video

...now browsing by category

 

Panasonic GH5 announced – specs for 4K video appear awesome and 5 axis image stabilisation at last

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Whilst Panasonic has given some specs of its next flagship Micro Four Thirds camera, the Panasonic GH-5, the company formally announced the final specs this am at CES 2017, and impressive specs they are if you are into videography!

Panasonic has for some years now been focusing primarily on video capabilities rather than flash or still photography for their mirrorless cameras, and particularly with their GH series which have been very popular amongst videographers despite the 2x crop factor of the sensor.

Their current model, the Panasonic GH4 was one of the first to incorporate 4K video.

Panasonic retained the same GH4 battery for the GH5, and say the GH5 will be shipped in March-April 2017 and have priced it at $US1995 body only which is the same as the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II.

Now the GH5 raises the bar to a completely new level by adding in:

  • 20mp sensor without low pass filter for greater image detail
  • new Venus 10 engine which is said to give 2 stops better high ISO image quality thanks to new High Precision Multi Process NR and even better DFD AF tracking thanks to 480 fps drive speed and the time for measuring the distance to the subject is 6x faster, while factoring the distance into in-plane or in-depth is 2x faster
    • ultra-high-speed AF of approximately 0.05 sec
    • By analyzing every single frame precisely, it achieves a maximum 200% higher precision frame detection with minimum motion detection error for higher tracking tolerance against moving subjects
    • “Multi-pixel Luminance Generation renders clear, sharp images by referring to a 9x larger area of pixel information during the de-mosaic process for precise detail reproduction”
  • a lovely new electronic viewfinder with 3.68 million dots
  • 2 SD card slots, each capable of using UHS-II cards and supporting U3 class cards as well as V60 class cards for 60mb/s read/write
  • SD cards are hot swappable – if recording video, one fills then can automatically keep recording to the 2nd card and while that is happening, eject and replace the 1st card so recording can then continue unlimited when the 2nd card is full!
  • on sensor CDAF  autofocus points substantially increased to 225 points but still no PDAF points as they are relying upon their DFD technology
  • at last a 5 axis sensor based image stabilisation system similar to Olympus, and more recently Sony and Pentax, and this will work in Dual IS 2.0 with lenses with optical image stabilisation which includes most Panasonic lenses (Dual IS is presumably not compatible with Olympus lenses – you only get the sensor IS).
  • mechanical shutter burst mode increased to 9fps with continuous AF or 12 fps without C-AF
  • USB 3.1 USB-C type port
  • full sized type A HDMI port
  • 5Ghz 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 for smartphone remote control and transfer of GPS data, etc
  • new XLR audio hotshoe adapter powered through the hotshoe to give Phantom power to external mics and manual audio level controls
  • the GH4′s 4K 30fps Photo mode has been taken up a notch to 4K 8mp 60fps or 6K 18mp 30fps photo modes (upscaled 6000×3000 pixel 2:1 aspect ratio)
  • the 4K video has been given an enormous boost in quality options as well as features:
    • uses the full sensor so no longer a further crop
    • movie length is now unlimited
    • no longer requires external HDMI output – the GH5 will record internally ( although the really high end 4K modes will require HDMI output)
    • internal recording 4K 4:2:0 8bit 150mbps 60p/50p
    • internal recording 4K 4:2:2 10bit 150mbps 30p/24p
    • internal recording 4K 8bit 100mbps 30p/24p
    • firmware updates will provide even higher HDMI modes such as 400Mbit ALL-I codec for 4K (10bit 4:2:2)
    • Anamorphic 4K mode
  • 1080HD can now do up to 180fps to give 7.5x slow-mo effect if desired
    • firmware updates will provide 10bit in 1080p mode and 200Mbit ALL-I codec for 1080p (10bit 4:2:2)
  • choose between MOV, MP4, AVCHD Progressive and AVCHD formats at a variety of frame rates
  • ‘Cinelike D’ and ‘Cinelike V’ as well as ‘Like 709’ for compatibility with HDTV
  • control over the highlight response rolloff (Knee point and Knee Slope)
  • unlike Sony, Panasonic requires that if you want V-LOGL and VLogL View Assist Function, you need to purchase this as an additional option for $US99
  • embeds SMPTE-compliant Time Code either in Rec Run or Free Run count-up method
  • dramatically reduced rolling shutter skew
  • display now also shows Gain and Shutter Angles, waveform or vectorscope monitor display and luminance level settings for 10-bit video
  • new rear AF point toggle
  • new rear dial
  • new built-in microphone that helps cancel out camera noise
  • can now use autoISO in manual exposure mode with exposure compensation set, and can assign slowest shutter speed for use in other modes
  • Post Focus enables users to select the specific focus point even after shooting – particularly helpful in situations like macro shooting where severe focusing is required. In addition
  • Focus Stacking

Compared to the similarly priced Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:

Pros

  • far better video capabilities, especially now that it also has the sensor based image stabilisation and the high end 4K modes (but then it also beats current Sony, Nikon and Canon cameras for video features as well and at much lower price points)
  • far better electronic viewfinder
  • GH5 can do flash sync to 1/2000th sec  with electronic 1st curtain shutter which might be very handy!!
  • Post Focus mode – user can select focus point after the shots were taken
  • similar sensor
  • both the SD card slots are UHS-II whereas the Olympus only has one which can use UHS-II
  • both weathersealed and freeze proof

Cons:

  • no PDAF points as it relies on DFD technology although this only works with Panasonic Micro Four thirds lenses
  • the Olympus is far better looking aesthetically with its retro styling
  • no Dual IS with Olympus OIS lenses such as the brilliant Olympus 300mm f/4  (but then the Olympus does not have Dual IS with Panasonic lenses)
  • still photography features generally not as good as the Olympus, for example:
    • 20mp RAW burst rate is only 9fps with C-AF and 12fps without C-AF (Olympus can do 18fps with C-AF and 60fps without C-AF) – although the GH5 can do 8mp 60fps and 18mp 30fps in the 4K and 6K Photo Modes respectively
    • the Olympus PDAF points allow faster AF of moving subjects with both Olympus and Panasonic lenses whereas the GH5 only works with Panasonic lenses
    • Olympus has a range of still photo techniques eg. HiRes 50mp mode, Live Composite mode for night shots, 20mp RAW Pro Capture mode (GH5 can do this pre-capture burst but only in the 18mp 6K jpeg Photo Mode), etc
    • Olympus has arguably better jpeg colours
    • although it has face detect AF, it doesn’t do closest eye detect AF as does the Olympus
    • electronic shutter only goes to 1/16000th sec not 1/32000th sec

For more information on the GH5 and updates as well as links to reviews see my wiki page.

DJI Zenmuse X5R Micro Four Thirds aerial quadcopter 4K RAW camera system takes high quality aerial videography to a new level

Saturday, September 12th, 2015

Let me start out by pointing out that I am not into videography, but there is something about beautifully smooth, high image quality, aerial video footage in cinema movies that makes the movies that much more compelling to watch, and I could see there are endless cinematic opportunities for a system which can deliver this.

DJI Zenmuse have previously had a quadcopter drone with a Go Pro camera in their X3 system but their newly announced X5 system takes this to a whole new level by adding a much larger and thus much higher image quality Micro Four Thirds based sensor camera with a Micro Four Thirds interchangeable lens mount.

To me, if one was going to fly a camera and control it remotely, the Micro Four Thirds sensor size would appear to give the optimum characteristics of image quality, compact, light size of the camera and lens to allow optimum GPS-based image stabilisation corrections at a sub-pexel level for smooth, sharp imagery and longer quadcopter battery life, adequate depth of field at wide open apertures.

And so we now have what appears to be an awesome system that purports to achieve all this – just look at the specs of the DJI Zenmuse X5R system!

DJI Zenmuse X5R system specifications:

  • DJI Inspire 1 Quadcopter
    • RRP $US2299
    • 1.2mile range, 360deg unobstructed views
    • GPS-based stabilisation system (precision accuracy of 0.02° giving sub-pixel stabilization)
    • Optical Flow Sensor for Indoor Flying
    • DJI Lightbridge System Integrated as well as 720p monitoring via Lightbridge
  • DJI Zenmuse X5R camera and 3 axis gimbal kit
    • RRP $US4999
    • 12.8 stops dynamic range 16mp sensor with ISO range of 100-25600, 7fps stills, and shutter to 1/8000th sec
    • records to a removable 512Gb SSD drive
    • records 16mp RAW stills or incredible lossless cinema 24p/30p 4K RAW 1.7Gbps (average bit rate, max. 2.4Gbps) video
    • ease of use to give “effortless aerial imaging”:
      • in auto-focus mode, simply tap on the screen of your mobile device to tell the camera to focus on a specific area
      • easily manually change settings such as focus, shutter, and aperture through the user-friendly DJI GO app
      • Zebra Pattern and Focus Peaking
  • Follow-Focus compatible Micro Four Thirds lenses:
  • optional DJI remote controlled Follow Focus controller for manual focus
    • follow focus controller $US1999 and remote controller $US999 works to 100m line of sight

If you don’t need 4K RAW video and are happy with just 4K video, then the much more affordable DJI Zenmuse X5 with 3 axis gimbal may address your needs:

  • 30p 4K, 30p 2.7K and 60p HD video
  • record to microSD cards (no SSD drive option)
  • RRP $US1699

Quadcopter

X5
X5 size

You need to check out their website for example videos and more details.

Yep, no more cumbersome dollies and learning image stabilisation rigs to do videos with a camera that moves, just do it with this quadcopter for amazing perspectives and versatility and 4K RAW video to boot is just amazing!

Sure, it may not have the 14 stops dynamic range of the newly announced 12mp Sony a7S II full frame mirrorless camera but this kit will be more manoeuvrable, less expensive (especially if it crashes or an eagle attacks it), give 4K RAW video, and should give imagery quality and perspectives not possible with a heavier and larger Sony kit.

I really wish I had one of these for the canyon shots in Northern Territory!

Thanks to 43Rumors website for bringing this to my attention.

Chicken mounted stabilised video camera or the run and gun Olympus E-M1?

Friday, October 4th, 2013

If you haven’t seen this amazing and quite funny adventurous chook with a video camera mounted to it’s head to ensure an image stabilised video even parachuting or going down a waterfall thanks to the chicken’s wonderful oculo-vestibular reflex which keeps its head still, then you need to do yourself a favour and check this Youtube video out:

 

Fortunately, for Micro Four Thirds users, the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 has the best non-chook image stabiliser built in – the sensor-based enhanced 5-axis IS system which works with ANY lens, and is so effective, it allows hand held shots longer than 1 sec with wide angle lenses to give those lovely flowing water waterfall/creek shots or blurred crowds, but not only that, it allows you to do away with looking after chooks or holding heavy, expensive stabiliser rigs, and allows you to have a very portable, fun to use, run and gun video kit:

One of the great reasons to buy the Olympus E-P5, E-M5 or E-M1 cameras.

Oh, and dpreview.com has just posted a full review of the E-P5 – see here.

“for the first time really, the E-P5 is a PEN model that offers a competatively complete camera – with the image quality, focus speed and user interface all coming together to offer a strong package. Of course its rather high pricing means it has to stand up to the E-M5 – one of our favorite mirrorless cameras so far – but if you want something a little smaller, the P5 does a good job of standing its ground.”

“the ability to easily transfer images to a smartphone (yours or someone else’s) proved to be rather liberating …… the Olympus system isn’t quite ‘click to send’ but it’s one of the easier to configure and initiate systems we’ve so far encountered”

BUT – seems to have a bug in the firmware or “shutter shock” as “Unusually prone to blurred/shaken images at certain shutter speeds (around 1/160sec)” … hmmm 1st time I have heard of this issue, and I haven’t noticed this on my E-M5.

Canon announces new Cine video camera system including 2 very expensive EOS dSLR cine cameras and a series of Cine lenses

Friday, November 4th, 2011

The anticipated announcement from Canon today has revealed a new pro Cine video camera system based around their EOS system, but with also a camera designed to take PL Cine lenses, the EOS C300 PL.

1st the two new video cameras:

Canon EOS C300 Digital Cinema Camera

  • two versions – EF lens mount and PL lens mount with expected list price of $US20,000 for body only.
  • 8.3MP Super 35mm sized CMOS sensor with automatic vignetting correction for recognised lenses
  • max. recording rate 50Mbps using MPEG2 1080p full HD video via industry-standard MXF (Material eXchange Format) audio and video file formats
  • frame rates of 59.41i, 50.00i, 29.97P, 25.00P and 23.98P (plus 24.00p in the PL camera)

4K Canon EOS dSLR in design stage

  • 35 mm full-frame CMOS sensor in a traditional dSLR camera body
  • 4K video (cropped to APS-H size) at 24P, with Motion-JPEG compression

EF Cine lenses:

  • CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6 L S
  • CN-E30-300mm T2.95-3.7 L S
  • CN-E24mm T1.5 L F
  • CN-E50mm T1.3 L F
  • CN-E85mm T1.3 L F

 

EF Cinema Zoom Lens_CN-E14.5-60mm T2.6 L S_EF Mount

Panasonic GH1 and GH2 HD video hacks for the best quality dSLR video quality available

Friday, August 12th, 2011

HD video can be captured with the following options with various cameras:

  • frame capture rates of 24, 30, 60 fps for NTSC and 25, 50 fps if PAL with 24/25 being preferred for those wanting a more film-like appearance, 30p is not a preferred rate.
  • if you capture at 60/50 fps then one can get a 2x slow motion video from it. If it was possible to capture 720p at 120 fps you could get 5x slow motion 24p.
  • video is progressive (p) if all frames are full frames, or interlaced (i) if each frame only captures half the lines on each image.
  • full HD resolution is 1920×1080 pixels (1080i) while standard HD resolution is 720p
  • motion jpeg records a series of still jpeg images and thus is easily edited on most computers but does take up a lot of disk space. This also enables it to track high-speed action at 30fps without any of the smeared motion artifacts that plague low-bitrate AVCHD videos. The MJPEG encoder also excels in difficult low-light conditions where the AVCHD encoder cuts down its bitrate to minimum quality levels
  • AVCHD is a compressed format which utilises the differences between stills, with the 1st image being the i-frame, and subequent frames are stored as P frames but only the data that has changed is encoded. this causes issues with rapidly changing imagery such as a panning camera or moving subjects. The quality is dependent upon various factors including the Group of Pictures (GOP) setting and whether B-frames and D-frames are utilised. Lowering the GOP makes it more like motionJpeg.
    • the new AVCHD 2.0 specs allow for 1920x1080p 30/50/60 fps 4:2:0 at up to 28Mbps plus 3D support – the forthcoming Panasonic GH-3 is expected to adopt this.
  • color and brightness can be encoded as either 4:2:2 sampling (requires more processing) or 4:2:0 sampling
  • sampling quality is generally indicated by megabits per second (Mbps) of image recorded – most current cameras by default record at 13-17Mbps, although the unhacked Panasonic GH-2 records at 23Mbps. Hacking of the firmware is often done to increase this rate to 35-100Mbps but at risk of issues with recording to cards (may require faster cards) and in-camera playback compatibility.
  • higher quality means you may need a faster SD card, and you should consider formatting the card in camera prior to shooting HD video to minimise card fragmentation.

The AVCHD video of the Panasonic GH-1 gave only 17Mbps quality and this resulted in mud artefacts on motion.

Firmware hacking software for Panasonic GH-2, and GH-1:

Fortunately, the firmware was soon hacked and this hacking has now matured and is virtually risk free thanks to the PTool sofware to the point that it now offers the following features:

  • works on all Panasonic GH1 and GF1 cameras, both hacked and unhacked
  • camera switchable between NTSC and PAL modes, in all interface languages.
  • removes 30min time limit for AVCHD videos
  • removes limit on batteries so you can buy batteries from other than Panasonic
  • ability to restore to initial firmware easily or switch between firmwares – just have a different version on each SD card and install as needed!

GH-1 “Reliable in-camera playback patch” offers:

  • 40Mbps FHD mode – AVCHD 1920×1080 24p/25p video (interlaced)
  • 40Mbps SH mode – AVCHD 1280×720 50p/60p video (progressive)
  • 35Mbps HD mode – MJPEG 1280×720 30p video in 4:2:2 color
  • 30Mbps VGA mode – MJPEG 960×720 30p video (iPad-compatible)
  • apparently recommended for dense foliage, running water
  • if your main concern is in-camera playback and reliability with great video quality and iPad support, this is the one for you!

GH-1 “Blackout-Powell Native 24p Patch v2” offers:

  • MJPEG HD mode: 1280×720 HD videos in 4:2:2 color depth, with peak bitrates up to around 60Mbps.
  • MJPEG VGA mode: 960×720 iPad-compatible videos, with peak bitrates up to 30Mbps.
  • optional anamorphic lens settings

GH-1 “100Mbps Max Latitude Patch V2” offers:

  • provides much improved dynamic range
  • Expanded video and audio buffers to guard against recording failures at high bitrates
  • 15-frame GOP-size in both PAL Native 25p and NTSC Native 24p video modes
  • Standard patch: 30Mbps iPad-compatible VGA MJPEG mode records in 960×720 resolution.
  • Anamorphic patch: 65Mbps 2X anamorphic VGA MJPEG mode records in 1920×720 resolution.
  • apparently recommended for night, or indoor videos
  • will not playback in camera if MJPEG or if high bitrate AVCHD.
  • AVCHD 4GB file-spanning for long video takes may not work reliably at high bitrates. For reliable recording of takes longer than about 12 minutes, select the “H” video mode instead of “SH”. This will produce average bitrates of about 24Mbps in 720p25/30 modes.
  • For extended recording times at moderate bitrates, selecting the “L” video mode instead of “SH” will produce bitrates below 17Mbps.
  • If shutter speed is set longer than the frame rate (e.g. slower than 1/30 at 30p), low-quality video files may be produced
  • While AVCHD bitrates may drop to very low levels in extremely dark situations, the 1080p FHD modes should continue to record even in total darkness. 720p SH modes may stop recording if subjected to darkness for over 10 seconds at a time.
  • see here for more details

GH-2 hacks:

  • the unhacked GH-2 offers 1920×1080 AVCHD in either 24p (at 17 or 23Mbps) or 50/60i (at 13-17Mbps) plus 720p 30fps MJPEG
  • according to this web site:
  • GH2 maintains error-free recording stability at bitrates significantly exceeding those that can be used reliably on the GH1. And where the GH1 struggled to produce FHD-size videos in MJPEG mode, the GH2 can be readily patched to record in any MJPEG frame size, all the way up to 1920x1080p.
  • On the GH1, MJPEG HD mode could be relied on to produce bitrates over 24Mbps even in dimly-lit scenes. With patch settings optimized for consistent bitrate production, the GH2 can maintain high bitrates of up to 100Mbps across the entire exposure range, producing high-quality images under any and all illumination levels. Combined with the GH2′s low-noise image sensor, MJPEG HD mode can render clean, gradable images in conditions that the GH1 would have found hopelessly underexposed.

GH-2 “100Mbps GH2 Low Light MJPEG 1080p Patch” offers:

  • 100Mbps 1920x1080p 30fps MJPEG
  • VGA MJPEG mode 960×720 30fps videos at consistent average bitrates of about 30Mbps for iPad
  • may not be playable in-camera and may have some audio bugs
  • has higher chroma noise, less detail overall than the AVCHD and a pink tint due to lower NR in red channel.
  • so it is still early days with GH-2 hacking and it may be best to stick with the superb Vitaliy 42mps AVCHD 1080p  hack – see here.

 

WARNING: Hacking is in a state of flux. Always check the latest information on the patches as the above may no longer hold true. Check the forums.

Micro Four Thirds to get world first twin digital interchangeable 3D lens

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Panasonic has just announced it will be developing a world first twin digital interchangeable lens – a compact, twin 3D lens for instant 3D video and still photos.

The 3D lens will be similar to that on its new 3D HDC-SDT750 camcorder and will project dual images onto the sensor and allow instant creation of 3D video compatible with its 3D VIERA televisions and 3D Blu-Ray TM disc players.

In the camcorder version, the 3D images result from capturing the right and left images (each with 960 x 1080 pixels) that enter through the lenses and are recorded using the side-by-side method.

If this same method is used in M43 cameras, one would assume new cameras or at least new firmware would be needed to record this, and still images perhaps would be limited to 960×1080 pixels.

Firmware hack unleashes Panasonic GH-1 video potential apparently giving it the best looking videos of all the dSLRs

Friday, June 11th, 2010

If you are a Panasonic GH-1 user and wanting the highest quality video – you can now have it courtesy of a free firmware hack by tester13 but please, if you use it, make sure you donate some money to him because this firmware hack is said to be truly amazing – yes – even better image quality than the full frame Canon 5D Mark II.

I must admit, I have not installed it myself yet as I mainly shoot at 720p 50fps motion jpeg as it suits my needs and I am happy to wait a little longer for resolution of a couple of the issues outlined below.

AVCHD may be the latest and greatest HD video compression for consumers but it is not easy to work with, and on the GH-1 without the firmware hack moving subjects or panning tends to result in mud artefacts.

The official GH-1 firmware limits HD video to 17Mbps data rate with options of AVCHD 1080i at 50/60fps derived from native 25fps, or 720p at 50/60fps in either AVCHD or MJPEG.

The firmware hack allows an astounding 50Mbps data rate at 1080/30p MJPEG (detailed scenes with sharp lenses and wide depth of field may deliver up to 70Mbps data from the sensor but then tends to crash the system – they are working on how to limit the data rate to 50Mbps), or 32Mbps AVCHD 1080/native 24p (although currently videos shot in this mode crash the camera on attempting to play them back and you may need to remove the battery to reboot the camera – but seems this has been fixed here). Some users are achieving 80Mbps at 720 30p on Class 10 SD cards.

The GH-1 50Mbps video images are cleaner than the Canon 5D Mark II at 35Mbps partly due to the fact the GH-1 bins the pixels to down- res the 12mp sensor whereas the Canon skips lines to down res its 22mp sensor, and partly as the MJPEG gives less compression artefacts than the Canon’s H.264 codec.

Surprisingly, it seems the GH-1 can write data to the SDHC card at over 8MB/sec which is almost double the Canon 5D Mark II’s rate. The other good news is, you only need a Class 6 SDHC card and not the more expensive Class 10 SDHC cards as one would think.

Be warned though, at 50Mbps 1080p MJPEG, you only get about 2 minutes  39sec of recording until the 2Gb file size limit is reached, and you no longer have the option of shooting in smaller file sized official 17Mbps video without re-installing firmware and incrementing the firmware another integer. Furthermore it seems in 720 mode you can now only get 30fps not 50/60fps but they are working on this.

Finally, Remember…version numbers cannot roll back which may have implications for future official firmware releases.

Post-script: it is possible that the latest production of GH-1 cameras which come with v1.3 firmware pre-installed MAY NOT allow updating the camera with the firmware hack – see here. I am sure if this is the case, there will soon be a way around this.

See:

Carl Zeiss announces new cine lens for videographers using cropped sensor cameras including Micro Four Thirds

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Carl Zeiss has just announced a new cine lens – the Lightweight Zoom LWZ.2 – which has an image circle of 24.9×18.7mm for ANSI 35mm cine which is just larger than APS-C Canon and DX Nikon sensors, and obviously large enough to cover Micro Four Thirds camera sensors as well.

Interestingly, Zeiss has decided on designing it with interchangeable mounts – in Nikon F, Canon EF and cine PL mounts so that videographers can change their cameras to give a different look or feature set without having to buy new lenses.

Of course, this need for interchangeable mounts did not apply to Micro Four Thirds camera users anyway as they can buy an adapter to use practically any mount lens, including cine PL mount.

Although they call it “Light Weight”, it is 2kg – much too heavy for hand held work with a small Micro Four Thirds camera, but it would be awesome on the recently announced Panasonic professional camcorder for Micro Four Thirds!

This lens has a focal length range of 15.5 to 45mm at T 2.6 aperture

Why spend all that money on one of these lenses when it will only be manual focus anyway?

There is a good reason for the discerning videographers out there who usually do not use auto focus anyway but need the following features which these lenses provide (assuming it has the same feature set of the Compact Prime CP.2 lenses):

  • easy manual focus via longer focus rotation
  • consistent manual focus distances unlike dSLR USM lenses which are unreliable in manually setting a focus to the distance scale – a critical exercise in professional videography
  • ability to attach geared follow focus equipment to manually focus and adjust iris
  • cine-style housing dimensions for compatibility with existing cine equipment
  • iris diaphragm has an incredible 14 rounded blades (most current  dSLR lenses use 8 or 9)  to ensure it remains as circular as possible at all apertures to give circular out of focus images and thus contributes to more aesthetic and “natural” bokeh
  • T style aperture which presumably is step-less to ensure changes in brightness are subtle
  • superb image quality, free of distortions with T* XP multi-layer coatings to reduce flare

Carl Zeiss are also revising their Compact Prime CP.2 lenses which cover a 35mm full frame sensor without vignetting, and which have a common maximum aperture of T2.1 – more on these here. A set of 6 prime lenses will set you back $US20,000.

Panasonic announce a pro camcorder for Micro Four Thirds which appears to bring all the features videographers need

Monday, April 12th, 2010

The Micro Four Thirds camera system has taken the still photography world by storm, and the Panasonic GH-1 HD video camera is the ONLY dSLR-like camera that can continuously autofocus during HD video, but as good as this camera is, it lacks a number of features which professional videographers really want.

Enter the newly announced Panasonic AG-AF100 AVCCAM HD professional camcorder which will shake up the whole video industry by introducing a professional level tool, with a Micro Four Thirds sensor size (4x larger than a RED Scarlet video camera and much larger than most HD video camcorders), and with the ability to use industry standard Micro Four Thirds lenses, and via adapters almost any lens ever made. They say it is scheduled to ship by end of 2010, no pricing yet although it is said to be ~$US6000, so you can bet it will be MUCH cheaper than a RED Scarlet.

No wonder Kodak, Fuji, Sanyo and Sigma have decided to join forces with Panasonic and Olympus in extending this incredible new photography system.

The features which are driving excitement amongst the videographers and which have been announced here include:

  • Micro Four Thirds 16:9 MOS sensor for shallow depth of field and high image quality
  • Micro Four Thirds lens mount
  • uses advanced professional AVC/ H.264 Hi Profile AVCHD codec compatible with a wide range of editing tools and affordable players
  • records 1080/60i, 50i, 30p, 25p and 24p (native) and 720/60p, 50p, 30p, 25p and 24p (native) in AVCHD’s highest-quality PH mode (maximum 24Mbps). Ready for global production standards, the camcorder is 60Hz and 50Hz switchable. (GH-1 AVCHD modes only records 1080/60i,50i, 720/60p,50p and at only 17mbps data).
  • built-in ND filtering
  • dramatically reduced video aliasing
  • HD-SDI out and HDMI – now you will not be limited to AVCHD compression but can record uncompressed video via an external recording device – now that is awesome!
  • time code recording
  • built-in stereo microphone
  • two XLR mic inputs with +48V Phantom power capability
  • 48kHz / 16 bit two channel digital audio recording, support for LPCM/Dolby AC3
  • dual SDXC memory card slots (can use SDHC cards as well) so that 2x 64Gb SDXC cards will allow 12 hours recording at maximum 24mbps video rate in PH mode

I presume it will not have a power zoom, but then I would imagine most professionals wouldn’t use that feature anyway.

Panasonic GH-1 HD video of an Australian bullant – 14-140mm kit lens at 2x digital zoom

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I went on a modified storm chase today hoping to get to a vantage point and take some storm and lightning shots.

Unfortunately the rain clouds kept coming after the main storm producing low cloud and preventing vision of the cumulonimbus structures or the lightning, so I headed to my favorite forest to smell the Eucalypt leaves in the air after the rain and watch the hurried activity of the ants coping with the flash flooding.

For those who have not been to Australia, one of the conspicuous features of Australian fauna is the ubiquitous bullant – short for bulldog ant as it aggressively defends its nest and has a nasty little sting in its tail which may be lethal to those who are allergic to it.

The bullant species belongs to the ant genus Myrmecia which only exist in Australia, apart from a rare species in New Caledonia, and its nearest relative is a fossilised ant which lived some 135 million years ago.

The most common species of the bullant in my area is a medium sized black ant approximately 1cm long and which creates a nest often 1-2 metres in diameter at the surface, and often on gravel paths in forests.

We also have much larger bullant species and I had the pleasure of watching them busy at the entrance of their nest while I was waiting for the rain to stop.

I decided I would try out continuous AF of the Panasonic GH-1 Micro Four Thirds camera with its unique 14-140mm 10x zoom lens which is the only dSLR-like camera – lens combination which allows continuous autofocus during HD video.

The light was very poor necessitating ISO 1600 and 1/80th sec at f/5.8 at 140mm focal length and white balance was set to cloudy, video set to 720p motion jpeg, while digital zoom was set to 2x which in effect gave me focal length reach of ~ 560mm in 35mm terms, and this was hand held.

The continuous autofocus was surprisingly good given such magnification and a relatively fast moving ant which measures only 2-3cm in length.

I had to make sure they didn’t crawl onto my feet as I was only 2 feet from their nest and they have good eyesight and aggressively chase away and sting intruders.


The short unedited video complete with rain drops in the audio can be seen on Youtube here.

One could have used intermittent autofocus but this would have been difficult with the ant running around so much and would add noises of the half-press of shutter button to the audio track.

For those wanting to know more about this amazing little ant, check out the Australian CSIRO web page on Myrmecia nigriceps.

In addition, biologist and photographer Alex Wild has many awesome photos of ants from around the world on his website, and a couple of them I have selected to post here, the first is this species, Myrmecia nigriceps:

Myrmecia nigriceps

and the second demonstrates a Myrmecia piliventris stinging him:

sting

Next time I might bring my Olympus Ring Flash and try some macro still shots.