Last month at the CP+ show in Yokohama we spoke to executives from several major manufacturers, including Sigma. In our conversation with CEO Kazuto Yamaki we discussed his plans for future L-mount lenses (and cameras) and some of the challenges of supporting multiple mounts.
I am looking forward to seeing and trying Sigma’s Art collection L-mount prime lenses scheduled for release sometime this year and that are adapted from the company’s current DSLR Art collection offerings.
One major bugbear of new mirrorless launches such as those of Fujifilm APS-C and medium cameras, Panasonic’s Lumix S1 and S1R 35mm cameras, and Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras is the relative paucity of lenses.
Canon took 30 years to come up with its near-complete DSLR lens collection and it may well take Fujifilm, Olympus and Panasonic almost as long to flesh out the many gaps in their lens collections.
Professional photographers and cinematographers rely on the availability of large lens collections for their cameras in a way that amateurs and enthusiasts tend not to, especially when relying on prime lenses for their optimum optical and mechanical quality.
I would love to see Sigma creating lenses for Fujifilm X-mount APS-C cameras given there are so many glaring holes in Fujifilm’s lens lineup, and the same desire applies to professional-quality lenses for use on Blackmagic Design, Olympus and Panasonic M43 cameras.
Panasonic and its L-Mount Alliance partners Leica and Sigma have done well to aim at releasing enough lenses to satisfy those contemplating investing in the L-mount camera system, and it is pleasing to read that Sigma will be working on smaller and more affordable L-mount lenses in due course.
Meanwhile those of use needing focal lengths that Fujifilm does not offer for its X-mount and G-mount cameras may need to bite the bullet and rely on adapted EF-mount lenses instead of the much-preferred native X-mount and G-mount alternatives that simply do not exist yet.
I am still hoping for a professional-quality alternative to Fujifilm’s too-quirky, too-slow Fujinon XF 18mm f/2.0 R prime lens with its 35mm sensor equivalent focal length of 28mm, a staple optic for many documentary photographers and photojournalists, me included.
UK Panasonic Lumix ambassador and longtime video innovator Nick Driftwood is kindly sharing his custom settings file for shooting NTSC and Pal video with the newly-released Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 35mm sensor format hybrid stills and video camera.
Creating settings like these can be a painstaking enough business with Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras and even more so with the Lumix S1 given it offers a total of thirteen, yes thirteen, custom settings slots as opposed to the five of its smaller-sensor siblings.
As I discovered last week, the Lumix S1 and S1R are great cameras for stills photography though I have yet to try them out for video.
Mr Driftwood confirms my observation about the S1’s photography capabilities, and he has more to say about it as a video camera:
This is a great camera for photographers with its 24MP FF sensor offering really good low light performance – its very clean even at 10000 ISO!
But it also translates over to decent looking video with its 4K 24p, 25p, 30p, 50p, 60p performance. Then there’s also the brilliant 4K/6KPhoto mode that can shoot 60fps in 4K/ 30fps in near 6K (for example 4:3 aspect mode is 4992×3744 pixels).
Switching around manually all these settings can be tiresome, so, I wanted to invite users to take a look at the custom mode features where you can set and store all your favourite settings and recall them in an instance. It saves so much time being able to load settings all in one go!
Having been to digiDirect’s public launch of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S1R cameras and the initial three lenses on April 1st, with hands on the S1 and Lumix S 24-105mm f/4.0 zoom lens, I wanted to get to know the higher megapixel S1R and the Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 prime lens.
With both cameras I immediately learned there is so much more to them than two brief events like these can reveal, such as their video and high resolution mode capabilities, but getting a decent feel for how they work and what they are capable of is crucial.
Getting a good feel is exactly what I did to the point where I was impressed enough to consider purchasing the S1R for portrait photography sometime in the future, with an eye on mating it up with some coming wide aperture lenses from members of the L-Mount Alliance.
Hands on with the LUMIX S1 & S1R, Ted’s World of Imaging, Sydney, April 4 2019
Portraits, Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R with Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4
Portraits in the gallery above were made by Karin Gottschalk with the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R equipped with Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 as raw files, converted from .RW2 raw to .TIFF files using the L. Monochrome D profile in Adobe Camera Raw 11.2.1 then processed in Alien Skin Exposure X4 using the Platinum Print Warm analog simulation profile.
All JPEGs here have been reduced in size, so they can only hint at the detail and visual richness of the S1R’s raw files that would be better revealed as large format prints.
I often saw photo gallery shows in London where all the images were printed rich and dark in platinum to draw viewers in and impart a sense of mystery, and drama, and the photographs were shot in medium format roll film or 4″x5″ and 8″x 10″ sheet film, so my aim in making these portraits was to pay homage to that look.
Although I did not have the means to print my own work as platinum prints aka platinotypes when I was working as a magazine editorial portrait photographer, I printed my portfolio work in silver-rich baryta photographic papers that I toned or split-toned to simulate non-silver printing processes as well as silver-based processes like Lith printing.
I showed these images to magazine art directors who were so excited by their expressive possibilities that they fought to have all pages printed in four colour instead of some in colour and the rest in black ink only.
My favourite camera in those years was my Zone VI Studios 4″x5″ field camera based on the Tachihara Wista camera made of cherrywood, and my favourite monochrome film was the now tragically deceased Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative film that I shot at 20 ISO for proof prints and 12 ISO for negatives.
My method was to shoot with medium wide or medium telephoto large format lenses with the aperture wide open or stopped down by one-third or half a stop, light minimally with a three-light Broncolor monobloc flash light kit, dunk the instant-processed Polaroid Type 55 in a Polaroid bucket on location then complete the negative processing, washing and drying back in the studio.
My aim was to produce deeply emotive close-up and full-face portraits, and environmental portraits, that would leap out of the printed page, stopping dead then drawing readers in as they flicked through the magazine.
The combination of Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R with Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm f/1.4 helped me simulate aspects of that approach to analog portrait photography and I look forward to spending more time with the S1R and its lenses present and future sometime soon.
I attended the first Panasonic S-Series touch-and-try launch event for members of the public in Sydney, hosted by digiDirect at the House of Merivale in the CBD on the 1st April.
The organisers provided a number of Panasonic S1 and S1R mirrorless 35mm sensor cameras mostly equipped with Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4.0 Macro OIS zoom lenses, though I spotted a couple of Panasonic Lumix S PRO 70-200mm f/4.0 OIS telephoto zoom lenses and a Panasonic Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 prime lens.
My first impressions of the S1 as a stills photography camera are positive though limited due to the circumstances, but it came across as very well-designed and well-manufactured, and it performed better than hoped for in available darkness.
Panasonic DC-S1 and DC-S1R 35mm sensor mirrorless hybrid cameras with Panasonic S 24-105mm f/4.0 and Panasonic S Pro 50mm f/1.4 lenses.
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.
Panasonic S-Series cameras and lenses at House of Merivale, Sydney, 1st April 2019
After some initial snapshots in colour with the S1’s default settings, I selected monochrome HLG Photo mode to better focus on the people and gear being shown.
Each photograph produced three files, the JPEGs that you see above and that I have resized without any other image editing, an .RW2 raw file and an .HSP HLG Photo file that is apparently currently only viewable on the latest high-end 4K Panasonic television sets.
The .RW2 and .HLG files are not yet supported by the latest version of macOS and none of the raw processing and image editing software that I use.
Panasonic S1 and S1R: When will raw processing software be ready?
DxO PhotoLab in its previous incarnation as DxO Optics Pro Elite was the very first fully-fledged raw processing application I purchased after disappointments with Adobe Camera Raw, and it continues to do a brilliant job of processing raw files from cameras by most makers except for Fujifilm, though it does process raw files from my Fujifilm Finepix X100.
If I come across estimates as to when other raw processing and image editing applications will gain support for Panasonic S1 and S1R raw files then I will add it here.
At the moment I am downloading a version of Silkypix that apparently supports the S1 and S1R and will put it to the test when it eventually arrives (thanks, NBN, for your appalling download and especially upload speeds).
“At a time when Olympus and Panasonic lens prices are going through the roof, Sigma offers these three f/1.4 ‘Contemporary’ lenses at sensible prices. Do they sacrifice sharpness, focus speed or build quality to price? Having owned, used and reviewed – many Sigma lenses over the years, I didn’t anticipate any nasty surprises and I didn’t find any. There were some nice surprises, though….”
Sigma 16mm f/1.4, 30mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lenses for E-mount and M43-mount cameras
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lens for Micro Four Thirds mount and Sony E-mount cameras.
Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lens for Micro Four Thirds mount and Sony E-mount cameras.
Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary prime lens for Micro Four Thirds mount and Sony E-mount cameras.
Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | A APS-C zoom lens.
Former Fleet Street press photographer David Thorpe is one of the least-known yet most-respected YouTube reviewers with a speciality in Micro Four Thirds system cameras and lenses, though I suspect he will be bending that speciality soon with coming reviews of Panasonic’s Lumix S-Series S1 and S1R 35mm sensor format cameras and lenses.
I have no hands-on experience of Sigma lenses whether prime or zoom, though I was lucky enough to inspect Paul Leeming’s Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art zoom lens with Canon EF-mount that he has adapted for his Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and was impressed enough with its optics and construction that I am hoping to buy one of my own some time soon.
Clearly Sigma has something good going for it with its membership of the L-Mount alliance alongside Panasonic and Leica, and Mr Thorpe’s review of these three Sigma Contemporary collection prime lenses supports that impression.
With their 35mm sensor format equivalent focal lengths of 32mm, 60mm and 112mm, and fast, wide maximum apertures of f/1.4, and very reasonable pricing, these three lenses look well worth considering for use in stills photography.
I am now looking for some hard-core technical reviews of them for consideration as video lenses too.
My current impression of Sigma’s Contemporary lenses is that they are designed to work in connection with in-camera and image editing raw processing software for correction of any possible optical distortion, whereas Sigma’s Art lens collection that includes the 18-35mm f/1.8 zoom is reportedly designed to the finest of optical standards to obviate the need for correction in software.
That aside, I have been looking for a medium telephoto portrait lens for Micro Four Thirds for some time now, and Sigma’s 56mm f/1.4 DC DN C may well fill the bill.
I originally got into portrait photography with Nikon’s Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0 lens and focal lengths closer to 105mm in the 35mm sensor format are my first choice for work in the genre, so the 112mm equivalent of the 56mm lens is not a bad approximation.
The Sigma 56mm offers the advantage of a wide aperture to blur distracting backgrounds if necessary.
Similarly, I discovered long ago that my preferred main focal length for immersive documentary and photojournalism work is 28mm in the 35mm sensor format, and Sigma’s 16mm f/1.4 DC DN C with its 32mm equivalent focal length is not too far from that.
I like to be able to use my lenses for cinematography and photography, and prefer lenses that perform well in both applications given raw processing can correct optical distortions in still images but non-linear editing software cannot do the same for video.
My favourite raw processing software for raw files shot on Panasonic cameras is DxO PhotoLab so I am hoping that DxO has added camera-and-lens profiles for all three of these Sigma lenses for recent and current Lumix cameras to its database.
Off to DxOMark and time to drop into some camera stores to touch, try and shoot some sample pix with these three lenses so I can crack some raw files open in DxO PhotoLab, DxO FilmPack and DxO ViewPoint.
“I had the honour to interview Yosuke Yamane-san during the Asia Pacific regional Lumix S series launch event in Tasmania, Australia. In this interview, we talked about the development of Panasonic Lumix S1 & S1R, the L-Mount alliance, Lumix GH6, DFD Autofocus, and a few other things….”
“In this short film – created by LUMIX ambassador Dave Katague – iconic Australian journalist-turned-photographer, Ray Martin trials the new LUMIX S1R full-frame mirrorless camera while exploring the people and culture of Bhutan. Follow Ray on his journey through breathtaking scenery, meeting the locals, and road-testing our new flagship camera’s features as one of the first people in the world to capture images with the LUMIX S1R….”
I will be attending some Panasonic Australia Lumix S1 & S1R public launch events at stores in Sydney early April as an alternative, in effect, to the private launch events to which selected members of the online and offline media are invited.
In the absence of access to the latter and the loss of the big annual Sydney photography trade shows, you have to take whatever you can get nowadays!
The photography and video scene in Australia is smaller than it is in the UK and I do miss the torrent of events and invitations from when I lived in London and routinely hopped over to the continent.
The other alternative is to watch online marketing videos though there is no substitute for in-person hands-on events where you can touch and try the product in question even if only for the shortest time.
Accordingly the list below contains links to product marketing videos and public launch events.
I have just received notification of these three Australian Lumix S1 and S1R events.
“Panasonic are showing a working version of the new Leica 10-25mm f/1.7 Micro Four Thirds lens, at The Photography Show 2019, at the Birmingham NEC. We had a hands-on look at the new lens, which was first shown, in prototype form, at Photokina 2018. The lens gives the equivalent of 20mm to 50mm, and is lighter than it looks, considering the (large) size of the lens….”
When I went looking for the best lens for documentary photography and video after I decided to invest in Panasonic’s Lumix Micro Four Thirds camera range, I read about and tried out a number of options including adapted and native prime and zoom lenses.
The M.Zuiko Pro lens collection’s manual clutch focus mechanism that is activated by retracting the focus-by-wire control ring towards the camera body.
“Pulling focus with focus-by-wire sucks,” as they say in the video industry.
I rapidly obtained critically sharp focus for stills with the M.Zuiko Pro 12-40mm f/2.8 zoom more times than I did with the Panasonic lens’ focusing control ring or the camera’s autofocus functionality, and that capability outweighed the Lumix 12-35mm lens’ rather attractive optical image stabilization.
I still rely on my M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens for mission-critical work after having tried out and invested in a number of Lumix prime and zoom lenses, and may well be adding more M.Zuiko Pro primes and zooms in future.
Then news leaked out of Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 zoom lens being in development, full feature set then unknown as it still is, and things shifted somewhat.
This lens is the closest so far to the ideal zoom lens I had visualized when buying into the Micro Four Thirds system.
I had imagined a lens with a range encompassing every single focal length I rely upon when shooting documentary photographs and video, with the exception of the portrait and big close-up range of 75mm through 85mm and 90mm to 105mm.
Imagine that focal length range in a similarly fast and wide maximum aperture standard-to-telephoto companion zoom lens.
Questions persisted for some time as to whether the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 would have optical image stabilization and whether it would come with manual clutch focus.
Many professional photographers and videographers have reportedly been asking Panasonic for the latter in new lenses for quite some time now, to no avail.
It is great to finally see a little more of the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 in Joseph Waller’s photographs for ePHOTOzine of a pre-production version, but there is no mention nor evidence of a manual clutch focus mechanism in the article and its photographs.
I have asked a contact who is attending The Photography Show 2019 in Birmingham to see if she can get hold of the lens and confirm whether or not it actually has the crucial focusing functionality.
Watch this space!
Meanwhile I am wondering what Olympus has in store with its most recently updated lens roadmap, especially in regard to the “Wide Zoom” and “Standard Zoom” items, not to forget “Bright Prime Lens” and “Telephoto Zoom Lens” which appears twice.
Imagine all those lenses with the brilliant M.Zuiko Pro manual clutch focus mechanism.
Kiss goodbye to the frustrations of pulling focus via fly-by-wire.
My Birmingham contact is pretty sure that the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7’s aperture ring is declicked.
Now waiting for her to have hands on with the lens and confirm whether there is a manual clutch focus mechanism.
Well I think that is evidence enough that Panasonic’s Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 will have manual clutch focusing mechanism and thus accurate and repeatable focus pulling for video.
It will also have the ability to quickly and accurately set hyperfocal distance, a necessity when zone focusing for high-speed forms of documentary or photographing in the street, as well as landscape photography.
Hyperfocal distance can be calculated using online forms or mobile apps, and a number of options can be found online here.
Fully manual focus lenses such as the Leica M-Series rangefinder camera lenses illustrated up this page provide beautifully-etched scales allowing quick calculation of hyperfocal distance, a functionality I often yearn for when photographing in public with digital cameras and lenses.
Whet now remains is for a late pre-production Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens to find its way into the hands of professional cinematographers and photographers for extensive testing and reporting on its mechanical and optical quality.
This lens has the potential to replace a range of prime lenses in one’s daily gear kit, in my case the 35mm sensor equivalents of 21mm, 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 50mm.
Neither Olympus nor Panasonic supply all those focal lengths as prime lenses, though I hope that situation will change in the near future.
The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric will not be a cheap lens given Panasonic’s ambitions in producing it, but whatever its price on release, it would be wise to compare it to what those five focal lengths might cost as f/1.7 prime lenses.
There are other potential benefits.
The Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric’s filter diameter is 77mm, and I would recommend attaching a Breakthrough Photography 77mm to 82mm knurled brass step-up ring to it for attaching 82mm diameter fixed and variable neutral density filters when shooting video.
Whether the Leica DG Vario-Summilux 10-25mm f/1.7 Aspheric zoom lens is heavy or not, its size would benefit from attaching a vertical battery grip to your camera if it is a Panasonic.
I like most cameras to be equipped with vertical battery grips for added power when shooting video and ease of handholding in portrait photography.
The countdown to NAB 2019 is well advanced and it will be interesting to see if Panasonic shows off mockups of the coming Lumix DC-GH6 hybrid M43 camera.
I am hoping that Panasonic will combine the best of the Lumix DC-GH5 and GH5S in the GH6 while taking into account the challenges presented by the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K, Fujifilm’s X-T3 and X-H1 while bearing in mind the coming X-H2, as well as the 35mm sensor-equipped mirrorless cameras now released by Canon, Nikon, Leica and, indeed, Panasonic itself.
While the Super 35 format has its many attractions, the smaller and lighter cameras and lenses of Super 16 moviemaking still allow you to go places where the larger 35mm cameras and lenses can draw undue attention.
The photographs of the 10-25mm f/1.7 lens published by ePHOTOzine and Photography Blog appear to have been shot on mobile phones and optical exaggerations make it hard to accurately judge the lens’ size in relation to the camera or the hands holding them.
Nonetheless, I have no problem with the idea of carrying this one lens about almost permanently attached to any Panasonic M43 camera whether with battery grip or not, or a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Camera 4K for that matter, though I would be tempted to consider the Zhiyun-Tech Weebill Lab or Crane 3 Lab as appropriate if stabilization is a necessity when shooting with the BMPCC 4K.
Panasonic may have taken its time launching a full-frame mirrorless cameras, but the new Lumix S1 can definitely hold its own. It’s rugged, well designed, easy to use and produces wonderfully sharp images with excellent color rendition. Its Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) Photo Mode also adds natural-looking high dynamic range to stills, which looks fantastic when viewed on an HDR screen….”