Fun little afternoon project. Photographing an actor for an upcoming, one man play. About Barbara Streisand. With a camera that was definitely not marketed for studio use....

J. Robert Moore. Zach Theatre. 

Here's the description from the Zach Website of the play, "Buyer and Cellar":   Alex, a struggling Hollywood actor, takes an outrageous job working in Streisand’s Malibu Barbra dream house in an underground mall housing her showbiz collections. One surprising day, the FUNNY GIRL herself comes downstairs to “shop” and, for Alex, icons who need people are the luckiest people in the world. But will this desperate actor ever be invited upstairs to Babs’ palatial estate? This giddily hilarious one-man play will have you doubled-over laughing, proclaiming “it’s like butta!"

Hmm. Not sure who wrote the description but, okay. The marketing folks at Zach Theatre needed to have some images taken for promotional postcards (yes, real businesses still print and mail stuff...), social media and various other outlets. They wanted to get Mr. Moore in a studio and get a range of emotions from him that would express the character he'll be playing this Summer.  (more below). 

As you know, I've been ruminating about cameras lately and I decided to choose a camera that would be counter-intuitive from my usual selection. I would be lighting the whole set with powerful mono-lights so I knew I could shoot at the lowest ISO on the camera. And every camera I own is state of the art (within its format). I figured that the controlled lighting and low ISO would save me from any unintentional, stupid choice I might make. 

I packed two big lights and one small flash. I brought along a white seamless paper background (I chop a foot off most of my backgrounds (from side to side) so they fit better in small spaces). And I brought along one Sony RX10 and one Panasonic fz 1000. This time the fz 1000 got the nod. I'd used it once before with flash and knew what to expect. I shot about 400 shots in raw then processed and delivered about 350 for the theatre pros to wade through and select from. We're talking about ranges of expressions here and the marketing people know what they are looking for better than I do. 

The lighting couldn't have been simpler. There was on light just behind Mr. Moore that illuminated the background and one light in a medium softbox just in front and above him. Occasionally, I would toss in a small, dialed down portable flash on the opposite side of the main light; just for a little fill. 

We could have complicated the lighting but since the client will clip out the background I really didn't see the point. 

So, how did the $700 Panasonic super bridge camera perform? Let's see.... there was super fast focusing that nailed every frame without hesitation and, when used with face detection, had AF sensors covering the whole frame. The EVF was spot on as an indicator of correct exposure. The lens and sensor gave me files that were wonderfully sharp; I can see highly defined eyelashes in the image just above. The lens performance never stops amazing me. No flare of other shenanigans from the lens either. If I wanted to I could move way back in the room and zoom in for a different look but, on the other hand, I had a lot of wide angle to play with on the other end if I wanted to step back a bit and offer my VSL readers a look at the set. The buffer was fast and happy as was the shot to shot timing. I think I was able to shoot raw files more quickly than with either of my current model Nikons... Did I mention that I could instantly review the taken images in the finder without moving the camera from my eye?

I used the camera with an infra red trigger in the hot shoe which worked perfectly. At one point I wanted to change the exposure just a bit but was running out of aperture since I was already at f8.0. Instead I raised the shutter speed which had the effect of reducing overall exposure as well. I haven't tried it but since the shutter is a circular, leaf type, it should be able to sync all the way up the shutter speed range --- as long as I stick with the mechanical shutter option. Bodes well for exterior daylight shoots in Texas. Especially if I keep that variable ND filter in the bag. 

I got back home from the shoot at 3 pm and now it's 4:30 pm and the colors and tones have been corrected and the raw files have been converted. The last thing to do is to upload the final Jpegs to the client and then burn a DVD to save a back up copy. No muss, no fuss. 

Those one inch rascals are pretty amazing ... and a lot of fun to shoot in the studio. Who would have guessed?


Frank Grygier said...

You never cease to amaze.The simple yet beautiful lighting and the F ZED 1000. You could carry all of it your Husky bag.

Carlo Santin said...

Bravo Kirk. Ballsy move. I would have wimped out and gone with the D810. Great to see these cameras can be used like this. These 1 inch sensors really are extraordinary. I've been complaining that new cameras don't excite me, but I have a line on a practically new Sony RX10 for a great price and now I'm wondering if it could be my only digital camera (still shooting film for fun with no plans to stop).

Gato said...

Thanks for this. I hit "Buy" on a used FZ1000 Saturday based largely on your theater photos - I had wavered for weeks between that and the Sony. This set confirms my choice, the image quality and your comments on the fast, accurate focus.

Aside from that, the high flash sync on these cameras is a big draw for me. I'm out near Amarillo, where we get even more sun than Austin.

Rufus said...

Kirk - there is something seriously wrong with your camera. I mean, look at the green tinge on the assistants hair !! OMG !!