After spending a serious chunk of time making video over the last three weeks I've learned more about what I really want in a video camera. I do want a camera that is big and robust so I never have to worry about it overheating and shutting down. I made frequent use of the waveform feature so that's a must. The camera should not only record nice, Long-GOP files but should also be capable of shooting ALL-I files for those times when I want to keep motion artifacts to a minimum. Or make post production faster and easier. It has to be able to write 4K, 10 bit, 4:2:2 files, even ALL-I files, directly to internal cards. It needs to have great color profiles; and enough of them for any use imaginable. It has to have good audio capabilities and an easy-to-use audio interface for all those times when I'm doing the one man crew style of shooting. It has to have a great EVF. It has to have a full size HDMI port. And it has to fit in with all my existing cameras and lenses.....because....batteries.
Nice stuff to have but not absolutely essential for most of the stuff I currently shoot would include: A luminance spot meter, a fan to keep the sensor from getting too hot, big, dedicated buttons to start the video. The ability to output and record color bars and tone. The ability to set video exposures with shutter angle instead of shutter speed menus, the ability to work seamlessly with an Atomos Ninja V monitor/digital recorder and finally, the potential to output crazy, intense, detail rich, and highly malleable ProRes Raw files. For those times when you have to try for the next rung on the ladder.
I had few complaints about my long day spent with a stock Lumix S1 shooting video last week. The camera, and a smaller, less expensive model (G9) in the Lumix line up, were both sterling performers. I did wish I could have shot some of the scenes that contained lots and lots of movement with ALL-I files but I doubt more than a handful of people would notice the difference in the final mix. I could have shot to the Ninja V and the resulting Pro Res 422 files would be ALL-I but the S1 and the Atomos V don't automatically sync their stops and starts and the last thing I needed was one more thing to think about. Plus our editor works in Premiere and I'm not sure how that program handles Apple's Pro Res files...
Having an S1H wouldn't necessarily make everything "better" image wise but there are enough features in the camera that it would make everything I do with video easier, smoother and in some situations, more self-contained. For example, when shooting ALL-I files I would not have to bring along an external monitor/recorder if I wanted to travel light.
While an S1H and a bigger lens isn't ever going to be a preferred solution for drone work or use on consumer gimbals it's the perfect camera (when used with dual I.S.) to handhold (nice mass), put on a monopod or use on a tripod. That makes it a great solution for all the interviews we end up doing and just about any narrative project I want to do.
I was sitting in front of my computer going through last week's files yesterday when I got e-mails from two different P.R. companies; both of which were looking for bids/estimates for video projects that are very similar to the project I'm working on now. The timing seemed fortuitous. I looked forward in time and ruminated on how I'd like to handle those projects and I kept coming back to the S1H. So I hopped into the Subaru and headed to Precision Camera. I walked out with a brand new S1H, sealed in the box.
Of course, I spent a couple of hours messing around with it last night and I'm very impressed. The shutter has a wonderful sound to it. It's big and husky. The menus seem rich but familiar. It's just what I thought I was looking for.
We've got a few smaller projects to get through this week and I'll use it for video on those. Then, on Sunday, I'm going to be on location on a river photographing a doctor fly fishing. I'll use the S1H as a photo camera then; just to see how well it fills that role.
I'm happy with the collection of S1x cameras I have in house. With the addition of the S1H I now have representatives of the high res version (S1R), the all-arounder (S1) and the video-centric body (S1H). Each fills a good, functional niche for me.
Weather: Finally, the heat wave is abating. We've got rain outside for the first time in a good, long while and that's great since we were heading for drought territory. The frog who lives in my French drain will be so happy. The temperatures are supposed to be moderate ( highs in the low 90's) into next week along with ample chances for rain. I even saw a prediction for one day with a high in the 80's and a low around 60°. We'll all be euphoric.
Swimming: Two good days in a row and looking forward to a noon swim tomorrow. I found a shampoo and body wash that's the first really effective anti-chlorine solution for swimmers. I've been testing it in my outside shower and after a week of having skin that doesn't itch, hair that doesn't feel like burnt grass, and no chlorine cologne smell I went back to Austin TriCyclist and bought out their stock. It's called, Thinksport.
The project is "Shampoo & Body Wash". And their tagline is: Safer Products for Healthier Athletes.
A subtitle on the tube reads: "chlorine remover." It's little stuff like this that makes me happier while the world around us falls apart....
Nothing exciting in the workout today. The main set was 10 x100's where you sprint a fast 25 that progresses through the distance as you progress through the set. So, on the first 100 yard swim you go fast on the first 25 yards and then cruise through the next 75. The next 100 starts with a 25 cruise, ramps up to a sprint 25 and then ends with a 50 just cruising at 85-90 % effort. And the progression continues in the same way, rotating through for a total of 1,000 yards. We had other stuff in the workout but that was the set that stood out for me.
Today: I'm slowing down today to try to clean and organize my studio space. After weeks of messing around with video gear my office is a mess. A cooler, rainy day seems like just the right time to do some office work. I'm sure I'll get bored at some point and head out for a walk. We'll see how much discipline I have left.
Work seems to be flowing back. We had planned to be able to retire from working for $$$ now and we've planned well but all of a sudden good, fun clients seem to be bouncing back and offering projects to work on. Seems like too much fun (and optimism) to pass up. Maybe I'll retire next year....
Biggest announcement: As I am turning 65 at the end of October I have just received my Medicare Card in the mail. I hope we can vote the wannabe tyrant out of office in November so my benefits don't get "privatized" (Latin for financial rape) out of existence. Should be fun though to stop paying for private health insurance after 35 years of freelancing. I'll feel stinking rich. Well, relatively speaking.
Anyway....new camera. New fun stuff to think about.