Putting the final touches on a hard working, 4K, video system for commercial work.

Panasonic GH5 with Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 lens.

There are some parameters I need in my selection of tools if I am to feel comfortable offering video services to clients now. Those would include: a range of great codecs, solid 4K performance, unlimited recording time, solid battery performance, an easy to use audio interface, a selection of really good lenses, and well implemented image stabilization. Even before the recently announced firmware upgrade (v2.0) the GH5 system checked all those things off the list. In fact, it's the only hybrid (stills and video) camera I've found at any price to have everything I want for video production and a complete complement of photographic abilities as well. The only feature the camera lacks is an extremely high resolution mode. 

My immersion into the system has been gradual. As one insightful wag wrote, when I bought the Panasonic FZ2500, (and I paraphrase) "this (the FZ2500) will be the gateway drug into the GH5 system." And, to a certain extent, that is true. In concert with the Atomos Ninja Flame the FZ2500 allowed the use of 10 bit, 4:2:2 performance in 4K video. My recent experiences using the system to shoot green screen were eye-opening for me. The FZ also helped me get used to the color science of the Panasonic system.

After several very successful still shoots and much video testing with my first GH5 (using the Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro lens) I felt ready to flesh out a cohesive video system around the GH5 camera body. I am certain that its advanced video features make it a good choice for the next two years without worries of technical obsolescence.

With the system in place I am confident that I can provide clients with sharp, clean video and audio that is on par with the technical deliverables of all mainstream video platforms commonly used for corporate and other commercial video uses. With the update to firmware 2.0 in the Fall we'll also add the ability to create files at 400 MB/s that will rival top systems. 

Here's what I've put together in order to provide my clients with great content and superior technical quality: 

Two GH5 camera bodies. Having two identical allows me to set up and shoot interviews from two angles/magnifications, to provide more editing options in interviews. On a fast moving project it allows me to use a second camera operator who will provide matching footage so we can two different scenes concurrently. The second camera always buys peace of mind on client shoots. If one camera goes down we have an identical back up. 

Leica/Panasonic 8-18mm wide angle zoom lens. I've always shied away from extreme wide angles but I'm finding more and more uses for focal lengths wider than the 24mm equivalent when shooting architecture (interior and exterior) as well as in cramped labs and clean rooms. The 8-18mm is extremely sharp, and, in conjunction with the in-camera corrections, doesn't exhibit much geometric distortion. The front of the lens has a familiar, 67mm filter ring which makes it easy to use polarizers and variable neutral density filters. The longer end of the lens gets into my comfort zone for everyday shooting. It's a nice overlap with the 12-100mm f4.0 lens.

Olympus 12-100mm f4.0 Pro zoom lens. This lens is insanely sharp and perfect for those times when I have to travel light, work fast and move around with the camera off tripod. The 24-200mm equivalent focal range all falls into my compositional comfort zones. The manual focus feature, with hard stops for close focus and infinity, is a desirable addition for anyone shooting video production. The only thing lacking, which can be useful in some situations, would be a power zoom... This is the lens I keep on the camera most often for interviews and general work. In dark interiors I wish it was one stop faster but I've never wished for it to be sharper...

Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 Pro zoom lens. I added this lens almost exclusively for shooting live theater at Zach Theatre (and perhaps the Lyric Theater in OKC and the Alley Theater in Houston....). With its fast and perfectly usable f2.8 and a focal length range that is equivalent of 80-300mm on a 35mm camera I can sit mid-house and grab endless shots that range from tight, one person compositions to small groups and ensembles. Being able to do so with the lens wide open at all focal lengths is a great thing. It's something I've done extensively with the Sony RX10 iii and the Panasonic FZ2500. If I need to go longer I can pick up a 1.4X extender which would get me to the equivalent of 420mm with an f-stop of f4.0. 

25mm f1.7. It's a reflex. Get a system and add the basic "normal" lens. Useful when smaller camera profiles are appreciated and, used wide open, a decent way to get more light on the sensor. 

While these are the primary lenses I'll be using for most commercial engagements I do find that the lure of my collection of Olympus Pen FT prime lenses also sways me to look to m4:3 cameras for video production use. They are a nice adjunct to the modern lenses, provide wider apertures and have a distinctive look. 

For convenience (and because the price is so much more reasonable than Sony's) I am also adding the GH5 Microphone adapter, the DMW-XLR1, to make audio easier when I am shooting solo. It fits into the hot shoe and has gotten good marks from all the reviewers I've read.

Everything else I need for the video I want to do is already resident in the studio. We've got all manner of cool lights, lots of light stands and C-Stands, endless modifiers, digital video recorders, meters, and cases. 

My aim is to provide "no excuses" video to good clients who value my particular "small footprint" approach to producing their work. We'll see if it's a market that's profitable. 


  1. Do you find there is a difference in the way Panasonic and Olympus cameras use in-camera lens correction when the lens and camera body brands don't match?

    I'm thinking .jpg stills, primarily, but the same question might apply to video.

  2. I haven't noticed a difference but maybe more experienced cross system users will chime in. I did decide on the 8-18 to use with the GH5s on the assumption that they might have more involved wide angle corrections. But I think when it comes to lens correction they both read from the same operational playbook. Interesting question and one I'll want to hear more answers to.

  3. Supposedly the Olympus EM-1 OM-D MkIII has 4K video. Not sure about the other features vis-a-vis the GH5, like codecs, etc.

  4. Joe, You are correct, the Olympus EM-1.2 does have 4K video and by most reports it's pretty good. It doesn't have the extensive list of video oriented features that the GH5 does but is nevertheless a workable solution for people whose video needs are straightforward.

  5. I've always valued the ability to mix and match bodies and lenses in the m4:3 ecosystem. Sony with their Zeiss partnership and willingness to embrace 3rd party manufacturers has made this less of a unique advantage on the lens side but it is still nice to select (or rent) bodies from two manufacturers.

  6. Nice kit! I imagine it will help you expand the video end of your business. Curious did you add the M4/3 gear for workflow or quality reasons over the Sony gear you have?

  7. For most uses the video quality and range of features is much better than the Sony cameras. The full frame 4K video looks better and the richer files are easier to work with in post production. Not that the Sonys were at all bad.


Comments. If you disagree do so civilly. Be nice or see your comments fly into the void. Anonymous posters are not given special privileges or dispensation. If technology alone requires you to be anonymous your comments will likely pass through moderation if you "sign" them. A new note: Don't tell me how to write or how to blog!