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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.

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.

Adobe Now Renting Their Software

On the first page of Abobe's website. “We believe the creative process can be better. We believe your tools can do more. Imagine fonts, files, projects and teams always in sync. Inspiration exactly when you need it. Sharing, collaborating, and publishing to anyone, everywhere. Creative Cloud will change everything.” With this announcement it has.

With an all-subscription model that Adobe announced it is moving to, delivering only through its Creative Cloud from now on, which is not very welcome to some users and has many users concerned. Moving forward, Adobe will focus creative software development efforts on its Creative Cloud offering.  At some point Adobe will no longer be providing new releases of its technology as packaged software.

You will pay either a monthly or yearly fee and it won’t be cheap.  Most users will pay $49.99 per month for an entire year (with a year commitment) because you get the entire master suite. That commitment with cost you around $600. Monthly with no commitment for the suite is 79.99. Renting one desktop app (i.e.. Photoshop) will be 19.99 per month, or $240 per year just to use the program. For Abobe it means controlling the licenses, upgrades and a nice monthly income. Customers will not be able to skip upgrades (as many do) in that they are paying for the software continuously. It will be all or nothing. This will not harm big users, just the occasional user or small studio.  Also, no longer with you be able to go to your local store to buy a copy to support your local store.

As a user of Photoshop since version 1.0; never have I had to think about alternatives until now. I needed to update to CS6 for computer compatibility. It is unclear as to how long Adobe will support similar updates on their now legacy software. Also I had to upgrade to use the RAW portion with my new GH3. I have to admit I have been frustrated by Adobe's user licensing in the past and I have heard of others as well.  Right now I don't need the new Premiere because I am very happy with Final Cut Pro X.  Motion for the most part replaces After Effects.  For now I will stay with CS6, the last of the upgrades, but don’t know how much longer I will be able to use it.

At Change.org there is a petition to ask Adobe to Eliminate the mandatory subscription model.  Over 2800 people have signed the petition including me.

Highlights from the Adobe website letter.

“To our creative users,

At Adobe, we believe our customers are some of the most influential people in the world. You are storytellers. … For decades, building the tools that shape those stories and the world around us has been our passion.

As the world changes, so must the tools and services we use to create. This presents a unique opportunity to re-imagine the creative process.

Just under a year ago, we launched the first phase of Creative Cloud, which provided Adobe’s full set of creative applications as a membership. … Our vision is to remove friction from the creative process and make it more productive and connected. … We announced the next generation of our creative applications — with hundreds of new features — and demonstrated how the applications are deeply integrated with a host of new services within Creative Cloud.

CS is now CC, the next generation of our apps integrated with Creative Cloud. Our new CC applications, such as Photoshop® CC, Illustrator® CC, and InDesign® CC, incorporate an increasingly integrated set of creative services that let you work where and how you want and connect you to the people you collaborate with as well as the larger creative community.

We believe that Creative Cloud will have a larger impact on the creative world than anything else we’ve done over the past three decades. It is our single highest priority to enable deep integration between our tools and services. One of the implications of this is that many of the new features in our CC applications require access to Creative Cloud, as will many of the updates we are planning for the future. …we are focusing all of our efforts on Creative Cloud.

We will continue to sell and support Adobe Creative Suite® 6 applications, and will provide bug fixes and security updates as necessary. We do not, however, have any current plans to release new versions of our CS applications.

You will continue to install and use the creative applications on your desktop just as you always have, but the apps will increasingly be part of a larger creative process centered on Creative Cloud. …we passionately believe in a more connected creative process. We understand that many of you probably have questions depending on whether you’re an individual user, part of a team, or working in a large enterprise or government organization.

NAB 2013 – JuicedLink

While at NAB 2013, I was able to visit with Robert Rozak from Juicedlink.  I met him two years ago at NAB 2011.  One of the cool things about going to NAB is that you meet people that create products that you that you use.  I have been a user of his mixers for many years and am very happy with the products he makes. He was able to show me some new products, the JuicedLink Riggy Micro 3 and the JuicedLink Riggy Assist 3XLR Low-Noise Preamp.

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.

A Bright Idea

R-300 LED Light

R-300 LED Light


There is new light flicker-free for photography and video, with an excellent quality light coming from it at an excellent price, so we picked up 2 of them them.  F&V is the company behind the popular Z96 LED video light and they have one exciting product that is now available, the R-300 LED Video Ring Light.  Perfect for portraits, interviews, or any scene calling for a soft, full light.

Starting at $199 dollars, the R-300 LED Light features 300 daylight-balanced LEDs which produce 1950 Lux @ 1-meter. With this output, the ring light is equivalent in power to a conventional 1×1 light panel. The video from the light is brighter than Litepanel’s $1800 dollar 1×1. An onboard dimmer offers seamless power variation from 0-100%. Keep your shoots portable with the built-in battery plate, or power your R-300 through the wide-voltage DC jack to keep the juice running all day. (60 min with a Sony NP-F550 battery) Battery and AC Adapter Sold Separately. I use the ac adapters that came with my Seagate Backup Plus hard drives.

R-300 LED Light

R-300 LED Light

Quickly modify your light with two magnetic filters that easily snap on and off the face of your light. This is a great light to be used both on camera as a ring light and off camera as a stand light.

I’ve performed some basic comparisons of the output and spread and it shows that it does not carry the same slightly green cast which is common for inexpensive LED lights. The real true benefit of this light is the cheaper price of the R-300, smaller and lighter form factor, and the ability to power with inexpensive Sony NPF batteries. I like this set of lights for lightweight traveling.

You can find the R-300 LED Ring lights via F&V product page (Click Here).

There was a occasional problem that I will show in the video below and I found a solution.


(1x) R-300 LED Ring Light
(1x) L-Shape Mounting Bracket
(1x) Magnetic Diffusion Filter
(1x) Magnetic Tungsten Filter

LED Count: 300
Light Output (LUX @ 1 meter): 1950 LX
Correlated Color Temp (CCT): 5600K
Light Beam Angle: 65°
Power Variation: 0-100%
CRI (Ra): ≥85%
1/4″-20 female thread on underside for mounting capabilities.

Adorama Umbrella

Adorama has a translucent umbrella that can be used on this light discounted at this link.

Lumix 12-35mm Shakiness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI received an email recently from a member on Vimeo that his Lumix 12-35 mm F2.8 lens had a stability problem even when the image stabilization was off while shooting on a tripod. Here's a link to his video.

I decided to test my lens to see if it had the same problem. My lens has the 1.1 firmware. The following video is the test that I conducted with my GH3 and my GH2, plus a test of the Lumix 35-100.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Masterclass in Why HFR fails, and a reaffirmation of what makes cinema magical

This is a very important essay by Vincent Laforet who started the HDSLR revolution with the short film: “Reverie.

“Many of you are likely aware that when a motion picture camera pans or moves too quickly – it can be painful for the audience’s eyes.  In fact on a 30-50 foot screen it can be impossible to see a sharp image or for the audience to lock onto something with their eyes if the movement is too fast.    This is something filmmakers and experienced DPs keep a very close eye on – in fact there are tables that show how fast a camera can move given any given lens before this blur happens.

Therefore Peter Jackson decided to shoot the Hobbit in48 fps to try to counter this effect, and to render a more realistic or what he deems “immersive” 3D experience if you will.

And he has indeed accomplished that – but in doing so, he’s killed a lot of the magic of what makes a film entrance an audience if you will, at least in my opinion.   I did find myself become more “immersed” in the 3 dimensional environment and all of these details – but to the detriment of the film and the narrative itself.”

Click here for the entire essay.

An Early Present, The GH3: It Sounds Real Good

GH3 with X 35-100 f2.8
GH3 with X 35-100 f2.8

GH3 with X 35-100 f2.8

Christmas came a little early.  The Panasonic GH3arrived recently and I have been testing it.  One of the main reasons I wanted to get this camera is because of the improved audio. That is the subject of this review. Before I get to that,  a few comements.

Following the GH2, the new GH3is almost a revolutionary camera. That is a camera that was designed for both stills and video equally. After Panasonic showed the GH3 at Photokina, I knew I had to buy one.

The GH3 adds features that all photographers will like. I am impressed with the weather sealing and robust construction with magnesium as the choice of body material. There is a new 16.05-megapixel digital Live MOS sensor with reportedly better low noise performance and dynamic range. The new Venus engine is used with four cpu's for improved performance. There are 3 control dials. One wheel on the front next to the shutter button. One wheel in the back top right hand corner and a central control dial on the back around the four way controller.

121209-160833-068Panasonic has added an electronic shutter function on the front and rear curtains for vibration-free operation and I can say that I love it. A big benefit for being quiet at events. The is a new battery as well. It has a new viewfinder and back LCD have been improved with OLED displays. Another nice new feature is WiFi. Panasonic has be released both IOS and Android apps for control, viewing and downloading. I miss the USB control on my old Canon 60D and am happy Panasonic close to include WiFi. I am already using it.

The video portion of the camera is where the GH3 shines will be the subject of a later review. The video picture quality of the GH3 is as good as GH2 (which is a good thing) with none of the typical HDSLR problems of moiré and false color and lack of resolution. The camera has a newly designed low-pass filter so sharpness should not be an issue like the Canon's.

121209-131842-006First of all, I don't like double system audio and like to record in the camera audio. Why do something twice if you don't have too. With Linear PCM recording, Panasonic smartly added better quality audio.  The camera now has the standard 3.5mm audio jack we are used to on most cameras that don't feature XLR. They also added a 3.5mm headphone jack as well for audio monitoring and it sounds wonderful. At last, Audio Monitoring.  That is adjustable in the menus.  There is also better control over the audio level in the menus too. With 14 levels of adjustment there is plenty of control. I prefer to keep the levels in the camera low so I don't use the noisy preamps.  I use a JuicedLink DT 454 Preamp to give good levels with XLR microphones.

So far I am very happy with the new camera and have taken some sample pictures.  They cam be found at Flikr.

Watch the video below to see and hear the quality of the audio with the tests I did.