Tag Archives: leica

JSD LABS: Panasonic GH5 VFR 180fps ver. 2.2 Test – Maihama Skate Park

When the newest GH5 Firmware update came out, it claimed to improve the stability of the VFR. To me, in hope, that was fixing some of the issues that I had earlier with the high speed modes beyond 120fps. We did do a few 120fps shots in Tokyo Dreams and I really didn’t see what everybody was complaining about. I had a few editors not even know it was shot in HD next to the 4K footage. So, with firmware version 2.2 in hand, I set out to Maihama Skate Park in Tokyo to practice skate filming and see if I could break the 180fps mode on the GH5.

I think using the VFR mode well is to know it’s limitations and strengths. Some of the best and cleanest shots were done with a good DoF. I used the 42.5mm f/1.2 Nocticron when I could, and even tried a few shots on my beloved 75mm Cosmicar f/1.4 c-mount lens. I always had the shutter at 180 and used a variable ND until it got too dark. I saw next to no issues with the footage frame wise, but I did not try to push any of the colors in editing. All in all I think I will be doing more slow motion at 180fps and not worry about any problems that seem to keep people from using it. The next step for me is to try and rack focus while filming fast motion. It’s kinda scary, as you could easily end up with nothing in focus, instead of most things in focus.

I am still slowly learning how to film skating properly. I don’t skate, so what I can do filming-wise is limited. I’d love to learn how to be a skate filmer and get to chase on a board, but I can’t risk getting injured or breaking gear right now. Maybe soon?

I was very lucky to get some great skaters for this video. Special thanks to everybody who helped out! And I’m sorry if I filmed you and it’s not in the video. I most likely screwed up the shot somehow.

Skaters in order of appearance:
https://www.instagram.com/charlie_fxtrader/
https://www.instagram.com/uhnair/
https://www.instagram.com/manasasaki_/
https://www.instagram.com/harutosk8/
https://www.instagram.com/shinn_nosuke_/
https://www.instagram.com/kaedesk8/
https://www.instagram.com/shimon_mdaskater/
https://www.instagram.com/luismoravids/
Toa Hoshino
https://www.instagram.com/yutohorigome/
https://www.instagram.com/austinnodie/
https://www.instagram.com/ericskateloveg/
https://www.instagram.com/maxkiks/

Video specs:
Panasonic GH5, firmware ver. 2.2
180fps 1080p VFR
42.5mm f/1.2 Leica Nocticron
12-35mm f/2.8 Panasonic
75mm f/1.4 Cosmicar c-mount
Various variable ND filters

Tokyo Dreams – Luis Mora Short Film

Since October, I have been working on and off with Luis Mora on a film he’s wanted to make since he came to Japan for the first time earlier this year. We had planned to try and shoot it in a few weekends, but that drastically changed into all weekends and many weekdays/weeknights. Even with a lot of planning, this was a challenge to get done by his deadline. We only got to see a small part of Tokyo but it still came out huge.

Luis’s goal was to tell his story with Japan as a backdrop. I have done plenty of “Tokyo” videos in the past, so I already knew how to deal with that part. The first real challenge for me was filming skating for the first time. I had watched plenty of skating videos over the years, but never had a chance to film any skating. Luis was very specific as to how he wanted the skating filmed, so I had a lot to learn. I’m still filming with him while he is here, so I want to get even more practice.

I have a lot of experience with “new media consulting” but I have never worked with a “new generation vlogger” before. I learned a lot about how youtube works now for people who do it for a living, and I helped him with old school outreach planning and culture gaps. It was a very fulfilling experience overall.

As for the film itself, the GH5 performed wonderfully. We shot most of the film on the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm Nocticron at f/1.2 with a variable ND. We did a few during the day in tight spaces with the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8, and a few of the last shots were done with the Voightlander 17.5mm f/0.95. The 4K 60fps along with V-Log did a great job capturing the city colors. I’m super happy with the regular 4K 60fps. Another thing… the GH5 Dual IS and IS Video Lock are INCREDIBLE. I’m willing to bet you can’t tell which shots were on a gimbal and which were not. I mean, the gimbal was amazing in it’s own right, but I had no idea hw good the IS is until I was using it constantly. I used my Beholder DS2A with the DS2 arms when I could, though. Because of the GH5’s IS, even at 42.5mm, I could walk with it and get super smooth video with the Beholder. The only time I had small shakes was in high wind, but Warp Stabilizer smoothed them out to a point where I’m pretty sure you’ll have no idea where I used it. (Except for two shots, which absolutely had to be in the film)

Lastly, I’m a firm believer in the message of the film. I may not be where I want to be in life overall, but I have never given up doing what I want to do. As long as you don’t stop trying, no matter how little or how long it takes, you never know what you’ll accomplish.

I look forward to working with Luis more and have a lot of my own projects coming as well! Stay tuned!

Filming the Eupholks Live at the Basement Bar in Shimokitazawa, Tokyo

I have know the singer of the band Eupholks, Koike, for a few years now. He asked me to film some of his live shows, so I decided to give it a shot. The first time I tried to do a 2 camera shoot by myself… and it didn’t go well. More people showed up than expected and my b-camera was blocked partially or fully for most of the show. So, I acquired some help for the next one and figured… why not do it in anamorphic?

At first I was going to try some kind of 2x/1.33 hybrid, with the wide shots being 1.33 and the close up being 2x. I don’t have a good single-focus setup for 2x yet, so I decided just to borrow an SLR Magic Anamorpot and do the full thing in 1.33.

SLR Magic Anamorphot on the Left, my unbranded 1.33x classic adapter on the right.

I couldn’t get anybody with a GH4 or GH5 to help me, so I decided to try using my Panasonic G7 along with my GH5. I set them to the same settings for video, color, and white balance. The G7 was on the Beholder DS2A with the Panasonic 12-35mm 2.8 and the little 1.33x, and on the GH5 I had the Leica Nocticron 42.5mm 1.2 in ETC mode with the Anamorphot. I also got to try out the  Video IS lock on the GH5 for the first time, which works very well once you learn how to use it.

Unfortunately, filming didn’t go off without a hitch. Jesse, who was helping me film, had the G7 on the gimbal in the back. I didn’t show him how to check if it was recording properly and he missed the first 5 minutes of the show. The G7 didn’t like the combo of low light and the anamorphic, and would hunt occasionally when the lighting was low.

Yeah, I decided to do the whole show in auto focus on both cameras. If I’m gonna experiment with weird setups, why not see how far you can push them? If I could have changed anything, I would have put the Near/Far ring of the Anamorphot on a follow focus. When the camera is barely close enough to get focus with the combo, the auto focus can give up sometimes.

Overall I think they came out good. I kinda like the slow creep into focus the Nocticron did for a few shots, and I think it fits the overall show anyway.

I am looking forward to doing more stuff with Eupholks and other bands. I would love to somehow do a 3-camera anamorphic shoot if I can find the right people and gear.

Anyway, check the videos above for the show!

Eupholks
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWvE_UroEu9Q7vzR0oMfI6A
tumblr: https://eupholks.tumblr.com/
bandcamp: https://eupholks.bandcamp.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eupholks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hiroyuki_koike_

Special thanks to Jesse for helping me shoot!
http://iceblock.tv/

https://www.instagram.com/iceblocktv/

Yokohama in 8K – A Panasonic GH5 6K Photo Mode Anamorphic Exercise

Becoming impatient waiting for Panasonic to release the firmware update with full resolution Anamorphic mode, I decided to take Friday off and try to get some good shots around Yokohama using the 6K Photo mode. It didn’t end up going as planned, but I decided to upload a few shots anyway.

In order, the shots were filmed at Yamashita Park, Osanbashi Pier, the Landmark Tower Sky Garden Observatory, and Ishikawacho Chinatown.

As luck would have it, it ended up being one of the hottest, or the hottest days of the summer. It made it hard to move around, focus (mind and lens), and it was really hazy overall. Not ideal conditions when trying to get your best shots. I think many of them came out great, but double focusing the Ultra Star got tedious when every shot was so different. I had issues with vignetting that I couldn’t see because it was so bright out. I wanted a good variety of shots, but I also knew I couldn’t do a long video. 8K is a pain in the ass to render and the file sizes are huge.

I kept my gear light, using a video tripod, rails, and external mic. I had originally planned to do 5.1 surround audio, but my mic setup failed for whatever reason. I apologize for the on camera audio. I was filming with the GH5, the Panasonic 45-175mm f/4-5.6 lens, and the Chinatown shots were done with the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2. Most of the early shots were done with a variable ND, and the shots inside the Landmark Tower observatory were with a CPL.  Any landscape shots were done at f/8, closeups at f/4, and all night shots were done at whatever f-stop to keep the shutter speed at 50, about f/2.0-3. I used 1+ and 3+ diopters for close shots.

Yamashita Park had lots of great places to film. I will definitely go back when I have the chance. And yes, All Star by Smash Mouth suddenly started playing while filming. They also played I Try by Macy Gray, making me think that the park’s music CD was from 1999.

Osanbashi Pier apparently shakes just enough to not be compensated by Dual IS. It was constant the entire shoot but I didn’t notice until I got home to check the shots. After Effects Warp Stabilizer did a good job eliminating it, but had I known I would have done the shots handheld.

Landmark Tower’s Sky Garden was great. It cost 1,000 yen just to enter, but they had no issues with me using a tripod. (Many Japanese tourist sites don’t allow them) The glass reflection, however, was really difficult to deal with, even with a CPL. I couldn’t get the lens close enough to the glass to eliminate it, and the glass is so thick/layered that even then there were still reflections. Some of the shots I took with my iPhone right up against the glass had reflections.

The shots in Chinatown came out great. I would have filmed more but I was already super tired by that point. I also had limitations, as if I wasn’t careful I got heavy vignetting with the Isco Ultra Star and the 42.5mm lens. I need a bigger variable ND if I’m going to use that setup. I tried to film a guy making candy, but his lights were so bright that I had to stop down to f/5.0, and it gave ugly dark corners.

 

The next challenge was working with the damn H.265 files. I repackaged them in Handbrake (who decided to change the dimentions on a few videos for no reason), and they worked OK in Adobe Premier. I have a pretty fast computer that can handle 4K stuff with zero issues. But it was like I was in 2008 with HD files on a 2006 computer. Press space bar, wait 5 seconds, it plays. The edit took far longer than it should have. And that was after rendering all the shots at 1/8 resolution. The rest was no-nonsense, I imported it into After Effects for color correction (something I am still not good at) and then it came time to render.

After researching if there was a better way to render 8K video and failing in all attempts, I decided to try just slightly reduced settings from my early experiment that I rendered using GoPro Cineform and just hoped the file would be under 128 GB.

After 3 hours of rendering, I was left with a 3 minute and 19 second,  42 GB large, 9984×3744 sized video. I’m listing it as 8K, as Youtube will only support up to 8K right now.

Overall, I guess I’m happy with it. I think the shots could be cleaner. I think if I brought more gear and my square ND set I could have got better overall compositions. Double focusing is not an ideal process for getting perfect shots on the fly, and some of them are not as clean as I’d like. When Panasonic offers the full resolution 6K Anamorphic mode, hopefully it won’t be in that god-awful H.265 format. Until then, I think I’m done with the 6K Photo mode.

I need to get more hard drive space. This is going to be a data nightmare year.

Focus and Light Test #1

In one of many, I set up a quick lighting and focus test on my anamorphic rig. I have been shooting a lot with it, but there are still some things that I need to work out. The biggest issues are the flares and the focus. For awhile I have been shooting just on my 45-175mm zoom at f/4.0 because I wanted to be ready to shoot at a moments notice with few issues. But I want more bokeh for certain shots and the right kind of flares for others.

The 42.5mm, as I have said before, is the absolute bare minimum you can use on the Elmoscope. Vignetting really bothers me and it is really noticeable when using the OIS on the lens, as the vignette moves with the internals. These were shot with the OIS off as you could still see the movement even with a slider. Really frustrating. I wish I had a camera with IBIS so I could see if it had a better effect.

Overall… I’m not sure I am happy with the flares on these. Occasionally the flares from this rig look perfect. But some of these just look weird to me. I may have to switch it up with the Isco Ultra Star and see if I like that better. I have certain looks and certain feelings I want to convey. That, and the fact that these lenses react so drastically different in certain lights makes me feel I have a lot more to learn. Therefore, more tests.

JSD labs: 2.0x Anamorphic Rig Tests

(vimeo)

Finally getting around to doing some test shots and setups with my anamorphic stuff. I recently picked up an Elmoscope-II and a SLR Magic Rangefinder to make the filming process a bit easier. I had done some tests with my other lenses (they’re on instagram) so I wasn’t completely lost as to what to do. But I still ran into some challenges.

I originally filmed with a clamp and lens support on rails… but on the first day of shooting I had a few scary moments with the lens just… falling out of the tightened clamp. I NEVER had that happen with my Isco Ultra Star. I discovered my Sigma ST-21 tripod ring fits the Elmoscope PERFECTLY (like it was made for it) so I have been using that since. When on the tripod ring you can only use it with the rangefinder. I ordered a Redstan screw-on clamp made for this lens, because I have projects where I will need to dual focus.

Biggest issue when filming… Centering and vignetting.

Shooting on the Leica 42.5 proved difficult with the tripod ring.
Shooting on the Leica 42.5 proved difficult with the tripod ring.

The widest you can go on the Elmoscope is 85mm on a 35mm frame, which is what the Leica 42.5mm is on MFT. I tried to go with that, seeing that it had OIS and one of the best images you can get to start with. On the clamp it wasn’t so bad. But on the tripod collar the slightest movement will take it off center and give you a black corner. This is fine if you are cropping, but I haven’t decided if I want to crop any projects that I will be using this on. I like the super wide look. I also had issues with distortions that I didn’t have when the lens was on the clamp. No matter how tight I got everything down, I think there was still too much movement between the lens and camera. This could also have been triggered by the OIS, which is a problem I had with the iPhone 7 Plus and the anamorphic I was using. I want to try a camera with IBIS some time in the future to see if this cuts down on the warping. Until then, once I get my Redstan clamp, I will try it again.

Filmed with the Helios-44
Filmed with the Helios-44

I only shot with the Helios-44 at night, which is where I think it shines. You can tell the differences in the shots. The Helios just gives this amazing glow to everything. Unfortunately, that’s not what you always want. They obviously don’t match the other shots in the same area. Also, I’m not sure if this is just my copy, but my Helios-44 goes…beyond infinity? When I originally set it up on the rig I thought that something was wrong with the Rangefinder or Elmoscope. Set everything to infinity, and…. blurry. It was only when I was trying to dual focus it that I realized the focus ring doesn’t stop at infinity and infinity isn’t marked properly. Made it a pain to get right and sharp. I’m going to try and get another Helios-44 and see if it’s the same.

Another issue I had was the golden or white halo. Depending n the sun or light angle, it would fill all or half the corners. I know some people like it, but I don’t.

You can see the light vignetting on the bottom of the frame.
You can see the light vignetting on the bottom of the frame.

This was an issue I had on my Ultra Star too. A little too late, but Tito Ferradans over at Anamorphic on a Budget JUST released a video on how to fix this here: Kowa B&H Edge Blackening. I will definitely be doing this to my lenses.

Lastly, I am not 100% sold on the Rangefinder. I think it has it’s uses and benefits, but I can see why a lot of people don’t like the blue flares or dots this thing makes.

The blue is super strong and can clash with some scenes.
The blue is super strong and can clash with some scenes.

On the plus side, the Rangefinder performed very well as far as focusing. I was able to get very sharp images from 2.0 and up on the Leica and 2.8 and up on the Helios-44. I even put a 1x diopter on the front and it focused closer very well. I plan to try some stronger diopters when I get the chance. The ONLY negative aspect to focusing was how much I had to turn the damn thing on a follow-focus. But, I think with some better gearing (and maybe a better follow focus) that could be solved.

Overall, I think this setup has some potential. My goal is to work on it until I can get 100% cinema-clean images. That will take modifying the setup AND how I shoot. I may be uploading a ton of shorter tests until I am 100% happy with the results.

Can't beat that anamorphic bokeh.
Can’t beat that anamorphic bokeh.

I also want to thank Jesse from Ice Block for helping me out and being in the video. I had a hard time getting people to commit and be in my videos for some reason.