Kim Cruz: Panasonic 25mm 1.7 vs 42.5mm 1.7 for B ROLL- watch before buying!

“Which lens is better for b roll? Which is better for the buck? Today we’ll look at 2 highly acclaimed lenses from the M43 system in this Panasonic shootout for B ROLL!…”

Commentary

One of the many joys of Micro Four Thirds hybrid mirrorless cameras is their range of price points from affordable through to high-end and the same is true of lenses, making the M43 sensor format attractive to those of us just breaking into stills and video as well as more experienced practitioners.

While I often write about flagship M43 cameras and lenses here, I also use and value lower priced M43 gear for its affordability, smaller size and weight and its usefulness for discrete photography and b-roll video especially in multi-camera set-ups.

New vlogger Kim Cruz has recently produced some short, sharp videos about some of these affordable choices.

Lest one succumb to the commonly held belief that M43 sensor photographs cannot look as good as those from larger sensor cameras, I recommend trying out DxO PhotoLab and its companion applications for processing your M43 raw files.

I received a Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric prime lens with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera as part of a promotion at the time and often use it for available darkness stills and video as well as in conjunction with the GX8’s wonderful tilting electronic viewfinder aka EVF when emulating the look of my former Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex cameras.

Other small Micro Four Thirds prime lenses for stills and video

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aurora-aperture_powerxnd_2000_variable_neutral_density_filter_46mm_01_1024px_80pc
Aurora-Aperture 46mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops)

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

  • Aurora-Aperture 37mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops)B&H – Top quality variable neutral density aka VND filters are a great choice for fast-moving documentary cinematography as opposed to a set of fixed density neutral density filters. Small, narrow filter diameter lenses like the ones discussed by Kim Cruz in these videos can benefit from having their own native-sized VND filters attached when shooting video due to the size and weight of stacking up step-up rings to attach 77mm or 82mm ND or VND filters.
  • Aurora-Aperture 46mm PowerXND 2000 Variable Neutral Density 1.2 to 3.3 Filter (4 to 11 Stops)B&H
  • Chiaro brass UV protection filtersB&H – I recommend brass filters for lens protection as they are not susceptible to binding like many aluminium-framed filters. Chiaro makes an excellent collection of brass-framed UV filters in filter diameter sizes from 37mm through to 122mm.
  • Heliopan 37-46mm Step-Up Ring (#745)B&H – I use a variety of brass step-up rings made by Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan and Sensei Pro. Brass step-up rings are best to avoid binding but they cost and weigh a little more than aluminium step-up rings. I like Breakthrough Photography’s step-rings the best due to their unique heavily-knurled traction frame but the company does not make all the sizes you may need such as 37mm, 40.5mm and 43mm.
  • Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f/1.8 LensB&H – Filter diameter = 46mm.
  • Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH. LensB&H– Filter diameter = 46mm.
  • Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. LensB&H – Filter diameter = 67mm.
  • Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 II ASPH. Lens (Black)B&H – Equivalent in 35mm sensor terms to the 40mm “perfect normal” focal length, this pancake lens is better suited to stills photography than video but is a much-loved focal length for many movie directors and stills photographers. Filter diameter = 46mm.
  • Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 ASPH. LensB&H – Filter diameter = 46mm.
  • Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. LensB&H – Filter diameter = 37mm.

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

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

jtz_dp30_cage_plus_for_gh5s_gh5_gh4_gh3_square_01_1024px_60%
The JTZ DP30 camera cage and shoulder- mount kit for mirrorless cameras like Panasonic’s Lumix GH5S, GH5 and GH4.

Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commentary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ADATA Releases Superfast Premier ONE UHS-II Class 10 (U3) V90 SDXC Memory Cards for High-End Moviemaking

Although ADATA is not a brand I have encountered before, ADATA Technology Co., Ltd. has suddenly staked its claim to moviemakers’ and photographers’ attention with the release of its Premier ONE SDXC UHS-II U3 Class 10 memory card trio in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB sizes. 

SD card speeds and capacities have been something of a moving target since Panasonic announced that its Lumix GH5 hybrid stills/video camera would be reaching a firmware update later in 2017 to add 400 Mbps 4:2:2 10-bit All-Intra video recording in 4K 30p, 25p, and 24p as well as Full HD. Will that make extra demands on SD cards? Time and the experts will tell.

I am no expert, especially on the subject of memory cards, but have sought the advice of proven experts in the past when it comes to the best SD card for shooting high bitrate 4K DCI and UHD video on cameras like Panasonic’s Lumix GH4.

Given the GH5 has yet to be released for sale in many parts of the world – I only managed to see and briefly handle a GH5 for the first time last Saturday – the jury is out regarding the best cards for now and in future.

If Sol March of Suggestion of Motion reactivates his blog soon then it may prove to be an authoritative source for hard facts on the GH5 as a documentary moviemaker’s video camera and, specifically, what SD cards will work best with it and its various modes.

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This is the Video that Convinced Me Panasonic’s GH5 4K 4:2:2 Stabilized Autofocus Camera is Ready for Serious Handheld Documentary Production

Panasonic’s amazing new Lumix GH5 Super 16/Micro Four Thirds 4K 4:2:2 10-bit camera combines eagerly-anticipated autofocus functionality with what may be the best stabilization going right now, but videos clearly demonstrating both feature sets in action have descended into something of a fanboy slanging match. 

It was a relief, then, to come across a short movie that does the job straight off the bat, effectively and without commenter conflicts or fanboyisms, showing off the benefits of the GH5’s autofocus and in-body image stabilization for video along with the optical beauty of the Olympus M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens.

Goodbye shakeycam, your time is done.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens lineup as of April 2017, and it is rumoured that 17mmm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2 primes are in development. From left: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 f/4.0 IS Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro and M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro. I look forward to Olympus adding more fast professional-quality colour-matched primes to the M.Zuiko Pro lens lineup.

I am partial to the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lens range for documentary work, not least for the lenses’ matched colour rendering as well as their weather resistance, solid build and repeatable quarter-turn manual clutch focus.

Some cinematographers have dismissed Olympus M43 lenses for uncinematic colour rendering but the needs of documentary moviemaking can be very different to those of feature film production and different again to stills photography.

I have found Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses to be excellent for documentary photography and video, with the zooms exhibiting minimal optical curvature that can be corrected in raw processing software recognizing imported or EXIF-based lens profiles.

Curvature can be more of a problem in video if the scene contains parallel vertical or horizontal lines as in architecture, but the M.Zuiko Pro primes appear to be very well optically corrected.

Olympus seems to be on the path towards finally fully realizing a current pipe dream, a full-featured, colour-matched set of top-quality professional-standard prime and zoom lenses for video and stills production.

Panasonic, Olympus’ partner in the Micro Four Thirds System Standard Group, is following a different path with two parallel lines of lenses, its Leica and Lumix zooms and primes, neither of which contains as many focal length options as the M.Zuiko Pro collection.

Micro Four Thirds critics railed against the format for its small choice of lenses for years despite the large number of MFT lens makers amongst the MFT System group’s membership and outside it.

It is a sign of Micro Four Thirds’ acceptance and maturation that photographers and moviemakers now look for matched sets of lenses in a range of focal lengths like those now being produced by Olympus, Panasonic, Voigtlaender, Veydra and others.

There can never be too much stability when handholding cameras for stills and video. A well-designed camera cage like this from Seercam boosts stability by offering a little extra weight (but not too much) and plenty of good, solid grip. More GH5 cage options are appearing now, and my favourite for one-person documentary moviemaking is this one while I would choose 8Sinn’s smaller, sleeker cage for shooting big-crew feature films with geared prime lens sets like those made by Veydra, or Duclos’ modded Voigtlaender f/0.95 Nokton primes.

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Image Credits

Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris.

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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

Fujifilm Announces Two Massive X-Pro2 and X-T2 Firmware Updates Due Late March and Late May

Fujifilm has a well-deserved reputation for its Kaizen – continuous improvement – firmware updates, a practice I first encountered with my first Fujifilm digital camera, the classic rangefinder-style Finepix X100S. The X100’s updates turned a revolutionary camera into one that remains fun to use and usable for documentary photography assignments to this day. And now, Fujifilm is set to outdo itself with a massive list of firmware improvements to its two flagship cameras, the rangefinder-style X-Pro2 and the DSLR-style X-T2. Happy days.

The coming X-Pro2 and X-T2 firmware updates will further differentiate the two flagship Fujifilm APS-C cameras, with more video features for the latter and operational speed and efficiency gains for the former. I still want to see better video support in the X-Pro2 even if it remains at 1080p instead of 4K.
The X-T2 has the potential to fill the Super 35 4K gap left by Samsung killing off the revolutionary Samsung NX1 and NX500 cameras, but Fujifilm’s imminent firmware update does not include DCI 4K and zebras for fast, accurate judgement of correct exposure. Will these crucial features be coming in a third update later this year?

The full firmware list contains a record-breaking 33 new and improved items of which 27 will appear in late March and the final 6 in late May. Some are for both the X-Pro2 and X-T2, some are for the X-T2 only and some are for the X-Pro in a catchup with the X-T2’s current feature set.

For the X-T2 only, 😦

The X-T2-only updates indicate that Fujifilm has chosen to increase its differentiation between both cameras’ video capabilities. The X-T2 is about to gain:

  • #14. Activation of the Eye Sensor in video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #15. Change of ISO sensitivity during video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #17. Display live histogram during video recording (X-T2 only).
  • #18. Optimization of external microphone’s input level (X-T2 only).

Other X-T2-only updates indicate other differentiations by Fujifilm between its flagship cameras, in tethering and for portraiture and other genres often requiring vertical orientation of the camera:

  • #22. Automatic vertical GUI for LCD (X-T2 only).
  • #28. Support for computer tethering via Wi-Fi (X-T2 only).

Tethering, the ability to connect cameras to computers by wire or Wi-Fi, has been an accepted, often client-demanded, tool in commercial photography for some time now and has been well supported by medium format and DSLR camera makers, and some raw processing software. USB tethering recently came to the X-T2 via standalone software and plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom.

Many of the new and improved firmware items for both cameras are welcome indeed, speeding up their accuracy and operability. Some may have limited usefulness while one glaring omission from the firmware of both camera remains AWOL – zebras.

AWOL, an immigrant from video world

Zebras for ensuring accurate exposure are welcome immigrants from the world of video camcorders and high-end stills/video hybrid cameras like Panasonic’s Super 16/Micro Four Thirds GH4, GX8 and the new GH5.

Zebras have rapidly proven themselves just as useful for stills as for video, helping combat the all-too-prevalent problem of overexposure that pushes high values over the shoulder into unrecoverable burn-out territory.

High value or highlight burn-out is as problematic in stills as it is in video, whether one is shooting raw or JPEG files. Although extreme high values can be recovered to some degree in raw files with recovery function sliders – going under names like “whites” or ‘highlight” in raw processing software – doing so in video or for JPEGs results in muddy high values that can become an eye trap for viewers.

Eye traps are areas in the frame that draw viewers’ attention at the expense of the most meaningful objects in the image, weakening its message and damaging effective storytelling. Hard-edged burnt-out bright patches are particular eye-trap culprits even when their values are lowered in post-processing.

Avoiding burn-out and needless processing

Far better to avoid the burn-out eye-trap problem and fruitless correction work in post-production altogether by getting exposure right in the first place, and that is where zebras excel compared with histograms.

International Womens' Day March, Sydney, 2017

Above: Photographing in high dynamic range environments like this can be challenging when trying to achieve correct exposure without burning out the high values. Here I used exposure zebras on a Panasonic Lumix GH4 to ensure the best exposure of sky and footpath then raised the middle and low values in a raw processor. 

Histograms have their uses in assessing your scene or subject’s dynamic range and determining whether to add a light or accept low value details that can be raised in grading or raw processing.

Both the X-Pro2 and X-T2 have histograms that could be improved by enlargement and better delineating their right and left edges. Judging then setting accurate exposure via histogram can be a slow process unsuited to the speed and stresses of documentary photography or video.

As cinematographer/director Paul Leeming demonstrates in his tutorial on ETTR – expose to the right – zebras are a fast and accurate exposure method that can benefit photographers and videographers using Fujifilm cameras, should Fujifilm see fit to add it to firmware. Zebras are not included in late March and late May’s firmware.

Useful updates for both cameras

There are plenty of impressive improvements for both cameras, many of which photographers have been requesting for some time now, most notably the following:

  • #3. Programmable long exposure of up to 15 minutes.
  • #6. “AUTO” setting added for the minimum shutter speed in the ISO Auto setting.
  • #7. Faster “Face Detection AF”.
  • #8. Improved in-focus indication in the AF-C mode.
  • #9. Addition of a smaller Focus Point size in Single Point AF.
  • #13. Change of focus frame position while enlarging it.
  • #19. Addition of “Eye Sensor + LCD Image Display” in the View Mode.
  • #23. Name Custom Settings.
  • #24. Copyright information in EXIF data.
  • #25. Voice Memo function.
  • #26. Extended AE Bracketing.
  • #27. Addition of “Shoot Without Card” mode.
  • #31. Addition of “-6” and “-7” to EVF’s brightness setting.
  • #33. Function assignment to the Rear Command Dial.

Having tried shooting HDR with the X-Pro2 and X-T2’s three-bracket-only functionality, I have badly missed the larger bracket range available on many other cameras including my Panasonic Lumix GH4 and GX8.

Some of my favourites for X-Pro2 and X-T2

Number 26, Extended AE Bracketing is particularly welcome. Extreme dynamic range scenes demand five, seven or even nine AE brackets to give a wide enough range for HDR processing in products like Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2017, causing me to rely on other cameras than Fujifilm’s for interior and some exterior HDR work.

I bought my X-Pro2 for the benefits of Fujifilm’s legendary colour rendering and its APS-C sensor as opposed to my other cameras’ Micro Four Thirds sensors, and new feature 26 gives me added incentive to add an X-T2 as a companion to my X-Pro2.

Numbers 24 and 25, Copyright information in EXIF data and Voice Memo function, are invaluable when shooting documentary projects, portraits and similar assignments. Every photograph, not just those shot commercially, needs to have copyright data embedded in its EXIF data from the moment of exposure.

Voice memo functionality is crucial when covering an event or shooting a series of portraits, especially without an assistant. Ever tried making a photograph then whipping out a notebook to jot down your subject’s name and other details? Voice memo features in other brands of cameras name audio files similarly to the photographs they relate to, making them easy to find and transcribe back at home base.

Number 23, Name Custom Settings, is a great improvement over the nuisance of having to remember what subject matter or customized look relates to a cryptically-named custom setting.

Numbers 2 and 3, Extended ISO 125 and 160 selectable and Programmable long exposure of up to 15 minute, are functions that may come in handy for some low light and night scene cityscape projects coming my way soon.

Although I generally stick to ISO 200 or 400 for daylight documentary work, habit and years of successful analog practice means I prefer the lowest ISOs I can get for tripod-mounted small aperture photography. Conversely, Fujifilm’s excellent wide aperture lenses like the XF 56mm f/1.2 R and XF 23mm f1/4 R and their incredible bokeh tempts me to shoot wide open with low ISOs.

Cable releases and remote releases are increasingly becoming things of the past for long-exposure photography as well as all-to—easily forgotten or lose on location so I suspect programmable long exposures will be lifesavers.

Number 9, Addition of a smaller Focus Point size in Single Point AF, brings the X-T2 and X-Pro2’s focus point size choice to six with pinpoint focussing, crucial when shooting with long lenses on the X-Pro2 and even longer lenses on the X-T2 when picking out the most essential object in a field of them.

I am going to love this one for shooting portraits with the X-Pro2 and the XF 56mm f/1.2 R lens with aperture wide open for razor-sharp highlights in one eye.

Just for the X-Pro2

Several of the 33 items are for the X-Pro2 only, adding features already in the X-T2’s current firmware:

  • #10. Addition of “AF Point Display” (X-Pro2 only – already on X-T2).
  • #11. Addition of “AF-C Custom Setting” (X-Pro2 only – already on X-T2).
  • #20. Shorter EVF display time-lag (X-Pro2 only – already in X-T2).

Number 11, AF-C Custom Setting, adds action-photography autofocus settings that have well-proven themselves on the X-T2 and that I would have loved on the X-Pro2 for covering intense, fast-moving events like demonstrations. Pine no more.

Likewise, number 10, AF Point Display, will bring more surety when covering those same kind of situations as well as fast-moving portrait subjects flitting in and out of inner city crowds.

Number 20, Shorter EVF display time-lag, will be useful in the same circumstances when shooting with the X-Pro2’s EVF. I default to the OVF or ERF-in-OVF most of the time but switch to the EVF when shooting with a monochrome film simulation or my subjects are moving through mixed bright sun and deep shadow.

Times like that you need a sharp eye on your prime subject in order to hit the shutter at exactly the right moment and the less EVF lag the better.

Plenty of gains, some losses

Thirty-three feature additions and updates for two closely-related cameras sharing sensors, processors and more is quite some feat and Fujifilm deserves heaps of praise and kudos for that.

I suspect that most photographers will be very happy indeed with this list, and some have already described it as “awesome!”. Until the firmware appears, and it is clear exactly how each new item or improvement works in practice, we can only guess as to their implementation and usability but, fingers crossed!

The X-T2 wins some great new video features that I have long wanted on the X-Pro2 and that it will not be getting any time soon if at all, it seems. I will be buying an X-T2 soon enough, as a companion to my X-Pro2 instead of the second X-Pro2 I was originally planning on, but right now my next video-centric choice will be Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 due to its full, mature feature set and sheer usability.

I may not be counted amongst “most photographers” given an equal dedication to still and video that seems to be rare in some parts of the world, but then the X-T2 and X-Pro2 are cameras that appeal to photographers whose work and needs are anything but the norm, well beyond what most photographers demand of their cameras and lenses.

Most photographers, from what I see in the streets of this fair city, are more than happy with the many limitations of DSLR cameras but Fujifilm flagship camera users are a very rare and demanding breed.

And that is, to a large degree, Fujifilm’s own fault. At a time when the independent photo and video landscape was dominated by model after model of DSLRs that barely looked any different from each other, the Fujifilm Finepix X100 was a radical breath of fresh air.

It promised so much, then delivered on it with a succession of great firmware updates that set the expectation of brilliant firmware kaizen for every Fujifilm camera coming after it.

The X-Pro2 3.00 and 3.10, and X-T2 2.00 and 2.10, firmware updates continue in that tradition of satisfying high expectations and have extended both cameras’ usability and capabilities.

Gaps do remain, though, and they are mostly on the X-Pro2 side. Not everyone with high expectations loves the DSLR-style form factor of the X-T2 and there are many of us who are digital refugees from Leica rangefinder days or who could never afford their digital M-System cameras and who can now satisfy their rangefinder-style needs with the X-Pro2.

Will the X-Pro3 one day gain what Fujifilm has left out of the X-Pro2?

Will the X-Pro series lag behind the X-T series’ feature set turning the former into stills-only camera and the latter into a stills-plus-video compromise?

Is the rumoured APS-C super camera the one to watch for high-end Super 35 video?

Does Fujifilm have a blind spot for the incredibly useful exposure zebras functionality on its cameras? And if so, why?

I know I will be getting an X-T2 sometime soon, for the subjects and lenses to which its DSLR-style form factor is well-suited.

I know I will continue to love the X-Pro2 for giving me back the rangefinder-style way of documentary photography I had thought had gone forever during the DSLR ascendancy.

I want another X-Pro2 in my documentary kit as a backup and for when Fujifilm comes out with a revamped XF 18mm f/2.0, as wide lens to the XF 50mm f/2.0’s narrower vision.

But like more than a few fellow X-Pro2 users out there, I want to see the X-Pro2 series flagship cameras remain on a near-equal feature-set footing with their X-T series sisters and that demands improving the video features on both.

Is Fujifilm already planning the next pair of firmware updates and are they listening just as intently to their ever-growing user base?

Links: 

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.

img_2985_jpeg_90_quality_sharp_1920px_360ppi-srgb-5
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

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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.
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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.

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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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