DPReview: Open letter to Panasonic: Innovations in manual focus could make Lumix S a winner for cinematographers

https://www.dpreview.com/opinion/3202272540/open-letter-to-panasonic-long-overdue-innovations-in-manual-focus

“Jack Lam is a cinematographer based in Beijing and Hong Kong. His body of work includes TV commercials, seasonal TV drama series and theatrical feature films. His commercial clients include Cathay Pacific, Lenovo, Airbnb, Alibaba, and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. He also works with DJI as a design consultant for their cinema products….

… As a working cinematographer, I am super excited by Panasonic’s announcement of the Lumix S mirrorless camera system. The Panasonic GH5 is so well-designed, it has become a reliable workhorse for many video shooters. I have no doubt a full-frame version of it will be amazing, and everything I read about the S1/S1R confirms that.

However, Lumix S has the potential to become much greater that what we see in this product launch. With this brand new camera system, Panasonic has a unique opportunity to create the perfect small camera system for professional cinematographers. But doing so requires Panasonic to address a long-standing problem that is overlooked by all other camera makers, as well as some rethinking of conventional ideas on camera design.

This missing feature – one that can become a potential killer feature for Panasonic – is good manual focus control for video….

… I want MF control that is simple, accurate, reliable, repeatable, predictable, measurable and ergonomically sound. It should also be wireless-capable and highly integrated as part of the camera (so that we can keep the camera small and don’t need to add six other accessories just to pull focus). Do you know of any small (DSLR/mirrorless) camera in the market that fulfills all of the above requirements? I have found none.”

panasonic_lumix_dc-s1_01_1024px
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 35mm sensor mirrorless camera with Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS standard zoom lens.

Commentary

olympus_m.zuiko_primes_square_17_25_45_1024px_60%
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 professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

Please note that Jack Lam’s open letter was written late 2018 before the official launch of the Panasonic S1 and S1R cameras and lenses, before detailed specifications were released.

The elephant in the room of mirrorless and DSLR hybrid cameras is manual focusing, and it is pleasing that Mr Lam has addressed it in depth.

The autofocus capabilities of modern mirrorless cameras have been steadily improving for use in stills photography, but I often find myself flipping over into manual focus whenever starting off with autofocus when shooting video, no matter how much innovation has gone into each camera’s video autofocus functions.

The problem of manual focusing limitations in cameras is further compounded by the manual focusing and focus pulling limitations of the lenses that are made for them, with their reliance on non-linear focusing control rings or lack of focusing rings altogether.

Whenever possible I invest in lenses that have manual clutch focus mechanisms and hard stops at each end of the focussing scale, but these lenses can be far and few between in any camera system.

fujifiom_fujinon_xf_14mm_f2.8_r_01_1024px_80pc
Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R prime lens with manual clutch focus, equivalent to 21mm in the 35mm sensor format.

Lenses manually focused via control rings are more common, whether the option of switching from non-linear to linear operation is offered in cameras’ firmware or not.

Given a choice, I will always select a manual clutch focus lens over autofocus-only or control ring-only lenses, but then there is another factor, the all-too-common lack of an aperture ring.

The ideal lens for me has both, with a switch for clickless and clicked operation of the aperture ring being the best option for riding exposure in variable light.

I write about this stuff as often as I can but I am nobody and no camera manufacturer pays attention to what I have to say.

It may be a different matter for Jack Lam.

I hope that Panasonic is not the only camera and lens maker that may read Mr Lam’s open letter.

I want Blackmagic Design, Fujifilm and Olympus to read it and act positively upon it too.

olympus_om-d_e-m1x_20_1024px
Olympus O-MD E-M1X camera with fully-articulated LCD monitor. I relish having fully-articulated monitors on my Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras and use them constantly for photography and video. I am not so enamoured of the two-way, three-way and non-articulating monitors that have been appearing on recent cameras by other manufacturers including Fujifilm, Sony and now Panasonic in its S Series cameras. Full articulation, please, camera makers. 

Manual focus and focus-pulling for video with mirrorless hybrid camera should not have to suck.

I am beyond tired of it sucking on the cameras that I try out and consider for purchase.

I am tired of having to mention it all the time in my articles in the hopes of things changing for the better.

I am sure that my contacts at the camera and lens companies are tired of me and reportedly many others asking them to lift their game.

Mr Lam makes a number of other excellent suggestions on page two of his article as published by DPReview, or you may wish to read it at source, at Mr Lam’s The Right Lens web log below.

For good measure, here is his list of other necessary features, all of which I agree with:

Other Good-to-have Features

While we are at it, here are some good-to-have features that I’d like to see in the Lumix-S system. But they are not nearly as important as a good focus control system.

– GH5-style Flip-out Screen. It is already so good. Don’t change it.

– High-bright Screen. Make it viewable under sunlight. I know it eats battery and heats up quick. But it really is super useful outdoor.

– Internal ND

– 4K 10-bit Log 60fps

– Build-in Video Transmitter or make it an add-on module that is highly integrated with the camera. Monitoring thru WiFi isn’t reliable enough. (I know I am getting greedy…)

– Sturdy, Positive-locking Lens Mount. For the time when we do use a cinema lens. (Just like the mount upgrade option on the Canon C300 MK2)

– Ergonomics. For the video-centric pro model, please, don’t make it too large, otherwise the whole talk about small cameras getting good focus control becomes moot. At least give us one video-centric model with DSLR-like form factor. And please, for god’s sake, don’t make it shaped like the Canon C100 / C300. They have the worst ergonomics.

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Two of Panasonic’s First Three Lenses for Lumix S1 and S1R 35mm Sensor Cameras Have Manual Clutch Focus. Yay!

I have been asking Panasonic, either directly or through friendly staff members, to ensure that new lenses for its Micro Four Thirds system cameras have manual clutch focus built in for years now, always without positive result. Until now, sort of… 

panasonic_lumix_s1_s1r_three_lenses_1024px
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4.0 OIS telephoto zoom, Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 fast prime lens and Panasonic Lumix 24-105mm f/4.0 Macro OIS standard zoom lens. The first two lenses have manual clutch focus.

The very first M43 lens I bought for my first M43 camera was the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens, and besides its many excellent optical and mechanical qualities, the biggest reason I chose it over Panasonic’s own Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 II Aspheric Power OIS standard zoom was its manual clutch focus mechanism.

Coming from decades of relying on non-autofocus, non-autoexposure cameras equipped with manual-only prime lenses, I was not ready to fully commit my photography and cinematography practises to focus-by-wire prime and zoom lenses without hard stops at both ends of the focussing scale.

There have been many times in recent years when the only way of achieving fast and deadly accurate focus has been manually, with my 12-40mm M.Zuiko Pro lens most often on my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 rangefinder-style camera, in conditions where my focus-by-wire and autofocus-only lenses have let me down.

With the 12-40mm, all one needs do is snap the focussing ring towards myself, rotate it a little until the required part of the image pops into sharp focus, then shoot.

Manual clutch focussing mechanisms offer a surety of fast, repeatable, accurate focusing that autofocusing does not and, and when I was considering investing in Fujifilm’s X-System cameras and lenses, I was pleased to discover that it offers three manual clutch focus lenses.

I wish that every Fujifilm Fujinon XF and GF lens had manual clutch focus just as I wish the same for all of Panasonic’s Leica and Lumix M43 lenses.

That lack of manual clutch focus in the latter lens system heavily tipped the balance for me towards Olympus’ M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lenses and I hope to be investing in more of them soon.

I had thought that Panasonic was impervious to the idea of manual clutch focus for any of its lenses, until perusing photographs of the first three Panasonic S-Series lenses and discovered that, lo and behold, two of the three have manual clutch focussing mechanisms.

Thank you, Panasonic!

I hope that many more S-Series lenses will follow this fine example.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4.0 OIS and Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 lenses, both with manual clutch focus

Aperture ring on the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 lens

A second welcome feature of one out of Panasonic’s three new S-Series lenses is the aperture ring on the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 lens.

My ideal lens form factor for documentary stills and video in all sensor formats would include manual clutch focus to supplement the choice of linear or non-linear focus-by-wire, and an aperture ring with the choice of clickless or clicking stops.

Perfect!

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James Miller’s DELUTS Releases DELUTS Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Creative Looks

https://sellfy.com/p/gg0m/

“DELUTS BMPCC4K Creative Looks, Base transforms for use with Blackmagic ‘Film’ profile for use with BRAW and ProRes.

75 Luts designed for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (This set is also compatable with Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6k & Blackmagic Ursa Mini 4.6k Pro using ‘Film’ profile)

• 4 Base Tranforms when working with the Blackmagic Film profile.
• 9 Monotone Creative Looks
• 62 Colour Creative Looks

Davinci Resolve Legacy .cube format Luts. For use in FCPx (Version 4 or Higher), Adobe Premiere Pro CC, Adobe Photoshop, Davinci Resolve and many more supporting applications.

Luts supplied in x64, x33 and x17 resolution. Use x64 for Davinci Resolve, x33 for FCPx and limited adjustment layers with Adobe Premiere CC, x17 for Adobe Premiere CC general use….”

James Miller’s DELUTS Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K Creative LUTs for use with Blackmagic raw aka BRAW and Blackmagic camera film profiles.

Commentary

Director/cinematographer James Miller creates and sells creative looks LUTs under the DELUTS brand, and supplies to moviemakers looking for fast, efficient ways of adding strong, emotive looks to their footage.

Mr Miller’s latest DELUTS release is aimed at users of Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K, as well as other cameras using Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic RAW raw video codec such as the Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro.

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Sony 128GB M-Series UHS-II SDXC Memory Cards 2-Pack, R: 260 MB/s, W: 100 MB/s

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Blackmagic Design: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K ‘Balloons’ [Extreme outdoors lighting test, by Andreas Neumann]

“Andreas Neumann talks about using the new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K for the first time. ‘Balloons’ is Andreas’ extreme lighting test as he constantly shoots directly into the sun, wide open. ‘Balloons’ documents the camera’s performance from 5am in the morning into the height of the midday sun.

“I shot this test at Temecula in California, shooting from dawn until midday. This was a challenging environment for any camera, because I was constantly shooting into the light, or with the sun directly behind people’s faces. The detail I got was incredible. You can see everything reflecting in my wife’s Chanel glasses. You can actually see reflections off the ground, the balloon above, and the sky in the background. The camera really did capture everything I was seeing. I love shooting directly into the light wide open, and with this camera you could safely do that. I was totally amazed at what the micro four thirds sensor could handle. It seemed like the same quality as the URSA Mini Pro with the full sensor. I was also very surprised at how well the back-screen performed in bright sunlight, where I could truly see every detail.”

blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_bmpcc4k_04_1024px_60pc
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens and mini-XLR-to-XLR audio cable for attaching XLR microphones, mounted on Benro Aero 4 Video Travel Angel Tripod Kit. Mini-XLR cable is made by Blackmagic Design for their Video Assist monitor/recorder but is also great for connecting XLR microphones to the BMPCC 4K, product code HYPERD/AXLRMINI2.

Commentary

The footage keeps on coming as US moviemaker Andreas Neumann shows off the low-angle, low-level lighting capability of the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K with this video shot with Rokinon 24, 50 and 80mm cinema prime lenses.

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Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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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 professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

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  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K ‘Models Walking at Night’ [Second clip from the BMPCC 4K with skin tones, by John Brawley]

“John Brawley shares his experiences with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. ‘Models Walking at Night’ is his second camera test where he was checking out the camera’s higher dynamic range and color accuracy.

“What I wanted to achieve was to test the dynamic range, but to still come up with some really great looking images. Having that higher dynamic range and a high bit depth file, means you have a lot of wriggle-room to correct anything that needs to be balanced. This extra range lets you manage and massage the image to get you into a really nice place. You’re not fighting the codec or the dynamic range of the camera.”

“The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K gives you a ton of options. If you want to take it warmer, darker or cooler, you now have so much latitude in terms of dynamic range and depth of color. With this camera you just have so much extra choice, because you can take the image whereever you want. And that’s the truly great thing about having such a vibrant and high precision image!”

blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_bmpcc4k_04_1024px_60pc
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens and mini-XLR-to-XLR audio cable for attaching XLR microphones, mounted on Benro Aero 4 Video Travel Angel Tripod Kit. Mini-XLR cable is made by Blackmagic Design for their Video Assist monitor/recorder but is also great for connecting XLR microphones to the BMPCC 4K, product code HYPERD/AXLRMINI2.

Commentary

This is the second in a series of three videos by Australian Director of Photography John Brawley that explore some of the capabilities of Australian-based Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pockets Cinema Camera 4K, due for release sometime later this year.

Mr Brawley is an exponent of the benefits of shooting video in Micro Four Thirds, and has an extensive collection of Olympus M43 lenses.

In this series of videos, he is using various lenses from the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro collection to great effect, not so hard to do given the manual clutch focus mechanism on these lenses for easier focus pulling and pinpoint manual focus accuracy.

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Help support ‘Untitled’

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 professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

Clicking on the links below and purchasing through them or our affiliate accounts at B&H Photo Video, SmallRig or Think Tank Photo helps us continue our work for ‘Untitled’.

  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
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  • Breakthrough PhotographyB&H – the finest brass traction-framed ND, UV and CPL filters as well as the best step-up rings (sadly only sold direct on the company’s own website at present).
  • Chiaro Premium UV Protection FiltersB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
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  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H

Blackmagic Design: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K ‘Models Walking in Daylight’ [First footage from the BMPCC 4K with skin tones, by John Brawley]

“John Brawley talks about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K for the first time. ‘Models Walking in Daylight’ is his first camera test where he checked out the camera’s ability to handle different skin tones.

“The whole point to this daylight test was to see how the camera handled skin tones. We were shooting these scenes later in the afternoon, so I was at ISO1000 or 1250, so it was at the lower ISO for this camera. I understand this gives more in dynamic range, so you have a little bit more highlight-headroom there. When I look at those shots now, I am really impressed at how good the dynamic range is. It is great to see all of that detail I was seeing was actually captured in those shots.”

“I don’t think people realize how easy it is to make things look cinematic with Micro Four Thirds! I know that there are a lot of people who like that 35mm full frame look, but it’s still very easy to get images with an out of focus background with the Micro Four Thirds sensor. I found it a great 4K sensor and really good compromise for a small camera that still gets really, really good looking pictures.”

blackmagic_pocket_cinema_camera_4k_bmpcc4k_04_1024px_60pc
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro standard zoom lens and mini-XLR-to-XLR audio cable for attaching XLR microphones, mounted on Benro Aero 4 Video Travel Angel Tripod Kit. Mini-XLR cable is made by Blackmagic Design for their Video Assist monitor/recorder but is also great for connecting XLR microphones to the BMPCC 4K, product code HYPERD/AXLRMINI2.

Commentary

This is the first in a series of three videos by Australian Director of Photography John Brawley that explore some of the capabilities of Australian-based Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pockets Cinema Camera 4K, due for release sometime later this year.

Mr Brawley is an exponent of the benefits of shooting video in Micro Four Thirds, and has an extensive collection of Olympus M43 lenses.

In this series of videos, he is using various lenses from the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro collection to great effect, not so hard to do given the manual clutch focus mechanism on these lenses for easier focus pulling and pinpoint manual focus accuracy.

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Help support ‘Untitled’

olympus_m.zuiko_pro_17mm_25mm_45mm_f1.2_primes_hero_1024px_60%
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 professional prime lenses with manual clutch focusing, brilliant for shooting video or stills where accurate focus is absolutely critical.

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

  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • Blackmagic Design Mini XLR Cable for Video Assist/4K (Set of 2, 19.5″)B&H
  • Breakthrough PhotographyB&H – the finest brass traction-framed ND, UV and CPL filters as well as the best step-up rings (sadly only sold direct on the company’s own website at present).
  • Chiaro Premium UV Protection FiltersB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H

Blackmagic Design: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K ‘Nature’ [First footage from the BMPCC 4K, by Mark Wyatt]

“Mark Wyatt talks about using the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. ‘Nature’ is Mark’s test of the camera’s 4K performance in the extreme lighting conditions of rainforests and ravines.

“The camera tests I wanted to do were in the forests and waterfalls on the outer West Coast of Canada. I was really interested in seeing how the new sensor would handle these harsh lighting conditions. By increasing the ISO to an impressive 1250 and 2500, it allowed me to capture the dark moss-lined walls and unique emerald color, yet also hold onto the highlight detail of the top of the waterfall and sky. I feel most cameras would likely struggle with this scene.”

“I had the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K for only a few days, but overall I was really impressed by it. The weight of the camera is very liberating, especially when you are used to using larger camera systems. The screen is big and bright enough to use in daylight, which I found great for judging focus and exposure. And, the colors too on the screen, were also nicely represented. In fact, I would argue it is Blackmagic’s best screen yet.”…”

8sinn_bmpcc4k_preview_03_1024px_80pc
Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K in 8Sinn camera cage with Canon 24mm cinema prime lens.

Commentary

It is terrific to see the first footage from Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K finally begin to appear.

Now we need some footage containing skin tones in order to really begin to understand what the camera is capable of!

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Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro lens with manual clutch focussing.

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4/3 Rumors: Newly published Olympus patent confirms a 12mm f/1.2 PRO lens is coming

https://www.43rumors.com/newly-published-olympus-patent-confirms-a-12mm-f-1-2-pro/

“Back in 2017 we told you that Olympus is developing and will launch a new 12mm f/1.2 PRO lens. We now found a brand newly published patent describing the lens specs in three slightly different version…”

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The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens line-up as of late October 2017. Soon, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/1.2 Pro?

Right now Olympus’ professional-quality M.Zuiko lineup includes three fast rectilinear prime lenses – 17mm f/1.2, 25mm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2 – and it is reassuring to know that the 12mm f/1.2 is on its way possibly to be released in 2018.

All good camera systems, especially if aimed at and used by professionals, need a full and well-spaced set of matched prime and zoom lenses, a fact that Canon, Leica and Nikon worked out decades ago and upon which they built their credibility and success.

Mirrorless cameras other than the Leica M-System such as Olympus and Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds, Fujifilm’s APS-C and Sony’s APS-C and 35mm systems, need the same optical advantage in order to approach Canon, Leica and Nikon, and would do well to follow their lead.

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Leica Summilux and Summicron lenses from 21mm through to 90mm for Leica M-System rangefinder cameras.

Olympus is doing well in that regard but gaps remain in their M.Zuiko Pro prime lens line-up with the most obvious being the 10.5mm, 12mm, 14mm and 37.5mm focal lengths.

I recall that 4/3 Rumors shared news of Olympus 12mm and 14mm fast aperture lens designs back in 2017 and I look forward to the announcement and launch of the 12mm f/1.2 M.Zuiko Pro lens sometime this year.

The 12mm focal length is one of my least preferred focal lengths though, whether for stills or video, and I would much prefer 10.5mm as a super wide-angle lens for deeply immersive documentary photography and moviemaking.

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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 professional prime lenses.

While I am grateful that Olympus released its 17mm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2 M.Zuiko primes recently, 14mm and 37.5mm (28mm and 75mm in the 35mm sensor format) is a more effective lens pair for two-camera, two-lens documentary work in stills and moving image production.

Not all Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime lenses need to have a maximum aperture of f/1.2.

Although some super-fast prime lenses are of real benefit in any professional lens kit, many prime lens focal lengths are perfectly useful even if a little slower, such as f/2.0, so long as they share all the other positive traits of the M.Zuiko lens collection such as manual clutch focus.

Professional stills and video cameras in the M43 format are now roaring ahead with the Olympus Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, DC-GH5S, DC-G9 and DMC-GX8 (soon to be upgraded to the GX9, one hopes), and they deserve a range of equally professional and well-spaced, colour-matched lenses to suit.

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Leica Apo-Summicron-M 75mm f/2.0 Aspheric, one of my favourite lenses for two-camera, two-lens documentary photography. Fujifilm makes an APS-C F-Mount equivalent in its Fujinon XF 50mm f/2.0 WR but to date there is no equivalent in Micro Four Thirds.

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

  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital MC-14 1.4x TeleconverterB&H
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera  – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H

Ming Thein: Review: The Olympus M.Zuiko 17/1.2 PRO

https://blog.mingthein.com/2018/01/01/review-the-olympus-m-zuiko-17-1-2-pro/

“… The lens is incredibly sharp even when shooting wide open. The sharpness is uniform from edge to edge. The bokeh is beautiful and soft, resulting in pleasing and natural looking images. Technical flaws are well controlled with no noticeable distortion, minimal chromatic aberration and good flare control. AF is speedy and reliable. the lens just works and it exceeded my expectations….

… Of the three F1.2 lenses, I am surprised to conclude that this 17mm F1.2 is my personal favourite.”

The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 Pro prime lens, equivalent to 23mm in APS-C/Super 35 and 35mm in the 35mm sensor format. Note the retracted focussing ring for manual clutch focus, invaluable for shooting video.

Commentary

I have been recommending the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro collection of fast maximum aperture prime and zoom lenses for their many attributes of use to cinematographers – their affordability and low weight and small size compared to their 35mm sensor format equivalents, mechanical durability, weather resistance and high optical quality as well as their small set of filter diameters allowing for a smaller set of step-up rings and neutral density filters.

The recent addition by Panasonic of the ability to allocate lens-related, barrel-mounted L-Fn functionality to M.Zuiko Pro lenses via firmware when used on the GH5 has added yet another reason to seriously consider M.Zuiko Pro lenses for video production.

I hope that Panasonic will add that L-Fn functionality to the G9, GH4 and GX8 as well as other Lumix cameras in a new set of firmware updates.

Size, weight, price and capability are relative traits.

Ming Thein reviewer Robin Wong writes:

A genuine concern, however, is the diminishing benefit of Micro Four Thirds systems having smaller, more portable lenses. These new F1.2 PRO lenses are no smaller or lighter than their DSLR counterparts.

Maybe so, and at USD1,199.00 the three M.Zuiko Pro prime lenses are not a great deal cheaper than their f/1.2 Canon equivalents in the EF 50mm f/1.2L USM and EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lenses, but the GH5 possesses video production traits simply not available on Canon EOS DSLRs.

I have not tried any of the Olympus M.Zuiko f/1.8 lenses to which Mr Wong compares the M.Zuiko Pro primes, but have used and owned some of Panasonic’s excellent and affordable little f/1.7 or slower Lumix G prime lenses which are well-matched to the smaller Lumix cameras for fast, discrete stills photography.

Professional video production is something else, often demanding the use of step-up rings, variable and fixed ND filters of 77m or 82mm filter diameters, follow focus devices and focus gearing slipped over manual clutch focus rings for accurate and repeatable focus.

Try doing all that with, say, Panasonic’s Lumix G 14mm f/2.5 II, Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 Aspheric, Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II Aspheric, Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric, Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 Aspheric or Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 Aspheric Power OIS lenses.

Earlier today I was travelling down suburban streets emptied by withering 40-degree-plus laser-beam sunlight, with Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens mounted on the GH5 and a couple of other small Lumix G lenses on standby should I spot a likely fellow citizen to commemorate with 10-bit 4:2:2 4K HLG HDR video footage.

The 25mm had a Heliopan 46-77mm brass step-up ring mounted on its front, attached to a Genustech 77mm Eclipse ND Fader variable neutral density filter.

Other f/1.7 lenses have even smaller filter diameters and even shorter barrels, ruling out easy manual focussing by hand or with a follow focus.

In my estimation, and my experience with the 12-40mm f/2.8 and other zoom lenses in the M.Zuiko Pro collection, their size and weight are just about right for serious video production.

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Help support ‘Untitled’

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

  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM LensB&H
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.2 PRO LensB&H
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera  – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera (Body Only)B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H