Lumix G | Experience: Panasonic Lumix LX100 II – a look at the new features

https://www.lumixgexperience.panasonic.co.uk/news/panasonic-lumix-lx100-ii-a-look-at-whats-new/

“… It isn’t like Panasonic to have Mk II versions of its cameras in Europe but it is easy to see why this particular model is being presented as a ‘version’ rather than as a LX200 might have been. The LX100 II is clearly an update of the LX100, bringing the feature-set of the four-year-old compact into line with that of the company’s current G series cameras. At first, second and third glance, the new model is very much like the original in look and feel as almost all the changes have happened inside not outside the body….

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Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II

Commentary

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Fujifilm X10 with fixed collapsible zoom lens fully extended, a terrific complement to the Fujifilm X100 fixed prime lens camera. Brilliant for stills photography, not so much for video.

Although Panasonic classes its Lumix DC-LX100 II as a camera for enthusiasts, this stratification of camera models into professional, enthusiast and beginner is just a little off the mark especially given the varying needs of independent documentary moviemakers and photographers.

Few professionals rely on just the top-end flagship cameras and lenses in any product range.

When I felt the need to supplement the revolutionary Fujifilm X100 “enthusiasts” camera with something similar I chose Fujifilm’s X10 and relied on both for professional-level photography assignments for my voluntary work for a health and human rights charity.

I could have used my Canon EOS 5D Mark II for the job but it would have been the most inappropriate choice given the circumstances and sensitivities of my subjects and the places and events where they were to be found.

My X100 has been honourably retired though it sometimes comes out for documentary projects where discretion is demanded, and my X10 has found a home with a friend needing a great little travel camera.

The only downside to both cameras was Fujifilm’s then lack of commitment to top quality video, so I switched over to Panasonic’s groundbreaking Lumix DMC-GH4 as my prime stills and video camera with a Lumix DMC-GX8 as a backup which rived so capable in its own right that I often carry it every day equipped with the sadly underestimated Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Aspheric Mega OIS zoom that I bought secondhand via eBay.

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SmallRig Cage for Panasonic Lumix LX100 2198, enabling easy attachment of handles, monitors and other accessories to the camera.

The only downside to both cameras is that neither is as compact as Fujifilm’s two offerings and had I known about the Lumix DMC-LX100 chances are that I would have added one of those to my kit.

I still miss the ability to carry a small, lightweight camera with me each and every day either stowed in a larger bag or in its own dedicated detachable belt pouch such as Think Tank Photo’s Stuff It! or better yet Little Stuff It!

Panasonic’s Lumix LX100 was unique in its day for mating a top-quality wide aperture Leica, no less, zoom lens with a variable Micro Four Thirds sensor and still has no equivalent in other brands other than Leica’s D-LUX (Typ 109), an outcome of the Panasonic-Leica camera and lens joint production exercise.

The announcement of the Lumix LX100’s successor as a newer version rather than a complete new replacement in the form of the long-expected Lumix LX200 has come as a surprise and casts doubt on whether and when the hoped-for vamped-up LX200 may ever appear.

Meanwhile I will be keeping an eye out for hands-on reviews of the Lumix LX100 II, adding them to this page, and am hoping that the camera will provide a worthy supplement to its predecessor which clearly still has some life left in it yet albeit with a slightly reduced feature set compared to the Lumix LX100 II.

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Sony USA: Sony Celebrates No. 1 Overall Position in U.S. Full-frame Cameras with Launch of Historic ‘Be Alpha’ Campaign

https://alphauniverse.com/stories/sony-takes-over-as-no-1-in-u-s–full-frame-cameras–launches-historic–be-alpha–campaign/

“… The ‘Be Alpha’ campaign will also feature programs that are designed to foster growth in both the current and next generations of imaging professionals, the most notable of which being the flagship ‘Alpha Female’ program. This multi-tiered, female exclusive program is Sony’s thoughtful response to the imaging industry’s well-documented diversity challenges. It will include a variety of grants and mentorship opportunities for female photographers and videographers, as well as the production of several large-scale industry events. Additional details to be released soon….”

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Sony Alpha a9 mirrorless digital camera with Sony VG-C3EM vertical grip and Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 24-70mm f/4 ZA OSS zoom lens.

Commentary

Details about Sony’s coming ‘Alpha Female’ program thread of the ‘Be Alpha’ campaign have yet to appear online but this is the very first time to my knowledge that any camera maker has done anything to address the huge imbalance in opportunities for and representation of female photographers and moviemakers.

It is likely that concrete information about the ‘Alpha Female’ program and the ‘Alpha Female’ photographers and moviemakers involved in it will begin appearing during the ‘Be Alpha’ campaign launch event on August 19th, World Photography Day, in New York City. 

I hope that the ‘Alpha Female’ program will be a beacon to all aspiring and established female photographers and moviemakers everywhere, not just limited to the USA, and inspire all camera and other hardware manufacturing companies to make a real change for the better.

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“Not enough lenses”? Sony A-Mount and E-Mount lenses in 35mm and APS-C sensor formats as of 2017.

Coverage of Sony products, as well as those by Canon and Nikon, has been sporadic here at ‘Untitled’ but Sony’s ‘Alpha Female’ program as well as the other two camera makers’ coming high-end mirrorless cameras are incentive to try to persuade all three brands to assist us in writing about their products with firsthand experience.

Another such incentive is Australian cinematographer/director Paul Leeming’s creation of Sony and Canon inclusive Leeming LUT Pro, “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”.

“Multi-camera shoots are now much easier, because you are starting with a common, colour-matched baseline, meaning much less time trying to match cameras in post before starting your creative grading. Once all your cameras have been corrected, you can optionally use the specially matched Leeming LUT Quickies™ for a one-touch creative grade designed to work seamlessly with the common baseline of Leeming LUT Pro™ corrected footage.”

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DPReview: New TSA procedure requires cameras to be placed in a separate bin

https://www.dpreview.com/news/3718283787/new-tsa-rules-require-separate-screening-for-cameras

“Photographers who fly frequently in the US may want to finally pay for TSA Pre-check status. New rules state that in standard security lines, cameras will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening. According to new procedures announced by the TSA today, any electronic device larger than a cell phone will need to be removed from its case or bag and placed in a bin with nothing above or below it.

Now, not only will your laptop need its own bin, but potentially every camera body, lens, flashgun and tablet in your carry-on bags will need to be placed in bins for X-ray screening. A photographer traveling with a full complement of gear for a shoot is going to need to budget a little extra time for all of the un-packing and packing at the airport.”

Fujifilm Interviewed On Being Serious About Video, Possible GFX-Series Rangefinder, User Feedback and More

Good in-depth interviews with camera company decision-makers, product designers and engineers are all too rare and very welcome when they appear, especially when from those companies with histories of listening to professional customers expressing their needs. Fujifilm has a reputation for being one such good listener. 

The Fujifilm GFX 50S sensor. Might Fujifilm consider a GFX 50R housing this same sensor in a rangefinder-style camera body? Intriguing thought as Fujifilm has a long, impressive history of producing excellent analog medium format rangefinder cameras.

Three senior Fujifilm camera division figures such as Yuji Igarashi, GM of the Electronic Imaging Division, Makoto Oishi, Manager of Sales and Marketing Group and Billy Luong, Manager for Technical Marketing and Product Specialist Group were  interviewed on new directions and past achievements by Amazon.com publication DPReview shortly before Fujifilm’s recent announcement of its latest cameras and lenses, most notably the Fujifilm GFX 50S, X100F, X-T20 and the XF 50mm f/2.0 R WR.

The interview was also a reminder that there are Fujfilm cameras I currently don’t have hands-on experience with and that are worth further thought and investigation, the X-En series and the X-Tn0 series, n standing for product version number thus the recently announced X-T20, successor to the X-T10.

Fujifilm GFX 50S and its successors

fujifilm_gfx_50s_image05_square_1920pxFor whom is the GFX 50S medium format digital camera intended?

‘Fashion, commercial and landscape photographers are the main targets,’ says Oishi. …

‘The tonality and dynamic range also mean it’ll appeal to wedding photographers,’ adds Luong. ‘And architecture,’ says Oishi.

The GFX 50S’ 50MP sensor will also prove useful for fine art and portrait photographers many of whom produce large-format prints for exhibition and for clients. For example, British photographer Brian Griffin shows his fine art portrait medium format photographs as large full-colour prints to great effect.

Architectural photography was traditionally made with 4″x5″ sheet film cameras during the analog era using camera movements for perspective correction.

Tilt/shift lenses for 35mm DSLRs are expensive and similar lenses in medium format would be even more costly, so perspective correction is more often done in software using products like DxO ViewPoint or similar features built into raw processors and image editors.

Fujifilm has taken a different direction by providing adapters so GFX series cameras can be used as sensors attached to the rear of view cameras.

Fujifilm X100F and the X100 Series

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What place does Fujfilm have for the X100 series now represented by the X100F?

‘… the X100 is often photographers’ first foray into the Fujifilm system. The size, the weight, the image quality. A good proportion of our customers are saying the X100 brought back their passion for photography. That type of person is very much part of the equation,’ says Luong.

The Fujifilm Finepix X100 was a revolutionary camera bringing a precision digital rangefinder within reach of the masses. It was the digital stills camera I had been waiting for after finding DSLRs just as irritating for their mirror slap, shutter shake and lack of deep space window vision as analog SLRs had been.

I was immediately sold on Fujifilm digital cameras but they lost me temporarily when the X-Pro1 proved to be something of a promising dud, especially for spectacle-wearers and those of use needing high-speed focussing in fast-moving situations.

The X-Pro2 and X-T2 are a welcome return to cameras with traits reminiscent of Fujifilm’s analog glory days under the Fujica brand name, especially its big range of 120 roll film rangefinder masterpieces and the incredible GX680 series of technical studio cameras that combined medium format SLR technology with sheet film cameras’ tilt, swing and shift movements.

Might a medium format rangefinder camera be in the works?

‘It depends on demand and the market. The GFX 50S is one style: the ‘S’ means ‘SLR-style.’ Another way to do it would be a rangefinder style camera. Maybe an ‘R’ could be a rangefinder,’ says Oishi.

Then there is the possibility of a medium format digital rangefinder camera evolving from Fujifilm’s own many fixed lens medium format roll film cameras produced in formats from 6×4.5cm through 6x7cm, 6x8cm and 6x9cm.

‘If mirrorless interchangeable lens camera is too big as a rangefinder style, a fixed lens camera could be smaller, like the GF670.’

Fujfilm X-T20 and the X-Tn0 Series

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Fujifilm’s smaller, more affordable spin-off DSLR-style camera series currently represented by the X-T20 is one with which I am entirely unfamiliar yet bears serious consideration as a second or backup camera to the flagship X-Tn series currently represented by the X-T2.

Luong explains: ‘The SLR style targets a wider audience. We find pro and enthusiast photographers gravitate towards the SLR-style camera. Back to the GFX camera, that’s why we went with the SLR style.’

Fujifilm X-E2S and the X-En Series

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Like the X-Tn0 series cameras, I have to try out the latest representative of the X-En series, the X-E2S. Now that the X-T20 has gained X-Pro2 and X-T2 traits like the 24.3MP X-Trans sensor and speedier autofocus, I can see why X-En series enthusiasts have been agitating for similarly updated features and functionalities.

Given a choice between the DSLR-style of the X-T20 and the non-OVF rangefinder-style of the X-E2S, I would tend towards the latter. Although I prefer optical viewfinder cameras for certain tasks, electronic viewfinder cameras (EVF) have many virtues and bring a different way of seeing and depicting into play.

Luckily, ‘XE is an important series for us,’ Oishi says: ‘There are so many XE1, 2 and 2S users in the world…. Obviously we can’t confirm anything at this point but we are aware there are many requests for this type of camera.’

Video

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Although Fujifilm’s two current flagship cameras have considerably improved video capabilities compared to their predecessors, there is still some way to go with the firmware in both.

In his letter to Fujifilm, published here as How to Make the X-T2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Letter to Fujifilm from Paul Leeming, the Australian director/cinematographer responsible for Leeming LUT One as well as a number of feature films shot on RED Super 35 and Panasonic Lumix GH4 Super 16 cameras lays out a range of firmware and hardware improvements that would help Fujifilm “blow the industry wide open”.

As a GH4 owner myself, I can attest that this and related Lumix cameras like the GX8 and GX80/85 possess a videocentric feature list and ease-of-use that have yet to be beaten by any other current hybrid camera including the Fujifilm X-T2.

‘Video is a big growth area for us,’ acknowledges Luong: ‘Our latest cameras such as the X-Pro2 and X-T2 show there’s a lot we’ve learned.’

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Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-GH4 remains the benchmark of usability in 4K Super 16/Micro Four Thirds hybrid cameras. Will Fujifilm match its video feature set with the current or future X-Tn Super 35/APS-C hybrid camera? Moviemaker Brad Latta with GH4 and Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 lens. 

Excellent news, but as evidenced by Mr Leeming’s letter about the X-T2 and my own asking Fujifilm to improve the X-Pro2’s video firmware features at How to Make the X-Pro2 a Credible Filmmaking Camera, A Request to Fujifilm by Karin Gottschalk, there is more for Fujifilm to learn and put into practice.

Paul Leeming and I both want to see Fujifilm bring its current and future flagship cameras’ video capabilities up to par or surpass those of the GH4 and the soon-to-be-released GH5 is that we will have excellent Super 35 alternatives to Panasonic’s Super 16 cameras.

Then there is the question of more video-capable Fujinon lenses, both primes and zooms.

‘We already have cinema lenses that are Super 35,’ Luong reminds us. ‘We’re continuing to develop video features, so we’ll continue to investigate.’

Listening to Customer Feedback

While there does not appear to be a direct channel into Fujifilm for user feedback, Fujifilm staff members are known to read certain online publications, and articles published here are passed on up the system hopefully to end up in front of Fujifilm staffers like Messers Yuji Igarashi, Makoto Oishi and Billy Luong.

‘Our X Photographers: professionals who use the camera day in, day out, that’s the first line of feedback,’ says Luong: ‘It’s quite a large group. With the GFX we had something like 50 photographers around the world using pre-production cameras.’

That figure of 5o GFX 50S pre-production camera users is impressive. I hope that Fujifilm will seek feedback like Mr Leeming’s from plenty of well-qualified video professionals and improve the firmware in the X-Pro2 and X-T2 as soon as possible while planning major video-centred hardware and firmware improvements in the X-T2’s and X-Pro2’s successors.

Image Credits:

Header aka featured image created for this website in Photoshop by Carmel D. Morris. Product photographs kindly supplied by Fujifilm.

Tech Notes:

Product photographs in the body of this article have been processed in Macphun Luminar using the Majestic Dreams preset from the premium Photo Essentials Pack. Portrait of Brad Latta made as 3-bracket HDR on Fujifilm X-T2 with XF 56mm f/1.2 lens then processed in Macphun Aurora HDR 2017 and Luminar.

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

01_leica-lens_slant_1920px
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.
m25mmf12_stand_mf_rotated_1920px
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.

Recommended Reading

Recommended Videos

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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