First event covered with Panasonic GH4: downtown Los Angeles/ protest at Nestle’ North American HQ

Posted in Captain's Personal Log with tags , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2015 by William Hooks
GH4 w 17mm f/1.7 Lumix-Summicron AF lens, Zoom H6 DAR and hypercardioid shotgun microphone; JAG 35 tripod baseplate, CF rods and top handle

GH4 w 15mm f/1.7 Lumix-Summicron AF lens, Zoom H6 DAR and hypercardioid shotgun microphone; JAG 35 tripod baseplate, CF rods and top handle

full cinema rig setup on tripod

full cinema rig setup on tripod

side view of cinema rig with GH4

side view of cinema rig with GH4

GH4, cage, part of JAG 35 top handle assembly

GH4, cage, part of JAG 35 top handle assembly

50mm f/1.4 EF with Metabones Speed Booster, 77mm VND filter on 58->77 adapter ring

50mm f/1.4 EF with Metabones Speed Booster, 77mm VND filter on 58->77 adapter ring

rear view of GH4 in cage with attachment points and follow focus visible

rear view of GH4 in cage with attachment points and follow focus visible

top view of assembled baseplate -rods- follow focus setup

top view of assembled baseplate -rods- follow focus setup

audio field gear centered around Zoom H6 digital audio recorder

audio field gear centered around Zoom H6 digital audio recorder

Shot using Cine-D profile at 4K UHD/30, Auto white balance,on a monopod with available light.

I find this setup to be fast and easy to use, stable, and highly functional. The H6 was used as the primary preamp for audio and I minimized the internal preamp of the GH4- excellent audio performance in a difficult noisy setting with adjacent traffic and due to crowds, electronic megaphones. Audio Technica headphones were added for monitoring.

The camera is within a custom cage, attached to JAG 35 components on its center cold shoe for secure carrying and linking to a monopod baseplate. This system is much more compact and lighter than a comparable rig using a DSLR, such as a 5D Mark III. It also allows optional use of a 5″ HDMI monitor, with a micro-HDMI port protector built into the cage.

After reintroducing some contrast in post, I was very satisfied with the files. Wish I still had that rental 12-35mm f/2.8 Lumix AF lens, zooms are so useful for events and other fast action.

First followup review of Panasonic GH4 DSLM camera

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 11, 2015 by William Hooks

These are my observations after using the camera for a few weeks.

First, I found that operating the nonprotruding video actuation button was not optimal and ended up adding a $10 Vello 2 ft wired remote. This also allows use of very slow shutter speeds and facilitates macro imaging, and I use it for interviews so that I can stay where I’m interacting with the subject- the same as I already do with my H6 Zoom audio recorder.

With a 64GB U3 rated card I’m getting more than 80 minutes per clip at 4K resolution. No more interruptions to reset the camera for interviews…..

Second, after renting the 18-35mm f/1.8 EF Sigma I think this lens will be excellent for general use especially on a rig with follow focus, but too large and heavy for backpacking and [currently] doesn’t support AF; so I will most likely buy the Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 and 35-100 f/2.8 eventually, and continue to rent this optic.

Third, I’ve settled on Custom settings for the main 3 dial positions= C1 for 4K DCI/24 ‘Cinematic’, C2 for 4K UHD/30 ‘Broadcast’, and C3-1/ C3-2/C3-3 for ‘highest quality ‘ 1080/60 moderate slow motion, ‘smoothest’ 1080/96 slow motion, and 1080/12 undercranked fast motion. NOTE: this camera allows 1080p in slow-motion 96 FPS whether in 30 or 24 cinema modes.

Fourth, as a walkaround lens I ‘m using the Pana/Zeiss Summicron 15mm f/1.7 – a tiny, ultralight lens simulating 30mm perspective in full frame terms. Sharp, easy to maintain relatively great DOF (nice for rapid event action), beautifully integrated with the camera’s capability, easy to carry long distances, and wide without distortion.

Fifth, the Metabones EF to MFT Speedbooster will be a keeper for me as I have 3 Canon FF lenses and it opens the entire Cine and still collection to the camera, as well as lenses from Rokinon /Zeiss/ Olympus/Voigtlander in particular. The ‘free’ additional stop from the adapter has been very welcome in keeping the ISO settings in the optimal range.

Sixth, I’ve evolved a minirig for ENG and light EFP use consisting of an aluminum form-fitting cage, JAG 35 top handle/tripod base plate,carbon fiber 15mm rods, and RedRock Micro spuds/attachment points.

I will be using a $12 basic Nikon F to MFT adapter for AI-S Nikkors for the immediate future, and rent the F/G to MFT Speedbooster when needed.

Entering the 4K universe: Adding the Panasonic GH4 mirrorless camera

Posted in backpacking, Photography, Photojournalism, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 25, 2015 by William Hooks

Today I made the quantum jump to begin creating video content in 4K Ultra HD, using the Panasonic GH4 mirrorless camera.

Porque`?

Aside from allowing capture at 4 times the resolution of 1080p [called QFHD or quad-full HD], these are some of the advantages I hope to enjoy while exploring this approach to filmmaking:

Strikingly affordable for its capability- including very inexpensive SD cards at U3 designation

Adaptability of lens mount- can use PL=positive lock, Nikon, Canon, Leica, Zeiss, Sigma, Panasonic, Tokina, Rokinon optics….with excellent Metabones adapters available for Nikon and Canon (the 2 with which I have most past experience)

Very manageable file sizes with compressed 4K/ optional uncompressed 4K: no significant complication of basic postproduction workflow in Adobe Premiere Pro. In fact, it allows expansion of editing choice because of ‘zooming’ into shots to achieve true 1080p derivative shots when needed, after completing of shooting

Practical video capture for very long periods exceeding 29 min US limit (as multiple files), with appropriate media

2 included Cine picture profiles: Cine Like D (flat somewhat like LOG ) and CineLike V (vivid) for relatively painless color grading

Electronic viewfinder (excellent when it’s too bright to see the touch screen, for example) and tilting touch screen control of many functions, very user- friendly features

Small form factor with very light weight and bulk-great for POV, aerials (or just mix files from GoPro Hero 4 and later!), backcountry applications and covering events where mobility may pay substantial dividends- and less stress on monopod heads.

Native monitor features dedicated to video production such as zebras, focus peaking, Synchro Scan, Variable Framer Rate for fast motion and slow motion; timelapse can be created in-camera; stop-motion animation;STMPE timecode; 10-bit option for 4:2:2 HDMI output,luminance and master pedestal level control, advanced audio control and color bars.

Silent control of settings during capture

Fantastic slow motion at up to 96 FPS in Full HD

WiFi control

Option of adding a very capable interface unit beneath the camera, the YAGH, incorporating 2 XLR inputs and 3G-SDI connectors for output

Extraordinary battery life, capture all afternoon on one charge

Highly customizable function buttons

There’s more.. but I ‘m not even going to start on the ‘stills’ side.

So the next journey begins. I rented a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 and Nikon F mount Metabones Speedbooster for the weekend.

Applewhite camp, CA

Posted in backpacking, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2015 by William Hooks

Spent a full day and evening at Applewhite elevation 3300 ft, in the Lytle Creek region of southern CA. The Titanium Goat Ptarmigan biv sack was excellent underneath my HMG square tarp, in a 40 deg F Marmot Atom sleeping bag. Hardly even noticed the smoke from 10 campfires blazing around me… should have chosen site #2…..

 

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Managed to break a tubular tarp stake. I rarely use them unless car camping, prefer MSR Mini-Groundhogs/titanium skewers/MSR Carbon /Cores for backpacking.

Enjoyed getting some field video refinements finished.

Climate Change in Southern CA: north Face Mt San Antonio 10,064′ from Blue Ridge Road

Posted in Captain's Personal Log on April 3, 2015 by William Hooks

DSCN1967 DSCN1970 DSCN1971 DSCN1972I drove the road after a 4.5 mile round trip hike to Blue Ridge campsite at c 8000 feet elevation from Inspiration Point. I found that the snow conditions paralleled those reported by Governor Brown recently in the Sierra of California: where I should have seen a large snowpack, there was almost none even above 9000 feet on Mt Baldy. It is as if an entire season had vanished, winter replaced by spring in the high country.http://www.wrightwoodca.com/wrightwood-camping/campground.php?view&campground=7

http://www.wrightwoodca.com/wrightwood-camping/campground.php?view&campground=6

BTW: be careful if you drive this road- it lies on a knife -ridge in sections and might damage your vehicle with rocks and other debris if you don’t carefully control your speed (ATV’s and high-clearance vehicles best).

Ryan Campground, Joshua Tree National Park

Posted in Captain's Personal Log with tags , , , , , on February 14, 2015 by William Hooks

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Spent a wonderful cool sunny day in the park, hiking a portion of the Ryan Mountain Trail then camping with 2 new friends: Tom and Mo Holmes from northern CA. They are in Aptos, just south of Santa Cruz, and I plan to visit them next week during my road trip north.

I’m trying to adjust to the loss of my father and have been fortunate to have help from so many. To all of you: my gratitude.

In memoriam: William Kendell Hooks, Jr, MD (1928-2015)

Posted in Captain's Personal Log with tags on February 6, 2015 by William Hooks

My father died this morning, about 2 weeks after entering a hospital with difficulty breathing.

I visited him that evening and was asked to review his chest x-ray by the ER physician, and I felt that he had not so much pneumonia as had been suspected by his chronic care facility but something called compressive atelectasis, related to bowel distension. Eventually, in the course of attempting to insert a tube into his stomach a perforation occurred, extending to his spleen and requiring emergency surgery.

Several days later, he drifted into history.

He gave me life, as all fathers do. The gifts he gave me since then were priceless- the example he was, his quiet determination to provide us with the opportunity to engage life without severe disadvantages and obstacles, his ability to deal with adversity with dignity, and his affinity for the ocean and for music.

There was so much more. I’m going to talk with him tomorrow for the last time before he is to be cremated, and my sister Laurie and I are planning a memorial service for him.

For the rest of my life, whenever I look out on the ocean anywhere in the world I will tell myself: Hello, dad. It’s so good to see you again. Don’t sail away just yet.

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