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The Last Days of the DSLR

GH3 Front

I have already written how I have converted to mirrorless.  It is nice when others are realizing the same thing.  A recent article on this is featured on Gizmodo called “The Last Days of the DSLR”.  But, one of the points of this article misses the mark.  The author seems to get excited by Sony's new entry – the A7.

“The final step for mirrorless hegemony is tackling the high end. Sony will soon ship its milestone A7 series, two compact mirrorless bodies with full-frame sensors, the lynchpin of top-tier camera bodies and the harbingers of the DSLR's doom. They are, simply put, the best of both worlds.”

There is a big problem with full frame 35mm cameras, SLR or Mirrorless – the size and weight of the lenses.  Physics is physics.  Just because the body is smaller and lighter does not help with the lenses.  It is a step in the right direction.  You have a small camera with really big lenses.  With the advance in technology, the full frame 35mm sensor is no longer necessary for low noise, high resolution photography.

To me the real advance in mirrorless cameras is small, light weight camera bodies with small, light weight lenses.  By reducing the sensor size from the still full frame 35mm to the four thirds sensor, Panasonic and Olympus have been able to make a smaller and lighter over all camera.  The 35mm motion picture frame size has been a standard for over a 100 years and the Micro Four Thirds sensor is almost as big.  Still full frame was invented out of the motion picture size by turning the film sideways from vertical to horizontal.  With M43rd's, we are just now going back to the original size.

I will put Panasonic's GH3 against any other manufacture's “Top Tier” camera.  Please read my article, 21st Century Camera?  Last night at our camera club, Tim Synder who is a GH3 photographer, was named the Photographer of the Year.  Still most of the club is C or N.  Mirrorless is here to stay.

Here is the original article at Gizmodo.


Four Types of Final Cut Pro X People

I have taken a pause from this blog to focus on work and some upgrades to my gear including a new computer.  During this time I have done a lot of traveling and will be blogging about my adventures.

Screen shot Peak LimiterTo get things started I am reposting an article close to my heart from FCP.co

As many of you know I love Final Cut Pro X and do most of my work now in it.  For me it is the fastest and best editor out there.  I do fall into the first catagory of FCPX people.


They have put the hard work into FCPX. It is true to say that there is a ‘learning wall' with the NLE, not a curve, but they have got over it and can see FCPX's full potential. Just take a look at some of the great user stories on this site to see how FCPX works well in different production environments.”

Here is the full  article.  http://www.fcp.co/final-cut-pro/articles/1288-the-four-types-of-final-cut-pro-x-people

Giulio Sciorio Visits Kenmore Camera

130829-195234-167Lumix Luminary Giulio Sciorio was at Kenmore Camera on Thursday, Aug. 28th, 2013.  He brought along the new Lumix GX-7 as part of a tour of the northwest.  He is the owner of Small Camera Big Picture, a blog about mirrorless cameras of which I am a guest blogger from time to time.  Fellow SCBP blogger Paula Thomas was there as well. It was great to meet them and chat about all things photography.

Later that evening he gave a course at Glazers Camera in Seattle on Hybrid Photography.

The GH3 does Kickstarter – Update: Funded!

I was approached by a long time friend and brilliant artist to help with his Kickstarter campaign.  Ross Matteson has created a sculpture dedicated to 9/11/2001.  He asked me to create a video for the project to be used on the Kickstarter page.  I worked very closely with him to tell a story that he wanted to tell.

My interview with him was shot in his studio with my Lumix GH3 and the Lumix G X 35-100mm f2.8 lens.  I used my F&V R-300 LED Ringlights for the lighting with umbrellas.  I shot the interview with the 72 All-I .mov setting at 29.7 fps in the camera.  I have found this setting to be the best and Final Cut Pro X loves it.  The slow motion I shot at 60 fps and slowed it down.  Post was done in FCPX.

Here is more information from Ross on this project:

In October of 2001, only one month after September 11th, I made a glass and steel sculpture titled, The Structure of Love Is Indestructible.  It was covered with hundreds of flying doves etched into the surface of a glass tower. My motive was to honor the people of 90 different countries whose lives were lost or affected by the devastation of that day.

The intent of my design was to overwhelm and displace the horrific and hypnotic images constantly being replayed over and over with something else, with the truth about each person— independent of that tragedy.  I didn’t want to give in to an obsessive portrayal of evil as dominant or inevitable.   Instead, I wanted to celebrate and be awestruck by 3,000 unique individuals in the fullness of their potential and life.  My love for what was good and true about each of those people transcended nationality, race, religion, injury and ultimately, even death.
With a remarkable team of collaborators, I am currently making The Structure of Love Is Indestructible into a 10 foot high monument.   Though it is based on my original sculpture, its message is growing to embrace anyone who has been given the label of “victim”.    This piece will have two glass towers and have an ascending, instead of scattering, pattern of doves in flight.

My team is working to build a community of support around The Structure of Love Is Indestructible and its 5 day debut in Olympia, WA, at the Harbor House on Percival Landing.  The Washington State Council of Fire Fighters is part of this community of support and has endorsed the event in a meaningful way.  The Olympia debut will include inspirational speakers and music, and be free to the public.

We are also soliciting community funding for both this debut and the sculpture itself, through a campaign that we have just launched, described in the link below:


I encourage you to view the video on the above web page.    You will hear from Bruce Salvog, who was in the World Trade Center on 9/11 and from Alice Musabende, who survived the Rwandan genocide.  Their stories about working to transcend victimhood are inspiring.  They also express their direct support for this project.

Other information about The Structure of Love Is Indestructible and the currently scheduled debut events in both Olympia, WA (opening 9/11/13) and Tulsa, OK (opening 4/18/14) are included via this web site.


GH3 Front

Amazon has a deal on the GH3.

Click here for details.

The GH3 is the camera that I use and are very pleased with.  It is small, and lightweight. This camera was redesigned with a Magnesium Alloy Frame along with Dust and Splash Proof seals. It is very clean at high ISO and does an excellent job in low light.

The media is SDHC allows you to work with cheaper media. The camera shoots in 72Mbps [All-Intra] MOV for high quality footage to grade in post and AVCHD when high quality compressed footage is wanted. There is built in Wi-Fi to be controlled by your iPhone, a built in Intervalometer (Time Lapse), the HDMI output is full 1080 with the LCD display still usable.  Full 1080p 60fps (for wonderful slo-mo), an articulating LCD, very fast auto focus (AF available in video mode), the ability to adapt pretty much any lens on the market make this a real bargain.

NAB2013 – F&V Report

As many of you know Frugal has been using F&V Lighting R-300 LED Light for sometime. (Here is the report.)  Frugalfillmmakers.com is an affiliate of F&V Lighting because they make very good equipment for the frugal filmmaker.  It was great to see them at NAB.  We stopped by the F&V Lighting booth and talked with Connor Hartnett.  The new Camera Slider is now available. Also is the new F3 LCD Monitor is coming soon.

21st Century Camera?

GH3 with X 35-100 f2.8

Two years ago I ditched the mirror for a mirrorless camera. I sold all my Canon gear and bought into Panasonic.  I did it at first for the video capabilities.  Not anymore.  There have been predictions from the beginning that Micro Four Thirds and mirrorless cameras would never really catch on.  The latest comes from The New York Times, the USAToday and Dan Carr at the ProPhoto Coalition.

In the article Nikon Cuts Full-Year Profit Target as Mirrorless Cameras Lose Their Shineit misses the point.  The Nikon 1 series of cameras don't have the advantage of the larger sensors of Micro Four Thirds, Fuji X and Sony NEX mirrorless cameras.  These little cameras were ill conceived from the beginning.  The public wants a smaller, lighter camera but with DSLR quality.  Nikon did not want cannibalize their DSLR sales, so they made a sensor that in my opinion is too small.

Mirrorless camera sales don't reflect potential in the USAToday talks about declining mirrorless sales.  They say that the mirrorless cameras are not living up to potential, as they say in the article.  “In 2008, a fresh kind of camera was set to rock the world of photography, ushering in “a new era of digital imaging,” as one news release put it.”  As in the first article, they say that in Asia sales have been good for compact system cameras but in the USA and Europe this has not been the case.

120809-121328-021The third article, Micro Four Thirds & Mirrorless- Here To Stay or Gone Tomorrow ? by Dan Carr, also comes to the wrong conclusion.  He writes, “I don't expect we'll see M4/3 disappear within the next two years but it's certainly going to be a telling time.  If sales numbers continue to decline as they have done then I think we'll see manufacturers shift their focus back to DSLR.”  He calls them “an elongated fad”.  Though he does mention that so prominent pro photographers have switched to systems like I have.  Prices are coming down on DLRS because of the competition.  But why is he so gloomy?

To begin with this new concept in cameras has an up hill battle.  We are in the 21st Century, but the camera design most prominent is from the 20th Century.  Compact System Cameras are a new concept that has to be sold to consumers.  Well, lets look who are the major players in the DSLR market – Canon and Nikon.  Look at their mirrorless cameras.  They are weak.  The Canon EOS-M is a half baked attempt at capturing sales because what others have done.  The Nikon 1 is also a strange beastie as I have stated above.  Go to the store (Best Buy, Wall Mart, Costco), what do you see in the high end camera cabinet. There are DSLR's, mainly from Canon & Nikon and sometimes Sony but not their mirrorlses cameras.  Panasonic and Olympus, who are the biggest promoters of this 21st Century way of shooting are not featured well.  Their mirrorless are with the point n shoots.  That certainly gives them class.  Who is winning here?  The ones with the showroom space.

Carr mentions full frame mirrorless cameras like the Sony RX1 and Leica M series that are small and lightweight.  Both of these are out of the pocketbook of most photographers.  Sony has rumored that they are working on a full frame 35mm E-Mount camera, that the mount supports it.  Prices are coming down on full frame 35mm DSLR's.  Somehow he thinks full frame 35mm is the end all and nothing else will do.

Nikon F3

Full frame 35mm is that, full frame 35mm.  It is a standard that all others are measured against.  Before, it was 4×5.  35mm was small compared to that format and the quality was good but not as good as the larger negative.  A majority of pros did switch when the film quality advanced and the cameras were better made.  Well, the “film” got better (better sensors).  Originally it was hard to manufacture a full frame 35mm sensor so the crop sensor was used instead.  That is no longer the case.  The 35mm crop sensor cameras and micro 4/3rd's are now considerably better because of better technology which is more than what most people need.  We have made incredible advances in sensor technology.  The need for an 35mm sized sensor is not as important for low light sensitivity as it once was.  I use a smaller sensor because I choose too.

But with the smaller sensor you don't get that creamy lack of depth of field?  Believe or not, sometimes you don't want the small of depth of field.  For one, it is harder to focus.  On some of these F1.2 lenses it is hard to get both the nose, eyes and ears in focus on full frame 35mm.  Two, most 35mm motion pictures are shot with a sensor size that is similar to cropped sensors and it's depth of field.  Full frame 35mm is the size of Vistavision. Over the last 100 years I have not heard of any motion picture directors of photography complain about the depth of field in 35mm their cameras.  To get shallower depth of field in movies the director and photographer used wider apertures to get the look.  Look at Stanley Kubrick's work.  It is not a problem to get nice depth of field with these smaller sensors.  Use fast aperture lenses.

Leica and Nikon proved you could make a very high quality small 35mm camera.  Panasonic and Olympus are doing the same in the digital age, but they need help from retailers as well.  Because of technology they have been able to remove the mirror and make a more advanced camera.  The optical viewfinder is 20th century technology.  If you shoot with a digital motion picture camera, there is no mirror except one, the Arri Alexa Studio.  That is the other advantage of no mirror in still cameras, Video.  Almost all of the new DSLR's shoot video.

Carr claims to be a “lens man”.  He says, “Good lenses have the potential to last a whole career”.  Not mine!  I started with film.  The SLR was always a compromise.  Your were tied to a mount.  You can not see exposure or white balance.  The focus is only as good as the focus system.  Size of viewfinder, type of ground glass and pentaprism were factors as well.  With phase detect auto focus there can be front and back focus issues.  Wide lenses had to be re-engineered to take in account for the mirror.  The mirror had to be locked up to reduce vibration.  The lens focus field had to be adjusted to take in account for the curvature of film.  Digital is a flat sensor, so lenses need to be reworked for it.  The lens had to be stopped down to see depth of field preview.  The image stabilization is noisy.  The lenses had to be bigger, heavier and more expensive.  Only the most expensive cameras show close to 100 percent of what you see.  Most DSLR's have a tunnel viewfinder.

GH3 with X 35-100 f2.8

GH3 with X 35-100 f2.8

Why compromise?  My Lumix g X 12-35 f2.8 lens has the same angle of view as a 24-70mm which is much bigger, heavier and more expensive lens.  My lens with the same light gathering capability, plus the bonus of quiet optical image stabilization in a package the third of the size, weight and with the depth of field of a 35mm motion picture camera.  Size and weight is not all that a mirrorless camera gives the user, though they are very welcomed.  Cost is also an advantage.  Smaller lenses.  Adaptable lenses, m4/3rd's cameras can be adapted to almost any lens available because  a shorter back focus, so there are a lot of adapters.  All because of a smaller sensor.

Other mirrorless advantages include, no mirror vibrations to worry about.  The photographer sees the exposure and white balance.  They see what the camera sees.  A 100 percent of the view.  Image stabilization can be in the body for all lenses mounted.  Less moving and non moving parts that cost less.  For me, one of the big ones is, quieter shooting like the Lumix GH3‘s Silent Mode.

The question to ask is, do you want to use 20th century technology or do you want to be using 21st century technology?  I believe that in the distant future all cameras will be mirrorless (expect for film cameras).  The advantages are greater.


We Must Go Fourth!

Light Speed on Train Mountain

Normally this blog does not go into political matters but it is based in the United States.  Today we celebrate our independence.  But lately this has been challenged by unlimited snooping of our federal government.  The Fourth Amendment clearly outlaws warrantless surveillance.

AMENDMENT IV to the Constitution of the United States: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Alex Marthews writes on Boston.com, “The Founders did not fight for a country where the security agencies “quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type”, as one NSA agent has put it. They would rightly call the NSA’s surveillance programs, covered by fake “warrants” and approved en masse by secret courts, a tyranny and a farce.”

How does this effect filmmaking and photography you ask.  It effects all privacy, in our communication, in our use of the internet, in our creativity, in our budgets, in our works.

The NSA through the PRISM program has made privacy a thing of the past.  Through the leaks of information we know now that big brother is watching us in the name of combating terrorism.  They are creating terrorism.  All the mainstream news stories (only 5 big media companies in the US) are about the leaker and not what he has revealed.  The sad part about all of this is that a majority of those polled don't seen too concerned about this loss of freedom.

How do we know that in the future that the government intercepts an email about a documentary critiquing the government won't be stopped and the people responsible for it thrown in jail without due process like the prison in Guantánamo.  That is being done in the name of terrorism.

How would you ask this unlikely documentary scenario ever happen?

When I was a journalism student, there was a documentary film produced by a local TV station in Los Angeles.  The producer was a national Emmy winner which is unusual for a local station.  The documentary was narrated by the actor Jack Lemmon.  The doc, “The Powers That Be” was a critical look at nuclear power.  This was the first doc to look at the down side of nuclear power.  Up to this point there had been not programs critical of nuclear power.  The doc was shown only once on TV.  Pacific Gas and Electric (which has the now to be shut down nuclear power plant at San Onofre) was a commercial sponsor at the station at the time.

The producer's Emmy was turned around at the TV station so you could not see the name of the producer.  When it was being shown at a screening it was stopped in the middle and never officially shown again.  I could not find anything on the internet about this project or at the internet movie database.  Nothing in Jack Lemmon's bio either.  How do I know this doc ever existed?  I saw Jack Lemmon's personal print at a secret screening.

All the mainstream media did not touch this NSA and PRISM story except the Washington Post.  It was actually started by The Guardian, a British newspaper.  According to the revelations, our big internet companies complied.  Who, do we trust?

We must go fourth and protect the fourth amendment and our independence.

The Shape of Cinema

How did they come up with 16:9 aspect ratio for HDTV. Watch this fascinating history lesson on how the aspect ratios we know (16:9, 4:3) became the standard of what we watch.  It's a lovely journey back where things can become standard by just doing it for a very long time.

You will see how 16:9 aspect ratio came about: old 4:3 movie theaters birthed 4:3 television sets which stopped people from going to 4:3 movie theaters.  4:3 movie theaters went widescreen to offer something different  than what was at home.  Off course now we have widescreen TVs in the home.

“Simply put, the aspect ratio is the ratio of the width of the image to the height. This can be expressed as two numbers like 4×3 or 16×9 or as a decimal such as 1.85 and 2.35 – though these can be written as a ratio as in 2.35:1.” [FilmmakerIQ]

Aspect ratio is very import to filmmakers.  Having shot 16mm or video most of my career, I was in 4:3 land.  I was glad that they standardized on 16:9 for high definition because I enjoy the wider film like look.  Now that theatrical films and TV has similar ratios what is needed for the theatre to set themselves apart is better stories which we are not getting.  I am having as much fun watch movies on my home theatre as going to the theatre.