Panasonic Lumix GH1 in Joshua Tree and PL lenses!

3519347887_7cff4a03c0When I stepped out into the bright sunlight, from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: sunblock and vitamin water (first person to name the semi quote wins nothing!) Well it was VERY bright sunlight and I had just seen Star Trek (great), but it was time for my long planned shoot in Joshua Tree Park in California and it was VERY hot!

I have been hired by Panasonic to make them a nice little short to show at the European press launch of the GH1 on May 21st at Panasonic HQ. Originally I had hoped to do this filming in Hawaii, but I had so much on it was difficult, although I did manage to knock off a quick slow motion test during a sunset which you can see here. That was just knocked off quickly over an hour using nothing but the stock lens, no filters, no tripod, just a little gorillapod!

This was a far more ambitious shoot, I had the Genus Matte box and support rails. A set of very cool 4×4 filters courtesy of Carey Duffey of Tiffen/ South London Filters. Carey put together a pack perfect for filming in the desert. A .6 ND grad. a 1.2 IR ND, a 2.1 hot mirror ND (7 stops!), an antique suede and a polarizer. A really cracking set of filters.

But not only that, Illya Friedman of (his new site launches on the 19th May) joined up with me with his brand new prototype PL mount adaptor for cinemas lenses so you can actually put them onto this little camera! Naughty man that he is, he actually stuck a chart in front of my lens and made me shoot it. He knows I don’t film charts!!

I knew the kit lens performed well but as this camera is seriously being considered by indie film makers. So,  just how well would it perform with lenses that cost over $10,000 each!?

p1000070I had to use Illya’s old Matte Box as my Genus one couldn’t take the 95mm diameter (!) of these lenses!

Also along for the ride were Jake Carpenter who was documenting the shoot for me on my little Canon Vixia. Jehu Garcia of Jag35 came along too (I will have a special interview with him coming soon!) and David Aldrich who makes the $100 follow focus was there too! So it was a bit of team! We also bumped into Bui brothers at the end of the shoot too, they had a Canon 5dMk2.

I can’t post the finished edit until the 21st May after the press event, at the same time I will post the making of. In the meantime I wanted to share with you some screen grabs, some shot with the stock lens with full Genus set up and some with the PL lenses. We had Zeiss Ultra Primes, from 16mm to 85mm. They were all T1.9

Now the stock lens is great, it has incredible auto focus features including facial recognition and tracking which is completely silent, optical stabilisation and a nice range (35mm equivalent 28-240mm) although understandably for such a range and price it is quite slow at f4.

I was really happy with the shots we got, both with the stock lens and the PL lenses. Illya’s adaptor worked a treat , the only thing was focusing was much harder as the zoom in extender didn’t seem to work without the stock lens.

Have a look at some screen grabs from both:

Stock Lens
Stock Lens
Zeiss Master Prime 85mm
Zeiss Master Prime 85mm
Zeiss Master Prime 85mm
Zeiss Master Prime 85mm
Stock Lens
Stock Lens
zeiss 85mm
zeiss 85mm
Zeiss 16mm
Zeiss 16mm
Zeiss 16mm
Zeiss 16mm
Zeiss 16mm
Zeiss 16mm

When you put on full frame slr lenses from Canon or Nikon onto the Gh1 you get a 2x magnification factor as the four third sensor is about half the size of a full frame SLR sensor. But with the PL lenses you get about a 16-17% increase in focal length as movie 35mm size is much smaller than a full frame SLR 35mm.

Thanks to Martin for the sensor chart
Thanks to Martin for the sensor chart



The results were terrific with the PL lenses, beautiful bokeh and nice to have nice fast glass to get that shallow DOF, but, the stock lens did a great job. I probably shot about half and half and they cut great together, sometimes it’s hard to know which is which.

So here is a list of the kit that I had:

1 GH1 with stock lens

2 16gb Class 6 SDHC cards

1 Genus Matte Box

1 Genus advanced adaptor bar support system which was necessary due to the stock lens getting longer when you zoomed, the whole plate move back and forth to accommodate it

5 Tiffen 4×4 filters as detailed above

1 miller solo carbon fibre solo ds20 tripod. perfect for this location, the ds10 would be perfect for the GH1 . Don’t get a stills tripod for this camera. You need a proper video tripod.

1 PL adaptor

5 Zeiss Ultra Primes

and LOTS of water.

On the 21st May there will be a blog post with the new short film on it and also the making of which should be a lot of fun. Don’t forget to come back then to check it out!

Thanks to Illya Friedman and Jehu Garcia for the stills.

Until I post my making of and of course the finished film next week, enjoy Jehu Garcia’s little behind the scenes film shot of the Jag35 $99 static DOF adaptor and his second video laughing at my misfortune!

EDIT: Finished film below!


  1. very nice looking images !
    just saw jehu’s snippet behind the scenes at vimeo, can’t wait for next week now lol.
    happy to hear the kit lens intercuts quite nicely with better gear as i hope to get the lumix working with my FD L collection…
    so, with that gh1 x2 factor, a FD 15mm fisheye with a 180° diagonal fov would roughly deliver something like a 35mm wide when adapted on the lumix right?

    1. yeah so you would lose a lot of the fish eye…olympus i believe are bringing out some cracking lenses, some are already out which are fast and are for this camera.

  2. Stills look great.

    How did you adjust the exposure with the prime lenses? Did you just use the little light meter at the bottom of the screen? The live histogram? Eyeball from the picture on the LCD? Light meter?

    – X

      1. of corse it is, 5D is fullframe and is whole lotta awesome 😀

        BTW, if I understand this whole 35mm adaptor thing, If I have a 5D, the footage will look like 35mm film(I’m talking about the depth of field and stuff like that) without really needing a 35mm adaptor, right?

        If so, do you think it’s a good investment for someone that is a photographer(me) who also wants to enter into video production?

        1. true, but you have the limitations of the current batch of 35mm DSLRs. Lack of manual control, poor audio, atrocious rolling shutter. Static shots look great!

          Are you talking about buying a 5dmk2 or a GH1 to start off with?

          1. If i’d buy one of those, it would be definitely 5dmk2, but only for photography and because it’s 35mm. But for now, i’d have to content myself with my 400D and try to invest in some L glass, before moving to full frame.

            As for video, at the place where I “work”, we have 2 HDV cams, Sony HDV HD HVR-V1 and Sony HD 1000. both ar nice, although I’m trying to convince my boss to get an 35mm adaptor and some carl zeiss primes.

            What do you think?

  3. I’m surprised the magnified manual-focus feature didn’t work with your cine lenses. Did you remember to enable the “Shoot Without Lens” custom function? This is required on the G1 to make the focus magnifier work with adapted lenses; I would guess the GH1 might work the same way. I certainly hope Panasonic didn’t disable this feature!

    1. it was probably me just being stupid and not having it in manual focus mode or something…i did have the shoot without lens enabled as you can’t do anything without doing that first

      1. There is a (strangely) rarely mentioned trick to magnify the image: press the left button (magnified part position selection starts) and then center button (confirm the position).

        1. well, left button press is the standard way to activate the aiding in manual focus mode. If you shoot with adapted lenses a lot, you memorise that quickly. But I agree its well hidden, unless you ever became curious about what the “auto focus mode” button does when you’re in “manual focus mode” 🙂

  4. Impressive. With all this good press about the GH1’s video capabilities from you, I wonder if Panasonic will consider making a full-blown camcorder with a Micro 4/3 mount. They could get better low-noise performance as the sensor wouldn’t need to be as dense (it would only need to have enough pixels to do 1080p). Just imagining a Micro 4/3 camcorder for the same basic price as the GH1 would be really cool.

  5. Watching the footage from your trip in the desert, did you see some obvious codec weakness ? More precisely, do you have to drop some shots because they were ruined by compression artifacts ?

  6. Under the desert sun, did the EVF or LCD become hard to see, especially with the lens filters attached? Did sunglasses further confound a shot se-up?

    What advantages or effects did the matte box provide? Did the camera tumble to the ground when you stepped backward into the snake and took fright? Do either the lens or the camera come with any assurance of survival from drops or vipers? At least one or both concerns are usually near the top of the average poorman’s concerns.

    1. Jehu Garcia of jag35 gave me a very cool hoodman type thing. Also the EVF works great too…

      The snake didn’t scare me at all…Mattebox let me use ND filters to limit the light coming in, also have me a nice grad effect and I also used antique suede to give a lovely warm image.

  7. Hello Philip,

    I would say the opposite, its good that you’ve shot at 1080! If there are any codec problems, then please suggest them a fix! 😉

    Thx for your great work.

  8. Hello,
    I am trying to buy one Lumix GH1, but every store I search for it say the camera is out of stock.
    Do you know where can I buy it? And when will it really be availbe?
    Thx very much

  9. Hi Phil, I need some advice if you will. I’m looking for a low budget camera setup like the one show 10 sec into your “Behind the Scenes on Philips new GH1 Short” I would like to spend less than $1000 used is fine. I heard the Canon HV20,30,40 are great for low bdgt but your HF-s10 setup looks cool, how much for that setup and what do you recommend? Many thanks, Jesse

  10. To be more specific, I’m trying to make a low budget film (Movie) and need a cam with 24fps. What kind of gear do you recommend to give it that Cinema look. A DOF adapter etc..Thanks Phil

      1. My budget is $1000 or less. I’m torn between a new HF20 with wide angle lens & Rode Mic or a HV20/30 with a 35mm Static DOF. What do you think is better for shooting a movie?
        Best regards, JP

  11. Hi Philip,

    I have been asked to shoot some video footage on a low budget (I am a stills photographer by trade) so have dipped my toe in the water and bought the Panasonic GH1. I really love the tiltable screen which is what swung me away from the Canon 5D Mark 2 and 7D. The still results with the 14-140 are very diasappointing when shooting wide open and wondered if any of the PL mount ultra primes (be they hugely expensive) would improve things. I have a range of Nikon lenses and read that you were waiting for a Nikon adapter for the GH1 – have you tried it out yet? Thanks in advance for all the shared info. all the best, Terry

      1. Hi Philip – brilliant. Do you have the details of the supplier of the Nikon adapter? Also who (when I can afford it) is the supplier of the prime lenses and the PL mount? Again, thanks for the shared info. Much appreciated. All the best, Terry

  12. Philip

    I’ve been looking all over for the Genus matte box you used on your shoot. All the ones I see seem to have a very shallow box, not like the one you were using.

    Also, how would that work with a Tokina 11-16? The mattebox I have now crops my image. I hav e to zoom in to 14mm before it is out of frame

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