Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT One 801 for Panasonic Cameras including Lumix GH5 and GH5S is Available, More Versions to Come

We have been following Australian director/cinematographer Paul Leeming’s progress in creating, refining and updating his Leeming LUT One unified, corrective Look Up Table aka LUT system for popular mirrorless and DSLR hybrid cameras and camcorders ever since we launched the ‘Untitled’ project. 

Leeming LUT One began as an effort to transform the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4’s ‘Cine-D’ aka Cinelike D video picture profile into the most accurate, most realistic rendering possible and has expanded to encompass a range of cameras including those made by Canon, DJI, GoPro, JVC, Sony and more, with support for the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K and Fujifilm X-T3 and others coming in the near future. 

Mr Leeming continues to refine Leeming LUT One with version 801 for Panasonic being the most accurate yet, setting a new industry benchmark for realistic colour rendering for video footage shot with the Cinelike D, V-LogL and HLG profiles for editing in Rec. 709 movie projects. 

Recently I put Leeming LUT One 801 to the test with Cinelike D footage from my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 camera, the one that goes with me almost everywhere everyday, and the results were, as usual, impressive.

Better yet, correcting footage with Leeming LUT One then adding film simulation or creative looks LUTs produces rich grading with a lush and easy-to-grade tonal range.

Many independent moviemakers shoot video for the same project on several cameras including within multi-camera interview set-ups, and Leeming LUT One is invaluable in reducing time in the colour grading suite matching footage from all those different cameras, especially when exposed according to the principles of ETTR aka expose-to-the-right.

In all the following examples, I graded quickly and minimally to simulate the look and feel of the subject at the moment I shot it, to be as realistic as video permits.

Skin tones in mixed available light with Leeming LUT One 801 and LookLabs’ Digital Film Stock Fujifilm Eterna 500T

Reds, greens and blue in strong sunlight with Leeming LUT One 801 and Leeming LUT Quickies v8 Basic Balanced v8 Lighter

Greys and greens in weak sunlight on cold, windy day with Leeming LUT One 801 and LookLabs Digital Film Stock Kodak 5218

Links

  • Leeming LUT Pro – “Leeming LUT Pro™ is the world’s first unified, corrective Look Up Table ( LUT ) system for supported cameras, designed to maximise dynamic range, fix skin tones, remove unwanted colour casts and provide an accurate Rec709 starting point for further creative colour grading.”
  • LookLabsDigital Film Stock aka DFS – “DFS instantly gives you the natural look of film and the most flexible set of LUTs on the market. The DFS bundle includes 19 LUTs that perfectly emulate the most popular Kodak and Fuji film stocks. DFS comes in both REC.709 and LOG video formats and all SpeedLooks camera patches work with today’s most popular digital cinema and mirrorless cameras. DFS even makes your Android videos look like film!”

Help support ‘Untitled’

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

  • Olympus M43 lensesB&H
  • Panasonic Battery Grip for Lumix GH3 and GH4 Digital CamerasB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery GripB&H
  • Panasonic M43 lensesB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera with 12-60mm LensB&H
  • Panasonic V-Log L Function Activation Code for DMC-GH4, DC-GH5, and DMC-FZ2500B&H

Leeming LUT Pro Coming Soon to Level the Hybrid Camera Video Playing Field with Radically Improved Colour Accuracy for Easy Colour Matching

While we have been stunned and amazed by Australian company Blackmagic Design’s coming revolutionary Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k aka BMPCC 4K aka P4K, a a quiet revolution in hybrid camera video post-production has been brewing. 

Australian cinematographer/director of photography/director/writer Paul Leeming of Visceral Psyche Films has been radically overhauling his Leeming LUT suite of camera profile colour matching 3D LUTs whilst grading Kodokushi, the very first full-length feature film to be shot on the affordable, award-winning Panasonic Lumix GH5S high-end compact video camera. 

paul_leeming_panasonic_lumix_gh5s_zoom_h4n_rig_01_1024px_60pc
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S plus 8Sinn GH5/GH5S cage-based rig used by Paul Leeming to shoot ‘Kodokushi’, the first full-length feature film to be shot with the GH5S.
During his first visit to ‘Untitled’ Paul Leeming tested several cameras for possible Leeming LUT One custom 3D LUTs.

As we learned earlier this year when Mr Leeming dropped by our home studio after wrapping production on the Kodokushi shoot in Osaka, the Leeming LUT camera profile testing and production process has evolved courtesy of now basing it on 3D LUT Creator combined with a new footage creation methodology.

We tested an early beta of Leeming LUT Pro, successor to Leeming LUT One, against earlier versions of Leeming LUT One and were suitably impressed.

Leeming LUT Pro has delivered on its predecessors’ promise of enabling easier, faster and more accurate correction of video footage from a range of hybrid cameras and camcorders affordable for self-funded, low-budget, independent documentary and narrative moviemakers.

Leeming LUT Pro makes that possible regardless of whether video acquisition is via Rec. 709, Rec. 2020, log, flat or regular picture profile footage, and with whichever brand camera so long as Mr Leeming has tested its footage for creation of his custom camera profile 3D LUTs.

Still frame from ‘Kodokushi’, the very first feature film to be shot with the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S video camera by Director of Photography Paul Leeming.
Still frame from ‘Kodokushi’, the very first feature film to be shot with the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S video camera by Director of Photography Paul Leeming.
Still frame from ‘Kodokushi’, the very first feature film to be shot with the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S video camera by Director of Photography Paul Leeming.
Australian director/cinematographer Paul Leeming with his Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 rig during his first visit to the ‘Untitled’ home studio..

Contemporary moviemakers often use a range of cameras on any given production, presenting a costly, time-consuming colour-matching headache during the postproduction process.

With Leeming LUT Pro, a timeline of footage from several different cameras can be colour-matched by dropping the relevant Leeming LUT Pro camera profile custom LUT onto each clip, evening their colour up for faster subsequent colour correction then colour grading for looks and emotion.

Consequently, footage from, say, a Canon EOS DSLR or Cinema EOS camcorder, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8, GH5, GH5S, any of the Sony hybrid cameras, a JVC GY-LS300, GoPro or DJI X5 Series on the same timeline will no longer be screaming out their colour science differences and will play nice together.

Application of the ETTR – exposing to the right – principle as taught by Mr Leeming on his Leeming LUT Pro website aids in exposure-matching and enhances Leeming LUT Pro’s colour-matching benefits even more.

Colour-matching footage shot on a range of cameras over time is the bane of longterm documentary moviemaking and Leeming LUT Pro makes the process more accurate, easier and faster when using profiled cameras.

For example, my current documentary production gear kit includes the Fujifilm X-Pro2, Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4, and I may be adding a GH5 or GH5S along with a second Fujifilm camera to backup and extend my X-Pro2.

paul_leeming_panasonic_lumix_gh5_8sinn_cage_2250059_cameraraw_1024px_60pc
Paul Leeming’s Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 in 8Sinn cage with Scorpio handle.

That represents a range of picture profiles, film simulations, Rec. types and specific Rec. 709 profiles as well as HLG and V-Log without adding footage from very different cameras such as GoPro, DJI, Canon, Nikon, Blackmagic Design and more.

Blackmagic Design’s Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K aka BMPCC 4K aka P4K gives self-funded indie moviemakers like me an eminently affordable 4K UHD and 1080p HD cinema camera option as well and Mr Leeming will no doubt be creating a custom Leeming LUT Pro 3D LUT for it when he can obtain a production-ready version of the camera.

Blackmagic Design’s Grant Petty once shared his vision for the rest of us who need to be storytellers in moving pictures but don’t come from traditional storytelling class and ethnic backgrounds:

“My big thing is, if you don’t have any money, it doesn’t mean to say your brain is turned off, or you’re stupid or you don’t have ambition. From my point of view, you want to move up, you want to do great things. If you want to do that, you should be able to buy products that let you do that. That’s how you get rid of class structure. I’m trying to remove it, and just let people be creative.”

With the coming release of Leeming LUT Pro, Paul Leeming is also assisting independent moviemakers in dismantling the moviemaking class system and more power to his arm, as the saying goes.

Links

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  • Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4KB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery GripB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-XLR1 XLR Microphone Adapter – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H

Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One Presenting at Getting to Grips with Lenses Event in High Wycombe, Bucks on Saturday 21st April 2018

https://mailchi.mp/9dfd2da97b22/gtc-workshop-getting-to-grips-with-lenses?e=a9ac9ddccc

“This interactive workshop will explore the world of video & motion picture lenses, from the perspective of camera operators, cinematographers and filmmakers. We will look at the current state of the industry, with opportunities to get hands-on with the most popular current zoom and prime lenses. We will also discuss anamorphic lenses, lens adaptors, budget cine zooms, and how continual increases in sensor resolution are affecting the lens market….

… Paul Leeming: DoP In conjunction with Formatt-Hitech, Paul will show how modern filters can work best with the new breeds of zoom and prime lenses….”

1040405_hdr_hollywood_800px
Australian director/cinematographer Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One fame with his Panasonic Lumix GH4 rigged for shooting feature films.

Links

Panasonic Rumoured to Announce Lumix GH5S 4K Low-Light Video Super Camera on December 15, 2017 US Time – UPDATED

The rumour sites have been running hot with the possibility of a low-light version of the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, giving rise to thoughts on what benefits such a camera might offer to documentary moviemakers and photographers working mostly in available light, or often, available darkness. 

The Panasonic Lumix GH5s is rumoured to have the same camera body size and shape as the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5, great news for cinematographers and camera accessories makers.

A Micro Four Thirds answer to the Sony Alpha a7S low-light video camera series would be very useful for the sorts of immersive, fly-on-the-wall photo essays and short documentary movies on the cards for the ‘Untitled’ project’s Stories department.

Although I appreciated the Sony a7S series’ larger 35mm format sensor when I reviewed the Sony a7S, I much prefer Panasonic’s hardware design and engineering, its menu system and colour science, and Olympus’ manual clutch focussing M.Zuiko Pro f/2.8 zoom and f/1.2 prime lenses.

Most of all, I prefer the affordability and portability of Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses, even if, as some users complain, some M43 flagship cameras can be a little on the large side.

Sample stills from another low-light, low-resolution high-ISO camera, the Sony Alpha a7S

Images minimally edited with DxO PhotoLab.

Otherwise, though, I obtained some impressive available light results from the Sony a7S’ 12 megapixel, 35mm format sensor, especially when shooting stills in the gritty mixed-source lighting and grotty interiors of Sydney’s ageing inner-city underground railway stations.

Video on the a7S proved more challenging as its S-Log2 logarithmic profile was poorly understood at the time and little well-qualified advice was available on how to get the best out of it via camera settings and postproduction.

Further, the a7S’ S-Log2 base ISO is 1600, demanding the use of strong neutral density filters in a good set of fixed density NDs or a strong variable ND, which I did not have at the time.

The need for speed induces a need for density

Only now are strong, top-quality variable NDs like those from Aurora-Aperture and SLR Magic becoming available to satisfy the needs of documentary moviemakers for whom constant swapping from within big sets of fixed NDs is not an option.

Nowadays, if using the Sony a7S II or the coming a7S III, I would default to using Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT One for Sony camera settings and camera profile LUT.

If the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S proves real and follows Sony’s example in having a high base ISO, then you may wish to consider some of the more recent ND filter solutions that I have written about:

Consider a possible high base ISO GH5S in combination with the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro f/1.2 17mm, 25mm and 45mm prime lenses used wide open or close to it in bright light as well as darkness and the need for a good set of matched variable and fixed ND filters becomes even more urgent.

Low-light stills and low-res sensors

Getting back to stills photography, for some years glossy magazines have commissioned cover portrait photographs to be shot with high ISO RED cameras for the sake of behind-the-scenes videos, raw digital stills and top-quality raw video.

At the start of the digital era, before the camera makers’s megapixels contest began, we were often reminded that 6 megapixels was enough for magazine covers and double page spreads.

The 10.71 megapixels sensor being suggested as Panasonic’s choice for the for the Lumix GH5S should be more than enough for most digital and four-colour press publication, while the Lumix G9 may well be suited for big exhibition prints given its 80 megapixels high resolution mode.

Things are looking good for affordable, portable, high-quality digital documentary moviemaking and stills photography thanks to creative innovations like these.

A GH5S video features wishlist

I asked cinematographer/director Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One for a the features he would like to see in a possible GH5S:

If they make a low light DCI 4K sensor variant I’d be very happy just with that alone. The main thing I’d like to see is more dynamic range than the GH5, and more frame-rate in 10bit 4K 48p internal would be lovely if they can’t do 60p. With UHS-II cards the write limitations are pretty much gone so then it comes down to the internal processor and what it has as a limit.

If Panasonic hits any or all of the following things I’d upgrade:

  • DCI 4K at 10 bit 4:2:2 48p internal or greater,
  • 2 stops better noise performance,
  • 2 stops better dynamic range (kind of linked to the noise performance) though to be honest even 1 stop better DR would be great.

Updates

Since writing this article, the usually very reliable Micro Four Thirds rumours website 4/3 Rumors has reported that Panasonic’s Lumix GH5S public announcement event scheduled for the 15th December has now been made into a two-day closed event only for selected members of the press under NDA, with the public announcement most likely to be at CES on the 8th January US time, 9th January Sydney time.

Images of the Panasonic Lumix GH5S, first published by 4/3 Rumors and Nokishita

I have added relevant 4/3 Rumors rumours to the Links below.

So far though, other than the GH5S’ base ISO which is sure to be higher than the GH5’s 200 and 400 ISO for video, the rumoured specifications for the GH5S include:

  • DCI C4K (60p, 150Mbps, 4:2:2 10 bit Long GOP)
  • Slow motion: 240fps (FHD)
  • Sensor: 12 Megapixel 4/3 LiveMOS sensor with up to 100.000 ISO
  • Effective pixels: 10,280,000 pixels
  • Total number of pixels: 11,930,000
  • Lowest frame rate: 12 fps
  • ISO: 160-51,200
  • Extended ISO: 80-102,400
  • Mechanical shutter: 1/8,000
  • Electronic shutter: 1/16,000
  • Flash sync: 1/250
  • Light metering system: 1728-zone multi-pattern sensing system
  • LCD screen: 3.2″, 1,620,000 dots, touchscreen
  • Viewfinder: OLED, 3,680,000 dots with diopter adjustment (-4 to +3)
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth: 4.2
  • Battery charger: Panasonic DMW-BTC13
  • Battery: Pansonic DMW-BLF19PP
  • Two memory card slots
  • 4K photos
  • HDMI Type A / USB 3.1
  • Dimensions: 138,5×98.1×87.4
  • Operating temperature: -10°C to 40°C (14°F to 104°F)
  • Dust-proof and splash-proof body

Links

Image Credits

Image concept, rip and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Help support ‘Untitled’

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

  • Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital CameraB&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera  – B&H
  • Sony Alpha a7S Mirrorless Digital Camera B&H
  • Sony Alpha a7S II Mirrorless Digital CameraB&H

Leeming LUT One for Panasonic GH5 and Other Panasonic Cameras Now at Version 501, Supports HLG, V-Log L and Cinelike D

NOTE: Since this article was written some time ago, Leeming LUT One has been updated and improved again with version 502 and is to be followed soon with version 601.

You may wish to read this more recent article here:

Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming has released version 501 of his groundbreaking Leeming LUT One camera profile 3D LUT for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 4K Super 16/Micro Four Thirds camera in three flavours based on which picture profile your footage is shot with – Cinelike D, HLG or V-Log L. 

Still frame of Paul Leeming, shot on Panasonic Lumix GH5 in HLG HDR mode then processed in Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Studio 14.

Mr Leeming chose the GH5 as his benchmark camera and will be updating other Leeming LUT One camera profile 3D LUTs soon, enabling cinematographers using a range of cameras to start “with a common, colour-matched baseline, meaning much less time trying to match cameras in post before starting your creative grading”.

Users of previous versions of Leeming LUT One may notice a change in the behaviour of version 501 when applying it to old footage, resulting in a darker rendition:

The new philosophy is zero brightness shift in the LUT itself, so the only shift is to the colour values. At first this may seem like the LUT is not doing anything, but watch skin tones in particular when you apply it and you’ll see the difference. Of course the other colours are fixed too, but skin is where you’ll see it most easily as it’s a pretty obvious shift from yellow to skin tone.

Leeming LUT One for Panasonic Lumix GH5 and X-Rite Color Checkers

Leeming LUT Quickies, a set of free looks LUTs, will also be updated to work better with Leeming LUT One version 501 but in the meantime Mr Leeming advises using the current version at “40% intensity (or gain)”.

Given the colour science characteristics shared by current top end Panasonic Lumix cameras such as the GH5, GH4 and GX8, it appears possible to apply Leeming LUT One to all three cameras to obtain similar colour grading starting points.

I will be putting Leeming LUT One 501 for the GH5 to the test on GH4 and GX8 Cinelike D (aka Cine-D) footage over the coming days, but my early tests using a late beta of 501 showed marked improvements over previous full versions of Leeming LUT One.

Leeming LUT One for Panasonic Lumix GH5, HLG, Before and After

The GH5’s HLG (hybrid log-gamma) picture profile is intriguing given it is an HDR (high dynamic range) standard developed by the BBC and NHK for future program creation and broadcast in 4K and higher resolutions.

While HLG HDR 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 production and post-production are not fully supported by current hardware and software, the wisdom of future-proofing your work has been borne out many times in recent years starting with the move to 1080p and then 4K.

Mr Leeming and Leeming LUT One version 501 for GH5 users have reported anomalies in various non-linear editors and colour grading plug-ins when applying the LUT to HLG footage, and testing is currently under way to work out optimal software and workflows.

As with any radical advance in video production and postproduction, software needs to catch up with the capabilities of new hardware and this is no exception.

The advantages of HLG HDR may persuade movie and TV show makers to adopt it as their new default standard when it is fully supported.

Mr Leeming reports that:

My new favourite profile is Hybrid Log Gamma. It uses more of the 10 bit space than V-LogL, and has just as much dynamic range as far as I can see.

It also has slightly more accurate tonal density response (the relationship between colour and saturation/luma levels).

Best of all, it’s a free profile in camera, instead of a $100 activation code sent half way across the world….

Only down side is it’s not available in 8 bit, but for that, we can continue to use old faithful, Cine-D.

Roger Bolton of Final Cut Pro X plug-in maker CoreMelt has been sent Leeming LUT One to test it in his recent-released high-end colour grading and LUT application plug-in for FCPX, Chromatic, and I look forward to his report with interest.

Other such colour grading and LUT application software seems to be having problems with HLG footage.

Meanwhile Blackmagic Design’s DaVinci Resolve 14 Studio colour grading and non-linear editing software is reported to be handling the GH5’s 10-bit HLG HDR footage well and readers are encouraged to download the free version or invest in the paid version if they have not already done so.

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris.

Help support ‘Untitled’

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

  • Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera  – B&H
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera  – B&H
  • Panasonic DMW-XLR1 XLR Microphone AdapterB&H
  • Panasonic DMW-BGGH5 Battery Grip – B&H
  • Panasonic V-Log L Function Activation Code for DMC-GH4, DC-GH5, and DMC-FZ2500B&H
  • Atomos Ninja Inferno 7″ 4K HDMI Recording MonitorB&H
  • X-Rite ColorChecker Passport PhotoB&H
  • X-Rite ColorChecker Passport VideoB&H

iPetitions: Samsung, Keep NX Alive!

https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/samsung-keep-nx-alive

“Samsung Camera Division,

With exception of you closing your business in select markets, there’s been no new developments or statements concerning your Galaxy NX line of cameras, lenses and accessories. Nor have we seen any new firmware updates in several months.

Additionally, we didn’t see any related product updates since its release in 2014.

It’s now 2017 and the NX system is still alive and going strong. In some cases, the NX cameras still offer technology still missing from other manufacture[r]s to date. Think about how impressive this is? That’s how ahead of the curve you were.

The hottest camera today should not be the buzz about the lastest models from your old competitors. We shouldn’t be talking about the GH5, or even the CK200, we should be buzzing about the game changing NX2 PRO, with a new lineup of amazing glass.

You had this market setup to crush it, if not even give cameras costing in excess of $50k a run for its money. But you prematurely dropped the ball. What a huge mystery and giant disapointment to your customers….”

The revolutionary and still amazing Samsung NX1 Super 35/APS-C 4K hybrid mirrorless camera with Samsung 50-150mm f/2.8 S ED OIS premium zoom lens.

From Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One:

Samsung could have radically changed the HDSLR market with the NX1 had they developed it further and made more cameras.

Like Canon, they didn’t realise what they had and were content to rest on their laurels.

Innovation and iteration are key in today’s prosumer market.

Links

Formatt Hitech Releases Firecrest Ultra, the Ultimate Colour-Neutral IR-Cutting Neutral Density Filters for Stills and Video?

British-based filter maker Formatt Hitech has released what may be the ultimate collection of circular, square and rectangular neutral density filters for cinematographers and photographers, Firecrest Ultra ND Filters.

The Firecrest Ultra collection is, according to Formatt Hitech, “the pinnacle of photographic filter technology” due to their perfect flatness, colour neutrality, clarity, sharpness and extreme effectiveness at cutting infra-red light pollution. 

The Firecrest Ultra Patrick Di Fruscia Signature Edition Pro Essentials Kit, one of several current kits aimed at photographers. Will Formatt-Hitech be adding kits for cinematographers?

Infra-red pollution of video colour rendering has proven to be a persistent problem in recent years, with long established, popular brands and professional filter product collections failing to cut IR passing through their filters and hitting sensors to the detriment of accurate colour rendering.

According to Formatt Hitech, “we have had photographers do exposures of over 10 minutes with no IR pollution at all” so one hopes that cinematographers trying out the new Firecrest Ultra filters will experience the same benefits.

Firecrest Ultra Kits for Photographers

Format Hitech has released the Firecrest Ultra collection in a range of sizes as aluminium-mounted circular, square and rectangular ND and graduated filters as well as six sets of kits specified by five well respected landscape and travel photographers.

These photographers include Colby Brown, Elia Locardi, Joel TjintelaarKen Kaminesky and Patrick Di Fruscia.

As landscape and travel photography are not my thing, I asked cinematographer/director Paul Leeming of Leeming LUT One fame for his advice on the best Firecrest Ultra kits for cinematography.

Our Firecrest Ultra Filter Kit Recommendations

  • Base kit for 400 ISO cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH5 – 82mm diameter circular filters in ND 0.6, 1.2, 1.8, 2.4 (2, 4, 6 and 8 f-stops reductions).
  • Extended Kit for 1600 ISO cameras like the Sony A7S II – 82mm diameter circular filters in ND 0.6, 1.2, 1.5, 1.8, 2.1, 2.4, 2.7 (2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 f-stops reductions).
  • Complete Kit for Feature Film Cinematography – 4×5.65″ filters in every stop.

The Xume Filter Adapter System

Paul Leeming uses and recommends the Xume magnetic circular filter adapter system for easy, fast and safe on-location filter swapping. The Xume system was created by XumeAdapters.com, now defunct, then sold to Manfrotto.

Of all the brands of aluminium and brass step-up rings I have tried, those made by Breakthrough Photography have proven to be the best and are unique in their top quality machining and easy-handling traction frame.

You will need to purchase enough Xume adapters, holders and caps for all of your video production lenses and filters, more items than are contained in the Xume Pro Kits, to get the best out of the system.

Standardize on 82mm or 77mm filters, place step-up rings on all your lenses, then attach adapters to each step-up ring.

I recommend brass rather than aluminium step-up rings to avoid binding and use brass step-up rings made by Breakthrough Photography, Heliopan or Sensei especially if they are knurled for better traction.

The Variable ND and Other Alternatives

I have been aware of colour, sharpness and other problems with some of the most highly recommended ND filter sets for some time and have held off investing in a base kit for my Panasonic cameras until something better comes along.

Working in the documentary genres, the time required to carefully white balance off colour checkers or cards is not always there.

Breakthrough Photography’s brass traction frames are a boon for those of us with damaged hands and fingers and are safer to handle in the field than smooth or slightly knurled aluminium frames.

Screw-on, screw-off filter swapping in the field can be dangerous especially with the smooth-sided filters that were standard before Breakthrough Photography came out with its innovative traction frame.

I have some Breakthrough Photography ND filters and they have proven outstanding insofar as colour neutrality and sharpness go, but enquiries about their degree of protection against IR pollution remain unanswered.

There is this statement, however, on the Breakthrough Photography X4 ND product page:

… the X4 ND maintains a very well controlled and flat transmission all the way throughout the visible spectrum and into IR.

In contrast to our GH5 base kit recommendation, Breakthrough Photography’s X4 circular neutral density filters come in 3, 6, 10 and 15 stop reduction values or, under the ND.number naming convention, ND 0.9, 1.8 and 3.0 with the last value between ND 4.0 and ND 5.0.

I’ll stick with f-stop reduction values and forego the arcane ND1number, ND.number and NDnumber naming conventions so 3, 6, 10 and 15 stops it is.

Breakthrough Photography’s Dark CPL & X4 GND Kickstarter campaign earlier this year saw the addition of 100mm and 150mm X4 Square filters: “X4 ND Square is available in 1-stop through 10-stop densities, as well as 15-stop.”

A Stopgap Solution for Documentary Cinematographers?

My stopgap solution in the absence of a full set of fixed ND filters was to rely on the most heavily recommended variable ND filter of the time, the Genustech Eclipse ND Fader with its 2-8 stops reduction range.

Nowadays the most recommended variable NF filters appears to be the 1.3-6 stop reducing SLR Magic Self-Locking Variable Neutral Density filter.

SLR Magic recently announced its 1.2 IEND filter for stacking on fixed or variable ND filters to bump exposure reduction up to 10 stops along with added IR colour control, so purchasing this in combination with SLR Magic’s variable ND filter may be a wise investment for documentary moviemakers always on the move.

Links

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News Shooter: Why using recommended recording media is important

http://www.newsshooter.com/2017/10/10/why-using-recommended-recording-media-is-important/

“Why should you use manufacturer-recommended recording media? Well to put it bluntly, because it has been thoroughly tested by the manufacturer whose device it’s to be used in.

I always scratch my head and wonder why so many people choose to use the cheapest recording media they can find. At the end of the day the media you use has all your hard work on it. It really is a ‘false economy’ to spend $10k on a camera and then use a cheap, non-recommended media card, all for the sake of saving yourself a few dollars up-front….”

Advice on SDXC Cards from Paul Leeming

Pro tip with all new cards – set your camera to the hardest possible compression (All-I in this case) at the maximum framerate it supports (30p 10bit 4K) and record until you fill the card (film movement too so the camera has to work harder). Repeat for each new card. Any cards that fail the test don’t get used in a production situation.

If you don’t do this and end up having your failure on set in front of clients, there’s no one to blame but the guy in the mirror.

On a more technical level, do a low level format in your computer as exFAT with 128K or 256K block size before you first put it into your camera. Then allow the camera to do a quick format, which preserves the block size and gives the system a more stable throughput.

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The Panasonic Lumix GH5 & Some Notes Before Upgrade to GH5 Firmware Version 2.0 – UPDATED

I was lucky enough to try out the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 recently and quickly came to the conclusion that it really is the top-quality Super 16/Micro Four Thirds documentary video and stills photography camera that I have been hoping for.

Looks like a previous reviewer forgot to re-attach the GH5’s rubber eyepiece.

As reported in a previous article, the GH5 loaner at right arrived in a stripped down state, minus its rubber eyepiece, HDMI port protector and the lens hood for the provided Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric kit zoom lens, so there were some minor challenges.

Sadly, the loan period expired before Panasonic released its feature-packed firmware version 2.0 so I have yet to experience all that the GH5 can do now, firsthand, so no HLG HDR or ALL-Intra for me for the time being.

Top of the wishlist

The GH5 and associated accessories have been living at the top of my video camera hardware wishlist for some time, but purchasing must be put off until our self-financing effort via land subdivision and sale is finally finished sometime early next year, after getting through the multiple gauntlets of high-priced consultants, three levels of bureaucracy, recalcitrant tradesmen and the inevitable cost overruns tying up all our savings until completion.

Seercam’s Cube GH5 cage with Classic Handle Plus and Extension Kit is terrific for bigger rigs on or off tripod or stripped down to cage alone for smaller and more mobile assignments. Seercam is currently working on a battery pack, seen at right behind and below the microphone. As a fan of Panasonic’s battery packs, I look forward to Seercam’s coming cage-savvy battery solution.

When I do get my own GH5, one thing is certain – I will be adding a battery grip and XLR adapter and I am hoping that Olympus will have released its M.Zuiko Pro 17mm ultra-fast prime lens by then along with the 42mm and perhaps a 12mm or 14mm focal length.

Although I do love my Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens for stills and video, I always feel safer supplementing it with a fast prime to account for available darkness situations and find a moderate wide-angle more versatile than a so-called normal focal length of 25mm in Micro Four Thirds.

I am hoping Olympus’ excellent pro-quality M.Zuiko Pro lens range will achieve a full complement of well-spaced fast primes and zooms by early to mid-2018.

Although I own and use several non-M.Zuiko Pro Olympus and Panasonic lenses and find their lack of manual clutch focus annoying, their focus-by-wire challenging but workable enough via back focus button, I am far more comfortable with lenses I can manually focus fast with repeatable and predictable results.

Stills made with the GH5

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is a fine stills camera made more so with the absence of an anti-aliasing filter to combat moiré.

I am adding photographs here as I reprocess them in the latest versions of some raw processors and image editors.

Most have been done in DxO Optics Pro Elite as that is the very first raw processor I ever used and remains my reference for all camera types other than Fujifilm.

DxO products are built on a codebase that supports only Bayer sensors, not non-Bayer sensors such as Fujifilm’s X-Trans.

Video still frames shot with V-Log L, processed with Leeming LUT One for V-Log L 501 rc2

Leeming LUT One is being updated to version 501 to get even better results from GH5 V-Log L footage at the moment and will be released soon along with LUTs for Cinelike D and HLG HDR.

In the meantime, here is a gallery of GH5 V-Log L video still frames minimally graded with Leeming LUT One version 501 RC 2 with the occasional addition of a second LUT from Paul Leeming’s free Leeming LUT Quickies 1 version2 set.

I found that the combination of V-Log L plus Leeming LUT One with the GH5’s in-body stabilization is a powerful one, granting me the confidence in knowing I am able to shoot almost anything anywhere.

As a result using the GH5 was, quite simply, fun.

Of course neither IBIS nor V-Log are the answers to every shooting situation and there are times when I will want to carry a monopod, a tripod or one of the new generation of gimbals like the Zhiyun Crane 2.

Video still frames shot on GX8 with Cinelike D, processed with Leeming LUT One for Cinelike D 501 rc2

I was so taken with the GH5’s V-Log capability that I quite forgot to shoot enough Cinelike D footage, but here is some footage from my GX8 by way of comparison.

According to professional documentary cinematographers like Rick Young of Movie Machine, the GX8’s sensor is not dissimilar to the one in the GH5 and produces similar results to the point where they use both cameras on the same projects.

I don’t think I am going to have any problems editing footage from the GH5 and GX8 together in the same project when using the appropriate Leeming LUT One for each.

GH5 first impressions

Straight out of the box and in its shopworn state, as it were, the GH5 impressed me with a solidity and ease of handling well beyond that of the GH4 and even the GX8.

The GH5 packs so much more processing power in than its GH4 predecessor and GX8 sibling, and that extra hardware has to go somewhere so a slightly bigger and heavier body it is.

The GH5’s hardware ergonomics has advanced beyond that of the GH4 and Panasonic has done so with great balance and a solid feel in the hand.

Some reviewers have complained about its size and weight but, as always, I prefer small cameras to be a little weightier for better balance and achieve that by adding battery grips, cages and other accessories as appropriate.

Naked or mounted in Seercam’s excellent Cube GH5 cage with Classic Handle and Extension Kit, the GH5 felt just right and neither too heavy nor too light.

Other users may differ but I prefer a little extra weight due to permanent injuries received on the job some years ago as it helps with my own sense of balance and ability to move.

There were, as always, annoyances with the GH5 but they were minor and have now been accounted for in Panasonic’s GH5 version 2.0 firmware release.

Foremost was the positioning of the Display button in precisely the worst location possible, with one solution being adding a Sugru collar around it and the other, courtesy of firmware version 2.0, switching the button off via a menu item.

The other annoyances were so minor that they have escaped me now, sorry.

With the GH5’s stablemates

Panasonic Lumix GX8 with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro and Røde VideoMic Pro+ attached via no-brand 3.5mm-to-2.5mm adapter that I have since replaced with a Beachtek SC25 coiled adapter cable.

While the GH4 and GX8 retain their places in my heart for advancing the small camera moviemaking promise that Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II waggled so prominently about, the GH5 gives me the best of those two Lumix stablemates along with other fine qualities from more recent Panasonic releases, the G7 and the GX80/85.

I have not had the pleasure of trying either of those two latter cameras, but there are clear similarities between the GX8’s sensor and the GH5’s, something I deduced when applying Leeming LUT One for the GH5 to footage from the GX8.

The GH5 and its siblings show that the self-funded independent moviemaking road ahead belongs to mirrorless hybrid cameras, with an array of professional-quality features DSLR-users can only dream of and that may never come to DSLRs of either traditional major brand.

Pro-quality video features

Foremost of these features is the GH5’s ability to shoot 4K UHD and 4K DCI video in 10-bit 4:2:2 with the V-Log L flat logarithmic photo style, the closest thing to raw that can be achieved in a non-raw video camera.

The first thing I did when the GH5 review loaner arrived was to install indie documentary moviemaker Griffin Hammond’s GH5 camera settings file, but after comparing his Natural-based custom photo style with others offered by the GH5, it was clear that V-Log L was what I really wanted.

I had passed on V-Log L for the GH4 after downloading and trial-grading 8-bit 4:2:0 log footage that early purchasers were sharing.

Macro colour blocking and other strange behaviours indicated Panasonic was reaching too far with too little colour depth and that 10-bit 4:2:2 was the way to go.

Then there was the unfortunate still-current issue of the way in which Panasonic sells the V-Log L licence.

Sending a slip of paper in a cardboard box packed with synthetic filler around the planet so one can complete the transaction online before throwing box, filler and little bit of paper away – sheesh.

Sorry but time to wake up and smell the coffee of global environmental responsibility, Panasonic.

Getting the best out of non-log footage prior to the GH5

Paul Leeming’s GH5 rig in 8Sinn cage and Scorpio handle, rod riser, Shoot35 follow focus, and Manfrotto Xume magnetic filter attachment system on vintage Zeiss Contax prime lens.

Instead of Natural or any other Rec. 709 photo style, I chose a Leeming-customized Cinelike D photo style for my GH4 and GX8, and have been happy with the results even though they both only shoot in 8-bit 4:2:0.

Then and now, 4K 8-bit 4:2:0 flat footage shot at 400 ISO satisfies a fair percentage of my short movie shooting needs.

Paul Leeming’s Leeming LUT One for the GH4 brought the best tone and colour rendering I had achieved in small camera video by combining Mr Leeming’s custom Cinelike D settings with his Leeming LUT One for the GH4 applied to my footage in Final Cut Pro X, Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve or, even, Adobe Photoshop’s Motion workspace for short video projects.

Paul Leeming testing Panasonic Lumix GX8, Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera, Samsung NX1 and Digital Bolex D16 cameras for versions of Leeming LUT One for each.

I have achieved good results on the GX8 with the GH4 and now more recently using the GH5 version of his Cinelike D LUT to the point where I am happily combining Cinelike D and V-Log L footage from all three cameras into the same movie project.

Mr Leeming tells me he will be updating some of his LUTs after having completed work on several feature film projects to approach the results he has obtained with the V-Log L photo style version of his LUT for the GH5.

Work is in progress right now on that and he will be releasing recommended camera settings for all Panasonic cameras along with two Leeming LUT One versions that will work for all off them, for Cinelike D and V-Log L.

Versatility and 15 photo styles options

I set the GH5 loaner up with Mr Leeming’s Cinelike D and V-Log L photo style customizations, but shot most of my video on V-Log L and have been very happy with the results and the one to two stops extra dynamic range that it bestows.

The GH5’s 10-bit 4:2:2 V-Log L and ISO range from a base of 400 up to 1600 or 3200 depending on how prepared one is to apply de-noising in post-production gives me the confidence to take on pretty much any subject or common lighting situation.

Panasonic has gone to town with photo styles on the GH5.

As well as four custom settings slots, eleven readymade customizable styles are available when shooting video and one has a choice of nine when shooting stills.

The Panasonic Lumix GH5’s 15 Photo Styles:

  • Standard
  • Vivid
  • Natural
  • Monochrome
  • L.Monochrome
  • Scenery
  • Portrait
  • Custom1
  • Custom2
  • Custom3
  • Custom4
  • Cinelike D
  • Cinelike V
  • Like709 – video-only
  • V-Log L – video-only

The new ability to shoot JPEGs in Cinelike D or Cinelike V is an interesting one. I bought my GX8 as a backup video camera as well as production stills camera, and the addition of both customizable options to the GH5’s stills photo styles list improves its usefulness as a production stills camera, alongside of its 6K and 4K Photo capabilities.

Shoot Cinelike D or Cinelike V JPEG stills for fast, easy integration into the video edit without raw processing or painstaking colour matching.

If the video has been shot in Cinelike D customized for Leeming LUT One, create a matching customized Cinelike D for your JPEGs, hand them over to the production company then archive your raw files for post-processing later.

For years I relied on two Leica M4-P rangefinder cameras and a set of Summicron lenses for documentary, magazine and newspaper photography assignments and personal projects, along with cameras in other formats.

Movie production stills photographers traditionally rely on DSLRs encased in blimps, an unwieldy and costly solution to the need for shooting silently when the cinema cameras are running.

However, the production stills photographers of my early acquaintance carried Leica M rangefinder cameras that they used in between takes, not while movie film was rolling.

Although I did not enter my colleagues’ esteemed ranks working on feature films, I took on the occasional small production stills assignment and relied on my Leicas, 120-format rangefinder cameras and 4”x5” sheet film cameras, all mirrorless and close to silent when shooting.

Now, I might choose from an array of mirrorless cameras each with the native ability to shoot silently via their electronic shutter options with my current personal preference being rangefinder and rangefinder-style cameras in Micro Four Thirds and APS-C sensor sizes.

Sensors, sizes and camera shapes

In the long lead up to the arrival of the GH5, some documentary moviemakers of my acquaintance added a GX8 to their tool kit and raved about how good its video is and speculated that the GH5’s sensor may have similar qualities.

Their guesses were close to the mark especially in both cameras’ megapixel ratings. 20MP has become the new mirrorless base standard, and picky clients have even fewer reasons to demand their photographers shoot only with so-called “full format” or “full frame” cameras.

Until I invest in a second Fujifilm X-Pro2 rangefinder camera or more likely the coming OVF-less X-E3 for second-camera duties on documentary stills projects, I carry my 20MP GX8 alongside my 24MP X-Pro2.

Despite its lack of an OVF, the GX8 handles in a similar way to the rangefinder camera especially in allowing me to shoot with both eyes wide open and brain displaying wider and narrower images side-by-side.

Better yet, the GX8’s unique tilting EVF allows me to shoot as if using a waist-level viewfinder camera like the sadly discontinued Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex cameras.

Full articulation and HDR bracketing

The GH5 and other DSLR-style cameras do not, or at least they do so with some difficulty.

I was not a dedicated SLR photographer during the analog era, preferring rangefinders and the sheet film cameras with which I learned photography in art school.

However, I find that DSLR-style cameras like the GH5 and GH4 are my best option for two forms of photography for which I once relied on sheet film and roll film technical cameras – architecture and product photography.

The key feature tipping me over into relying on both cameras for both types of subject of matter is their fully articulated monitor.

The one or two-way tilting monitors on Sony’s and Fujifilm’s cameras do not come close in utility value. If a monitor is to move at all, please, give me full and not partial articulation.

I often shoot HDR architectural exteriors in our famous Australian laser beam sunlight that makes squinting into an EVF a challenge.

A fully articulated monitor can be tilted and swung away from the camera body and shaded or shielded with a hood.

It allows me to hold the camera high or low without the old news photographer’s Hail Mary guess at what the camera is actually seeing.

Product photography in my cramped little kitchen-cum-studio is next to impossible without a fully articulated monitor allowing me to set up and make a shot while standing off at left or right of the camera and Panasonic has my eternal gratitude for this.

Much of my product photography is shot in HDR these days, a habit I took up when I discovered my GH4 allows up to 7 bracketed exposures.

I stayed away from High Dynamic Range photography for years when HDR appeared to be all about hyper-surrealism and the extreme exaggeration of colour and tones.

All that changed with Macphun’s Aurora HDR 2017 and now Aurora HDR 2018 used in combination with Macphun’s Luminar raw processor-cum-image editor, allowing me to produce architectural and product shots that look and feel more realistic than single-shot photography permits.

Recently I have found myself shooting 5 to 7 brackets at 2/3 to 1 stop apart, combining them in Aurora then exporting them to Luminar for export to JPEG after the most minimal of tweaks.

On lenses and the Leica kit lens

GH5 with Panasonic Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 kit zoom in its Seercam Cube GH5 cage with Røde VideoMic Pro and Peak Design Clutch and Cuff camera straps, making for a versatile, protective handheld rig. Breakthrough Photography ND filter attached via Breakthrough Photography brass step-up ring.

The loaner GH5 came with the Panasonic Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens, one of two kit zoom options with the other being the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/.8 II Aspheric Power OIS zoom lens.

The Leica zoom lens’ optical qualities are a pleasant reminder of my beloved Leica M-System prime lenses and its 12mm to 60mm is a more versatile improvement on its Lumix sister’s shorter 12mm to 35mm focal range.

The rationale for kit zooms is that they should provide enough focal lengths to cover most stills or video situations that one might encounter.

The Leica zoom is a promising solution for photography given the GH5’s ability to leverage the lens’ Optical Image Stabilization with the camera’s In-Body Image Stabilization via its Dual IS capability.

Its low effective maximum aperture of f/4.0 at the long end is more of a problem for documentary video where shooting in unpredictable lighting is common despite the increasing availability of small, portable LED lights.

While carrying the GH5 plus Leica zoom throughout the day within a range of lighting conditions, I often found myself yearning for a faster maximum aperture or a longer maximum focal length as well as a more usable manual focussing system than focus-by-wire.

I would love to see Panasonic’s optical engineers take a leaf out of the Olympus lens design book.

The manual clutch focus feature in Olympus’ ever-growing M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lens range tipped the balance for me in buying two Olympus zoom lenses and I have more on my wishlist.

Ditto the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro f/2.8 zoom lens maximum aperture and f/1.2 prime lens maximum aperture.

Many times even f/2.8 can be a stop or two too little and having one or two f/1.2 prime lenses in one’s video camera kit proves to be a wise investment.

If f/2.8 or f/1.2 and upper ISOs of 1600 or 3200 are not enough then time to consider carrying a Rotolight Neo 1 or Neo 2 to supplement that available darkness with some beautiful available light.

Enough for now?

I had intended this article to be much more in-depth when commencing writing, but being at the end of the review loaner queue tends to steal one’s thunder after so many brand ambassadors and early adopters have already published such excellent videos and articles.

What, I often wonder, would I have to add that is new and interesting to an already mature conversation?

I have removed the video still frames and photographs used to illustrate the first version of this article as software and LUT makers have now added or improved GH5 support to their products or that support will be be coming real soon now.

Links

Image Credits

Header image concept and hack by Carmel D. Morris. Product shots made as single shots or HDR brackets on Panasonic Lumix GX8 or GH4 with Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 Aspheric lens then processed with Macphun Aurora HDR 2018.

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