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Jon de Zwaan

Questions regarding buying a GH2

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Hello everyone,

I'm relatively new here considering my post count, but I've been reading these forums for quite a long time now and I'm at the brink of buying a Panasonic GH2.

So first of all, which kit to buy? I think I will use this camera mainly for run and gun docu/event shoots (low-light?!), but I like to do some pseudo-artistic hobby shoots from time to time as well.

I thought of these options;

1. GH2 with 14-140mm kit and a Voigtländer 25mm.

2. GH2 body (or with the 14-42mm, as there's not much of a difference in price) with a Rokinon/Samyang 24mm and 35mm cine lens. Or should I wait for a longer focal length cine lens as 24 and 35mm do not make such a huge difference for a starter kit, right?

Both kits end up being somewhat in the same price range, but I'm a little bit concerned with investing a lot of money in a M43 lens collection, that's why I added option 2. I also like the Cine-versions of the Rokinon lenses, as they've got click-less aperture and follow-focus gears (I already have a Gini rig with Follow Focus).

With the Voigtländer being a F0.95 lens and the Rokinon a T1.4, is it a night and day difference in lowlight? (If you'll pardon the pun and ignore the lowlight performance of the GH2 in general).

Second question, filters. Should I buy a 77mm variable ND (with step-up rings of course) or should I invest in a mattebox with 4x4 filters. Which of these two options will bring me longterm value for money and convenience? What are their pros and cons?

Well, thanks for reading.

Jon

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs
To cover many situations, you should have a wide angle lens, a standard lens and a tele lens. The 14-40 is all of them (the 40 mm can be extended x 2.6 in 1080 and by x 3.8 in 720). So the kit lens is not bad for the price. But it is slow, and the images are not very cinematic. Here, the SLR magic 12mm and the Voigtlander 25 mm were a great addition, both to be operated strictly manually.

I had the LCW ND fader and changed to the Heliopan. Both can be recommended. The best of course is a mattebox, but it makes everything more bulky. I have the cokin sunshade and filtertray with ND filters. Cheap, lightweight, not designed to impress. It was used on [i]Musgo[/i], and it works.
[img]https://43q37q.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pK9UGzR_tFLHIy8C5cjk-txiK094v2-sLv4Iw5GHjokwQcCiFchCaIdT05WQpW6P5Gqb799UYOj98i2_zU03Ln_-ziE93Jeh2/Bild2.png[/img]
[size=2]Screenshot of making of - clip of Musgo, with Cokin filterholder attached.[/size]

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If you're only doing cinema stuff I'd skip the kit lenses. the 14-140 has its uses, but I think you'd be better off going with the Samyang Cinema Lenses. The Nokton 25 is amazing, but you could get two of the Samyangs instead, which are still fantastic lenses, and increase your options.

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Thanks for your helpfull replies!

I just bought the Samyang 35mm T1.5 at eBay. Is the GH2 capable of carrying the weight of this lens or should I buy an additional lens support for my 15mm rods? Also, as this is a Canon mount lens, which adapter should I buy? Just a regular (cheap) EF to M43 mount adapter?

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The GH2 can carry my hefty Zuiko 11-22 mm plus adapter, so it should do fine. And enjoy the GH2! It is one heck of a camera...

Edit... I just checked and the Samyang is even heavier than my 11-22, so I won't vouch for the carrying capability ;-)

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The one thing I was thinking is, If you are mainly doing run and gun docu style, which usually means, hand held and mostly wide angle stuff to reduce the shake and constant focus following, would it not be better to shoot with a lens that is nice and sharp and has stabilization? It seems like the kit you are trying to put together would be better suited to cinematic features and shorts. I've always heard that when shooting documentary, you sometimes don't have time to switch lenses so a really high quality zoom lens is better then a bag full of primes. Maybe someone else who shoots docu can weigh in on this since it's only what I've "Heard".

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[quote name='galenb' timestamp='1348779923' post='19120']I've always heard that when shooting documentary, you sometimes don't have time to switch lenses so a really high quality zoom lens is better then a bag full of primes.[/quote]

Depends on what you define as documentary. Reporting from an event like i.e. the photokina would best be done with an old-fashioned camcorder. Some time ago I used to shoot wedding films, first with the DV-cam Sony VX2000, later with the HDV-cam Canon XH-A1 (forgot the american name). Although I used both mainly in manual mode (with the exception of AF), I had no waste. These cameras are so much designed to produce usable video, you can't imagine how easy they are to handle. I am afraid that with your high quality zoom lens you might lose the charme. The images will look clean and sharp and have a big DoF, you really could as well buy a normal camcorder.

If on the other hand you have time to think about your shots and are experienced enough, you cover almost every situation, also lowlight, with the Voigtlander 25mm alone. The Voigtlander 17,5 mm then would be the real run-and-gun-lens. A very good doc about people working nightshifts in Hamburg was almost entirely shot with the Nokton @ aperture wide open (and Beachtek XLR-adaptor). The ability of the cameraman (and author) to hit the focus precisely every time (in a nightclub, in an occupied taxi, in an emergency room) was stunning. This could never have been done with any other camera or any other lens.

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[quote name='Axel' timestamp='1348782351' post='19123']
A very good doc about people working nightshifts in Hamburg was almost entirely shot with the Nokton @ aperture wide open (and Beachtek XLR-adaptor). The ability of the cameraman (and author) to hit the focus precisely every time (in a nightclub, in an occupied taxi, in an emergency room) was stunning. This could never have been done with any other camera or any other lens.
[/quote]

What was this called? I'd be curious to see a trailer.

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[left][url="http://www.n-joy.de/leben/nachtschicht165.html"]Nachtschicht[/url] (nightshift), filmed in 720 50p (because of television frequency). There was no hack at this time. The author, an experienced operator, wanted to be as mobile and [font="Arial, Verdana, sans-serif"]inconspicuous as possible. He used a mini tripod as a grip. He often used the very shallow DoF to blur faces, in order not to hurt the personal rights of the people.[/font][/left]

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There's no rule saying you can't work with wideangles and deep focus on a GH2 or DSLRs in general! This myth/fashion that only shallow depth of field (often with long parts where nothing is in focus while the operator is trying to figure where the subject is) is usable for "art" is weird.... And for documentary using a wide and getting REALLY close to your subject often can give a whole new, subjetive look to things, while having to worry about focus suddenly becomes less of a problem, so you can concentrate on your subject.
And equally for cinematic situations you only have to look at all the stunning imagery from Emmanuel Lubetzky to see that there are two sides to a coin. Shallow depth of focus has its place of course, and it doesn't always have to be extremely shallow to work well.

The best way to decide in the end must be to try both... get a 12mm or so, or perhaps use the 14mm on the kit zoom (even try it with the dreaded autofocus too!), and get a shallow, fast one (I have had wonderful results from an ultra cheap Konica AR 40mm f.1.8 with a 16 $ adapter) and shoot some footage with that as well... Then decide...

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[quote name='kirk' timestamp='1348816699' post='19133']Shallow depth of focus has its place of course, and it doesn't always have to be extremely shallow to work well.[/quote]

Director Sidney Lumet has a strong opinion on the use of shallow DoF. He says in [i]Making Movies[/i], that the background of the set should be as important as the main motif and that there were many other means to point to the latter, lighting, framing, following (adding motion blur to the background), the charisma of the actor (Al Pacino needs no vignette to draw attention). Shallow DoF should be an [u]effect[/u] to be used with caution, and sparingly. In cinema, it was first used excessively in [i]Die Hard[/i] and [i]Alien³[/i], all the films before tried to avoid it most of the time, and they were not "bad". Another director who seldom used shallow DoF was Stanley Kubrick ('If something is really happening on the screen, it isn't crucial how it is shot', The Stanley Kubrick Archives, p.425).

What I was trying to say is, that without shallow DoF there are other cameras to shoot a report with that will make your life easier. Instead of buying an additional lens (I didn't follow how much the Pana super zooms cost), you should think about buying a second [i]camcorder[/i].

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[quote name='Axel' timestamp='1348819120' post='19134']

What I was trying to say is, that without shallow DoF there are other cameras to shoot a report with that will make your life easier. Instead of buying an additional lens (I didn't follow how much the Pana super zooms cost), you should think about buying a second [i]camcorder[/i].
[/quote]

I understood that completely ;-) I was talking more in general... But it surely won't hurt using a GH2 for deep focus and still have the option of shallower focus at hand...

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[quote name='Axel' timestamp='1348812358' post='19131']
[left][url="http://www.n-joy.de/leben/nachtschicht165.html"]Nachtschicht[/url] (nightshift), filmed in 720 50p (because of television frequency). There was no hack at this time. The author, an experienced operator, wanted to be as mobile and [font=Arial, Verdana, sans-serif]inconspicuous as possible. He used a mini tripod as a grip. He often used the very shallow DoF to blur faces, in order not to hurt the personal rights of the people.[/font][/left]
[/quote]

Thanks. Looks very interesting. I hope that they do a version with subtitles sometime soon.

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Great stuff guys, thanks! Just got my GH2 and according to the UPS tracking data, I'll receive the Samyang on monday.

Now I'm trying to install the EOSHD Unified patch, but without results. As I read in another topic, you can see if the patch worked properly if you can increase the ISO to 12800, but mine's still blocked/limited to 3200!

Let me explain what I did:

- Downloaded official Panasonic FW 1.1
- Downloaded Ptools and EOSHD Unified settings (sete.ini) and put them into the same folder.
- Loaded official firmware into Ptools and already (e) was checked.
- Changed version increment from 1 to 10.
- Saved new firmware and loaded it into the GH2.
- Succesful install, but no updated ISO settings.

Help?!

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Did you make sure that that specific patch had the ISO limit removed? Sometimes different peoples patches don't include all the features that you might think.

So I only have a GH1 but I'm assuming that this might help out because a lot of the features are there in PTools for both cameras. So for my GH1 in PTools, If you load the patch by clicking on it's letter button below you can then double click the "Patches for end users" entry in the list. This allows you to see all the setting that are contained within that specific patch. You should see an entry for "Move related restrictions". Open that and there should be an entry for "Maximum ISO limit removal". Make sure that's checked.

I don't know about the GH2 but on the GH1, I can check the firmware version and it says version 0.0 if it's been successfully patched. Maybe there's something similar on the GH2?

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Good to hear Jon.

You could perhaps try and uninstall the hack and have a look at the quality the camera produces, then compare with the hacked. I began with hacking mine when I got it, tried without for a while, and never hacked again other than freeing the PAL/NTSC, ISO and time restriction. The GH2 is a magnificent tool even unhacked, and the various hacks can change that a fraction, but often at the cost of instability, more noise, time spent and more expensive cards needed.

I'm sure I'll be stoned for this heresy, but just give it a chance and see for yourself ;o) Be sure to use a good screen when comparing though!

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Will definitely try it Kirk, is the stability a real issue when hacked?

Next thing; I received the Samyang 35mm and first thing I noticed is the weight! According to the manual it's 700 grams, I'll have to wait for my adapter to arrive. I ordered this el cheapo adapter from ebay: http://cgi.ebay.nl/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=190674012877#ht_2264wt_956
Will it do the job properly or should I spend a little more money on a decent adapter? Also, is a lens support necessary or recommended?

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[quote name='kirk' timestamp='1348916703' post='19173']
Good to hear Jon.

You could perhaps try and uninstall the hack and have a look at the quality the camera produces, then compare with the hacked. I began with hacking mine when I got it, tried without for a while, and never hacked again other than freeing the PAL/NTSC, ISO and time restriction. The GH2 is a magnificent tool even unhacked, and the various hacks can change that a fraction, but often at the cost of instability, more noise, time spent and more expensive cards needed.

I'm sure I'll be stoned for this heresy, but just give it a chance and see for yourself ;o) Be sure to use a good screen when comparing though!
[/quote]+++100% There is an enormous amount of Placebo effect with the GH2 hacks.

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