

Things are looking good for affordable, portable, high-quality digital documentary moviemaking and stills photography thanks to creative innovations like these.

A GH5S video features wishlist

I asked cinematographer/director Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One for a the features he would like to see in a possible GH5S:

If they make a low light DCI 4K sensor variant I’d be very happy just with that alone. The main thing I’d like to see is more dynamic range than the GH5, and more frame-rate in 10bit 4K 48p internal would be lovely if they can’t do 60p. With UHS-II cards the write limitations are pretty much gone so then it comes down to the internal processor and what it has as a limit.

If Panasonic hits any or all of the following things I’d upgrade:

  • DCI 4K at 10 bit 4:2:2 48p internal or greater,
  • 2 stops better noise performance,
  • 2 stops better dynamic range (kind of linked to the noise performance) though to be honest even 1 stop better DR would be great.

Updates

Since writing this article, the usually very reliable Micro Four Thirds rumours website 4/3 Rumors has reported that Panasonic’s Lumix GH5S public announcement event scheduled for the 15th December has now been made into a two-day closed event only for selected members of the press under NDA, with the public announcement most likely to be at CES on the 8th January US time, 9th January Sydney time.

Images of the Panasonic Lumix GH5S, first published by 4/3 Rumors and Nokishita

I have added relevant 4/3 Rumors rumours to the Links below.

So far though, other than the GH5S’ base ISO which is sure to be higher than the GH5’s 200 and 400 ISO for video, the rumoured specifications for the GH5S include:

  • DCI C4K (60p, 150Mbps, 4:2:2 10 bit Long GOP)
  • Slow motion: 240fps (FHD)
  • Sensor: 12 Megapixel 4/3 LiveMOS sensor with up to 100.000 ISO
  • Effective pixels: 10,280,000 pixels
  • Total number of pixels: 11,930,000
  • Lowest frame rate: 12 fps
  • ISO: 160-51,200
  • Extended ISO: 80-102,400
  • Mechanical shutter: 1/8,000
  • Electronic shutter: 1/16,000
  • Flash sync: 1/250
  • Light metering system: 1728-zone multi-pattern sensing system
  • LCD screen: 3.2″, 1,620,000 dots, touchscreen
  • Viewfinder: OLED, 3,680,000 dots with diopter adjustment (-4 to +3)
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth: 4.2
  • Battery charger: Panasonic DMW-BTC13
  • Battery: Pansonic DMW-BLF19PP
  • Two memory card slots
  • 4K photos
  • HDMI Type A / USB 3.1
  • Dimensions: 138,5×98.1×87.4
  • Operating temperature: -10°C to 40°C (14°F to 104°F)
  • Dust-proof and splash-proof body

Links

Image Credits

Image concept, rip and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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