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New gear announcements – Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, new Canon pro lenses and the Photonicz One – an amazingly powerful and versatile portable studio type LED flash which may revolutionize lighting

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Well it’s been a big week in photography!

Canon announced  4 new very expensive pro lenses which are essentially redesigns with some extra features (eg. macro for the tilt-shift and IS for the 85mm) and, importantly, improved optics to allow for the new high resolution full frame dSLRs as well as a budget mirrorless camera and a revised twin macro flash:

Yesterday, Olympus announced their upgrade to the entry level Micro Four Thirds mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M10 now in mark III which adds some nice features including better IS, simpler operations and perhaps importantly for some, 4K video.

There are also strong rumours Olympus will also soon announce 3 new PRO level weathersealed prime lens – 12mm f/1.2, 17mm f/1.2 and 45mm f/1.2 and a zoom lens.

Some people still gripe that Olympus has still not added radio wireless TTL flash capability, but if you have been reading my blog posts, this technology is no longer necessary built into the camera system as 3rd party manufacturers such as Cactus and Godox have created far more versatile cross-platform radio remote TTL flash solutions.

Panasonic also announced their promised v2 firmware upgrade for their flag ship Panasonic GH-5 Micro Four Thirds camera which adds some incredible video capabilities such as Professional 400Mbit ALL-I intraframe codec for 10bit 4K 4:2:2 which is said to be incredibly cinematic, with flawless image quality and colour, and “Open Gate” High Resolution Anamorphic Mode (4992 x 3744) which uses the entire sensor with a recording resolution of 18MP instead of the usual 8MP of 4K Ultra HD and thus allows 10K footage in post when used with a 2x anamorphic lens, plus Hybrid Log Gamma and some AF improvements and bug fixes. This should make videographers salivate!

The PHOTONICZ ONE portable studio light

But now onto something which on paper looks to be a truly revolutionary development in photographic lighting solutions – the just announced PHOTONICZ ONE battery operated LED studio light with an industry standard Bowens S mount for lighting accessories and touch screen interface as well as a remote smartphone control interface.

Why is this so revolutionary?

Up until now all studio flash systems of similar designs use flash bulbs and require capacitors to be charged up before firing hence they have a recycle time, and the flash duration is generally dependent upon the flash output power setting for a given unit.

The PHOTONICZ ONE however does away with a flash bulb and instead uses an incredibly powerful LED light source capable of 2500Ws power output (the powerful Godox AD600 only gives 600Ws, although you can combine two to get to 1200Ws). The light color should be accurate as it is stated to have light color rendering index of 95+ across the entire power output range. Of course,  it’s firmware can be updated via  USB port.

But wait, there is MUCH MORE REVOLUTION promised such as:

  • weathersealed (no bulb makes it easier to weatherseal) made using aircraft grade aluminum
  • more compact
    • only 12.5 x 12 x 9 cm for the main body (or 4.9 x  4.7 x 3.5 inches) and 1.5 kg / 3.3 lbs
  • can deliver thousands of full power flashes on a single battery charge (uses V-Lock battery system which can also power other accessories)
  • wirelessly sync to your camera from up to a kilometer away (requires a brand-specific remote trigger RRP $US299 each or $US150ea during Kickstarter campaign)
  • InstaCharge – Zero recycle time
    • from my recent tests, the Godox AD600 needs to drop to 1/32nd output to keep up with a 15fps burst from my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, this new light can do this at FULL OUTPUT – THAT IS REVOLUTIONARY INDEED!
  • Extremely short flash duration down to 1/50,000th sec!
    • this will be amazing for those shooting fast moving subjects such as bullets bursting balloons, etc
    • the Godox AD600 will only get to around 1/10000th sec (at 1/256th output) and some AC-powered Godox studio lights can get down to 1/28,000th sec.
  • TrueSync – Native camera compatibility
    • the brand-specific remote transmitters will adjust the flash duration dynamically to the needs of your camera system, enabling communication with most Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Fuji, Panasonic, Olympus, Hasselblad, and PhaseOne cameras.
  • HSSPro – Next Gen High Speed Sync
    • perfectly sync with the camera’s shutter at up to 1/32,000th of a second (not sure what this means as most brand cameras with electronic shutters to these speeds do not allow flash sync at this speeds – but maybe this is coming with global shutters)
  • TruTTL – Actual TTL metering
    • once upon a time, back in the 1970′s, Olympus introduced an amazing flash TTL system that was true TTL DURING the exposure – the Olympus OM-2 film SLR was truly revolutionary, but then, along came digital sensors and that system could no longer be used, and ever since we have had to put up with annoying pre-flashes so the camera system could calculate how much output the flash should send.
    • BUT NOW, we are back to the good old days – NO PRE-FLASH for TTL! I am not sure how this works but that is the promise!
  • TrueBracket – Flash bracket multiple exposures
    • allows shooters to bracket exposure with the strobe output rather than shutter speed, aperture, or ISO alone, which means no lag between exposures for crisp HDRs and much reduced post processing for images where you combine multiple bracketing approaches.
  • VariSpeed – Variable flash output
    • VariSpeed can extend the flash duration, effectively contributing more artificial light to your exposure (remember, after all we are using LED which can be a continuous light source). This effectively raises the output equivalent to levels impossible to achieve with traditional technology.
  • VariShape & VariPattern
    • customize light shape and emission patterns – not sure how useful this is from a small light source but who knows?
  • No more blown or broken flash bulbs!

If what they say is true and it works out, then this technology could radically change the lighting industry as we know it!

This is an exciting possibility for location photographers and for high-speed photographers wanting super short flash duration.

See their Kickstarter campaign for more details. Early bird gets you one unit with V-Lock power supply (but no battery) for $US749 plus add $US150 for each transmitter you need.

14.4V V-Lock lithium ion batteries will cost you around $AU 330-425 depending upon capacity.

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.