Panasonic GH2 – my thoughts

I really think that the GH2 recently announced by Panasonic can be THE digital Cinema camera to shoot on if you are on a budget. Having been recording to HDMI in recent years I can attest that the uncompressed HDMI feed of any camera is vastly superior to the internal codec.

It is still unclear at this time whether the HDMI feed is clean, degraded, frame rate manipulated or not. If it is an unfettered signal then this will be THE DSLR to own. Digital cinema will not be easier.

I have the GH1 and it is the most convenient camera to own I believe. I have the 5D as well and it is cumbersome to take on a trip. The GH1 has interchangeable lenses ( almost any lens ever made works becuase of the short flange distance – just need the right mount ) , small discrete size, large sensor for close to 35 mm depth of field and a great swivel screen.

It has been turned into a beast with the hack but it still has a way to go as far as being visually lossless as I am used to. Next year I will be filming my first feature and I am keeping a close eye on this baby. I believe that Panasonic have hit a home run with this camera.BUT…………………. The PAL version it appears at this stage will not have 25p but 50i. Now if that is true then that sucks big time. The NTSC version may well have 24p and that means that that is the version I am likely to go for on release. 60i with embedded 24p is no problem for most NLEs or indeed HDMI capture rigs that have pulldown removal built in – like my nanoflash.

Panasonic may well have just come up with a camera that can make the independant film-maker truly BIGTIME. Hey Pana – want someone to test the GH2 for you in a music video set? He he he – one can dream.

Well done Panasonic – I have my eye on the AF 100 as well so things are hotting up………………oh yeah!!!!

Scarlet – Where art thou????????????????

Nanoflash from convergent Design – HDMI capture example

Some of you may be aware that for over a couple of years now I been on the forefront of HDMI capture and attempting to make it easier to do in the field. Well I held off for a few months but last month I eventually succumbed and bought the Nanoflash from convergent design. Capable of recording to compact flash cards the Nanoflash is a dream for anybody wanting to enter the realm of high quality HDMI capture. Of course the product can also capture to HD-SDI. I have made myself a DIY battery that can last a whole day if need be.

The output file is either i-frame or longop – ( long group of pictures ) and I will be recording to 180 mbps longop which surpasses anything the DIY project I did can achieve. The data rate at 8 bit technically has more information than the film scan rate of cineform at 10 bit. This makes it perfect for consumer camcorders like the HFS10.

Have a look at what it looks like in action. Go to Vimeo, login and download the original to get a feel for the detail captured.I was blown away.

HDMI capture,HFS10, SGBlade, Nanoflash, Nikkor 85 mm AI from Henry Olonga on Vimeo.

Cineform VS AVCHD first generation files


I did a few Cineform vs AVCHD comparisons a while back ( here and here ).I have also done an HDMI capture tutorial to help build a rig and highlight the benefits of bypassing in-camera compression to get a clean image from cheap camcorders.Now I have been asked again to do some kind of torture test.I have no time for that so I will just place some first generation files for all to see what the big fuss is all about.HDMI capture surpasses AVCHD in the areas of colour,sharpness and freedom from codec artifacts bla bla bla.Don’t believe – download my sample files below and try them – you will need the Cineform Codec which you can get here.

The proof is in the pudding so I have made available some first generation files for your perusal.Three of them are a comparison of the same scene shot simultaneously.One long AVCHD file and the two Cineform files – sorry – it was snowing here.The rest are well – hopefully a nice selection of different subjects that I hope will put this argument to bed.If you think AVCHD can look this good then sample these.As for me – I think the quality speaks for itself.These are large files so be patient when downloading.

Hope this helps some of you to ascertain the quality.I suggest that for the ones with cinemode (The flat/low contrast Canon in-camera setting) you take them into Cineform’s first light and play with them.Especially the horses in the field.Not the snow field….he he.You will be amazed at the leeway you have with a 10 bit file.It colour grades beautifully.Oh and yes – I know the HFS10 has aliasing and yes the start of each file has some wierd interlacing lines (because Cineform has to guess the cadence and it takes a second or two).A better camera would give better results………but come on – this is turning a relatively cheap consumer camera into an expensive one without forking out the thousands right………………………it’s still a consumer cam…..remember it’s only just on a grand now for an HFS10.

Horses in snow

Horses in a field

AVCHD comparison file

Cineform comparison file 1

Cineform comparison file 2

Vivid car wide

Vivid car tight


Sheep in snow

Trees and snow

Film making

Soon and very soon Tara and I will be heading up to Scotland to do some shooting of that wonderful landscape.I will aslo be doing some shorts with our good friend Sarah Wrigglesworth in the coming days.The big news however is that I will be going to be hopefully making my first feature length film next year.Lets say it may involve a well known cricket club I am associated with.tsk tsk Still in two minds what to shoot on.

SR11,HFS100,GH1,5D orwith or without SGBlade and whether to do it to Cineform.Oh well – I would love the best but portability becomes an issue.Perhaps the cinedeck is the way forward.

Well at least audio is sorted out

HFS10 Hdmi capture problem solved


I have amended my HDMI capture tutorial to include developments in the industry in the last few months.Check it out.
Now for those of you who have an interest in capturing to a high quality recorder from the HDMI on the HFS10 – you may have had a little trouble getting the HFS10 to talk to your capture card.If you do not own one you won’t know how annoying it is.Well after months of searching I found a simple solution that costs about £80.

You have two options.

One is to get the component HD cable from canon for your HFS10/100.It is called CTC-100.You will need separate audio recording through your analog connections on the Intensity pro which I found to be a pain. This has no EDID issues as it is all analog.

You see the camcorder would go crazy if I plugged it into anything other than an LCD.It is to do with the EDID of the Canon.I got a little box from a company here in the UK that allows you to set the EDID manually .

EDID fix

It is fairly small and uses 5v power.I did a DIY hack to get power from a a USB port from my portable power supplie’s USB port.You know the external laptop battery extenders – you can see it in my video 17 tutorial on Vimeo.Takes the HSF10’s HDMI signal negotiates – passes it on to the intensity – works a treat.

Look for something similiar where you live.

Canon HSF10 – it is a beast!!!!!

Well this baby arrived on time and I have had it for a wee while now.In a word – it is a beast.This was a shoot I did the other day when I went for a stroll in my local borough.Man the image is sharp.Love it,love it, love it!!!

HFS10 Composite HD capture to Cineform. from Henry Olonga on Vimeo.

HDMI/Composite HD/HD-SDI DIY portable capture station tutorial

I have been capturing HDMI from my consumer camcorders now for a while and as I get asked quite a bit about how I do it I thought I would make a short tutorial as to how I go about it.
Hope this helps.

HDMI/Composite HD/HD-SDI DIY portable capture station tutorial from Henry Olonga on Vimeo.

More video shoot edits

Here is another series of videos that I have done recently –  these two showcase my work with HDMI capture before I embark on my music videos and also my filmaking.I have a new camcorder coming next week.The new Canon HFS10 so I am really excited.It will offer 24p and has  huge resolution for a camcorder.I bought the Panasonic TM300 but sent it back within minutes becasue I found it’s performance disappointing.My SR11 beat it in most of my own subjective tests.As a semi professional I am looking for that extra inch of performance and this didn’t give me any advance on my year old SR11.To any consumer – I am sure that this will be no problem as the image is very good.My main gripe was low light performance.

I hope you enjoy them – go to Vimeo to see them in HD – Better still – download the original file.

HDMI capture Showcase – North Wales from Henry Olonga on Vimeo.

And another

HDMI Capture showcase at Richmond Park from Henry Olonga on Vimeo.