I read and listen to plenty of well-established moviemakers and photographers telling us how they owe much of their success to great mentors or having assisted some of the greats in the field. Not too long ago, apprenticeships or working your way up through the system was the default path to a career.
But the system has changed or disintegrated altogether in many parts of the world, or there was never a system there in the first place. Like many of us, I have never had a mentor, a teacher or an employer who taught me all that I know and I’ve had to work it all out as I go along. With one sole, virtual exception. Sol March of Suggestion of Motion.
Sol March is an Hawaii-based globetrotting documentary moviemaker and stills photographer with one simple, inspiring motto: “I tell stories. You should tell stories too.” Damn right we should. And he has been sharing how he does exactly that on his website in article after clearly, concisely written article for several years now.
I first came across Sol March’s website when looking for truly useful, in-depth information about Panasonic’s Lumix GH-series cameras. I had been reading how great Panasonic’s early GH cameras – the GH1 and GH2 – were on other websites but they didn’t go into enough detail as to why they were apparently so terrific.
At the time, I hadn’t seen any Lumix cameras in the local camera stores, and everyone here was still raving about how great the Canon EOS 5D Mark II was. I even bought one myself. Then I came up against its many limitations, especially for making movies and most especially as an independent moviemaker without access to the sort of support gear (and cash) the 5D Mark II needed to get the best out of it.
Over time, after dipping into Suggestion of Motion every so often, I came to understand that Panasonic was producing some real alternatives to the Canon shooters’ received wisdom though all the attention being paid on some websites to hacks and mods for the GH-series cameras was just a little mystifying.
Panasonic Lumix cameras finally began appearing in local camera stores with the GH3, but its cons outweighed its pros. When Sol March got hold of a GH4, and began writing about how to get the best out of it, I was hooked.
I knew the GH4 was the hybrid movie/stills camera I had been looking for. And when I finally saved up, placed my order and picked it up from the store, I was ready. I had read Mr March’s many articles about the best native and adapted lenses for the GH4, and followed his advice.
I invested in the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens instead of Panasonic’s Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 Aspheric Power O.I.S. lens. I had tried out a loaner Panasonic zoom for a couple of weeks but its lack of sharpness compared to the German lenses to which I was accustomed tipped the balance in Olympus’ favor. Optical Image Stabilization would have been nice but, given the Olympus zoom’s other advantages, I can live without it.
Fresh out of the box, the GH4’s numerous function buttons and almost endless menu settings can be daunting, but Mr March’s incisive series of articles about how to set up your GH4 for video proved invaluable. I copied his Q Menu and function button settings exactly and have never looked back. He has also been generous with pointing to other GH4 experts who have plenty useful to share.
And now Mr March has cast his knowledgable eye on the controversial matter of V-Log L, explaining why he has said no to V-Log on the Panasonic GH4, for now. I keep going back to Suggestion of Motion, for the quality of the writing, the advice and the images Mr March shares there.
I have a lens wishlist that is largely attributable to Mr March’s articles. I investigated camera cages after reading his tests, and choose one I preferred to the ones he had tested. And although I am still on the fence about adding a Sony a7S II to my kit, I will keep reading about his own experiences with it, and I look forward to the next article on it, the one that, he tells us, will dig into the a7S II’s real issues.
If you already own a Panasonic Lumix GH4 or intend to get one soon, or are considering a Sony a7S II and want to know what a shooter of Mr March’s stature thinks about it as a professional workhorse, then you won’t do better than subscribing to the Suggestion of Motion newsletter and scouring the many Panasonic GH4 guides and Sony a7S II articles shared on the website.
Sol March makes a damned fine mentor, virtually speaking. [bctt tweet=”Sol March’s Suggestion of Motion gave me the kickstart I needed to really understand my GH4.'”]
Configuring the Panasonic GH4 for Video Production
Via Suggstioon of Motion:
When you consider the selection of file formats, resolutions, frame rates, the number of possible combinations is staggering– and we haven’t even touched picture styles yet, each of which has a bevy of adjustable parameters.
If you know what you want (and how to do it), the GH4 is the camera of your dreams. If you don’t know where to start, it’s your worst nightmare.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all of these options, don’t worry. This series on configuring the GH4 for video will help you make sense of the GH4’s options and get the camera set up properly with straightforward guides on everything from baseline camera settings, to making the most of the GH4’s function buttons, to creating custom user profiles to eliminate downtime on your shoot.
To prepare you for the upcoming guides, here is a brief overview of the different ways in which you can customize your Panasonic GH4.
The GH4 has 8 picture profiles, each of which affects the image in different ways:
Standard — a baseline profile.
Vivid — increased saturation and contrast.
Natural — lower saturation and contrast.
Monochrome — black and white.
Scenery — emphasizes blues and greens to make outdoor scenes pop.
Portrait — adjusts settings to optimize skin tone.
Cinelike D — prioritizes dynamic range for more control during post-production.
Cinelike V — designed to deliver a filmic image out of the box.
(cover photo credit: snap from Suggestion of Motion)