9.19.2014

HOLY BOOK UPDATE! BATMAN!!! Print version arriving soon.


Just wanted to update you all on what's happening with my insanely fun, vanity publishing adventure, the photo novel: The Lisbon Portfolio

Belinda finished fine tuning all of the interior design and building the print version from scratch. We could have gotten up quicker if we'd just taken the short cut and uploaded the e-version. But we knew it wouldn't look as good. She's done an incredible job but that shouldn't surprise anyone who knows her since she's been the lead graphic designer on countless magazines and books for corporate clients.  Can you say #BrilliantDesigner ? 

So, we uploaded the print version and passed all the publisher tests and formatting double checks with flying colors. I ordered three proof copies today and they should be here early next week. We'll go through and make sure everything from the front cover to the last manuscript page is perfect and then we'll push the magic button and let Amazon.com come publish the printed version (all 472 pages of it) and make it available to an international audience of photo spy book cognoscenti. I'll post the links to the print book the minute after we launch. 

Thanks to my readers for their patience and support with this project. All the help and encouragement behind the scenes has been wonderful. What a nice group of people we've got here!


Have you shot with the Olympus 75mm 1.8 lens? If you have I would love to hear your opinions about it.


I am vacillating between buying one of these
or buying one of the 42.5 Nocticrons.
I can't buy both at once. 
This one is half the price. 

What do you think of yours?
Or the one you've used?

I can read the review sites. 
I might just trust you more.

Comments?

Layers are lovely.





I experimented yesterday with turning things off. I was heading out for a walk and I decided to take a counterintuitive camera and lens combination with me; the Samsung NX30 and the its 85mm 1.4. The general twist is that I set the camera up in manual exposure, center focusing spot, raw, AWB and ISO 200. Then I turned the rear screen completely around to it faced the camera body. I wanted to shoot as we used to shoot with film cameras, without the benefit of instantaneous review of the images I was shooting. I wanted to trust the camera and let it do the work.

I actively ignored the EVF image and tried to just meter each shot using the metering indications in the finder. I think that I've become so dependent on "pre-chimping" and trying to get everything just right in the moments before exposure that I've been losing my connection with the subject and the real reason I might want to take a photograph in the first place. I didn't adjust anything if the screen in front of my eye seemed too light or too dark. I concentrated on using my exposure experience and fine tuning based on a spot metering of a subject and a little dial in of aperture to avoid running out of shutter speed. I find this is a good way to shoot this camera. The EVF never seemed to track proper exposure (or my interpretation of proper exposure) anyway. Juggling screen images was becoming a distraction. 

I found that willfully ignoring the rear screen and squelching the idea of making lots of little adjustments at the time of shooting freed me up to enjoy the process of actually looking for images more. We've talked here before about having a camera with just a few basic controls. One which would shoot to raw files and allow correction from there. This is what I was trying to do. Essentially pushing the ability to recognize something I wanted to shoot instead of focusing on how to optimize a scene.

Was I successful? I was in that the images I captured pleased me and my walk was more fluid and less stoppy-starty. What would it take to really do this right? I'd want to use a camera with an optical viewfinder and put gaffer's tape over the screen on the back. The finder would merely be an indication of composition and whether the camera had hit focus. All other information would be blacked out. Is this a new trend in shooting? Well, judging by the new Leica which does away with a screen entirely, maybe. Will I be shooting this way a lot? Probably not. More of an exercise in re-asserting my visual primacy over the highly addictive interplay of pre-chimping and compulsive correction. 

It has piqued my curiosity though. I'm heading out the door this afternoon with a Nikon F camera and a 50mm lens. Two rolls of generic ISO 100 print film. 72 blind exposures. Should be frustrating and exciting. But to me the "hunt" is always better than the "dissection."


Walk Image #1 and Walk Image #2



9.18.2014

Clicking through life. One website at a time.

This image is for visual anchoring. It's a frame from the King and I, 
now playing at Zach Theatre. It was shot with a Panasonic GH4
and the wonderful 35-100mm X Vario lens.

Doesn't matter what I say or do, the steamroller just comes along and flattens everything down to the same level. Every day I get e-mail messages that guide me to sites. Some sites are touting medium format cameras. Invariably the images are of models or race cars. These images are all sharp and contrasty and grainless but uniformly safe and boring. One site shows me "new talent" (which means young photographers) that is selected by "anonymous" art buyers and editors but all the images look like they were shot by the same person. They're all casual lifestyle scenes that seem as though they were shot by someone who has never even see a lighting instrument, let alone read the instructions about how to turn one on. How many images of wandering millenials in quasi (dispassionate) love do we need to see? How unlit can an image be? Do we need to even recognize the person being portrayed?

I get e-mails guiding me to sites that tell me how to shoot models. But all the models are lit the same way and all of them seem to have gone through the same retouching car wash that scrubbed all the detail off their faces. Are we still at all even mildly amused by tattoos and piercings? Do all video cameras have to slide during every take? Help me, Jim Jarmusch!

Sometimes it makes me just want to put my camera down and go for yet another walk. To see what real people are out seeing and to see what real people, with lives and jobs and kids, are doing. How do people look when they are walking through their reality trying to balance a cellphone on one ear, a cup of coffee in one hand and a messenger bag in the other? What does beauty feel like for unattractive people? Can anyone pull off looking cool as they climb into their ten year old mini-van? Can anyone not look like a sociopath as they climb into a Ferrari at the grocery store? Do men really still wear gold chains around their necks in 2014? Are small children being parented while their parents look into the vague middle distance and chatter inanely on their phones.

I have other questions that vex me as I "learn" more about the "importance" of creating visual content for the cellphone screen. Here's one: Why do we give a crap about huge, wonderful video cameras or "4K" if 65% of the population will "enjoy" the content on the screen of a phone? Is there any correlation between the sheer, enormous, corpulent size of people and our new addiction to the web?

I thought of all this as I was taking images in a very high end tech company a few weeks ago. One person asked another if the web was systematically destroying all jobs. "No." replied the other, "technology has been doing that for a long time." They went on to discuss the recent protests by fast food workers. One person said to the other, "If they push this wage thing too far we'll just put an app on a bunch of iPads and automate the fast food front counters. People can handle ordering and paying for themselves..."

And, for a second I imagined that this would only flatten the finances of the poorest people, but someone else had just finished telling me about decision tree software for psychiatry that may be at least as effective as talk therapy performed by a psychiatrist/analyst. Most psychiatrist have long since been relegated to prescribing pills instead. This next step will allow their jobs to "migrate" down to trained nurses. And then we'll automate mental health care and what next?

What does any of this have to do with photography? Well, nothing and everything. A life that goes from screen to screen to screen. Perhaps photography is one of the things that actually makes people go outside and see for themselves. That's a start.


9.17.2014

"The King and I." The latest Zach Theatre Project ramps up. We catch the dress rehearsal.


I mentioned yesterday that I'd be covering the dress rehearsal of The King and I, at Zach Theatre last night. I showed up with a bag full of toys. I took along the Nikon D7100 which I used for a large percentage of the images. I brought the GH4, fitted with a 35-100mm, which I used and a GH3 fitted with a 12-35mm lens, which I did not use. I also brought the black EM-5 fitted with the Sigma 60mm DN "art" lens-lite which I used and wished I'd used on everything.

I'll cut to the chase here, on paper the D7100 is the best of the cameras. Biggest sensor, highest resolution, fastest focusing (?), and a real live optical viewfinder. In practical use, doing theatre images under constantly changing light the GH4 and the EM-5 just kept kicking its big jelly-bean-Ford-Taurus-bubble body around the block. From a sharpness point of view the Panasonic 35-100mm, stopped down one stop, and the Sigma 60mm 2.8 wide open are an even optical match for Nikon's 85mm 1.8G lens. Especially so when you consider that the two mirror less camera/lens combinations hit focus 100% of the time while the Nikon was....variable. 

But I don't really care if one sensor is just a bit better than another sensor if the instantaneous feedback loop of a great EVF (or even just a good one) can help me nail color and exposure with a higher degree of accuracy every single time. Big sensors do everything well that their proponents talk about. And EVFs do everything well that I talk about. I'm not a small versus big sensor guy. I don't care. If all things are equal I'd probably stick with a 24x36mm sensor because, logically, it should yield a higher quality file. But to make that file you have to nail exposure and focus and color. You can tell me you never chimp with your D800 or Canon 5D3 and I never do either----under continuous, consistent lighting. But if you are telling me you don't chimp under constantly shifting light sources; light sources that are also changing color, then you are either lying or stupid enough to want to spend ample, quality time in post production. Hey, I get it. Some people like to sit around and stare at their computers and the need to individually post process every few files is as good an excuse as any. 

Comparing all three camera files at the same ISO I saw pretty much the same amount of noise. The nice thing is that all three cameras have "nice" noise. Small, black grains. No big, out of control color splotches. The Panasonic was the least noisy of the three. The Olympus had the highest appearance of sharpness and over all quality of the three and the Nikon.....well, since the files are bigger when you compare all the files at a 16 megapixel size it does have the appearance of slightly smaller noise artifacts. Nothing exemplary to write home about. I shot raw on all three and developed them side by side in Lightroom. No big variances. 


How was the play? It was one of the best performances of live theater I've ever seen. Mel and Jill (the King and Anna) were just flat out amazing. The cast of children was delightful. The stage sets were magnificent. The music (directed by Alan Robertson) was perfect and the choreography was tighter than a moon landing. 

If you have a spouse, significant other or friend who says they "hate" live theater, this play, done by Zach Theatre, will convert them to big time fans in one pleasant evening. It's like curing vegetarianism with bacon. 


I'm shooting another performance in the next week or so to capture images of the backup group of children who are in the play. I wouldn't call them understudies as I think they cycle the two groups so no one misses too much school or homework. At any rate, when I come back I'm coming with the two EM-5s and the two Panasonic X zooms. The files impressed me that much in this application. 
Smells like that EM-1 is getting closer and closer.





All images ©2014 Kirk Tuck
All rights reserved.

9.16.2014

Getting back into balance. Mulling over the offerings at Photokina. Packing up for assignments.


A week and a half of sustained photography work really cuts into one's swim time. I dragged my lazy self out of bed at 6:30 am for the first time in too long and just about crawled to the pool. Coach Kathleen was on deck all alert and chipper. "Haven't seen you here in a while..." she remarked. After great hesitation I finally threw myself into lane 3 and started the warm up. I felt like a old car left out in the cold too long, just trying to crank over into some sort of virtuous idle. Eventually I got back some feel of the water but when we exited the pool 3400 yards and seventy five minutes later I felt like going back to bed. I'm on a more manageable photo schedule of the rest of week and in the interest of accelerating the process of getting back into shape I've sworn off the occasional glass or red wine or refreshing cocktail for the rest of the month. Same with queso, chips, chocolate and puff pastries (the standard munching fare of corporate shows...).  Oh hell, in the interest of being fit I'll even boycott Pistachio Almond Ice Cream for a while.

Mulling over the stuff on display. I'm sure everyone is reading the same blogs and websites and marveling over the new stuff on offer at Photokina. There are a few products I want to discuss just because I either find them interesting or because I don't.

Canon 7Dii. I'm partial to EVF enabled cameras and cameras without flappy mirrors but I don't mind what Canon announced with their 7D update this week. I owned the original camera and I found that in almost every regard it was (at the time) one of the very best APS-C cameras I've used. It was the right size and pretty much bullet proof. The finder was very good for a smaller format camera. I like the solid improvements in video on the new camera and the one thing that baffles me is the sensor technology. Canon obviously knows how to make a great camera body. They also know how to make great lenses. They seem to be a little behind on the sensor tech, especially when you compare their cameras to Nikons on DXO. But here's the deal: Nikon isn't a hotbed of genius sensor making. They are smart enough to turn to Sony and Toshiba for better tech where it makes a difference.

Canon seems to be focusing on focusing instead of stuff like dynamic range, color and low read noise. Their new chip might be an aid to amateur videographers who like the camera to do their focusing but most of the aspiring video pros who will buy this camera will probably use it in manual focusing mode. Canon would have been better off skipping the upgraded phase detection points on their new chip and instead concentrated on where the rubber meets the road= image quality. But I guess we'll have to wait and see how the newer Canon sensor performs...

I'm pretty happy that they left all the good stuff alone. The camera itself was in need of a total make over it just needed imaging tweaks. I like APS-C cameras. It's a zone of very good compromise.

Panasonic LX-100. What's not to like about this camera? Saucy big sensor. (Mandatory for me) EVF.  4K video.  All wrapped up in a small and inconspicuous package. A nice competitor for the Sony RX100iii camera. But maybe even better...

Nikon D750. So they announced a little early. If you are into traditional and you really crave the full frame thing this is the camera that the 600 and 610 should have been. Mostly because we hope it won't leak oil and dust and tiny pieces of its own shutter mechanism all over the sensor. That's kind of a standard and expected bar to jump over in the field of camera making and you'd think that Nikon would have figured that out long ago... But, the camera is the perfect blend of IQ, performance and price for traditionalists of all stripes. That body, with a 35mm and an 85mm would be a nice set up for someone who does photography just of the unalloyed joy of it.  I'm happy they worked on this niche until they got it right. The reason it spiked my interest lies in my recent purchase of the 85mm 1.8G for the D7100. What a lovely, happy lens. If only Nikon would make me a mirror less D750. That would be a sweet system.

Olympus. Panasonic. Yes, yes, I am happy that both companies are upgrading their firmware to allow for easy tethering. Makes perfect sense if you want people to take your flagship cameras seriously as professional tools. The silver paint job? Not so much... Although I must say this for the silver bodies (which probably speaks more to the aging of my eyes that anything else...) and that is that in big, dark theaters (like the ACL/Moody) where the walls and ceilings are painted matte black and the room seems to suck out every random photon, the silver EM-5 I was using made it easier to see the buttons and the controls. I am thrilled to see the 40-150mm everything resistant fast zoom from Olympus. But all I really hanker for is that Nocticron. If only the boy had decided to go to trade school instead....

One more thing! Panasonic GM-5. They got that just right for its target audience and I am so happy that the EVF was added. It actually makes the little camera a potent, stealthy contender for a place in every Panasonic shooter's camera bag. Or jacket pocket.

Fuji. Circling back to the Canon comments...I am happy that Fuji keeps doing evolutionary improvements to existing products rather than changing direction at every cycle. To wit, the X100T. It's a camera based on incremental improvements of an already well loved duo of instant classics.

Samsung. Most of the camera (NX-1) and its specs look really good but I'm withholding final judgment until I can shoot that camera's 4K video. The new codec features pretty insane compression. If it works then we all cheer but like pros everywhere I have an innate fear of the unknown....

Packing up for two shoots.  When it rains it pours. We're busy and getting busier as the season roars on. Today I'm packing up for two shoots. One project is to take four different executive portraits via available light on the 26th floor of a downtown hi-rise. That shoot calls for a stout tripod and some reflector panels but I'll fudge by taking along two flash and a trigger along with a big umbrella and a light stand in case the ambient light throws me a curve ball. This is an extension of  a project we did last month. I'm packing the Nikon D7100 along with an 85mm 1.8G, a 50mm 1.8G and the 35mm 1.8 G. It's 1.8 in the afternoon. I'll do most of the shooting with the 85mm but I might go a bit wider on some of the variants, just for fun.

Then I come back to the studio and get re-packed for the dress rehearsal of The King and I, at Zach Theatre, starting at 8pm. I'm feeling whimsical so I'm packing the GH4, the GH3, two EM-5s and a brace of lenses, including the 12-35mm X, the 35-100mm X, the 60mm 1.5, the 45mm 1.8 and maybe even the Sigma 60mm f2.8. I have no reasoned plan but that's never stopped me before. Efficiency kills passion and passion kills efficiency. It's just something we always try to balance.

Obviously, no lights or tripods for the dress rehearsal. And a major reason for using the m4:3 cameras is the quietness of their shutters.

Well, that's where I am on Tues, the 16th of September. Hope you are having fun doing your own thing.


9.15.2014

File Delivery Methodology as Prescribed by The VSL Official Manual. Simple and Clear is Best.


Life can be skittish and unwieldy but your delivery of images doesn't have to be. In days of yore we delivered fiber-based, paper prints, then we delivered glossy RC prints, then we delivered transparencies (for a long, long time), then we delivered removable magneto optical drives, then Zip Drives until CD-roms came along and we used them for file delivery until the benevolent universe gave us DVDs. But then Apple decided that DVDs were passé and we decided to get a bit ahead of the fact that very soon the vast majority of art directors we worked with would no longer have a way to look at images on DVD and we decided to head over to the magic land of memory sticks (aka: flash drives).

But unlike DVDs and CDs there's damn little clean surface to write notes upon. No place on the sticks to put things like job descriptions, dates, provenance, attributions, logos and other exciting information. I had been delivering the sticks in envelopes and writing all of the pertinent information on the envelopes but very quickly the envelopes get separated from the sticks and the clients look into their drawers and see vast numbers of undifferentiated plastic memory sticks with ubiquitous USB connectors and throw up their hands in dismay. While they could just pop in one stick after the other until they find the one they need they seem to default to just calling up and asking for another memory stick. Happens all the time.

I decided I would give each innocent, little memory stick a fighting chance at usefulness and survival. I stopped using the envelopes and headed to the office supply store to buy these shipping tags. They are big enough to write on and if you run out of space on one side you can flip them over and continue writing on the other side. The hope is that my client will keep the tag attached long enough to actually complete the job without coming back for a second servicing of small plastic devices.

We generally buy the sticks in 16 and 32 gigabyte sizes because I shoot too much. The prices have fallen in the last year and we are now paying around $7.50 for a Sandisk Cruser 16 GB stick. That's what the 8 GB sticks cost us last year. The 32 GB sticks are more expensive but much cheaper and easier than trying to source small hard drives.

The process is much quicker for me than the arduous process of splitting folders into 4.4 GB sizes and burning the client a set of disks. On the job I shot last Saturday I ended up with about 15 GB of images. It would have taken four DVDs to hold the work. And the split up files make for more work on the client end. The job from the Sunday-Weds. of last week fit nicely on a 32GB stick.

I see these devices as strictly one time use products. I never expect or ask for clients to return them. That adds value for the client as they now have a new memory device to play with once they've downloaded the files onto their company servers. This makes everyone happy.

None of this is rocket science but I do like the tags. They are both practical and sufficiently retro to be cool. A box of 200 tags, with strings attached, it about $6. Much cheaper than a box of DVD covers. Somehow it all comes out in the wash.

To the people who will chime in and ask why we don't just use WeTransfer, Dropbox, and FTP in general I would say that their are limits on size, time and client admin permission rules. We FTP tons and tons of single images or low quantity images. It's much easier for a client to receive 4,000+ images on a memory stick than it is for the same client to download them. And they hold in their hands a backup device in case the server goes belly up.

When a job exceeds 32 gigabytes of space for the deliverable, as in the case of some video projects or longer duration still projects we still default to bus powered HDs. But it's only a matter of time until USB3 64GB thumb drives come down enough in price to make them the future inflection point.

Yep. That's how the VSL manual tells me to do stuff, and who am I to argue with the manual?

Buzz, Buzz. Photokina Calling.

Samsung NX-1

So, Samsung comes out swinging at Photokina. The offering is their first pro prosumer camera, the NX-1. The specs are interesting. The sensor is a the first large BSI sensor on the market. It's 28 megapixels and, according to the specs, it will hammer out 15 frames per second in raw with full AF. The sensor is not covered by an anti-aliasing filter. It's got 4K video. It has enough interconnectivity to communication with Zylons from the Nipsor Galaxy. It's mirror less and, again, according to specs,  the EVF is competitive as is the touchable rear screen.

The camera can be bundled with two lenses that should make the heart of a system for any photographer starting from scratch. One lens is the well reviewed 16-50mm S series f2-2.8 wide angle zoom and the latest addition is a 50-150mm S series f2.8. That's pretty sweet coverage from 24-225mm. 

What remains to be seen is who will step up and embrace the camera system. Which photographers will take a chance and move from the current group of six and try it on for size. I think it's a big psychological hurdle in that all their previous products were resolutely NOT aimed at the hard core, professional user. I'm not as hung up on specs and speeds. I'm mostly drawn to cameras because they feel right and are highly (and enjoyably) usable. Samsung's last effort, the NX30 was a move in the right direction. To my mind they got the body dimensions just about right. What they stumbled a bit on, initially, was the crispness of operation. I wanted the camera to switch from EVF to rear monitor and back quicker. I want the menus to hesitate just a little less. And I definitely wanted the EVF to be higher res and a bit closer tracking to the color and tonality of the files. A recent firmware update got me closer...

If they are able to execute well on those things they'll have a hell of a competitive offering. I'm not sure there's much that will dissuade the hard core fans of any particular brand to jump ship but they might just have a good shot at all the new people entering the market.

As far as I am concerned they've done a just right job on the lens selection and the quality of their higher spec lenses. Now if they can follow through with a great body and close the circle...




9.14.2014

How to suck the color and life out of a video file from a GH4 and then write an absolutely awful review of the camera.

Right off the bat I'll admit two things: I know that the 4K video of the GH4 camera is somewhat noisy at ISOs of 800 and over. Not deal killer noisy but noisy in the shadows. I will also admit that I am not a veteran video colorist. But I'll make the point that this lack on my resumé gives me some advantages over the people who grew up in the video and motion picture film business by allowing me the ability to come at new the paradigms of video with a cleaner slate.

Before I jump into it I want to present an conundrum from the our collective transition from actual film to digital and how we changed our practices. When we shot transparency film we routinely "metered for the highlights." That meant, practically, that we were frightened to over expose our film and lose our highlights to "clear film" (the 255+ of yesteryear).  We slightly underexposed our slide film to make sure we had ample detail in the highlights and we let the shadows fall where they may. Or we filled the deep shadows with light from flashes or reflectors.

When we started shooting with digital cameras we ported over the same mentality and it made sense. If you stepped over the line at 255 you had blown highlights and they were never coming back. But digital was different from film and weak, noisy shadows were the result when we started pulling up the shadow area exposures in post processing. Then we discovered the practice of ETTR (or expose to the right) which pushed us to expose brighter and move the histogram closer and closer to the right hand side of the scale to precisely nail highlights while bringing up shadows into a usable range. Now we have raw files with lots more latitude for highlight and shadow recovery. Almost like negative film. Most of us are no longer paranoid about blown highlights and our images look great. It doesn't hurt that the latest Sony sensors are beasts when it comes to the lower part of the tonal scale and resist noise almost as effectively as my wallet resists hundred dollar bills. We're now through with the last century methodology of shooting a processing. We have successfully changed the way we shoot and process and we get better quality images as a result.

So, what does this have to do with the GH4 and video? Well, the GH4 gets slammed for two things. The first is noise and the second is that the files don't do well in the older and pervasive paradigm of video shooting and post processing. If you thought still photographers in the early days of digital were a bit nervous about losing highlight detail the video guys were scared to death about having too much contrast and too much saturation in the files. The saturation was an issue because once it was baked into a file it was hard to match up the file to broadcast standards which called for shoving files with normal gamuts into extremely tiny broadcast standard gamuts.  The same with contrast. The tiny sensors that most of the video cameras used fell apart with high contrast scenes.

At the same time film shooting cinematographers got used to using negative stock to shoot features. They could slightly (or profoundly) overexpose the negative (c-41) film stock while shooting and then compensate when developing to create an image that was more or less bullet proof to over exposure or too much contrast or saturation. That made it easier to shoot contrasty scenes and the idea was that color saturation and overall contrast could be more easily handled in post processing.

Now we're in the future. We have cameras that can shoot pretty wide ranging scenes without requiring special handling. And the newest computer monitors can deliver two or three (or four) stops more dynamic range than CRTs and old TVs.  But what old schoolers are doing is setting up their new video camera the same way they did in the bad old days; to their lowest contrast, lowest sharpness and lowest color saturation levels; in effect sucking out 90% of the information in the files, the math... and then bitching when they can't restructure the information in Final Cut Pro X, DaVinci Resolve or Premiere to look as good or better than the info they just sucked out.  It's just a bit insane.

The video mavens are overlaying antiquated techniques to the new tools for no other reason than because THAT'S THE WAY THEY'VE ALWAYS DONE IT. 

But it doesn't have to be that way. We don't have to start with damaged footage to make content that looks great on screen. I may not be as smart as the online cinematographers but I can look at files and methodologies and make tests that tell me today's video cameras, be they Alexa's or GH4's were created to make beautiful images----in the cameras. And all of the editing tools I just mentioned will take those perfectly exposed, nicely tonal mapped and medium saturated images and make absolutely great video files. In an absolute sense they can look better because they don't have buckets of vital information (pixel data) stripped out of them before use.

I do get the logarithmic progression used by S-Log profiling and understand that it does provide real increases in dynamic range but the DR will still need to be compressed to reside in most display gamuts. The problem with the old method is that it works best with huge raw files from dedicated video cameras and not as well from the more fragile files from more conventional in-camera codecs. But these are the kinds of codecs most people will turn to when they make their video work at this point in time. If you are outputting 10 or 12 bit uncompressed raw files from your camera into a outboard digital recorder you probably know what you need to do to hit your targets and you don't need to listen to my advice but I think about half of the "flat world" videographers do things in this fashion for.....fashion, and because the higher level of voodoo tends to create a barrier to newbs.

I just read a review of the GH4 written by the assistant of a famous (and very good) cinematographer who complained that the files they worked with, battered and butchered by the ancient but revered process, looked like... video. Not filmic. I would challenge this cadre and, in fact, I would challenge video experts all over the world to take the risk and embrace the modern tools exemplified by smaller cameras and DSLR cameras and use them the way they were designed to be used to deliver great results. To my mind that means creating really good looking files in the cameras and sending them into the edit universe instead of sending artificially flat and desiccated files.

In the comment section of this poo-poo video review of the GH4 the famous cinematographer repeated over and over again that the camera 'didn't make it' in the process he normally uses. But I'm also guessing he wouldn't get great results souping his transparency film in Reisling wine either. My take is that people under think and over think at the same time. I even wonder if anyone in his shop bothered to stick a fast card into the camera and shoot some footage at its default settings. I'm wondering if they had used the camera as the makers of the camera intended whether or not they would have been more (and unexpectedly) impressed. Here's my take:

Shoot at the right exposure setting. Make a good and accurate custom white balance. Set the saturation at its default or "natural" or "neutral" setting. Choose a contrast setting that works well without throwing out the "data babies" along with the bathwater. And then do an "A-B" test of this with their current methodology, along with the usual post processing "magic" they like. You'll have more control over exact saturation levels in post. You might like a bit of contrast in your images, I know the viewers do. Without a true S-Log profile setting in-camera everything else is a joke because the camera compresses with a much different and more destructive methodology that ruins non S-Log files. No way around this. It's like trying to run a Jpeg through a raw processor and not understanding why you can't make huge correction shifts without consequences!

As I said at the top, I am not the consummate video editor or colorist. I don't have the years of experience (and indoctrination) that many others do. I may not even be right. I could be missing a huge step here.  But I do know digital files and they never come back together again at the same quality once you step on all the parameters and suck out information. Perhaps this works in a RED raw file but not in any of the consumer/prosumer cameras. And not with mainstream codecs.

Don't believe me? Try this: Take your Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, etc. still camera and set every control to its absolute lowest setting. Click the adjustments all the way to the left in sharpness, contrast, and saturation. Then go an shoot a portrait or a landscape or a street scene in Jpeg. Come back to the studio and open that file in PhotoShop and then try to make it look like a good image using every tool in PhotoShop. Should be an interesting experiment. Same with the video part of cameras.

Here's an interesting read: http://www.xdcam-user.com/2013/03/to-shoot-flat-or-not-to-shoot-flat/

Curious what my video experts here have to say on the matter.

I know, I know. Most of you could care less about video and care even less about nonsense like codecs and video profiles. Patience, my friends. We'll circle back to real photography soon enough.