Moving pictures

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I have decided to take the plunge and have a go at producing some video using the Kowa MFT lenses. They have some great features that suit video production extremely well – full manual aperture and focus control and also a useful d-click feature on the aperture ring to allow for silky smooth aperture control.

Rather than using the movie function on my Olympus OMD-EM10, I decided it was time to get serious and do video properly! I opted for the Black Magic Design pocket camera which features a Micro four third mount so it’s perfect for the Kowa lenses.

What you have to remember with the Black Magic Pocket camera is that the sensor has a crop factor of almost 3x – so in effect the three Kowa lenses have the focal length of:

Kowa 8.5mm = approx 24mm on the black magic
Kowa 12mm = approx 36mm on the black magic
Iowa 25mm – approx 75mm on the black magic

these three focal lengths worked really well and as I experimented I was able to produce a good variety of shots from wide angle to more mid range.

I also used the Black magic camera on the Kowa telephoto lens using a Micro four thirds fitting adapter. The 500mm 5.6 becomes an ultra powerful 1500mm lens but at the same time is super compact – it opens up a whole new range of options, especially on the wildlife video side of things – combine that with the MFT lenses – and I have a great range to work with.

It’s been a steep learning curve switching from shooting video with a DSLR or system camera to dedicated video tool like the Black Magic Pocket Camera but the results combined with the Kowa lenses is stunning. The Black Magic Pocket Camera shoots RAW video and has a wide dynamic range so the detail it captures is incredible. looking at my original footage, I’ve not experienced video quality of this high level before.

I chose to shoot in ‘PRO res 422 HQ’ which is one down from RAW, if you shoot in RAW you need some understanding of colour grading as the footage can look flat because the camera is capturing maximum data throughout the whole image area. PRO res 422 seems to be a great compromise as it’s nice and vibrant but also extremely high quality. Also the file size is more manageable.
The Pocket camera has some useful features like focus peaking and zebra highlight warnings so you can be sure of perfect exposure.

You can download Black Magic’s editing software for Free called Davinci Resolve – it’s superb for editing and also industry leading colour grading – but be sure to take some online tutorials before you start as it can be a little daunting at first as there is so much you can do in it.

If you’re going to that leap to the next level of shooting video – you may need to invest in some PC hardware and accessories.

I had to put some more RAM in my PC to be able to cope with editing such high res video files (bearing in mind I’m only talking 1080 HD here at not 4K!)
The native ISO of the back magic pocket camera is 800 so it’s very sensitive to light – I bought some ND filters for my Kowa lenses – these are a must if you want to shoot with wider apertures to get those creative shallow depths of field.
I’ve also invested in a larger hard drive to store the huge files and a class 10 95MBS media card is essential.

For example – the short uncompressed video below after editing was 12GB in size. To upload to youtube it had to be compressed.

All in all – combining the optical quality and features of the Kowa lenses and the Black Magic Pocket Camera is producing some wonderful results and I can see my self producing a lot more films over the year.

Here is my first attempt at producing a short edited film:

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