Testing out the Panasonic GH5 as a still photography camera. We headed to Zach Theatre for a photon phest.

Sasha will be co-starring in "Singing in the Rain."

It's best to break in new cameras a step at a time. Here's how we do it in VSL World: Upon taking possession of a new camera model I put the battery on the charger and then sit down in a comfortable chair and read the full, online manual to get up to speed on all the features I know I will use. After manual reading and battery charging I put a lens on the front and head downtown to my favorite stomping grounds and get used to physically handling the camera. I shoot stuff and review. I use all the buttons that control the stuff I use all the time. This might happen between two and ten times before I'm ready to commit using the new gear on a project. 

When I feel comfortable with the camera I tend to use it in the studio for simple headshots to start out. It's such a controllable atmosphere and there's well known gear waiting in the wings if I happen to hit a snag. It also give me an opportunity to work with controlled lighting and to see just how good the files can be when shot at their native ISO and lit well. Then I drag all the files into Lightroom and try to find out where the points of pain might be in the files themselves. Is there a consistent color cast? How does the camera file handle deep shadows? How much highlight recovery is there, actually? Is the lens correction playing with a full deck?

Once I go past this I'm ready to take the camera with me to paying shoots for commercial clients. 

As you may have read I've recently been acquiring some good lenses for my Panasonic GH5 cameras (yes, I bought a second one...) and today (and tomorrow) presented good opportunities to slam a lot of frames through one of the machines and to see just how well it works. 

Today's project was a marketing assignment to shoot two dancers on white to use in marketing and promotion for Zach Theatre's upcoming production of "Singing in the Rain." 

So much experimenting. First of all we lit the set with nothing but battery powered lights. Lights spanning three different brands. The main light was provided by the Neewer 300 w/s monolight powered by its big lithium ion battery, aimed into a 72 inch, white umbrella. The fill was the Godox AD200 with a bare tube head and a wide angle diffuser aimed into a 77 inch, white umbrella. I used a couple of Godox camera speedlights on the background and a small, manual flash as a kicker positioned on the opposite side of the talent from the main light. 

The two big flashes were set to one quarter power, the background flashes at 1/16th power and the kicker also at 1/16th. The exposure was f8.0 at 1/125th of a second, ISO 400. Action frozen, talent fully in focus even when moving. 

I shot 500+ images and the flashes were happy to come along for the ride. No shut downs, no heat warnings. I have great images of the couple leaping through the air that are crisply frozen. The raw files are very malleable in Lightroom and the resolution works. The cameras are a blast to shoot with and nailed focus in spite of the fact that I wasn't using modeling lights but was depending entirely on the high ceiling florescent fixtures for all my focusing and composing illumination. Modeling lights can be helpful but one would think that after shooting these kinds of assignments for 28 years (give or take a few months) I should pretty well know where to put the lights. 

While the camera is great to shoot with, focuses quickly and generates pleasing files some of the credit must go to the lens. The 12-100mm f4.0 Pro Olympus lens is the sharpest zoom lens I've ever used on micro 4:3rds and the wide focal length range means I needed only one lens for the entire afternoon. 



  1. Yes, that's a great camera, lens, and lights combo, although my vote for 'most amazing zoom' would go to the Olympus f/2.8 40-150mm PRO. But let's not quibble. More importantly, I think lots of the credit for the pictures must go to your model (not discounting the photographer of course!), who seems to have great camera 'presence,' for want of a better word. With a very few people, I have noticed, it is virtually impossible to take a bad picture, and I would be willing to bet that Sasha comes into that category.
    Peter Wright.

  2. Could you just as easily used the Sony a7II and the Sony 24 to 240 lens to take the stills.

  3. Ooooh. Can't wait until you post your thoughts on the 20mp. In all seriousness while there is obviously a difference between 40mp and 20. It doesn't seem to materialize as much as one might think.

    Now, I am not saying anything but the 80mp high res raw files from the em1.2 would take care of your high res need for architecture/interior and product... So really, I mean C'mon, the Sony is just dead weight now. Imagine all the gear you could multi purpose if you just let it go.

    For those shallow DOF shots a 25mm f1.2 and 42.5 f1.2. Then you also get them for video use ;)

    I am not saying anything, just saying.

  4. The behind the scenes shots are particularly lovely,

  5. I know this is all a test, but don't you miss those big, juicy, humongous full frame pixels of the Sony? Just curious!

  6. George, as you may know, even though I had the big Sony cameras in my bag I often shot with RX10s, FZ2500s and smaller frame cameras as a matter of course in the theater. Sometimes flexibility wins, sometimes reach and sometimes sheer pixel horsepower. It's all a compromise; you pick and choose the parameters you need in each situation. No holy grail. Besides, the pixels in the A7Rii aren't that much bigger..... Certainly smaller than the A7ii pixels, etc.


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