Seercam’s Brilliant New Cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 Available Soon, Extension Kit to Follow

My favourite cage for my Panasonic Lumix GH4 camera was made by Motion9, now trading internationally under the Seercam brand name. The only GH4 cage I had ever seen in real life was Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 and if the company’s other GH4 cage, the CubeMix GH4/3 Pro had been available at the time, then I would most definitely have bought that model instead, for its NATO sliding handle and one-touch cable clamp.

Now, Seercam has revealed its cage for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 and it looks like it will be the cage I buy for my GH5, when one finally finds its way into the country and into my hands.

Seercam’s newly-revealed Cube GH5 cage and NATO handle. Extension kit to accommodate the GH5’s DMW XLR1 audio adapter is coming soon.

I took a well-researched gamble on Motion9’s CubeMix GH4/3 and it paid off handsomely. I will be keeping my GH4 as second camera to my GH5 when it eventually arrives and it will be wearing its cage even more then than it does now.

My GH4 will continue to be equipped with its Cube Cage Round Handle, in my experience the most secure design of the two Motion9 top handles, though it does not have the convenience of fast-on, fast-on via NATO rail or the ability to balance the camera’s weight via sliding to and fro.

I would love an updated round handle in the style of the one on Canon’s Cinema EOS cameras, but Seercam’s NATO rail-mounted CubeCage Classic Plus Handle looks tempting as does its quick-release Rod Riser 1565.

I would consider replacing Seercam’s NATO rail with SmallRig’s Quick Release Safety Rail 7cm 1195 though, for its spring-loaded pins to prevent accidental removal. It is the little things that count.

Pity both items are out of stock. Quick-release mechanisms, so long as they mount tightly and securely, are key to working fast and efficiently as an independent, self-funded documentary moviemaker who cannot afford crews and wasting time screwing and unscrewing camera rigging when needing to move fast.

8Sinn’s GH5 cage and handles, especially its Scorpio top handle that can double as a side handle, was the first custom cage for the GH5 to appear online and it has several attractions including its elegance, small size and camera-right hand grip-hugging design.

I have another camera cage now, SmallRig’s 1844 cage for the Panasonic GX8, and through it have come to appreciate the small size and light weight of minimalist camera cages, but for regular through heavy-duty moviemaking when I need to attach a range of accessories to the rig, Motion9/Seercam’s beautifully conceived, brilliantly designed and expertly manufactured cages are my go-to standard.

You can see why in the photographs below. For your product comparison convenience, links to other current GH5 cages are listed at the base of this article.

Seercam’s Cube GH5 body and handle

Coming soon: extension kit for placing handle over DMW XLR1 audio adapter

Of all the GH5 cages listed below, those by 8Sinn and Seercam remain at the top of my wishlist.

If I were shooting features as part of a small crew alongside a camera assistant and audio recordist then I would choose 8Sinn’s cage along with Veydra or Duclos’ Voigtlaender ciné-modded native M43 prime lenses and follow focus device.

While Veydra cinema primes deliver a more standardized look that gets out of the way of the story, Voigtlaender’s faster optics produce quirkier looks that can enhance certain types of stories.

If shooting documentaries as a doing-it-all-myself one-person crew then hands-down I would chose Seercam’s GH5 cage along with Olympus M.Zuiko Pro zoom and prime lenses though I may add one or two Panasonic lenses for the benefits of extra stabilization and DFD – Depth from Defocus.

I really like M.Zuiko Pro lenses’ repeatable hard-stop manual clutch focus mechanism, build quality, durability and colour consistency across the range, and can sacrifice some stabilization for the sake of all that. They are terrific for video as well as stills photography.

There was some consternation about the Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8’s inability to accept screw-on filters when it first appeared, as there was about Panasonic’s Lumix 7.14mm f/4.0 lens, but some third-party filter adapter solutions for square or rectangular filters have appeared:

Links:

Stolen! Veydra’s Inventory of Veydra Mini Prime Lenses Gone in a Flash

Veydra proprietor Ryan Avery has reported the theft of over 200 Veydra Mini Prime manual-focus cinema lenses purpose-designed for Micro Four Thirds hybrid cameras and camcorders from his premises in Los Angeles.  Please be on alert for the sudden appearance of heavily discounted Veydra lenses in your area and email Mr Avery if necessary. 

The current Veydra Mini Primes T2.2 cinema lens lineup featuring, from left, 12mm, 16mm, 19mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm. All can be used on Micro Four Thirds cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH5 while a subset can work on Sony E-Mount cameras. C-Mount versions are also available.

Veydra Mini Primes are the only purpose-built cinema-quality native Micro Four Thirds lenses, with five out of the current seven-strong lineup having the same dimensions for fast, easy swapping in and out of follow focus rigs.

Being colour matched, Veydra lenses have the same colour rendering characteristics, eliminating the need for painstaking, time-consuming shot-by-shot colour matching in your non-linear editor or colour grading software.

All Veydra lenses have a common front diameter allowing for industry-standard 77mm diameter filters and step-up rings, 0.8 pitch cinema gears for follow focus devices, constant volume focus, constant T-stops and are available in metric or imperial measurements. Their specifications exceed 4K resolution.

Empty shelves in Veydra’s storeroom. Looks like they raided the vending machine too.

Given they are the product of a small, independent design and manufacturing team, Veydra Mini Primes are a remarkable achievement bringing true cinema-quality lenses within the reach of self-funded, low-budget independent moviemakers.

A six-lens kit of Veydra M43 lenses from 12mm through to 85mm costs about the same as one major brand Super 35 cinema lens adapted with, say, a Metabones Speed Booster.

A Super 16 feature film marriage made in heaven?

Given the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5’s 5-axis in-body image stabilization, recently put to the test by Gordon Laing of CameraLabs, non-stabilized lenses like the Veydras have become even more attractive, especially when making feature films. Consider a Veydra, GH5, 8Sinn cage and Fotga follow focus combination as below, for example.

Although Sol March of Suggestion of Motion suggests that we not rely too much on stabilized lenses, some documentary moviemakers like Rick Young of Movie Machine are fans of stabilized zoom lenses such as Panasonic’s Lumix G lenses.

One thing is certain, stabilized or non-stabilized lenses, cinema primes, stills primes or zoom lenses, whichever brand they are, the advent of in-body image stabilization on the GH5 is a game changer permitting even wider lens choice and I hope that Fujifilm follows suit on IBIS with its rumoured Super 35 “best APS-C camera for video work”.

Links:

Image Credits:

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Needing Early Access to Raw Files from Soon-To-Be-Released Cameras?

Conversations with staff at companies developing image editing and raw processing software has revealed the need for early access to raw files from cameras due for imminent release so their software can support them. Camera makers don’t, it seems, have the close relationship with software makers that photographers might hope they would. 

But there is one way around that. Look online for raw files from pre-production cameras. While camera brand ambassadors do not, as a rule, share raw files often due to their firmware being alpha or beta and too soon before release, some reviewers seem to get hold of late pre-production or production-ready cameras before they go on sale.

One such camera review website is Imaging Resource and it is currently sharing raw files from two about-to-be-released cameras with another due soon, as follows:

There may be other sites where raw files can be found; simply search using the name of the camera plus the words raw and samples.

Image Credits:

Header image concept and design by Carmel D. Morris.

Australian Photojournalist Daniel Berehulak Wins World Press Photo 2017 General News Story 1st Prize

Pulitzer Prize-winning Australian expatriate photojournalist Daniel Berehulak has been awarded first prize for his General News photo story on the drug addict executions situation in the Philippines in the World Press Photo 2017 Photo Contest. (At time of writing the WPP 2017 website is being hammered and pages are refusing to load.) 

Congratulations to Daniel Berehulak for his win and for working on one of the most important stories of our time.

In common with many Australian newspaper and magazine photographers, Mr Berehulak moved overseas some years ago to further his freelance photojournalism career. However, his Australian connection remains strong as a brand ambassador for Panasonic’s Lumix flagship cameras and lenses.

Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera systems are increasingly being chosen by photojournalists for their light weight, compact size , small lenses and high image quality rivalling if not surpassing that of photojournalism’s former analog mainstay 35mm cameras when loaded with slow colour and medium high speed monochrome film.

Results obtained with M43 cameras often remind me of what I used to get on my 6×4.5cm and 6x6cm 120 roll film cameras while the image quality from APS-C cameras like those made by Fujifilm is reminiscent of results from larger 120 roll film formats like 6x8cm, 6x9cm and wider.

Meanwhile digital medium format cameras systems like Fujifilm’s coming GFX 50S approach if not surpass the image quality once obtained from sheet film. The newspaper and magazine photography career opportunities we once had may not exist anymore but at least our choice of digital camera types and sensor sizes is approaching the wide variety of analog cameras that once existed.

Links:

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.