Monday, December 04, 2023

Photographic Equivalence

The problem of photographic (or cinematic) equivalence is a subject that rears its ugly head every so often. Many people simply misunderstand this concept. For my own benefit I am providing the following summary. Details can be found in the references, but the purpose of this article is to clearly state the objective facts. After this, people can argue as much as they like about personal preferences.

The sections will be numbered for ease of reference.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Martha Graham on artistic vitality

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening...” 

This fantastic quote from Martha Graham is reproduced below in its entirety, together with correct reference. Provided as a resource for those who see this distributed on social media. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

What is a good low noise microphone for field recording?

This is another blog post in my everyone-asks-this-question-a-million-times-so-now-I-can-just-link-them-here series (patent pending). The problem with most such questions asked on social media is that not enough information is provided. Answers depend on the use case, available equipment, and budget.

All prices provided are for two mics, since I assume that stereo recording is desirable. 

Note that I have used very few of these mics in practice but have been aware of their performance for, in some cases, decades. Here I am compiling the expert opinions of others, based on my training as an audio engineer.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

My favourite Windows utilities

Here's a quick article listing the essential applications I install with every new Windows computer. These solve some of the nagging annoyances and make life more efficient. 

The great thing about Windows is that every problem has a solution and most of them are open source. All of the solutions below are free. And none require compiling or other technical jiggery-pokery.

Saturday, September 02, 2023

Easy 10-bit video support on Windows

This article will help you with the fact that many Microsoft Windows applications do not, by default, view cinema camera output, including 10-bit files and the HEVC (also known as H.265) codec. Have you ever asked yourself...

  • Why won't my video application play my video files?
  • Why can't I see icons for my video file in Windows Explorer?
  • How can I see full technical information for my video files?

Read on for solutions, most of which are free and easy to achieve. 

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2.8/85mm review

If there are no perfect lenses then there are at least those that come close. The Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 2.8/85mm for Contax-Yashica mount is one of those. This is a film-era lens designed for Contax SLRs. For more details, read my previous article, in which I sing the praises of this lens line as a whole. Here I will share photos from this particular optic.

Though the Contax Zeiss lenses are well-loved, you don't read much about this 85mm model, no doubt because the maximum aperture of f/2.8 seems inadequate. Why buy this lens when there are so many other 85mm focal length options? No doubt your camera system has at least one such lens, native to your mount. Perhaps it is f/1.8 or even f/1.4. So why choose a slower lens that also requires manual operation?

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Carl Zeiss lenses for Contax SLR - summary table

The title says it all. I've compiled a spreadsheet of all of the Carl Zeiss lenses made for the Contax SLR system, 1975-2001. These are highly-prized lenses that were often very expensive when released. The best performers are once again expensive, since it is difficult to find good copies. This table can help you build a set and confirm reasonable prices. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Scritti Politti answers the Situationists

Inspired by the Sex Pistols, Green Gartside formed the band Scritti Politti while studying art at Leeds Polytechnic. Moving to a squat in Camden Town, the band released their first single “Skank Bloc Bologna” in 1978. Before transitioning the group to a pure pop outfit with several chart hits, Green produced a number of songs referencing leftist political theory and post-structural thought.

One of the finest of these is “The 'Sweetest Girl'”, released October 1981 on Rough Trade. I have just made a discovery that perhaps has gone unnoticed. This song is an answer record. But who asked the question?

Saturday, July 08, 2023

Which Samsung SSDs for video?

This article will recommend which Samsung SSDs you should use for video recording... and which you should avoid. This article assumes that you wish to support high video resolutions and bitrates. For less stringent requirements you may get away with something else. But it makes the most sense to purchase accessories that support the most demanding mode of your camera, in case your requirements change in the future. 

Bottom line: The Samsung T7 Shield is recommended. Do not use the "plain" Samsung T7. The Samsung T5 is OK for lower rates. If you already have a Samsung T7 Touch, it will do as well. 

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Aperture Control and Vintage Lenses

This is a 2023 update to an article written in December 2010, when the temperature was -6 and water pipes had frozen. It's been rewritten for clarity, with clear instructions for using vintage lenses on mirrorless cameras. 

Today we are spoilt by cameras that do the thinking for us. This can be awfully convenient, but it does obscure the photographic process. In this article I'll explain how cameras evolved to allow control over the lens aperture. This knowledge will help you use vintage lenses even on newer cameras.

Friday, June 30, 2023

A second ISO test of the Lumix DC-S5

This is a brief article, because I've already written about the low-light performance of the Lumix S5. You should read that article for all the details. But it was a dark and rainy day, so I figured I'd do another quick comparison of ISO settings, more for my own benefit... but why not share!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

L-mount lens system (summary table)

The L-Mount Alliance was formed by Panasonic, Leica, and Sigma in September 2018 to create a new standard for mirrorless cameras. To date no fewer than 125 lenses have been released for this platform. To save you repeating many hours of research, I now share my complete list of L-mount lenses for full-frame. (Lenses for crop sensor are not included.)

Monday, June 19, 2023

Normal lens comparison

This article compares three "normal" prime lenses, each being classics of the film-era: a fast Pentax 50mm f/1.2, the distinctive Pentax 43mm Limited f/1.9, and the Contax Carl Zeiss Planar 50 f/1.4. I'll shoot some photos and describe the characteristics of the lenses themselves. This will not be a formal test, but nonetheless I will adopt a reasonable methodology. No doubt photographs of human models would be more appealing, but I don't have any handy!

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Building a film look PowerGrade

In this article I will develop a Film Look PowerGrade for Resolve, which you can download and freely use on your own projects.

This is the last of four articles. In the first I conducted a practical test of Lumix S5 footage and stabilisation. The second article walked through an ACES workflow for DaVinci Resolve. The third article explained the film look and how to set up your Lumix S camera to shoot optimal footage. 

Check out the video below, which compares the plain grading in my original installment with the new Film Look. Then read on for details.

Monday, May 29, 2023

The film look and Lumix S cameras

This is the third of four tutorials on optimising DaVinci Resolve for Panasonic Lumix footage. In the first article I conducted a practical test of Lumix S5 footage and stabilisation. The second article walked through an ACES workflow for DaVinci Resolve. This post will provide specific camera settings for you to use. The final article develops a Film Look PowerGrade that you can use in your Resolve projects.

We begin by asking what makes the film look in the first place.

Monday, May 29, 2023

ACES workflow in DaVinci Resolve

This article explains how to set up an industry-standard ACES workflow in Resolve. This removes the need for colour space transforms (CSTs) and look-up tables (LUTs) while ensuring consistent colour processing from beginning to end. There is really no need to use any other workflow.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Sample video from the Lumix S5

With the summer weather upon us, I took out my Lumix S5 to shoot some random video, in order to get a feel for the footage, how it takes a grade, etc. This ended up also being a good test of the built-in stabilisation. Read on for some practical information.

This is the first of four tutorials on optimising DaVinci Resolve for Panasonic Lumix footage. In the second article I describe how to set up an industry-standard ACES workflow in Resolve. The third post explains the film look and provides specific settings for Lumix cameras. The final article develops a Film Look PowerGrade that you can use in your Resolve projects.

One short trip to the canal turned into quite an extensive tutorial series!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Lumix S5 video noise comparison

I recently performed a rough-and-ready test of the noise performance of video shot on the Lumix S5. My aim was to compare the Natural and V-Log profiles at four different ISO settings in very low light. This last condition must be emphasised since the harsh conditions are not typical of those where you might otherwise shoot V-Log. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Why I'm loving the Lumix S5

It's the photos.

Here is a shot SOOC (straight out of camera) which for me means only the slightest development in Affinity Photo. The detail, colours, and rendering are superb. Trees. 20-60mm kit lens at 20mm.

trees

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Lumix S ergonomics and menu, oh dear

I need to rant about the Lumix S5 interface. As a hybrid photography/video camera, this inherits all the worst features from photo cameras, which are stuck in the1993 era of nested menus and cryptic labels. This system is confusing to use and lacks essential features.

Before commenting on the menus, I will briefly examine the physical interface, since both are entwined.

I will end with a list of recommendations that I trust Panasonic will read.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Low light photography and a rebuttal to a strange article

The other day I stumbled upon a strange article entitled "Micro Four Thirds cameras are better at Low Light" by Mark Wieczorek. And since the Medium comment system makes coherent responses impossible, I decided to post a response here. This allows me a longer and more thoughtful response. 

I will also present some test images, so read on for that.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Panasonic Lumix S: camera models and video mode comparison

Since 2019 Panasonic have released seven models in their Lumix S camera line. Read on for a handy comparison of features and video modes. You can find exhaustive feature lists on other sites, including Panasonic's own pages. Here I provide a compact overview of key differences between the models (PDF file). I trust this makes your decisions easier!

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

The correct way to think about focal length

Wow, that title sounds a little click-baity. Maybe I should start my own YouTube channel telling everyone what to think! Instead, I'll just deliver information, in the following handy chart. You'll need to click through to see a larger version. And read on for an explanation.

Field of View versus focal length
Sunday, May 07, 2023

Adapting lenses to the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

leaf on the wall

One of the advantages of a mirrorless camera system is that older SLR, rangefinder, and cinema lenses can be readily adapted to the new bodies. This opens up a world of optical possibilities! 

This article explains how to adapt lenses and what settings to use on the Lumix S5 to optimise this process. Plus I'll share photos gathered using one of my favourite Pentax K-mount lenses.

Saturday, May 06, 2023

Photo style settings for the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

The Lumix DC-S5 provides a large number of Photo Styles and Photo Effects. These options are ideal for those who prefer to get their look in-camera, shooting directly to JPG. There are Landscape and Portrait settings, several different Monochrome models, Cross-Processing, Toy Effect, Low and High Key, Sepia, and even settings termed Fantasy, Expressive, Retro, and Old Days. 

Now, like many, I prefer to capture a malleable image in RAW and then post-process on a computer, as required. But I cannot ignore the Photo Styles, since this setting also determines the recorded gamma curve.

So, what are the best settings for photography? Should we use Standard or Natural? Or should we be shooting photos in Cinelike or V-Log, originally designed for videography? This article will investigate. 

Friday, May 05, 2023

Low-light performance of Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

This article will examine the low-light performance of the Lumix DC-S5, first by presenting some sensor statistics, then by examining photographs taken at different ISO values. My personal goal is to compare this to the Olympus PEN E-P5 I was previously using. I expect an improvement, but how big will it be?

Thursday, May 04, 2023

A new chapter in my photographic journey

Rin-Rin
Rin-Rin on the Panasonic S5 at ISO 320, Lumix 35mm at f/2.8

I started in photography back in the eighties. As an adjunct to writing newspaper reviews of concerts, I learned how to shoot and develop film. In this way the editor could assign only one person to the story, instead of needing both a reporter and a photographer. Back then we didn't care what brand of camera we used. I recall a Pentax and some 50mm lens... that's all! The only thing that mattered was "does the lens fit the body?"

Compare this with today's internet environment, where the smallest detail of every camera is subject to scrutiny. People abandon one system for another over what are often trivial concerns. YouTube is all about being "right". 

That's not my agenda here. Instead, the following overview of my camera systems is about gaining perspective. I now have a brand new purchase that I trust will offer me new opportunities. It's not about the flex; it's about the journey. 

Friday, February 24, 2023

Photography: On model releases and subject rights

This post will clarify copyright law, a matter about which many people have only a vague understanding. To begin, I must say that no-one should take what I write as legal advice. Instead, consult a lawyer specialising in this topic as necessary, not least because copyright is different in different territories, even though there are universal conventions that most countries have signed.

This article will outline the rights of the subject (e.g. model) portrayed in a photograph. These are likely fewer than you expect. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

Fixing audio problems on Windows

The Windows operating system supports an extraordinarily diverse range of hardware and software. For common, everyday tasks, it works well. But it's not optimised for media production out of the box. What happens when you get stuttering playback, crackling audio, and other nasty symptoms? Nine times out of ten these problems can be fixed by changing the default settings

This extensive series of articles provides an easy, step-by-step approach to eliminating the major causes of audio glitches. The knowledge compiled here comes from decades of practical experience. Nothing here requires registry tweaks or third-party software, but can easily be achieved through the Windows interface, confusing though that may sometimes be. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Removing Unused Windows Components

This is part of a series on fixing audio problems in Windows. You may wish to start with the main article

This information is provided as a quick reference. Please don't contact me for tech support, but instead use web searches to find further information. The included screenshots are from Windows 10 Professional but other recent Windows versions will have similar procedures. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Tuning an RME Soundcard

This is part of a series on fixing audio problems in Windows. You may wish to start with the main article

This article is a quick guide to your RME soundcard settings, assuming you own one of their common Fireface USB devices. Please don't contact me for tech support, but instead use the RME Knowledgebase and Forum.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Tuning Windows Sound Settings

This is part of a series on fixing audio problems in Windows. You may wish to start with the main article

This information is provided as a quick reference. Please don't contact me for tech support, but instead use web searches to find further information. The included screenshots are from Windows 10 Professional but other recent Windows versions will have similar procedures. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Tuning Windows Device Settings

This is part of a series on fixing audio problems in Windows. You may wish to start with the main article

This information is provided as a quick reference. Please don't contact me for tech support, but instead use web searches to find further information. The included screenshots are from Windows 10 Professional but other recent Windows versions will have similar procedures. 

This article will help you diagnose device driver problems, explaining how to install the latest drivers for your hardware. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Tuning Windows Performance Options

This is part of a series on fixing audio problems in Windows. You may wish to start with the main article

This information is provided as a quick reference. Please don't contact me for tech support, but instead use web searches to find further information. The included screenshots are from Windows 10 Professional but other recent Windows versions will have similar procedures. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Tuning Windows power settings

This is part of a series on fixing audio problems in Windows. You may wish to start with the main article

This information is provided as a quick reference. Please don't contact me for tech support, but instead use web searches to find further information. The included screenshots are from Windows 10 Professional but other recent Windows versions will have similar procedures. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Piano plugins: an overview of inexpensive options (part two)

If you haven't done so already, please read the first part of this article for the necessary context and terminology. Then, read this article to accompany the video on YouTube. There you will get to listen to all 23 pianos. 

Monday, January 09, 2023

Piano plugins: an overview of inexpensive options (part one)

Sooner or later, everyone needs a piano. Whether you are making pop music, composing for soundtracks, scoring a game, or simply looking for wonderful tones to manipulate into crazy shapes, a piano is the most versatile and timbrally-rich instrument you can find. A classically-trained pianist will prefer a "proper" physical grand piano. A jobbing musician will own a portable electronic instrument of high quality. But this article is directed to everyone else: music-makers who need a software solution and don't have a fortune to spend.

This is the first of two articles on the subject. Here I will discuss approaches to creating digital instruments, popular software samplers, and how to judge a sample library. In the second article I present capsule reviews of no fewer than 23 piano plugins, so that you can find those that suit you best. A companion YouTube video is now available, so you can listen to all the instruments. 

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Three amazing audio plugins: SketchCassette, ShapeShifter, Digitalis

Let me introduce you to Abberant DSP, a company consisting of Ben (developer and customer support), Dan (GUI designer and marketing), and Jon (resident kitty and help centre). This small team produces three of the best plugins I've encountered. They sound great, are cheap as chips, and have quirky interfaces that nonetheless are well-designed.

Read on for my take on SketchCassette, ShapeShifter, and Digitalis.