On set stills for a short film (E-M1/GX7)

Discussion in 'Other Genres' started by m43happy, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. m43happy

    m43happy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 18, 2012
    Long time lurker here with an occasional post here and there. I figured it's about time I made my own contributing forum thread. This past December I helped some friends out on a short film project by shooting their on set stills and as an experiment used an all m4/3 setup. On their previous project I shot stills for I rented a blimp for my old Nikon D700. I used the Hollywood standard Jacobson blimp, which has been in the business for decades despite their outdated design. And while it suppresses the sound a almost completely, there were instances where you could still here a faint "thunk" from the shutter through the blimp. They even told me later on they could catch the sound in some shots when they used a boom mic for audio (instead of wireless mics one would tape to the inside of a shirt). My friends didn't want to take any chances on this next go around since going back into a sound studio to record audio would just add onto the budget (which they completely raised themselves). The thought of not using a FF camera had me a little worried as I was planning on using my friend's D800e+blimp, but the thought of using a lighter setup intrigued me as well. Using a dslr+blimp is a pretty bulky setup, and when shooting with lenses like the 24-70mm f/2.8 and Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, the weight adds up quickly (which you can see in this picture when I shot with that setup).

    I rented the latest Panasonic camera (at the time), the GX7, as well as the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 lens. I use an E-M1 as my main camera, but the GX7 has one feature that the E-M1 can't touch and that is the electrical shutter used in the camera's 'silent mode'. One caveat though is that if you're not shooting wide open, stopping down the aperture a click or two, you will get the teeny-tiniest noise of a click when a shot is taken as the aperture blades quickly close down (which I believe is covered in the Digital Rev review of the GX7). I still used the E-M1 to take BTS shots of the crew and during some scenes where music was going to be played over the shot so on set audio wasn't needed. My entire kit consisted of:
    -Olympus E-M1 (mine)
    -Panasonic GX7 (rental)
    -Olympus 75mm f/1.8 (mine)
    -Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 (mine)
    -Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 (mine - was on backorder so I received it late and only used it during the last day of shooting)
    -Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 (rental)

    I shot a touch over 3200 (combined stills and BTS) photos. There was a lot of redundancy since I was firing away during multiple takes of a scene. Just wanted to share a few shots with you guys so you can see how these two smaller sensor cameras performed! I posted the EXIF data in case anyone might be interested in the settings used. All shots are handheld btw. PP done in LR5+PS CS6.

    1)GX7+35-100 lens @ 55mm 1/25 f/2.8 iso1600
    I actually made this shot more difficult for myself because the shot required some low lighting conditions and I accidentally left my ND filter on the lens since we shot outside just prior to this. Still came out okay though. :)

    2)GX7+35-100 lens @ 35mm 1/160s f/2.8 iso1000

    3)GX7+35-100 lens @ 100mm 1/400s f/2.8 iso200

    4)GX7+35-100 lens @ 38mm 1/800s f/2.8 iso320

    5)GX7+25 lens @ 25mm 1/1250 f/1.4 iso200

    6)GX7+25 lens @ 25mm 1/100 f/1.4 iso1250

    7)GX7+35-100 lens @ 47mm 1/250s f/2.8 iso1600

    8)E-M1+35-100 lens @ 45mm 1/200 f/2.8 iso2500
    This was a musical number walking down the center aisle of a cathedral that was going to be taken with a steadicam person backpedalling w/ a wide angle lens. All the lighting was setup up from the sides & back of the cathedral. Trying to find a good spot to get a shot of this was difficult as shooting from the sides meant seeing lighting equipment setup on the otherside of the cathedral. Couldn't shoot behind the steadicam op b/c they were back pedaling and I didn't want to risk having them run into me as I tried to back pedal. Lying in the pew would be a challenge since they were small and trying to frame a shot lying down would be difficult. I realized though that since the song would be dubbed over in post a shutter sound wasn't an issue. I swapped the 35-100 onto my Olympus**, attached my gorilla pod (only time I didn't shoot handheld) and placed it towards the edge of the pew while still keeping it out of sight. I connected my camera to my iPhone via wi-fi and operated it w/ liveview right from my phone screen. :cool: I framed the shot using myself as the stand-in since I could see myself on my phone screen. I hid about 30ft away off to the side behind a pillar and used the touchscreen shutter release to take the picture at 10fps when the characters came to a quick pause down the aisle. It was a very animated scene so I had to push the ISO to get the shutter speed up. Overall, I was happy with how it turned it out given the circumstances. **Yeah, I could've done the same thing with the GX7 but I didn't have the Panasonic app installed on my phone and I really didn't really bother figuring out the wi-fi shutter setup since the camera was a rental.
    • Like Like x 20
  2. m43happy

    m43happy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 18, 2012
    More shots...

    9)GX7+35-100 lens @ 80mm 1/60 f/2.8 iso1250

    10)GX7+35-100 lens @ 60mm 1/60 f/2.8 iso2000

    11)GX7+35-100 lens @ 100mm 1/500 f/2.8 iso200

    12)GX7+35-100 lens @ 80mm 1/125 f/2.8 iso640

    13)GX7+75 lens @ 75mm 1/160 f/1.8 iso1000

    14)GX7+35-100 lens @ 100mm 1/100 f/2.8 iso640

    15)E-M1+35-100 lens @ 100mm 1/200 f/2.8 iso2500

    16)GX7+35-100 lens @ 35mm 1/60 f/2.8 iso1600

    17)GX7+75 lens @ 75mm 1/40 f/3.2 iso800
    • Like Like x 14
  3. m43happy

    m43happy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 18, 2012
    Some behind the scenes (BTS) shots.

    18)E-M1+25 lens @ 25mm 1/60 f/2.0 iso320

    19)E-M1+25 lens @ 25mm 1/20 f/2.0 iso200

    20)GX7+35-100 lens @ 54mm 1/640 f/2.8 iso250
    A prince in LA. haha

    21)GX7+35-100 lens @ 72mm 1/500 f/2.8 iso200

    22)GX7+35-100 lens @ 80mm 1/80 f/2.8 iso1600

    23)E-M1+25 lens @ 25mm 1/125 f/2.0 iso2000

    24)E-M1+12-40 lens @ 12mm 1/15 f/4.0 iso1000

    25)GX7+35-100 lens @ 51mm 1/80 f/2.8 iso1000

    I love my E-M1 (it is the camera I own after all), but I have to honestly say that the GX7, in terms of image quality, is right up there with it. Also, while the IBIS of the GX7 was okay, it's still no 5-axis found in the Olympus. When using the 35-100mm w/ the GX7 I used the in lens Power O.I.S. as I found it more effective than the GX7's IBIS. If Olympus decides to one day implement an electronic shutter, they would have a killer on set stills camera when combined with their 5-axis IBIS. The overall lightness and the maneuverability of such a small kit w/ swivel LED screens allowed me to get into spots I couldn't have with a dslr+blimp, and shoot at angles that I would just be playing a guessing game at with a dslr+blimp. All together I had a really fun experience helping my friends out and being able to prove to myself that I could get the same quality shots w/ this m4/3 setup as I did with my old full frame Nikon D700. I've worked on big studio feature films the past several years on the production side of things (not as a still photographer unfortunately), and I've not once seen a m4/3 camera used on set to shoot stills with. Times are definitely changing with this new breed of mirrorless cameras for sure. Thanks for checking out my pictures. -RJ

    Oh yeah, here is the website for the short film as well, as the Facebook page for it, if anyone is interested in finding out more about it.
    • Like Like x 28
  4. Lobbamobba

    Lobbamobba Mu-43 Veteran

    May 15, 2013
    Amazing shoots!
  5. m43happy

    m43happy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 18, 2012
    Thanks! :smile:
  6. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    Very cool thread.
  7. euler_spiz

    euler_spiz Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 8, 2013
    Cantabria, Spain
    LP Hoyos
    Awesome! It makes me want to watch the movie!
    Thanks for sharing.
  8. m43happy

    m43happy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 18, 2012
    Two of my friends, who funded/wrote/produced/directed this film, are working with their editor to have it cut by May. They did a great job getting the entire crew together. I can't wait to see it as well. :) Thanks for the kind words on the pics.
  9. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    This is some fantastic work on your part. Amazing set of pictures. Should be a sticky if you ask me.
  10. erwinwee

    erwinwee Mu-43 Rookie

    Jan 20, 2014
    Erwin Wee
    Thanks for sharing your experience! It's great to see how versatile and useful :43: cameras can be in a variety of settings while maintaining high image quality and performance. :thumbup:
  11. hkpzee

    hkpzee Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 5, 2011
    Hong Kong
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Both on-stage and behind the scene shots are great!
  12. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Exellent shots ..thanks a lot for sharing . I think you will excel with any gear as u know what u r doing:2thumbs:
  13. Dramaturg

    Dramaturg Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2013
    Very good use of 35-100 lens! Simply outstanding! Also a very wise decision to stay with iso2500 limit :)
  14. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    That was fascinating, thanks for posting so many scenes.

    A friend of a friend does the same job : along with his big DSLRs he uses a Sony RX1, the little 35mm thing, I think it has a leaf shutter.
    I shall mention the GX7 (or GH3 which has an articulated screen, not a flippy one.)
  15. m43happy

    m43happy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 18, 2012
    Thanks! Yeah, I wasn't purposefully trying to shoot in high iso but given the lighting in some scenes (and if there's a lot of actor movement) you have to adapt to it in order to get the shot.

    I'd definitely recommend the GX7 or the GH3 (maybe even the GH4 given it's "assumed" improvement in picture quality). I preferred the GX7 because it is smaller, lighter, and more maneuverable shooting w/ only one hand. Plus it had in body IS to use with lenses like the 25/75. The lens IS in the 35-100 actually outperforms the IBIS of the GX7.
  16. crazyGD

    crazyGD Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 3, 2014
    Which one would you recommends em1 or gx7? Still shots and video? I'm currently using gx1 and is thinking of upgrading it. Confuse which one to buy. Hehe. Gx7 is smaller, cool looking form factor, better focus peaking, panorama shots and good video recording except no ibis on video. Em1 faster ibis, better @ low light ibis on video.

    Sent from my GT-N7100 using Tapatalk
  17. m43happy

    m43happy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 18, 2012
    For this kind of work I'd most definitely recommend the GX7. Because this isn't my full time job though, the camera I went with personally was the E-M1 for everyday (and the majority of my) shooting, which is portraiture. Weather sealing was also a factor. Don't get me wrong though, the GX7 excels in a lot of areas. You really can't go wrong with either camera. If video is of the utmost importance, and you don't mind using an external audio recorder, I'd go with the GX7 as it has more options video-wise. If you just shoot like home video stuff, the E-M1 will work great too.
  18. crazyGD

    crazyGD Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 3, 2014
    Ok tnx! My concern when shooting still shots is low light and sharp focus and when shooting video, I just like to shoot when watching concerts or on special occasions. So em1 would better fit my needs?

    Sent from my GT-N7100 using Tapatalk
  19. m43happy

    m43happy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 18, 2012
    Either camera would fit your needs. The electronic shutter on the GX7 is a pretty neat and useful feature for when you're shooting and need to keep noise to a minimum.
  20. Dewi

    Dewi Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 11, 2014
    Lancashire, England
    Really like these, what a great thing to be able to do - fantastic job well done
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