Thought I’d do a Bob Dylan video!
Philip Bloom recently shot a short near the coast with the latest Panasonic broadcast camera – the HPX370. To see how the humble GH1 compares on a similar shoot I went along to see the north coast of Taiwan at Gingshang taking along my GH1 and simply the kit lens.
The video that results is a protest of sorts – a mood piece – a Bob Dylan music vid – and partly a documentary. Gingshang has a unique and beautiful ancient rock formation. Over millions of years the volcanic rock that forms a tiny part of the Taiwanese coast has eroded in all kinds of chaotic ways, slowly over and over by the sea. You can see the “queen’s head” and the “ice cream”, the shapes are incredible.
So the local Taiwanese township created a tourist attraction here, but not exactly with much care. A red strip is painted right through the rock formation from end to end, in an effort to stop people wondering off too close to the shore. Marshals patrol the park and attempt to protect what little they have left, but it’s slowly turning to sand – eroded by people’s feet.
The Chinese come in their hundreds every day, and crawl like ants all over the rocks, letting their kids climb on it’s unique features. They come by the coach load, the nouvelle rich with plenty of cash but little education, and a government which has closed them in from the world, from history and culture. They come with camera and leave not knowing anything of what they’ve seen, and barely the name of where they are. One naive tourists asked his guide ‘if there were bad people in Taiwan’? This child like question was from a 40 year old family man. It’s a shocking state of affairs.
So while this incredible unique and sacred place was being overrun, I decided to do my part in destroying it too and got my sticks out!
The current generation of HDSLRS have great shallow depth of field but I chose not to use it here. The lens was mostly above F11, sometimes as high as F22. I didn’t get any ‘mud’ at all (they have DEFINITELY done something to the chips since I had my previous GH1 last year) but you can tell on some of the wider and more finely detailed shots that the codec on the GH1 is binning quite a lot of detail from the amazing sensor. On water shots especially, the constant movement of the water is difficult for the codec, and it can therefore go a bit mushy. But the thing is – you just don’t really get distracted by it on TV or cinema screen. HDSLR footage looks worse full-screen on a high res laptop via Vimeo, when you’re sitting close enough to notice the dodgy stuff.
The 5D Mark II handles things a bit better but still looses fine detail on the wide shots and it has moire. The GH1 is much better in that regard, with less aliasing. It definitely doesn’t have the shimmering coloured moire you get with fine patterns on the 5D MkII. What’s strange is that in the live view feed on the GH1’s LCD, the image has plenty of moire just like the 5D MkII but it vanishes as soon as you hit record.
Sometimes I like to cut loose and leave all my prime lenses in the bag, using just the 14-140mm – it’s great for situations like this which change rapidly and randomly in front of your eyes. You tend to miss a lot whilst changing the lens otherwise.
Sure we could do with a better codec and built in ND filter, but for shots with shallow depth of field the codec handles that much better than deep depth of field, and those famous Vari ND filters from Hong Kong are a great substitute for the ND switch on a HPX style camera.
I shot a combination of 1080p and 720p – 720p purely for slow-mo stuff. In fact the whole video was rendered out to 720p just for a few little slow mo shots of the water!! You may think that’s quite crazy – and you’re right – but I can hardly tell the difference in detail when I play it back via the usual sources, a computer, a TV and on Vimeo. 720p is perfect for web distribution and until the codec improves, 1080p is nice to have but not essential. The Nikon D3S’s weakness isn’t that it only shoots in 720p, it’s that the image processing isn’t up to scratch. I am sure it will find a niche audience with ultra low light shooters though!! Others cameras will do well in the market place to copy that approach but fix the codec. I think the GH1 has the best image processing (no moire) but the 5D has the best codec (that is if you don’t mind needlessly massive files and a 12 min limit on clips!)
Bob Dylan recently cancelled his gig in Taiwan because of political interference by China. This video is dedicated to those Taiwanese fans looking forward to seeing the gig, and whom may have been denied their only chance to see Dylan before the dies!