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A Long Journey

I have not liked a camera so much since my Nikon F3 film camera.  My Nikon F3s were used for almost 20 years.  This is a lifetime in digital.  When I put the beloved F3s and all it's lenses on eBay I moved to digital.   I have used quite a few digital cameras since 2001.  Spending over a $100 a month on film and processing I was willing to change.  Another reason I started doing digital photography was because, I had been manipulating images in the computer for sometime with Photoshop and other programs and I was scanning film and prints.  Shooting digital would eliminate that step.  I had been using my video camera to shoot digitally with since 1995 so I was happy to start shooting stills with a digital still camera.  I waited till the cost of digital cameras came down to about $1000.  I think I found a digital version of my Nikon.

The first digital camera was the Sony F-707.  It was wonderful to be able to look at the images right away on the back LCD. Being a professional video user, I use to an electronic viewfinder on the camera.  At five megapixels, the first digital cameras were pretty low in resolution. The shot had to be shot right and you could not blow them up that big. The camera had a lens that was a fixed zoom.

Then Canon startled the world with the 6 megapixel Canon Digital Rebel. Unlike my F-707, the Rebel was a DSLR which meant interchangeable lenses and an optical viewfinder.  I bought some of the consumer lenses for it and they were at best, so so.  Not great.  Nothing like the Nikkors for my F3.  I could not afford the L-Glass from Canon because most of my money went into buying video cameras as they were my main money maker.  The images were good but the color was a little off for my taste.  I was a Kodachrome guy and it was more like Fuji.  And the auto focus was not very fast.  Some of my old manual lenses were adapted for it as well.

Going on vacation I needed a second camera for my wife, so I bought an Olympus E300 on a special deal.  Being the new Four Thirds sensor format camera, the E-300 had a smaller sensor than the Rebel. Not that much.  The thing I liked about it right away is that it had a Kodak 8 megapixel sensor with Kodak color and the jpegs out of the camera were excellent.  Olympus is known for that.  The images were very good but the camera noise was much higher than the Rebel.  Olympus cameras were at the time not too fast in auto focusing.  What I loved about the Olympus cameras was that even the consumer level lenses were very sharp and well made.

So next I wanted a more professional camera so I bought the Olympus E-1.  It had a beautiful image at 5 megapixels and the pixel sharpness was better than my previous cameras.  I really liked it for the rugged construction and how quiet the camera shutter was.  The sound of most digital cameras are quite noisy and the press photographers use them like machine guns.  Not very discrete.  The camera was smaller than the other DLSR's at the time.  Lighter too.  I was very happy to loose the weight.  The LCD was small and fixed but worked well.  Also I added some Pro level for lenses to my kit.

The Olympus E-1 was upgraded to the E-3 which had 10 megapixels. This  was even better and I loved the colors and richness of the image.  It was weather sealed like the E-1.  It was one of the first cameras to have a live view function.  It also introduced the back swiveling LCD like a video camera.  It was really nice being able to adjust the angle for low angle pictures just like I done with my Nikon F3 by taking the viewfinder off.  I could close the LCD to protect it. The camera spoiled me.  I was glad that Olympus improved the autofocus in the E-3 to such an extent that it competed with Nikon and Canon.

Then I bought my second Canon camera, the Canon 7D. For the first time I had a still camera that had 1080p video from a large 18 megapixel sensor.  I also this time bought the expensive L-Glass as this was going to be my video camera as well.  I first bought the EFS 17-55 F.28 IS lens but sent it back and bought the Canon L 24-105 F4 IS lens. I did because of the image stabilization and I wanted the longer focal length for video interviews. My clients wanted the low depth of field that the large 35mm sized sensor gives.  The lenses really focused fast.  Faster than any other camera I had owned.  The 7D did have some minor and major problems. There is the 12 minute record limit.  The audio had to be spoofed with a pilot tone into being usable as the camera had only a bad AGC circuit and it could not be monitored.  I bought a JuicedLink DT454 audio mixer to help.  Even bigger was the problem that the sensor would overheat and shut the camera down.  It did this on a professional shoot and it was not good.  I was also unhappy with the moire and aliasing at the sensor had.  At 1080P resolution was not that great.  Canon uses line skipping to create their video in their DSLRs.  Another major problem was the rear LCD was the viewfinder as the optical viewfinder was black because the reflex mirror was up to shoot video.  The camera had to be adapted to be used as a handheld camera which required a third party viewfinder which inturn required a camera rig.

I did not like that the 7D did not have a swivel LCD.  I missed it, so when the Canon 60D came out, I bought one.  The 60D was improved in another way as well in that it also offered manual audio level control for more control, but no meters.  It was not as nice as the 7D as it was not weather sealed and made of plastic composite.  I was happy with the 60D.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThru reading the internet I had heard that Panasonic GH2 had better video then the Canons, so I investigated it. The GH2 also had the swivel LCD screen which I loved.  I was impressed, so I purchased one.  After using to GH2, I could not use by Canons anymore.  Besides swivel screen, the other thing I liked about the camera was being able to see the audio level in viewfinder and on the LCD.  I was happy that I had a camera that can be used for both stills and video.  Panasonic and Olympus introduced some very nice lenses for these cameras.  It was great to have a smaller, lighter camera again.  It was not weather sealed and I could not monitor audio.  I was very happy with the GH2 and bought a second one.

GH3 with X 35-100 f2.8

GH3 with X 35-100 f2.8

All these cameras over the past 10 years I have used.  I thought that I could do better and was always looking for something that would meet my needs.  I believe I found The Camera.  When Panasonic announced GH3, I was hoping that it would be a better camera.  It is a Better Camera.  The camera possesses many of the good qualitys of those other cameras but now these features are all together in this camera.  Also the new X lenses from Panasonic (the G X 12-35 F2.8 O.I.S. and the G X 35-200 F2.8 O.I.S.) complete the picture.  I now have a relatively small, light weight, magnesium, weather sealed, fast focusing, swivel LCD, electronic viewfinder, audio monitoring, high dynamic range, high quality, low picture noise, hybrid camera with great lenses.  I think I found a digital version of my Nikon F3 in the Panasonic GH3.

GH3 News Reporting

I have been using my Panasonic GH3 for news reporting for some time now.  As a former news photographer I was asked by our local radio station to shoot new stories for their YouTube channel.  I must say that this camera is an ideal camera for news reporting.  Great, weight, size, convenience, electronic viewfinder, image stabilization, No Rig, one shot auto focus, low depth of field, great audio, headphone monitoring, wonderful MOV codec at All-I 70, long life battery.  In Final Cut Pro X the footage is ready for editing right out of the camera and Final Cut loves the All-I 70 codec.  Never a hiccup.

Yes I could use another camera and shoot raw, but that is a lot more work and the camera requires a rig which is heavier and more expensive.  In news reporting one of the main things to consider is how fast you can get your story to air. Anything that gets in the way of that hinders your ability to finish on time.  I don't think there is a faster system out there then my GH3 with Final Cut Pro X.

For the news story below, I shot with my GH3, the Lumix G X 12 – 35mm image stabilized lens, handheld with no rig and a Rode Video Mike Pro microphone.

An Unplugged Wedding

How many times has a shot been ruined by an amateur photographer at a wedding. Especially those who use flash. These amateurs are always in the way. They make too much noise. And are not respectful of this occasion. With the explosion of gadgets this is more of a problem. It is time for unplugged wedding.

Over at PetaPixel, photographer Cory Ann has a very good article state of wedding photography today.

“I don’t have a single problem with guests taking images and sharing them later on with the couple. It makes me happy to know there will be other pictures and photos of moments I may have missed or alternate angles that I couldn’t cover.

I also completely understand that some have a love for capturing images and enjoy taking pictures at weddings they are guests at.

However, my heart breaks when a guest ruins an otherwise lovely image or jumps in front of me when I’m capturing a key moment from the day. It completely slays me when this happens because while I am not remotely egotistical at all, I am fairly confident that my image would have been better than the one they captured.

In the past 6 years of being a professional wedding photographer, it’s also been sad to watch the progression from seeing smiling, encouraging and happy faces as the bride is escorted up the aisle to faces hidden behind the backs of cameras and cell phones that line the aisle.

Read more at http://petapixel.com/2013/05/15/guest-photographers-or-why-you-should-have-an-unplugged-wedding/#xVEi8rvSuV7MzK1D.99

NAB 2013 – Glidecam

While wandering the halls at NAB 2013, I visited the Glidecam booth. I talked with David Stevens, the chief executive officer.  I found out that I had one of the original Glidecams as mine is made of wood.  He showed some nice new products including the Glidecam HD1000.  For more information on these items, see http://www.glidecam.com

NAB 2013 – Panasonic Shows A Powerhouse

As many of you know I now use the Panasonic GH3 for my video camera. So it was natural to visit the Panasonic Broadcast booth at NAB 2013. What I saw there made me surprised because they did not feature the Panasonic GH2 at NAB 2011.  I was told that it was from their commercial division so they did not feature it.  I searched all around NAB 2011 to see the GH2 but it was nowhere to be found.  I had to wait till I got back to my home to see the GH2 at a photo show.  I was glad that Panasonic has recognized that they had a new video powerhouse and we're featuring it. The following is my report from NAB 2013 at the Panasonic booth.

NAB 2013 – Blackmagic Cinema Camera

At NAB 2013, Blackmagic's Pocket Cinema Camera made headlines for its value proposition and an active Micro Four Thirds lens mount rounding out a very solid spec list. Also they showed their new 4K Cinema Camera. Frugal talked to Blackmagicdesign about these new cameras.

Pre-Order your Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera here.  Pre-Order the 4K Blackmagic Cinema Camera here.

Frugal Will Be At NAB This Year, Will You?


Frugal will be t NAB this year, will you?  That's right it is that time again when to get out your walking shoes.  There are miles of exhibit floor to explore for to interview exhibitors about the latest and greatest for the Frugal Filmmaker.  Monday thru Wednesday we will be wandering the halls.

A little background on the NAB show.  The National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas is the biggest media convention of the year.  NAB is one of the biggest conventions to hit Las Vegas.  91,000+ media and entertainment professionals from 150+ countries; 63 delegations attend. They spend over $20.7 billion (USD) in purchasing power. With over 1,500+ Exhibiting companies and 805,000 net square feet of floor space this convention is huge.

Every industry employs audio and video to communicate, educate and entertain. They all come together at NAB Show for creative inspiration and next-generation technologies to help breathe new life into their content: Broadcast, Digital Media, Film, Entertainment, Telecom, Production/ Post-Production, Education, Houses of Worship, Advertising, Military/Government, Retail, Security, Sports, IT and more.  A few years ago the show was opened up to all media producers as we use some of the same gear.  Now I would say media is more important than broadcasting.

There is a twitter hash tag for the post content: #PostChat  for the show: #NABShow  another: #NAB2013

Follow frugal on twitter at: halfmac  On Facebook too.

Apple Aims To Win Over Video Editors

The LA Times featured an articleScreen shot Peak Limiter about how Apple is starting to win back video editors.  They don't need to for me as FCPX has become my editor of choice.

“The backlash over Apple's redesign of Final Cut Pro video editing software two years ago was so severe that even slashing the price by $700, to $299, caused an uproar.”

Doddleme also has an article.  “Here at doddle, both the co-founder Jim Robertson and I are big fans of Final Cut Pro X, and I often post video tutorials from both Ripple Trainingand Larry Jordan. We feel that FCP X is the fastest, most powerful and modern NLE out there. Two years after their big announcement at NAB 2011, and the release that summer, Apple is ready to win back pro editors, and they’ve released the 8th update to the software that found itself at the center of controversy.”

I commented:  I use FCPX professionally and love it. It took a while to grow on me. I look forward to when I use it. It is the best editor on the market right now at least for me. I have to whole Adobe Production Suite and I still use FCPX. It is the fastest editor. Apple has challenged the editing community to rethink the non-linar editor. FCPX feels more like film editing than video editing.”

Apple has released an new update to Final Cut Pro X.  The new update brings FCP X to 10.0.8, and features include:
▪ Support for Sony XAVC codec up to 4K resolution
▪ Option to display ProRes Log C files from ARRI ALEXA cameras with standard Rec. 709 color and contrast levels
▪ Resolves an issue where some third-party effects generated green frames during render
▪ Resolves performance issues that could occur with certain titles and effects
▪ Time reversed clips render in the background
▪ Ability to use key commands to adjust Clip Appearance settings in the timeline
▪ Ability to view reel number metadata located in the timecode track of video files
▪ Mono audio files in a surround project export with correct volume levels
▪ Drop zones no longer reset to the first frame of video after application restart
▪ Fixes a performance issue which resulted from selecting multiple ranges on a single clip
▪ Fixes an issue where the Play Around function did not work properly on certain clips when viewed through external video devices