Now Surfacing: The Long-Awaited Fujinon MK 18-55mm and 50-135mm T2.9 Cinema Lenses – E-Mount Now, X-Mount Later

Fujifilm has announced the Fujinon MK 18‐55mm T2.9 and Fujinon MK 50-135mm T2.9 cinema lenses, a matched pair of relatively affordable top-quality zooms “specifically designed for consumer and prosumer videographers and emerging cinematographers”. 

The Fujinon MK 18‐55mm T2.9 cinema zoom lens, to be released as an E-Mount lens for Sony cameras with a Fujifilm X-Mount version coming later this year for the X-Pro2, X-T2 and future X-Series cameras.

The MK 18-55mm T2.9 standard zoom lens is scheduled for an early March 2017 release while the Fujinon MK 50-135mm T2.9 is currently under development and is touted for a southern hemisphere winter 2017 release. Both lenses will initially be available in E-Mount for Sony’s popular A7-series cameras and X-Mount versions for Fujifilm’s own X-T2 and X-Pro2  will appear later in 2017.

Standout features of both lenses are that they are lightweight, are made of composite polycarbonate for lightness and strength, have the same external dimensions, are clickless, focus, iris and zoom gearing, are parfocal, have low distortion and high quality edge-to-edge sharpness, have no focus breathing, have matched constant maximum apertures and matching colour rendering and are fully manual.

Not to forget that they will be affordable relative to Fujinon’s other cinema lenses in the HK, ZK and XK series as well as competing brands of cinema zoom lenses.

Sony E-Mount Super 35 camcorders and Super 35/APS-C hybrid cameras are a clear and obvious launch market for Fujifilm’s new Fujinon MK-Series lightweight cinema lenses, with X-Mount versions for Fujifilm’s X Series flagship and related cameras coming later.

Fujifilm’s press release states that:

Cinema lenses are the optimal choice to achieve a shallow depth-of-field and a beautiful bokeh. However, since they are typically large, heavy and expensive, those involved in online and other lower cost movie production often opt for interchangeable lenses for digital cameras, which are more affordable and mobile.

The problem is that interchangeable lenses for digital cameras are designed primarily for shooting still images, and therefore prone to focus shift and optical axis shift while zooming, and so on. In response, Fujifilm has been working on developing new cinema lenses that offer advanced optical performance with compact size and operability to meet the needs of creative emerging cinematographers.

There have been rumours floating around for some time that Fujifilm would be introducing a new line of clickless video lenses suitable for its X-Mount X Series interchangeable lens Super 35/APS-C hybrid stills/video cameras. The first two lenses in Fujifilm’s Fujinon MK Series of ciné zooms are specified beyond expectations and I am looking forward to seeing them in action despite their initial release only in E-Mount for Sony cameras.

As Paul Leeming‘s letter and my own request of Fujifilm attest, Fujifilm’s latest X-Series are very promising Super 35 video production cameras whether currently 1080p in the case of the X-Pro2 or 4K with the X-T2. I hope that the imminent arrival of the MK lenses helps Billy Luong apply more pressure on Fujifilm management to add 4K capability via line-skipping as in the X-T20 to the X-Pro2.

If Fujifilm heeds mine and Mr Leeming’s requests for firmware and hardware improvements, then they will have a very capable Super 35 video camera able to take any of their current and future X-Mount stills lenses as well as the new MK X-Mount zooms.

The sudden tragic demise of Samsung’s promising, much-loved NX1 and its companion the NX500 has left a hole in the affordable 4K Super 35 market that Fujifilm still has a chance of filling, and better yet of exceeding expectations.

Many cinematographers familiar with Fujifilm’s Fujinon stills and cinema lenses have expressed a desire for a fully-featured Fujifilm Super 35 camera able to make the most of them. The ball is in Fujifilm’s court and one hopes they pick it up and run with it.

There is now even more pressure on Fujifilm to up the ante on the video capabilities of their current and future flagship X-Series cameras given the imminent arrival of Panasonic’s groundbreaking Lumix GH5 4K Super 16/Micro Four Thirds camera with its wide range of new and radically improved moviemaking features.

Why would I want a Super 35 4K as well as a Super 16 4K camera? Foremost, choice in sensor size, lens range and image quality. I am more likely to pick up the GH5 – or rather, watch it leap into my hands as the GH4 does currently – for single-operator documentary projects and rely on a revamped X-T2 or its successor for advertising, corporate and feature film projects. Others’ opinions will differ.

On the MK Series’ potential user base, Matthew Duclos of Duclos Lenses says it best:

So who did Fujinon make this lens for? I believe this lens is a great option for documentary style shooters…projects that run on the most skeleton [of] crews that need to be agile with their gear. It’ll be right at home on a music video set or a web series looking for a classic zoom range.

I have just one big question for Fujifilm right now, other than when will they act on the Leeming, Gottschalk and Luong X-Series flagship video features requests, and that is, is a super wide-angle MK-Series X-Mount ciné zoom on the drawing board?

Sony owners more expert than I in lens design have stated that the downside of the narrow E-Mount is that it mitigates against a larger collection of lenses at the wide end, though I note that Sony offers a 10-18mm f/4 OSS super wide-angle zoom lens.

Adding a super wide-angle ciné zoom to the MK series would complete its  classic three-zoom moviemaking set.

FUJIFILMglobal –FUJINON MK Lens Official Introduction movie / FUJIFILM

FUJIFILMglobal – FUJINON MK Lens – Image movie / FUJIFILM

FUJIFILMglobal – FUJINON MK Lens – Image movie making / FUJIFILM

Fujifilm Europe – FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Footage Shot by Philip Bloom

Fujifilm Europe – BTS FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 Shot by Philip Bloom

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.

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Cage Maker 8Sinn Shows Off Innovative Panasonic Lumix GH5 Cage

Polish camera cage and accessories maker 8Sinn has put up a web page about its new cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 Super 16 hybrid camera, slated for release late March. I have no doubt this attractive, ergonomically-designed cage that wraps itself around the GH5’s body and hand grip will attract a great deal of interest. 

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8Sinn appears to have been an active brand for some time, given that its Supported Cameras page lists the Panasonic GH4, Canon 5D Mark IV, Blackmagic Design Ursa Mini, Blackmagic Design Micro and Studio cameras, and seven Sony cameras including the popular A6000 series, the A7 series and the FS5 camcorder.

I have yet to see any 8Sinn products in real life so have no idea of their design and manufacturing quality but their solutions look very interesting indeed, elegant and well-considered.

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I particularly like the look of their Scorpio top handle, above, with its choice of two mounting options that are increasingly becoming industry standards, the Arri rosette and the NATO safety rail.

I asked cinematographer/director Paul Leeming what 8Sinn configuration he favours given their GH5 cage is high on his wishlist. He chose the 8Sinn GH5 Cage + Top Handle Pro + 15mm Universal Rod & Metabones Support but is considering the Scorpio handle instead of the Top Handle Pro.

I like the look of the 8Sinn cage rig on the left above but would choose the Scorpio handle over the one depicted, as in the two new images at right. Thank you, 8Sinn, for sending these. The Scorpio handle approaches even slightly one of my favourite non-NATO, non-Arri rosette handle designs, the CubeCage Round Handle by Motion9, now renamed Seercam.

Imagine if a round handle were to be updated with NATO and Arri rosette attachments and other contemporary enhancements.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Panasonic Lumix GH5 10-bit 4:2:2 V-Log Footage to Download and Practice Grading

Still needing more Panasonic Lumix GH5 exposure, as it were? One keenly anticipated aspect of the GH5 is its ability to record V-Log 10-bit 4:2:2 footage internally instead of only via an external monitor/recorder. Emmanuel Pampuri is kindly sharing some footage that can be downloaded in order to practice grading it with NLEs’ colour grading functionality or in colour grading software like BlackMagic’s DaVinci Resolve. 

The current line-up of Veydra Mini Prime cinema lenses, from 12mm at left through 16mm, 19mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm to 85mm. Veydra sells these lenses in kits or individually. A focally well-spaced set of matched Veydra primes would be a real asset and a more practical alternative than trying to assemble a set of non-matched non-cinema stills primes in various brands.

Mr Pampuri shot his footage with Veydra mini cinema prime lenses, “built for mirrorless cameras with Micro4/3 and S35 sensors” and with “multiple mounting options including Micro 4/3, Sony E-Mount, and C-Mount”.

Although I have yet to see Veydra lenses in the flesh, as it were, they sound like an excellent solution for making feature films and documentaries with Super 16 cameras like the GH5 and its M43 stablemates and competitors.

At time of writing, Mr Pampuri had mistakenly uploaded the footage as 8-bit 4:2:o but will be replacing that with 10-bit 4:2:2 footage soon.

Emmanuel Pampuri – PANASONIC LUMIX GH5 C4K Ungraded 4:2:2 10 Bits V-log 150mbs “Constance Flowers”

Links

Image Credits

Header image hack and concept by Carmel D. Morris, apologies to RJ Matson.

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Camera, Kits, Battery Grip and V-Log L

  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 8-18mm Lens KitB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-35mm Lens Kit – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery Grip – B&H
  • Panasonic V-Log L Function Activation Code for DMC-GH4, DC-GH5, and DMC-FZ2500B&H

SDXC V90 cards

  • Angelbird 64GB AV Pro UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Angelbird 128GB AV Pro UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H
  • Panasonic 128GB UHS-II V90 SDXC Memory CardB&H

L-Plates

  • Really Right Stuff L-Plate Set for Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Camera Body  – B&H

Camera Cages

  • Movcam Cage for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Movcam Cage Kit for Panasonic GH5B&H
  • Seercam GH5 CageB&H
  • Seercam Cage for GH5 with Classic HandleB&H
  • Seercam Extension Kit for CUBE GH5 CageB&H

No Panasonic Lumix GH5 Hands-On Tours Where You Live? Watch PhotoJoseph’s Excellent GH5 Videos Instead!

GH5 Sample Footage No. 5; Slow Motion, 2160p @ 60fpsI continue to read about hands-on tours and launch events elsewhere in the world for the exciting new Panasonic Lumix GH5 Super 16/Micro Four Thirds mirrorless hybrid stills/video camera but there is no sign we will be seeing anything like that happening here in Sydney anytime soon. So, what to do? Watch videos about the GH5, that’s what! 

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Joseph Linaschke aka PhotoJoseph of PhotoJoseph Studios in Ashland, Oregon, is sharing a number of videos about the GH5 at his YouTube.com channel and I am posting them here for your watching convenience.

I have a GH5… wanna see?

Behind The Scenes With The GH5! | Photo Joseph’s Photo Moment 2017-2-15

LUMIX GH5 with Sean Robinson from Panasonic — A Conversation with PhotoJoseph

LUMIX GH5 Extended Interview with Panasonic’s Sean Robinson, Part 2 A

LUMIX GH5 Extended Interview with Panasonic’s Sean Robinson, Part 2 B

LUMIX GH5 Extended Interview with Panasonic’s Sean Robinson, Part 2 C

LUMIX GH5 Extended Interview with Panasonic’s Sean Robinson, Part 2 D

Who wants to see the GH5 menu system? We go through the CAMERA settings and that’s it

GH5 Menu system explored, part 2

More GH5 info from the LUMIX Luminary Summit — PhotoJoseph’s Photo Moment 2017-02-22

GH5 Autofocus System Explained! — PhotoJoseph’s Photo Moment 2017-02-21

GH5 Sample Footage No. 1; Follow Focus in UHD 60p

GH5 Sample Footage No. 2; Follow Focus for Stills & 6K Photo

GH5 Sample Footage No. 3; Low Light Video & Stills

GH5 Sample Footage No. 4; Slow Motion, 1080p @ 180fps

GH5 Sample Footage No. 5; Slow Motion, 2160p @ 60fps

GH5 Sample Footage No. 6; Focus Transitions

GH5 Bit Depth Difference Electronic vs Mechanical Shutter? | PhotoJoseph’s Photo Moment 2017-03-01

Response to Cinema5D GH5 Criticism | PhotoJoseph’s Photo Moment 2017-03-02

Image Credit:

Header image by Carmel D. Morris.

Tech Notes:

Hero image of the GH5 processed in Macphun Luminar using the Magical Moments preset in the Vivid Wonderland presets pack.

Nick Driftwood’s Panasonic Lumix GH5 Top 10

I have been reading about the many Panasonic Lumix GH5 roadshows that have been going on elsewhere in the world with no small amount of envy. There has been no news of any such events happening here so I am sharing the next best thing, a graphic featuring Brighton-based moviemaker Nick Driftwood presenting his Panasonic Lumix GH5 Top 10. 

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Panasonic Lumix UK brand ambassador Nick Driftwood presents his Panasonic Lumix GH5 Top 10.

Panasonic brand ambassador Mr Driftwood has been touring the UK with a pre-production GH5 and has some years of experience with Lumix and Panasonic video cameras and camcorders.

Image Credits:

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris.

Macphun Luminar Raw Processor/Image Editor Updated, More Speed and Power, Hot Deals

The Luminar all-in-one raw processing and image editing application by Macphun, makers of a suite of other great products including Aurora HDR 2017, is my default, go-to software for photography and image resizing and exporting duties. Luminar has just been updated to version 1.1.1 and it continues to get better every single time. 

macphun_luminar_version1-1-1_updater_screen

Luminar’s version 1.1.1 update arrived shortly after an X100F review loaner was kindly delivered by the folks at Fujifilm Australia and after processing my very first shot with the X100F, camera plus processing software feels like a match made in heaven.

Both outwardly appear stripped-down, simple even, but their unassuming interfaces hide real power. I am impressed by how well Luminar 1.1.1 handles X-Trans raw files from the X100F.

Most software companies take ages to get around to supporting the very latest cameras. Macphun is already on the ball with the X100F and I hope will be just as fast to support two other soon-to-be-released new cameras, Fujifilm’s GFX 50S and Panasonic’s GH5.

I made the above three snapshots with the Fujifilm X100F at lunch earlier today then quickly and minimally processed them in Luminar 1.1.1 using the Smart Image Enhancer preset from the Photo Essentials preset pack available for purchase from Macphun. The photograph at left was cropped while the other two were full-frame.*

I was after a naturalistic though richly coloured, dark-toned image reminiscent of slow transparency films from the analog era. The light is always challenging in this location, its centre lit with dark amber and with bright sunlight at both ends. Digital noise is not a concern with these types of images especially now that contemporary mirrorless cameramakers are doing such a great job making it appear organic.

This quick and dirty test showed that Luminar 1.1.1 has gained speed in loading raw files and when processing using filters. I have a heavy image processing session coming up later this week and that is when this latest Luminar update will really be put to the test.

Meanwhile, colour me impressed. The Macphun team published a list of coming updates to Luminar and this latest update has me looking forward to what is coming next. Right now Luminar is Mac-only but will be coming to Windows sometime this year.

Macphun Luminar Special Offer:

Macphun has a terrific hot deal going on at the moment for Luminar, so get in now!

Footnote:

* I have been noticing the term “full-frame” being applied to the 35mm digital photography format as if that sensor were some kind of yardstick by which to judge other sensor sizes. These other sensor sizes such as APS-C and Micro Four Thirds are being described as “crop sensors”. Really?

The photographs above have been made with an APS-C sensor camera. That camera has a full-frame sensor, one utilizing the full frame of the APS-C sensor. In one photograph above, the image is not full-frame but has been cropped. The sensor has not been cropped, only its output in this case. The other two images can be described as full-frame though.

The “full-frame” and “full-format” aficionados need to get over this misuse of terms that make the 35mm film format appear to be some sort of unassailable standard. It isn’t. It never was.

Throughout much of the history of analog photography, the 35mm format was regarded as “miniature”, and was often adversely compared to larger formats like 6×4.5cm, 6x6cm, 6x7cm, 6x8cm, 6x9cm and larger on 120 film, or sheet film in the 4″x5″ size, 5″x7″, 8″x10″ and larger sizes. The digital 35mm format is no more the standard or benchmark than 35mm film was.

Zack Arias has a terrific article and video on the subject at DEDPXL, Crop or Crap :: Math or Moment.

Take Back Your Movies from the Gatekeepers with LumaForge’s Free 5-Part ‘Off the Grid’ Workflow Training

Independent moviemaking has been undergoing a sure and steady process of rebirth since Canon accidentally kicked off the DSLR video revolution with the EOS 5D Mark II hybrid stills/video camera in 2008.

Indie filmmaking’s evolution since then has followed a rocky path, with hardware, software and workflows evolving at different paces.

Workflows have lagged behind hardware and software, but now, it is poised to catch up with Final Cut Pro X workflow experts LumaForge releasing their five-part training series Off the Grid via movie industry website fcp.com.

Part one, Off The Grid: A Modern FCPX-RED-Resolve Narrative Workflow – Part 1- Introduction and On-Set Editorial, signals that the series is based on a We Make Movies TV pilot named Off the Grid, shot with RED digital cinema cameras and using Apple’s Final Cut Pro X and Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve in the post-production to release process along with a number of third-party desktop and mobile applications.

The authors of the Off the Grid training, Australian-in-LA editor, colorist and producer Sam Mestman and Patrick Southern, Chief Workflow Engineer at LumaForge, describe the training series thus:

This 5 part series should be looked at as a cheat sheet on how to make a movie, pilot, or doc without limits in the modern age.

My hope then is that Off the Grid will be as instructive for self-funded one-person-crew independent moviemakers working with affordable but high quality small cameras like the coming Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 as those with bigger budgets and multiple crew-members using larger camera systems like those made by RED.

As my own broadcast and film festival moviemaking experiences have indicated, modern moviemaking at all levels is subject to the whims of a gauntlet of gatekeepers anyone of whom can sink your project without a trace.

Even if you manage to fund and shoot all your footage and record all your audio, then take it to rough or final cut by yourself, you are still dependent on funders, broadcasters and post-production houses to get your movie to a broadcastable or projectable stage.

As Mestman and Southern so aptly state:

Filmmaking is the only artistic medium where most artists can’t afford to make their art the way they want to. My aim is to remove that hurdle along with all others so the only limitation in making a movie is one’s own creativity.

A terrific statement from at least one member of We Make Movies, a community-funded production company with the inspirational mottos “Dedicated to making the movie industry not suck.” and  “The DIY film collective that’s got your back.”

The Off the Grid Training:

Image Credits:

Header photoillustration aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris.

Why the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is the Video Camera I Have Always Wanted

I once dreamed of a feature film and broadcast-quality Super 16 video camera system that anyone could afford and that was small, lightweight, rugged, self-stabilized and could easily be carried everywhere. 

Left of frame: Small camera in action in 2001, A Space Odyssey. This is a stills photographer character but the same type of camera prop was used by videographer characters in Battlestar Galactica. Still frame from the movie.

At the time, I was trying to work within the prevailing documentary production framework dominated by state and federal funding and broadcasting organizations aka gatekeepers.

The gatekeeper system demanded you go cap in hand to a series of these organizations with your one-page treatment, hoping for pre-production funding in order to get started. Then you were forced to run the same gauntlet over and over again at each subsequent stage of the process.

Eventually, if you were lucky enough to get to the point of hiring a crew and renting hardware at enormous expense, as demanded by the funding gatekeepers, you could apply photons to sensor and begin shooting.

If, that is, said gatekeepers did not snatch your project out of your hands because some bureaucrat along the way decided you were not worthy enough to make your own movie.

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I would rather take a Panasonic Lumix GH5 to one of these events than lug around a broadcast camera. Photograph by Karin Gottschalk.

We decided to shortcut that gauntlet-running process a little with one project where we took my initial pre-production grant and gave it to the famous though erratic documentary director to whom I was forced to hand over the whole movie.

He shot a fair percentage of the final footage then edited some into a short preview used in running the rest of the gauntlet. It helped by proving the brilliance of the documentary’s story idea and the engaging though challenging lead character.

Some lessons from that era

Never agree to hand your project over to anyone, no matter what guarantees they make and conditions they agree to. Kill or at least postpone your project if you are told that handing it over is the condition of obtaining crucial funding.

Never create a project containing a secondary story thread in which your nation’s Prime Minister takes so much interest they feel compelled to demand your first-time director commission from a national public broadcaster be rescinded immediately.

His reason? That the leader of another country and his dad might possibly be embarrassed by reminders of their own past transgressions if certain scenes were to be included in the final cut. It all went downhill from then onwards.

The famous if erratic documentary director/cinematographer, I discovered too late, had his own agenda and made a very different movie to what I had envisaged.

His was a hero-worshipping puff piece and mine was about the broader, deeper human rights issues surrounding the lead character. The movie made a small splash on the festival circuit then sank without a trace.

So, the lessons?

Always shoot your first footage and edit your own preview by whatever means possible, even if you have no money whatsoever.

Never hand your project over to anyone, ever. Did I already say that?

The affordable moviemaking hardware and software we have now did not exist then otherwise I would have followed my own advice and done everything myself.

In the process I would have proven I could do it and could have brushed off the loss of my first director’s commission from a three-letter acronym national public broadcaster by bypassing all state and national funders and broadcasters to go straight to foreign funders and broadcasters with an advanced preview.

If the camera system I had long been dreaming of had existed then I might have remained in charge of my own project from go to whoah.

Here at last, here at last

That camera is finally here, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 with its revised lenses, the Lumix G X Vario 12–35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS zoom and Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 II Power OIS zoom.

I would add the Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 Aspheric zoom though the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro is tempting due to its faster maximum aperture, repeatable clutch manual focus and reportedly excellent optical correction. Neither wide zoom has optical image stabilization (OIS) unfortunately, particularly handy on the longer end of their focal length scales.

I would add two or three fast prime lenses to that core three-zoom kit, one moderately long, another moderately wide and possibly one in-between.

There are a few options with moderately long primes, including the Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS lens, its Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Aspheric Power OIS stablemate or the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm F1.8.

Same again with moderately wide primes including the Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 Aspheric, Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 Aspheric or Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8.

Then for fast standard primes we have the choice between the Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 Aspheric, the Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 or Sigma’s 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary.

Let’s not forget Cosina’s excellent if pricey Voigtlaender Nokton f/0.95 manual-focus prime lenses in their 10.5mm, 17.5mm, 25mm and 42.5mm incarnations as well as cinema primes like those from Veydra or Samyang‘s Xeen range.

I have yet to try out current cameras with 5-axis Dual IS 2 like the Lumix DMC-G80/85 or DMC-GX80/85 to know how much stability non-OIS lenses gain by it but knowing the GH5 will have IBIS is a relief.

Right now I am packing for a video location shoot in a dimly-lit location where I can only use the GH4 handheld. I am taking a Rotolight Neo to use if supplementary lighting is permitted but plan on applying CoreMelt Lock & Load to my footage for stabilization, sacrificing some of the 4K frame. With the GH5, I will no longer need to do that.

The coming of the GH5 looks set to change everything for the better.

Recommended Videos:

Martin Wallgren – Lumix GH5 High ISO Grading Test

BBC – The World Around Us – The Camera That Changed the World

Image Credits:

Header photoillustration aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris. Product photographs kindly supplied by Panasonic.

Panasonic Lumix GH5 is the Feature-Rich Winner in the Small, Portable, Affordable, Reliable 4K Video Camera Stakes

Panasonic announced its Lumix GH5 DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless) MFT (Micro Four Thirds) ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) Super 16 camera as the latest iteration of its hybrid stills and video flagship at CES 2017 earlier today. 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 with new Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric OIS zoom lens, 24-120mm in 35mm equivalent. This lens is the first of a new range of Panasonic Leica Vario-Elmarit zooms. There are two kit configurations for the GH5, one with this lens and one with the renewed aka updated version of the Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens. I suspect that videographers will choose the latter kit and photographers may tend to choose the former.

Panasonic’s press release states that the GH5 brings “unprecedented picture quality in the history of Lumix cameras” and reading through the various related press releases I suspect they are correct in that assertion.

The GH5 contains a range of innovations that professional stills photographers and videographers have been requesting for some time, such as internal 10-bit 4:2:2 recording, 5-axis Dual IS (image stabilizer) for stills and 4K video recording that combines 2-axis OIS (optical image stabilizer) with 5-axis BIS (body image stabilizer) and plenty more speed, usability and image quality improvements.

Panasonic also announced major updates of two Lumix GX Vario lenses, updates for two Lumix G Vario lenses and the launch of the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS lens, first in a soon-to-expand lineup of Panasonic Leica zooms that will include an 8-18mm wide-angle and 50-200mm telephoto.

The Camera and Its Accessories

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5

Director/Cinematographer Paul Leeming has shot several feature films on the Panasonic Lumix GH4, and has declared the GH5 the new hybrid video camera winner based on these specifications:

  • 10bit 4:2:2 DCI 4K recorded internally.
  • 8bit 4:2:0 DCI 4K at 48fps, UHD at 60fps recorded internally.
  • Rolling shutter skew of less than 13ms.
  • Long battery life.
  • Flip out monitor that rotates 180 degrees in two axes.
  • Touchscreen for ease of settings changes and touch to focus.
  • Ergonomic user interface.
  • Waveform and vector scopes.
  • Dual SD card slots.
  • Unlimited recording time.
  • Worldwide frequency settings – NTSC, PAL, DCI.
  • Full size HDMI port with simultaneous internal recording and external output.
  • No overheating.

The only downside, in his opinion? The GH5’s Micro Four Thirds sensor as opposed to a 35mm aka full-frame low-light sensor.

Specifications
  • Anti-aliasing filter – none.
  • Audio, built-in – 3 internal microphones, one pair for stereo and third for cancelling of any possible operational noise.
  • Autofocus – 225 focus areas, DFD (depth from defocus), faster than the GH4.
  • Connectivity, wired – USB-C 3.1, HDMI with full-size port.
  • Connectivity, wireless – 802.11ac Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth.
  • Crop factor, video – none.
  • Framerate, 4K UHD maximum – 50/60p.
  • Framerate, 1080p FHD maximum – 180p.
  • Function control and selectionjoystick [YES!!!… Ed.], 15 customizable buttons, easier-to-use menu system, redesigned rear control dial.
  • Media – compatible with UHS-I/UHS-II Speed Class 3 SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards, hot-swappable.
  • Monitor – fully-articulated 3.2-inch touchscreen.
  • Optical low-pass filter – none.
  • Photo styles for video – Cinelike D, Cinelike V, Like709 (Rec.709-like, when Creative Video Mode is selected), V-LogL with View Assist displaying up to 4  LUTs stored on SD card (when upgrade software key DMW-SFU1 is purchased) for monitoring.
  • Rack focus mode – pre-configured Focus Transition tool, with up to 3 predefined focus points, selectable rack speed in 5 steps.
  • Recording quality – 10-bit 4:2:2 in 4K records over 1 billion colours for subtle, cinematic gradation and broadcast camera quality.
  • Recording time – no limits.
  • Resistance to weather – freeze-proof, splash-proof, dust-proof.
  • Resistance to overheating – resists overheating even when shooting unlimited 4K video.
  • SD card slots – dual UHS-II U3 compatible.
  • Scopes – waveform, vector.
  • Sensor – 20.30 Megapixels camera-effective, 21.77 Megapixels in total.
  • Settings backup and sharing – backup to phone or SD card for sharing with other GH5s.
  • Special photo modes – Post Focus, Focus Stacking.
  • Stabilization – operates via image sensor shift in 5 axes, resulting in 5 stops compensation even at telephoto focal lengths, eliminating need for tripods, monopods, gimbals or other stabilizers; Dual IS and DUAL IS 2 compatible.
  • Video cropping – none.
  • Video-based photo modes – 6K Photo at 18 Megapixels 30 fps, 4K Photo at 8 Megapixels 60fps.
  • Video, 4K – 3840×2160 UHD at up to 59.94p, 4096×2160 DCI at 24p, 150 Mbps 4:2:0 8-bit at time of shipping with further options later in 2017. See press release below.
  • Viewfinder – 3.6 million-dot OLED, 0.76x best in class.
  • Worldwide frequency settings – NTSC 59.94Hz, PAL 50.00Hz, DCI 24.oo Hz.
Stabilization-compliant lenses, 5-Axis Dual IS 2
  • Lumix G X Vario 12–35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS zoom (H-HSA12035)
  • Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12–60mm f/2.8–4.0 Power OIS zoom (H-ES12060)
  • Lumix G Vario 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Power OIS zoom (H-FS12060)
  • Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Power OIS zoom (H-FS14140)
  • Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 II Power OIS zoom (H-HSA35100)
  • Lumix G Vario 45-150mm f/4.0-5.6 Power OIS zoom (H-FSA45150)
  • Lumix G Vario 100-300mm f/4.0-5.6 II Power OIS zoom (H-FSA100300)
  • Leica DG Vario-Elmar 100-300mm f/4.0-6.3 Aspheric Power OIS zoom (H-RS100400), compliant in February with firmware update.
Firmware release schedule
  • V-Log colour profile for 12-stop dynamic range – available at launch for $149.00/$US100.00.
  • 10-bit 4:2:2 – April.
  • 6K 24p anamorphic video mode, 4:3 – Summer 2017.
  • FHD 4:2:2 10bit ALL-Intra, 200 Mbps – Summer 2017.
  • 4K 4:2:2 10bit ALL-Intra, 400 Mbps – Summer 2017.
Press release
Australian Pricing and Availability

The DC-GH5 will be available in Australia in April 2017 from photographic specialists and consumer electronics retailers. The accessory battery grip and XLR microphone adaptor will also be available from April.

  • DC-GH5GN-K Body only: RRP $AU2999.00.
  • DC-GH5LEICA Leica kit with 12-60mm f2.8-4.0 lens (H-ES12060E): RRP $3999.00.
  • DC-GH5PRO Pro kit with 12-35mm f2.8 lens (H-HSA12035E): RRP $AU3999.00.”
US Pricing and Availability

The Lumix GH5 will be available (body only) in late March for $US1999.99.

Battery Grip DMW-BGGH5

I have this battery grip’s predecessor for the GH4 and find it invaluable when shooting video and stills.

For handheld video, the battery grip adds weight, better balance and increased stability to what is a very lightweight camera. When shooting video or stills tripod- or monopod-mounted, more battery power. For photography in vertical or portrait orientation the battery grip’s buttons ensure better grip and operability when holding the camera.

There is just one improvement I want to see in both battery grips, the ability to switch its functionality off altogether so that I don’t accidentally change my settings when shooting in horizontal or landscape orientation. That surely could be a menu function if this version of the battery grip does not have a lock switch like the one on Fujifilm’s Vertical Power Boost Grip VPB-XT2.

Details

“The Battery Grip is weather sealed, enables a second battery to be used and replicates the main camera controls for portrait shooting convenience, including the joystick” according to the GH5 press release. The GH5’s “tentative” product brochure, on the other hand, indicates that the DMW-BGGH5 battery grip contains two batteries.

Loaded with two batteries and attached to the camera this grip delivers significantly longer shooting time.

A total of three batteries makes sense when using the DMW-XLR1 audio adapter, below, with XLR microphones drawing 48-volt phantom power or for intense, high-bitrate, high frames-per-second UHD video shoots over a long day.

Australian Pricing and Availability

DMW-BGGH5E Accessory Battery Grip: RRP $399.00.

XLR Microphone Adaptor DMW-XLR1

The DMW-XLR1 microphone adapter contains a subset of the functions in Panasonic’s now discontinued YAGH interface unit which was priced well outside the reach of most self-funded low-budget independent moviemakers.

Documentary moviemaker Sol March of Suggestion of Motion published an insightful article about the YAGH, Should You Buy The YAGH for the Panasonic GH4? where he wrote about its twin roles as an XLR audio input and for 10-bit 4K 4:2:2 3G-SDI output to external monitors and recorders such as the then soon-to-be-released Atomos Shogun monitor/recorder.

Although SDI remains in use at the higher end of video production and for devices such as Atomos’ Shogun Inferno, independent moviemakers now have the option of using more affordable HDMI-based monitor-recorders if they wish.

As Mr March writes, there are other ways of handling audio including preamps, field mixers, audio recorders. For example, I use the Tascam DR-70D 4-channel field recorder that can be hotshoe-mounted or, to reduce top-heaviness, screwed into the tripod-mounting screw hole of your camera or camera cage.

With the GH5 recording 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally, the need for external video recorders is reduced. The DMW-XLR1 will certainly have its uses though for those relying on XLR microphones.

Camera cage makers Seercam tell me they are working on a cage for the GH5 that will account for the DMW-XLR1. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

Press Release

When paired with the DMW-XLR1, the DC-GH5 gains two professional grade XLR inputs, enabling videographers to use their broadcast-level microphones. The adaptor is powered by the DC-GH5 battery and audio is transferred cable-free to the video file on the SD Card. This interface unit also supports 48 volt phantom power (which provides power to condenser microphones) and includes independent pads, low cut filters and gain control on each channel. The XLR1 also has a hot shoe mount on top to conveniently mount a microphone, wireless microphone receiver or a video light.

Australian Pricing and Availability

DMW-XLR1E XLR Microphone Adaptor: RRP $AU499.00.

The Lenses, New and Updated

panasonic-12-60-lens-2_1920px

When I was first researching the Micro Four Thirds camera system with an eye to investing in a GH3, the first Lumix camera I had come across in a local camera store, photographers, moviemakers and even some sales assistants warned me there were too few MFT lenses of the requisite quality available to make it a worthwhile investment.

Even then that was not the case, as the display case of MFT lenses of all sorts, sizes and prices that Olympus showed off at Luna Park mini camera export amply proved.

That assertion of not enough lenses is even harder to make nowadays. All one needs do is go to the lenses page at the Micro Four Thirds organization and see for yourself, or simply gaze upon the image above and count the number of Panasonic-only lenses depicted.

Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12–60mm f/2.8–4.0 Power OIS zoom lens (H-ES12060)

Specifications
  • A 24-120mm (35mm camera equivalent) F2.8 to F4.0 wide to telephoto zoom lens with a rugged design for high picture quality and performance.
  • First lens in the LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT F2.8-4.0 ultra wide-angle to super telephoto Series which will expand with an 8-18mm (16-36mm, 35mm camera equivalent) wide zoom lens and 50-200mm (100-400mm, 35mm camera equivalent) telephoto zoom lens, presently under development.
  • Featuring a 9-blade diaphragm for an attractively smooth effect in out-of-focus areas when shooting at larger aperture settings.
  • Versatile usage ranging from portraits and landscapes to street photography.
  • Achieves handheld shooting without using a flash thanks to the F2.8 to F4.0 variable maximum aperture and 5-axis Dual I.S.2 even in low-lit situations, including indoors.
  • Also works with Dual IS on the Lumix GX8, 5-axis Dual IS on the Lumix GX85/GX80, and 5-axis Dual IS2 on the Lumix G85/G80.
  • Splash/dust-proof and freeze-proof down to -10°C with a rugged design for heavy field use.
  • Supports high-quality video recording.
  • The lens system comprises 14 elements in 12 groups including 4 aspherical lenses and 2 UED (Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion) lenses that effectively suppress spherical distortion or chromatic aberration to achieve stunning picture quality.
  • Panasonic’s black box technology Nano Surface Coating is applied to minimize ghosts and flaring.
  • Maximum 240-fps sensor drive for high-speed, high-performance AF.
Australian Pricing and Availability

The Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12–60MM f/2.8–4.0 Power OIS Zoom Lens (H-ES12060) will be available in Australia in March, priced at $AU1199.00. I will add US pricing here when I have it.

Lumix G X Vario 12–35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens (H-HSA12035)

Specifications
  • A 24-70mm (35mm camera equivalent) full-range F2.8 fast standard zoom lens with a rugged design for high picture quality and performance.
  • Successor to the H-HS12035.
  • Versatile usage ranging from portraits and landscape to street photography.
  • Achieves handheld shooting without using a flash thanks to the F2.8 high-speed aperture and 5-axis Dual I.S.2 [in the GH5… Ed.] even in low-lit situations, including indoors.
  • Splash/dust-proof and freeze-proof down to -10°C with a rugged design for heavy field use.
  • Supports high-quality video recording.
  • The lens system comprises 14 elements in 9 groups including 4 aspherical lenses with 5 aspherical surfaces, 1 UHR (Ultra High Refractive Index) lens and 1 UED (Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion) lens.
  • Panasonic’s black box technology Nano Surface Coating is applied to minimize ghosts and flaring.
  • Maximum 240-fps sensor drive for high-speed, high-performance AF.
  • Available in black for $AU1199.00/$US999.99 in March.

Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 II Power OIS zoom lens (H-HSA35100)

Specifications
  • A 70-200mm (35mm camera equivalent) full-range F2.8 fast standard zoom lens with a rugged design for high picture quality and performance.
  • Successor to the H-HS35100.
  • Allows high-speed shutter release, and provides beautiful defocus effect in portrait or close-up shots.
  • Achieves handheld shooting without using a flash thanks to the F2.8 wide aperture and 5-axis Dual I.S.2 [in the GH5… Ed.] even in low-lit situations including indoors.
  • Splash/dust-proof and freeze-proof down to -10°C with a rugged design for heavy field use.
  • Supports high quality video recording.
  • The lens system comprises 18 elements in 13 groups including 1 UED (Ultra Extra-Low Dispersion) lens and 2 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) lenses.
  • Panasonic’s black box technology Nano Surface Coating is applied to minimize ghosts and flaring.
  • Maximum 240-fps sensor drive for high-speed, high-performance AF.
  • No front lens rotation/ length extension in zooming.
  • Available in black for $AU1399.00/$US1099.99 in March.

Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.0-5.6 II Power OIS zoom lens (H-FSA45200)

Specifications
  • A 90-400mm (35mm camera equivalent) telephoto zoom lens with a rugged design and 5-axis Dual I.S.2. for active field use.
  • Successor to the H-FS045200.
  • Achieves handheld telephoto shooting with POWER O.I.S. and 5-axis Dual I.S.2 [in the GH5… Ed.].
  • Maximum 240-fps sensor drive for high-speed, high-performance AF.
  • Rugged, splash/dust-proof design for heavy field use.
  • Supports high-quality video recording.
  • The lens system comprises 16 elements in 13 groups including 3 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) lenses.
  • Multi coating to minimize ghosts and flaring.
  • Available in black for $AU599.00/$US449.99 in February.

Lumix G Vario 100-300mm f/4.0-5.6 II Power OIS zoom lens (H-FSA100300)

Specifications
  • A 200-600mm (35mm camera equivalent) telephoto zoom lens with a rugged design and 5-axis Dual I.S.2 [in the GH5… Ed.] for active field use.
  • Successor to the H-FS100300.
  • Achieves handheld telephoto shooting with POWER O.I.S. and 5-axis Dual I.S.2 [in the GH5… Ed.].
  • Maximum 240-fps sensor drive for high-speed, high-performance AF.
  • Rugged, splash/dust-proof design for heavy field use.
  • Supports high-quality video recording.
  • The lens system comprises 17 elements in 12 groups including 1 ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) lens.
  • Multi coating to minimize ghosts and flaring.
  • Available in black for $AU899.00/$US649.99 in February.

Further Thoughts on the GH5 and Its Lenses

Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (ILC) systems continue to make strides in the photographic and video production worlds and especially amongst those of us with a foot in both.

While 2016 was a banner year for larger mirrorless cameras, especially for Fujifilm with the release of its X-Pro and X-T2 Super 35 APS-C cameras and the news that its GFX 50S medium format system would be appearing in early 2017, that same time frame sees Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 MFT camera making its appearance with yet more professional video production level features of the sort that established the GH4 as the Super 16 go-to camera for independent documentary filmmakers and more.

As director/cinematographer Paul Leeming wrote in his letter to Fujifilm, published on this site as How to Make the X-T2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Letter to Fujifilm from Paul Leeming, the GH4 is:

… the most well-designed consumer-facing mirrorless camera I’ve used and tested in depth (and the GH5 looks to best it in some significant ways in early 2017). It has ergonomic controls, a good monitor and lots of other features which make it easy to use on film sets. It really should be the minimum to aspire to in terms of all of the above,…

And now the GH5 will be making good on Mr Leeming’s hopes, or so it appears from the list of specifications that Panasonic released today. How it all works out in practice is another thing again, especially in how Panasonic’s new and revamped zoom lenses work in conjunction with the GH5, and the GH4 which will no doubt be around for some time yet as a second or B-camera to the GH5’s A-camera.

I look forward to future hands-on experience with the lenses announced today, especially the 12-60mm, the 12-35mmm and the 35-100mm zooms. Independent documentary moviemaking is reliant on zoom lenses, supported by fast primes for poor light conditions, and these updated zoom lenses are good news.

When I bought my GH4, I opted for a standard zoom lens by a Micro Four Thirds coalition partner of Panasonic’s in the form of the Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro for several good reasons over Panasonic’s Lumix GX Vario 12–35mm f/2.8 Asph. Power OIS.

It was a difficult choice, as subsequent camera and lens firmware revisions made joining Lumix lenses up with Lumix cameras increasingly attractive. But the Olympus lens’ repeatable manual clutch focus, solid build and longer focal length range extending to 40mm, a more useful portrait focal length than Panasonic’s 35mm, won me over.

At the time it was one lens to do as much as possible, on a very tight budget, and the results I got from the 12-40mm f/2.8 had the edge over those from the 12-35mm f/2.8, especially when shooting stills.

Besides which, a number of respected documentary filmmakers chose the same Olympus zoom over its Panasonic rival, including one from whom I learned a great deal about how to get the best out of the GH4, Sol March at Suggestion of Motion.

Now, all going well on the developing financial front, it is time to consider an integrated set of zoom lenses specially for documentary moviemaking and there are two video-capable Super 16 MFT cameras in our production kit that need better optical equipping.

The question now is which to choose from, Panasonic’s Lumix zoom lenses or their developing Panasonic Leica zoom lens lineup. As the press release above states:

The LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT F2.8-4.0 Series lineup will expand with additional lenses. An 8-18mm (16-36mm, 35mm camera equivalent) wide zoom lens and 50-200mm (100-400mm, 35mm camera equivalent) telephoto zoom lens are presently under development.

This implies that all Leica DG Vario-Elmarit series lenses will have an variable aperture range of f/2.8 to f/4.0. Both the more video-focussed Lumix GX Vario series lenses have a maximum aperture of f/2.8 consistent throughout their focal length ranges.

I have a variable aperture zoom lens that I use for stills and video, and its variable aperture can be a nuisance, especially in fast-developing documentary situations under poor available lighting. For this reason the two Lumix GX Vario lenses are currently more attractive than their in-development Leica DG Vario-Elmarit sisters.

Although the only Leica DG lens I have used so far is the Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Aspheric Power OIS prime lens. It is a positively beautiful lens in terms of its colour rendering, bokeh and ease-of-use and I am especially enamoured of its aperture ring.

I have not had the pleasure of using other Panasonic Leica lenses, primes or zooms, but I suspect that the legendary Leica colour rendering is common to all of them. Panasonic’s Lumix primes and zooms have their own colour rendering and other characteristics.

The big question for me, given the increasing importance of colour correction and colour looks grading, is whether mixing and matching footage shot with Panasonic Leica lenses with Panasonic Lumix lenses will work or will it entail painstaking shot matching work in the colour grading suite?

Will those colour rendering differences be even more pronounced when shot on the GH5 with its higher quality 10-bit 4:2:2 colour? Should we equip ourselves only with Panasonic Leica or only Panasonic Lumix lenses to avoid this possibility? Will Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT One and shooting settings customized for almost every camera under the sun iron out any possible differences?

Only firsthand practical experience of the GH5 and lenses from both Panasonic lens ranges can provide enough proof for these sorts of choices. I would like to see a GH5 and lenses from both lens ranges placed in the hands of a colour rendering expert like Paul Leeming for a definitive enough answer for the rest of us to make some evidence-based decisions.

Another consideration is focal lengths. For me the perfect documentary lens kit contains a fast wide zoom with consistent maximum aperture, a fast standard zoom with consistent maximum aperture, a fast medium telephoto zoom with consistent maximum aperture, an optional long zoom that does not have to have consistent maximum aperture, and one or two ultra-fast prime lenses for available darkness.

A core kit of three zoom lenses supplemented by primes, and other specialist lenses if needed. Even with just matched three zoom lenses you can cover most situations that arise and the other lenses are the icing on the cake.

What I’d Like to See in the GH5

One thing lacking from the GH4 and other Lumix cameras used for video, selectable or custom movie aspect ratios in the viewfinder and monitor, like this:

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What I’d Like to See in the Lenses

01_leica-lens_slant_1920px
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 Aspheric Power OIS prime lens shows how mechanical aperture control can be done. Switchable on/off clickless/clicking would be even better.
  • Aperture/iris control ring with 1/3 stops, selectable for click-less or clicking.
m25mmf12_stand_mf_rotated_1920px
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro lens and its M.Zuiko Pro zoom and prime lens sisters show how manual clutch focus can be done. Draw the focusing ring back to focus manually, push it forwards to restore automatic aperture control by the camera. The M.Zuiko Pro series focusses from close-up to infinity with a quarter turn, perfect for focus-pulling with or without focus-pulling devices.
  • Manual clutch focus with quarter throw from close to infinity.

Recommended Reading

Recommended Videos

Image Credits

Header photoillustration aka featured image created for this website by Carmel Morris in Photoshop from product photographs kindly supplied by Panasonic Australia and Panasonic USA and their public relations consultants, with other images from Panasonic Germany.

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