by Jared Flesher
Notes on Video readers might be interested in my experiences shooting with a Panasonic GH2. I’ve been using it for about a month now shooting the trailer for my new documentary Sourlands, with the GH2 and the stock 14-42mm lens. I know there’s already been a lot written about the camera, but here are my two cents based on the experience so far. [Jared's previous documentary, the Farmer and the Horse, was shot on a Canon Vixia HD camcorder.-Ed]
For a $1,000 camera, I couldn’t be happier. The image quality of the Panasonic GH2 is superb.
I spent a lot of time when I first got the Panasonic GH2 tinkering with the different scene settings – Cinema, Smooth and Nostalgic, trying to figure out which one looks the best and most film-like. I’ve come to settle on Cinema mode, usually with the exposure stepped up one click.
A knock against Cinema mode has been that it tends to underexpose scenes. But Nostalgic ended up being too yellow for me (you can see some scenes in the trailer that are probably a tad too yellow) and the colors in Smooth tend to look a little washed out.
I don’t like the ETC (Extra Teleconversion) crop mode, which gives your lenses twice the zoom without losing resolution. In my tests, I’ve found that everything looks noisier in the crop mode; even well-lit shots.
The stock 14-42mm lens is excellent for the price. It operates silently and focuses fast enough and accurately enough for my needs. I don’t use the continuous auto-focus function with video (it hunts too much) but I do use auto-focus mid-scene to reset focus when my subjects move. It works great and is easier than manual focusing.
One big limitation of this camera is that it doesn’t have a headphone jack for audio monitoring. For some people that’s a deal breaker. For me, I’m not happy about it, but I can live with it. I plug my Sennheiser ME66 shotgun mic into a BeachTek XLR adapter, the BeachTek into a 3.5mm to 2.5mm right angle adapter, and the right angle adapter into the camera.
I use the on-screen meters and the knobs on the BeachTek to set the right levels. The results sound good. One thing I’ve discovered about shooting a one-man documentary is that you don’t want to be wearing headphones all the time anyway. They seem to isolate you from your interviewees.
Jared's funding the documentary Sourlands through Kickstarter, and is already half way to the $5,000 goal. You can check out the trailer he's put together, and support the project, here: Sourlands: A Story of Land, Energy and a Life More Local
NotesOnVideo: Filmmaker Jared Flesher - Sourlands
NotesOnVideo: Interview: Filmmaker Jared Flesher
The Farmer and the Horse