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“Trendy” Part IV: A Return To Small

My last post in this series is about the return to a more efficient way of doing things.

When I was on vacation in Mexico last christmas, I was using my 60D with the Hoodloupe a lot.  I really liked having an electronic viewfinder.  One of my clients bought the Panasonic AF100.  He was used to the video camera form factor and did not like HDSLRs.  I like HDSLRs because of the size and it is a great still camera too. The AF100 has good video monitoring with HDMI and HDSDI. The camera has XLR audio that can be monitored with headphones.  There is a anti-ailising filter so the ailising and moire of DSLRs is gone because the camera is optimized for video.  He bought the Lumix G Vario 7-14mm and the 14-140mm lenses.  I bought adapters to use my Canon lenses and OM lenses.  These adapted lenses are used more than the 14-140.  The 7-14mm is excellent.  But the files were still AVCHD with it problems mentioned earlier.

At the end of last year Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 came out.  I followed reports about it and it sounded like a much improved camera from the GH1.  Because of supply problems it was in short supply and no dealers in my area carried it.  For those people who got one, they were saying it had the best video in an HDSLR form.  When I was at NAB I tried to see one but none were anywhere.  Panasonic had their professional equipment at their booth.  When I asked them about the GH2 they said, “That was being sold by the Consumer division.”  Evidently the Broadcast division does not mingle with the Consumer division.  (This is a good thing you will find out later.)   i decided to order a GH2 so I could see one in person.  I waited and waited and waited.  It never showed up so I cancelled it.

This November, Kenmore Camera had a camera show in Lynwood Washington, not far from me.  All the manufacture reps were there from Nikon, Canon, Sony, Pentax, etc.  Also Panasonic.  That's right Panasonic and he had the GH2.  Finally I had my hands on a GH2.  It was small.  Much smaller than my Canon.  The lenses were smaller and lighter than the any of my Canon's.  I tired the new Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F4-5.6 O.I.S.  That's right with image stabilization.  Also the wonderful new Lumix Leica DG Summilux 25mm F1.4.  That's right, some of the best glass in the world, Leica.  This is a professional superb large aperture fixed focal length lens.  They also have a tiny wide angle pancake lens, the Lumix G 14mm F2.5.  I was impressed with the camera and the lenses but I did not buy it.

But I could not get it out of my head so I ordered one with no lenses.  I also found a great deal on a Lumix G Vario 14-140mm so I order that too.  They both arrived this time.  Also I picked up the new Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f/1.8 recently.  I have not been able to use my Canon since then.  Hello eBay.

I like the electronic viewfinder.  A lot of the time when using the GH2 as a still camera, I don't even open the LCD because I see the playback image right away in the finder.  I can play movies there as well.  The viewfinder is very high resolution and can bee seen in daylight as well as in darkness.  The viewfinder diopter works with my glasses but I am barley able to see the whole screen.  I wish the rear lens of the viewfinder was bigger.  I like that I am able to see audio levels and a histogram in the finder.  All the necessary information is there.  There are 4 levels of audio control.  I have tested it with both lavaliere and a shotgun mic and it does not pump the auto gain more like a mild limiter which is OK.

The GH2 still shoots with the AVCHD codec but Panasonic has given us a AVC Importer plug-in for Quicktime so I can now see my files in QTPlayer or the finder.  Also it is a lot easier to convey the files to ProRes for editing in Final Cut 7.  The GH2 now shoot 24p and now 30p @ 24mps in 1080 HD with the new firmware update.  I am stoked to have 30p.  It is a lot better for the web and TV than 24p.  Also my clients like it better.  Also there is a AVCHD 720p 60 mode as well.  I have already used that for slow motion on a shoot.

Because the Micro Four Thirds camera don't have a mirror behind the lens many different lenses can be used. I have an Olympus OM mount, a Canon EF mount and I have ordered a Leica M mount for their rangefinder lenses.  They are very small lenses and there are some good buys on used non Leica brands.  Rumor has it that Panasonic is working on a more professional large aperture zoom.  We will see.

Right now I am not using any HDSLR rigs on my GH2 as it seems just fine to hold it up to my eye.   We will still evaluate rig for their usefulness.  I have just shed a lot of pounds off my camera backpack.

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