7.27.2017

Buying a Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 makes it pretty clear that I'm back in "Two System Hell" again.


After my shoot on Tues. at Zach Theatre I couldn't get one idea out of my head; that it would be really cool to have a very sharp lens that covered all the focal lengths between the equivalents of 24 to 200mm in a lens with a fixed, fairly fast aperture. A lens that could cover all the near and far shots in a theatrical dress rehearsal without breaking a sweat. One that I could use on the GH5 to press into service when shooting video or regular photographs. Turns out that such an animal does exist and all the feedback that I've gotten here, via e-mail, and in trusted blogger reviews made the lens out to be pretty fantastic.

I've been testing my GH5 and find it to be a wonderful camera to work with but I wanted a lens that could take advantage of the autofocus capabilities of the camera but would also be optimized for manual focusing in video. Seems that the 12/100mm from Olympus checked all the boxes.

I didn't know what the supply might be like in the bold world outside the cocoon of my studio so I called the folks at Precision Camera to find that they had three in stock. I only needed one.

With the eternal, maddening construction and consequential delays on our major north/south road from my studio to the camera store I was able to "enjoy" a half hour of driving to go ten miles north and then nearly 45 minutes to make the same trip back south. But I had a new goal in mind besides just buying local, my plan was to negotiate a deal which would also get me a free, vacuum insulated, stainless steel water bottle from the store. Yes, it has a logo on it but it's still a very cool (and effective water bottle).

I've been walking around the studio, the house and the neighborhood from the minute I got back snapping images willy-nilly and everything I focus the new lens on looks very cool.

So here we are again. Two systems deep. Unwilling to fully commit to one or the other. At least it's a hell of a lot of fun.....

Looks like we've got at least one foot in that small sensor camp. What keeps you shooting m4:3?

Answer to reader who wants to know if I'll be returning my GH5 for a refund...


For a while here at the VSL's massive testing laboratory it looked like sheer gloom and doom for the GH5. The darn thing is about the same size as our beloved Sony A7Rii but that Sony camera just blows the GH5 out of the water when it comes to mind altering levels of resolution and detail. The A7Rii makes the Panasonic cry like a little girl when it comes to dynamic range and highlight recovery. And, it's got that all important more narrow depth of field when used with fast (or any) glass in the same basic angle of view.  Add to this that the A7Rii already had pretty nice 4K video (in APS-C mode) and it seems like a total smackdown. Who in their right mind would keep the 5?

My accounting department came in early this morning to box up the Panasonic and get the paperwork in order to make a return today. When I found out I fired everyone in that department. Who needs logic and metrics where camera body decisions are made?

You're damn right we're keeping the GH5, and here's why: The video performance from this camera is fantastic. Reason enough to own it. When used in conjunction with an external video recorder/monitor like the Atomos Shogun, in the 4K Pro Res set up it holds its own with anything out there except maybe a giant Red or Arri Alexa camera. For the kind of corporate work I do even staying all in camera delivers the good and does so in a very small form factor. While the Sony has an advantage in the arena of noise performance at higher ISOs the GH5 has much, much nicer skin tones and overall color and gradation. We'll keep it for anything that demands great, fast, happy video. 

But wait, there's more! Few other cameras (maybe the Olympus EM-1.2) are set up to use my dear old Pen FT lenses as well. At last count there are seven that we actively use... 

In either video or stills the GH4 runs circles around the Sonys when it comes to battery capacity and power management. Two extra batteries will get me through a full day of shooting while three pockets full of Sony batteries might be needed for the same run. 

Another difference is in handling. The Panasonic is designed for someone who actually shoots all day long. The Sony can deliver the goods and it's head and shoulders above most cameras for imaging performance but the Panasonic feels good. Works well. Has some winning personality. Got the good genetics when it comes to the menu UI and so much more. 

I can see a difference in image files. The Sony is lush and luxurious. You reach the end of your tether a little quicker with the Panasonic. But, again, we're talking the difference between 100% and 95%. I could make a living with either system. And do it pretty well. 

So, I'm getting rid of all the Sony stuff, right? Not so fast. There's a lot I like about the two Sony FF bodies I have and the selection of lenses I've put together. But the kicker is that big sensor hiding behind that weird body design. 

The Panasonic is fun to shoot. The Sony will deliver when the art director with OCD comes through the door. Let's keep both. 

Starting my personal KirkStarter Campaign to raise money for my hotly anticipated acquisition of the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 to round out my m4:3 system. I've already donated some and I guess I'll keep donating until I've reached my goal. Sorry, there's no website for donations. 

Sony vs. Panasonic. No contest. Both.



A very important test for my new GH5...


Sure, the GH5 can work with "legacy" lenses and it can work shooting stage shows in near darkness but can it bring home the bacon on a really tough assignment? I thought I'd take some time this morning to see. 

It was a fun, tough day in the pool. The water temperature was creeping up to 86(f) but the hard charging folks in my lane were loathe to back away from the kinds of intervals they usually do on sets when the water is 78. We ground through much swimming but I saved my real energy for my most definitive test yet of the new GH5. Could it handle full daylight at ISO 200? Would the files fall apart at such a dicey sensitivity setting? Would we get all the color saturation and sharpness we were used to getting at ISO 1600? 

The testing crew was on pins and needles for sure. Why? Well, I think today is the last day I could return the camera for a full refund...

I took no chances with sissy-style autofocus lenses. I precision-attached a proven favorite, the Olympus Pen FT 40mm f1.4. Since this was to be a "real whirled" test I eschewed the false support of a tripod and relied on the in-body image stabilization. 

We planned on having an extensive crew on hand but our digital tech couldn't get his three ergo carts through the pool door and up the little hill. Our grip crew, along with our grip truck, got caught in rush hour traffic on the insidious Mopac "Expressway" (where good commuters go to die from boredom) so we had to make due without the diesel generator, the sky crane and the raft of 18K HMIs. My original plan was to "fly" a giant scrim over the entire pool area and then come back in and emulate the effects of sunlight by using a bank of large HMI lights. Sadly, logistics prevented this critical part of my test. 

We had hired America's best towel fluffer from Miami but her flight into Austin was delayed. She and her three assistants are recovering from their horrendous flight delays over at the Four Seasons Hotel and, as of 8:00 am this morning she was not returning my calls...

On the call sheet for this test was a small (twelve persons) crew of grass stylists who were supposed to be on site by 5 a.m, this morning  removing any brown grass in the frame and replacing it with bright green grass that we had flown in from Scotland but when they arrived the team of barristas we'd arranged to be on site was nowhere in sight so the grass experts left in protest. Can't blame them. Who can style turf without a good cup of coffee?

I had to send my two assistants home sick. Once we lost the DIT and the turf crew they began to suffer from existential angst, which both assured me was a real condition and covered extensively in the beta of the DSM-VI. Just go look it up. I'm sure it's there. Photographic Existential Angst or "PEA". Few cures, many symptoms. 

Trooper that I am I went boldly ahead with the critical towel testing pretty much on my own. The almost final straw was when I got the text from our model, Karlie Kloss. Her Toyota Corolla had broken down just a few miles from her secret home in Pflugerville, Texas and she was waiting for a tow.  Now I was starting to panic because I'd been led to believe that few could wrangle a Marvel-themed towel like Karlie. 

Fortunately one of my lane mates agreed to hold the towel. I proceeded with understandable trepidation. Could Anne really manage to hold the towel exactly as Karlie Kloss would have? Who would do Anne's nails? 

Amazingly we were able to pull it off. The towel went up and the necessary shots were taken. I've analyzed the nano-contrast and the bokeh and integrated it into my DXO data. 

The upshot? Even without a vast crew of highly trained helpers we were able to do a successful test of the GH5 and the best towel ever made for swimmers. My conclusions? My verdict? My assessment?

Yeah. The towel looks pretty good. Now we'll all sleep just a little bit better.......