Shooting at Night with the Panasonic GH4

Shooting at Night with the Panasonic GH4

The Panasonic GH4 is an amazing little camera. I’ve been putting it through its paces from the moment I got my hands on one, and just like any gearhead, have been reading practically every review and comment about it on the internet. What can I say? It’s an addiction. I confess. One thing that stood out to me in all the signal and noise out there was that this camera isn’t a great performer at high ISO. My initial quick tests bore that out; at ISO 800, the footage is pretty noisy and by 1600, it’s unusable for a lot of work. But what I wanted to know was something a bit more subtle. I wanted to know if I could shoot at night, in a place like San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, and still walk away with usable footage? See, what a lot of people don’t get is that “low light” and “high ISO” aren’t synonymous. Just because you don’t have bright daylight doesn’t mean you have to force your camera into stratospheric ISOs. There’s more than one way to skin this particular cat and so, with my GH4 and some bits and bobs, I set out to find out if I could get the footage I wanted. Here’s the gear list: Panasonic GH4 Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8, Nikon-mount Voigtlander 17.5mm f/0.95 Metabones Nikon G to Micro Four Thirds Speedbooster Video tripod and head The video is below, but before you watch it, here are a few notes to keep in mind so you know what to expect… The video is shot at 4K, 24p. ISO was kept between 200 and 400 for...
What (Else) to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

What (Else) to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

A while back, we did a piece on what to know when renting Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back. Medium format gear is a pretty different creature from your standard DSLR, even your high-end Canon 1Dx and Nikon D4’s. Like my colleague Alex Huff pointed out, it can be “perhaps a little scary.” Here are a few more things you should keep in mind when shooting with the Medium Format gear, especially with the 80MP IQ280 Phase One back. As Alex mentioned, you will need Capture One to read and work with Phase One’s IQF files. While Capture One is available for free for 60 days, here’s something even better – it’s available for free for an unlimited amount of time in “DB” mode. DB mode restricts you to using Capture One with files from Phase, Mamiya, and Leaf digital backs only, but has the full feature set of Capture One Pro. Alex also mentioned the reverse crop-factor for lenses when you use them with this back. That difference is ridiculously stark when compared to APS-C or even full-frame sensors, let alone Micro 4/3 or smaller. Here’s a shot taken with a 24mm lens. As an image, it’s not particularly remarkable – till you realize that I was standing almost under the tree itself. The reverse crop factor gives you some seriously wide angles. The lenses made by Hasselblad are amazing as far as image quality goes. What they are not, is weather-sealed. I can’t stress this enough, folks – do NOT take these out to Burning Man. Or the beach. I did, and we had...
Hidden Gems – The Canon 400mm f/5.6L

Hidden Gems – The Canon 400mm f/5.6L

Here’s something that’s going to make Canon shooters looking to get started in wildlife or sports photography pretty darn happy. For years, Canon has made this often-overlooked piece of glass that, as the headline for this blog entry suggests, is a true hidden gem. Presenting: The Canon 400mm f/5.6L USM lens.   One of the things I like doing as a hobby is photographing birds. That’s quite apart from my usual genre, so I don’t really own any gear that appropriate for photographing birds. I usually end up renting something, but those large super-telephotos (like the 600mm and above optics) aren’t exactly cheap (though they are way more affordable to rent than own). After a bit of research, I stumbled onto the Canon 400mm f/5.6L USM lens. Surprising small and compact, it’s thinner and lighter than Canon’s 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM II lens, while being about the same size. It’s got an integrated metal hood that collapses down over the lens when not in use, and, when paired with a body like Canon’s 7D, equates out to be a 640mm lens. That’s the combo that was used to make the image above. The neat part? It’s only $42 to rent for three days. Compare that with, say, Canon’s 400mm f/2.8L, which is $300 for three days. You get an extra two stops with that lens, which is pretty handy for sports shooters shooting in stadiums (just ask Scott Kelby), but if you’re just starting out, or even if weight is a concern, the 400mm f/5.6 is a fantastic, razor-sharp lens for a fraction of the cost. In fact, it’s...
Fuji Meets Leica: One of the Best Street Cameras Gets Even Better

Fuji Meets Leica: One of the Best Street Cameras Gets Even Better

To hear some photographers tell it, Fuji is the new Leica. The company, which saw rave reviews for its X100, has been on something of a tear of late. What began with an interesting concept morphed into a camera with a cult following, and was followed up by an entire system that has turned much of the photo world on its head. The X100s, for example, is a body we can’t seem to keep in stock (though it is right now – go get it before it sells out again!), and the interchangeable lens-capable X-Pro1 is one of the finest low-light performers we’ve ever seen in a body that size. That X-Pro1 has now gotten a breath of fresh air. Fuji seems to be the sort of company that really listens to its users, and with the latest firmware update, has made a lot of those users very, very, happy indeed. The 3.0 firmware update for the X-Pro1 brought with it one very important feature: focus peaking. For those of you who don’t know what that is, focus peaking is something that’s made its way over from the video world. It’s a tool that helps photographers and videographers ensure that they’re achieving critical focus in manual mode. When enabled, this feature adds white outlines to objects that are in focus, as shown below. As you can see, the subject’s eyes and parts of his nose have what we colloquially refer to as “white squigglies” on the edges. This tells me that those are the parts of the frame that are currently in focus. In the image above, I’m using the...
Op-Ed: My Time With the Fuji X100s

Op-Ed: My Time With the Fuji X100s

It’s been a while since I first got my hands on the Fuji X100s, and in that time, I’ve carried this little thing with me just about everywhere I go (including on my honeymoon). I’ve also gotten a few questions about it that range from my general opinion of the Fuji cameras, to what settings I shoot with. In this Op-Ed, I’ll answer a few of those questions and also put down some of my thoughts about why this camera has turned out to be the sensation that it has. It’s not a full review – for that you’ll have to head over to the one I wrote for Chase Jarvis’ website. First, the questions…. Is the X100s really that much better than the X100? Yes. Yes it is. Really? Yes, really. Why? Well, for starters, it focuses a heck of a lot faster. In fact, it’s one of the quickest-focusing compact cameras out there. I love the X-Trans sensor in it, too; I trust this thing to put out great images with solid dynamic range and color accuracy. Low-light performance is incredible, all the way to ISO 6400. Manual focusing aids like Peaking are a nice touch, and welcome. Okay. What’s your one key favorite feature? Low-light performance. Love it, love it, love it. It’s that good? Yes. Here, look: That’s at ISO 6400, straight out of camera JPEG. Also, that’s shot at 1/8 of a second and is plenty sharp. Leaf shutters for the win. Cool. Would you replace your DSLR with it? Nope. I know some photographers have, or have augmented their Medium-Format systems with a...