Video with the XT2

To set the record straight — the main reason I got the FUJI XT2 was for video. I spoke to Kholi Hicks a DP & Colorist, check out his IMDB page — he told me that he could not understand why more individuals were not using the camera and that the color was amazing. At first, I didn’t know what he meant because one of the 1st videos I remember seeing looked as though the color was pushed up in post (over saturated). It turns out I didn’t know what SOOC (Straight out of Camera) meant and that my perspective of color was skewed.

XT2 Video Research

The 1st XT2 video I remember seeing was this one –

Although I wasn’t too big on the color, the picture was clear, and sharp. However at the time, I had my mind fixed on the Panasonic Gh5, mainly because I owned a few Panasonic cameras also the sharpness, and features in such a small camera made it worthwhile. What did it for me in the end though was that while I wanted to replace my Canon 5D Mark II with a still camera the FUJI X-T2 gave me the best of both.

Here’s another video review on the X-T2 that helped me make my decision shot by Zed Pro Media:

What I will recommend to anyone looking to buy a new camera is always look at footage shot in different locations and by different individuals. WIth the different styles and locations, you get to see the camera in different environments and also see how the sensor response to those locations. I will also recommend finding someone who’s style is similar to yours this will help give you an idea of what you would do with this tool because at the end of the day I’ve seen great shots with the X-T2 and I’ve seen terrible shots but at the end of the day the camera does nothing without an operator. The following links helped me make my decision to buy this camera:

Caveira Photography

Excellent Pictures Details and clarity 
I loved the color grading done by him and his eye for capturing is amazing lots of storytelling, this is what I intend to use my XT2 for.

FUJI X Passion

Good resource on X-Series cameras —

Fujifilm Mirrorless, why switch?

This particular post ^ actually gave me the insight that the XT2 can handle lens adapters and can be used for professional work (weddings, corporate jobs, etc). Now while these 2 are photo sites and that I primary was interested in the XT2 for video I can confidently say now that 80% of what you get in photos you can get with video. When I say that I mean the following:

  • Film Simulations
  • Contrast & shadow details
  • Color (excellent)
  • Details and clarity
  • Dynamic range (not as much but about 12 stops)
  • Noise handling

Video details and compression

Image below is shot with the XT2 & the FUJI 35mm 1.4

Normally when I grab frames from my 5d Mark II & Gh4 they are clean but not this clean. I mean I knew HD to 4k was a transformation but the color information holds up as well as does the detail whatever FUJI uses to calculate their color compression is amazing.

Image below is shot with the XT2 & the Leica R Summicron 50mm

To go into details as to why the Gh4 might not be as clean as the X-T2 I believe that has to do with the sensor size & Panasonic’s math when it comes to color compression. The Gh4 uses a Mico 4 thirds sensor which is smaller than that of the APS-C cameras like the X-T2. Now to be clear it’s not just sensor size but also the quality of that sensor and the compression that is used. A good example of that would be the Gh4 vs. the G7 / Gh5 this chart below will give you an idea of the different sensor sizes so you can compare.

Courtesy of Phil Holland from phfx.com

As far as the 5D Mark II it has a larger sensor than the XT2 (Full frame or 35mm) but its compression and frame size are totally different. First, it shoots 1080p and it only records about 38 megabits per second — this is according to Wikipedia and Nofilm School, by the way, there is a hack to get up to 78 megabits but normally 38 is the limit. In short, the more data you have to work with the more you can manipulate and adjust in post so those 2 factors and FUJI’s amazing color is why I believe the FUJIFILM X-T2 produces such amazing color and details.

Though all these are important good story, lighting and lenses can make an older camera shine. Here are a couple of videos I shot with all 3 cameras Just to give you a comparison of the 3 cameras (Canon 5D Mark II, Panasonic GH4 & FujiFilm X-T2) –

Shot on the 5d Mark II (HD)

Shot on the Gh4 (4k)

Shot on the X-T2 (4k)

I choose the FUJI FILM X-T2 not because it’s perfect (would love longer battery life & a stronger body) but because for my needs it suits quite well. I believe I was able to get 2 cameras for the price of one. Although I feel this way a 2nd camera is still essential and I won’t ignore that fact but I realize for the price the XT2 can cover both my photography video needs and I’d strongly recommend it.

My latest review on the XT2 video

FUJI X-T2 Color

The last time we covered the XT2 we focused on my first impressions of the XT2. At this time I want to focus on the color and what it means for filmmakers as well as photographers.

I believe today a lot of people are fixated with looks and grades that are applied to their pictures and the videos. These looks aren’t unnecessary, the problem is most people have no idea what real color actually looks like. I believe this started to happen to me over the years because I find myself chasing after a particular look rather than taking pictures. What does all this have to do with the Fuji XT2? Well to me the X-T2 represents something from the past that’s still vital today — COLOR.

FUJI COLOR

Fuji pioneered color in their film stocks (I will list a couple of them below). The fact that Fuji was a film company and today they have brought their film looks into the digital cameras, means that while are out there trying to mimic a particular look with a piece of software many of these looks are achieved for you inside your Fujifilm camera. With the cameras creating the look, you can focus on shooting. While you’re shooting the camera will focus on applying a particular color based on your recommendations or the film simulation you choose from the menu.The image above amazes me because it was taken from a frame of video. Since 4k video, this has been available but not with such color fidelity. In the past I would have to increase contrasts and punch up saturation, mainly because with most cameras in this price range the color in video is more compressed than photos. Below are photos taking straight from the X-T2 without any color or contrast adjustments, also keep in mind all camera settings were on zero the only thing that was changed was the film profiles.

The Profiles

Asta – Standard color for most cameras (yet FUJI does some subtle tones and has the extra boost of color.

Classic Chrome – Colors are muted (or toned down) and the darks are lowered so there more contrast. To me this has a very organic movie look to it.

Velvia – Rich in color I haven’t used this one too much actually.

Arcos – Man what can I say about Arcos other than it’s not the typical black and white it has grain (that looks monochromatic not noisy), the contrasts in most situations are ideal rich and deep blacks overall Arcos is nice when used properly.

Click for larger sizes (images are untouched in terms of color just resized for web)

Finally below is a video I did which goes into some of the details covered in this article. It also has more examples of FUJI’s color enjoy.

Why I left Canon for FUJI

When I picked up the XT2 I knew the technology would be better compared to my 5D Mark II, after all, it had been 8 years since the release of the 5d Mark II. What I didn’t know was that something so small would be so capable. Now I have said countless times (it’s the shooter, not the camera) and I still stand by that statement.

Taken with the FUJI X-T2 & 35mm 1.4

Half of the shots we see, we have no clue the story behind them. Sometimes the photographer is hanging out of a car window, sometimes they’ve taken 5-7 shots at a time before they get the one they want. Other times it’s a shot that no one would ever see that they just take. All in all bending the rules or even breaking them may sometimes give you good results and other times it turns out horrible. Yet when a camera aids in the process (fast focus, light or heavy, small enough to fit in a pocket) it helps make your job easier.

One of my Favorite shots taken with the Canon 5D Mark II

I believe the XT2 has given me the ability to merge my cinematography with my photography (as taught by my teacher Ryan Johnson). The color science behind FUJI is great it handles the shadows, mid tones, highlights naturally to the point where some of my images look less like a photo and more like I’m staring out of a window and seeing someone there. Am I a FUJI loyalist no… I still like Canon and Nikon and respect Sony but right now FUJI is doing what I want. The only thing that concerns me with the XT2 is battery life when I’m not using the XT2 battery grip that is (which cost approximately $300).

Taken with the FUJI XT2 & 35mm 1.4

This photo took one attempt, in the middle of a downpour in NYC, normally I wouldn’t have taken it (due to the weather) but the XT2 has made photography & cinematography fun!

XT2 Noise & Color Compression

When I took this photo my initial thought was: I am losing it here… how can this image be so clean it was taken at ISO 10,000 after sunset: and to me, this looks good (there’s grain but it looks like film). Yet I heard sooo many folks who keep saying the XT2 is noisy, but I like it.

If I were starting photography today I’d choose FUJI not because they are better than all the rest but for what you pay, you get a whole lot. The only thing I would add is all day battery life (without the grip) and a more streamline phone app. You can pick up the XT2 for around $1500 it’s a great camera and it delivers on both the pro level and semi-profesional check it out.

5D Mark IV should you buy it?

On Thursday August 25th Canon released the 5D Mark IV with a 30 Mega Pixel count, 4K video and a shooting speed of 7 Frames per second, should you buy it?. While all these aren’t new to the camera industry there is one featured I’d like to highlight 1st.

Dual Pixel Raw

Dual-Pixel RAW gives you the ability to choose focus in post, because as you may or may not know RAW files,  keep all the information that the camera processes at the initial time of capture. With Dual-Pixel RAW, you can take an image, and even though you had one object in focus, you can change the object of focus to something else. I believe this is a feature that’s going to used by a lot of people.

Dual Pixel Raw can produce a bit of laziness on the part of photographer, because now you’re not dependent on your skill, but you’re dependent on fixing everything in post. I’m sure there’s going to be some limitations, so we have to definitely test this thoroughly in the field.

 

4K DCI

The addition of 4k to the Mark IV was to me necessary with just about all cameras today sporting 4k video capture (including the iPhone 6s). 4K videos been around for at least the last four years and Canon has finally put this into their pro-consumer cameras like the 5D series or even the 1DS. This is a feature that was out in their professional video series for awhile, but now it’s the first time they’ve introduced them to a digital SLR body.

It’s quite clear that the 5D series is definitely a flagship for Canon, because it was the first to do video — back in 2008 when the Mark II was released — and now it’s the first in its class to do 4K video. It isn’t just pro-consumer 4K, which is 3840 by 2160, but it also supports cinema 4K, which is 4096 by 2160. That’s going to be a bonus for a lot of people. Hopefully the Canon, the camera can record a higher resolution, or higher data-rate through an external recorder, and we’re not just going to be dependent on recording to the memory card.

This video below covers the video features of the 5D Mark IV

30 Megapixel of Raw data

At the time of creating this post (Monday August 29th) the latest Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop and Affinity Photo could not edit the Raw files from the 5D Mark IV. This isn’t because the 30 Mega pixels size but because the camera is so new these companies need to update their software. However I will do a follow up on this and post the RAW image editing abilities. (see video below for the error)

The video below covers details on the still features of the 5D Mark IV watch it to get even more in depth information on this flagship camera.

The Verdict

Should you buy the Mark IV? The Short answer: if you are even consider it and can afford it yes. However if you have just started in photography and are looking for more resolution and a better camera there are countless others at lower prices that will do just fine. The 5D Mark III is a good camera to buy if you want to keep your budget under $3000, Fuji Xt2 is another great camera, also the 7D Mark II is great if you want speed but not a full frame sensor. However if you want something to replace your aging 5D Mark II, and you want 4k video and can afford the $3809 (with tax) price tag by all means pre-order the 5D Mark IV because on paper it’s worth it.

Creating a Documentary with Final Cut Pro X

Over the last 2 years I’ve worked on two documentaries: Frustrated 2 which deals with the broken child support system here in the United States. As well as Unethical Practice which deals with the fire at will policy that many companies have and which provides no job security for the working class. While these 2 projects were created on a shoe string budget the process from start to finish was anything but short and sweet.

Frustrated Chapter 2

Frustrated as the title goes deals with the frustrations that many face in the United States. Chapter 2 deals with the Child Support System and how Fathers and even mothers are treated who don’t have custody of their children. The preparation process before starting to edit this film was broken down into 4 sections:

  1. Gather all the footage

    Getting all the clips together is vital as it helps you find the videos you will need for the final timeline. I am grateful that when I got the hard drive from the cinematographer all the footage was organized into folders by date, the audio and video were also stored in separate folders. I cannot stress enough how important organizing for any project is VITAL!

  2. Identifying the Useful sections

    After you have located all of the footage for your edit you then have to spend a large portion of your time listening and taking notes, this way you can begin to get familiar with the footage. Even if you shot the footage yourself, getting reacquainted is equally important to organizing your footage, this way you know who said what when and where.

  3. Syncing the Audio

    You may or may not know but a camera be it a motion picture camera, iPhone camera, consumer video camera is not meant to be an audio device! As a result audio is often recorded separately and synced in post. For the synchronization I used final cut x audio syncing feature. You simply choose your audio, then choose you video, right click and from the menu choose synchronize clips.

    screengrab-2

    However keep in mind that your camera needs to have some audio — which is often called scratch audio — this audio is used and analyzed for the synchronization. For syncing to work well the key is getting clean audio, once both your camera’s audio is clean and the audio coming into your audio recorder the process is usually seamless.

  4. Organizing the clips

    Final cut X helps editors keep organized by placing all the elements for their films into a library file.

    Final-Cut-X-Library-File
    This is a great way to keep your entire film organized because from my past experience, you don’t want to have your files everywhere and on different drives. Scattering your footage makes backing up or moving your project from drive to drive very difficult. It also slows down the editing process because your elements are coming from different locations which of course put more work on the processor, hard drives and ultimately your system.

Unethical Practice

This documentary which is approximately 15mins long had a totally different post production process than that of Frustrated 2. One of the challenges was the that there were no dedicated cinematographers, it all had to be shot as we built the timeline. This process was challenging to me because I could not envision the final edit. Whenever I’m lost with my edit I stop and think: what is the purpose of this film and how best can I present that?

With Unethical Practice I identified that we need present the problem and lead up to the solution. In the end it really wasn’t just my brain storming that solved the problem but a close collaboration with the director & producer of the film. I will create a separate post going over in depth my Unethical Practice workflow and the overall message behind the film.

Stay tuned!

Tailored Portfolio layouts of 2016

Now that you’ve started your portfolio it’s time to share it with the world. One of the most daunting tasks for many photographers — and creatives alike — is choosing a place to display your work, after all this is your passion and how it’s presented is crucial. Before we jump into the various options, let me mention that finding a portfolio layout can take hours of searching. just to find the exact look. While you may enjoy the search, It is essential however that you eventually get your work out there. Sometimes free options are helpful when you have limited time and resources but when you set aside the time to search you should choose wisely.

WordPress & Themes

In my last article on portfolio platforms I mentioned the flexibility and efficiency of WordPress, well now we are going to dive into its options and capabilities. One of the key principles to remember is that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” basically keep it simple yet functional. One of my favorite features of WordPress is its ability to change the look and function of your website by using themes.. Think of  themes as phone cases or spring jackets, where you are able to change the colors & even function of what you had on before. When it comes to portfolio layouts these are a few of my favorite themes of 2016.

PIXELGRADE — PILE

I recently setup Pile to run my photography website C-WELL PICTURES. I choose Pile because it was UNIQUE yet Simple. Remember what I said about simplicity earlier? While there are many who’d say I need more options I’d say removing what’s unnecessary and keeping what’s necessary and what works is better than having excess. We see this a lot as photographers and artists — people who want everything thrown in when they’re paying for something — this mindset only cheapens the quality and takes the artist out of the equation. Pile does the opposite, it leaves in what’s needed and removes the fluff.

Here’s an example: When dealing with the headers on any given page

giphy

there are tons of options everything from video backgrounds, image backgrounds, text sizes, a slideshow and most importantly the position of your text.  Some of these options and more are available on other themes but to me one of the most essential option is where the hero text is placed. There are plugins like Visual Composer that gives you all the options in the world — when it comes to laying out your site — but with that plugin the developers skimp on simplicity and ease of use. As a result myself and many others don’t use themes that come bundled with Visual Composer.

Pile 2.0

While I was setting up Pile I realized there were a few things I wanted to change. Wanting to change a theme is common, as developers aren’t catering specifically to you, they might be catering to a particular market but your uniquely you, so don’t be surprised if you want to modify a few things. Within a few weeks, when I went back to my downloads area in Theme Forest, I noticed that Pile 2 was forth coming. The preview image looked interesting and after waiting about 2 months it was finally here. At first glance it looked pretty much the same minus the Hero area (top header area that displays the image for any given page).

When I looked a bit deeper and started to work with it I found there were a ton of features added such as:

  • Lazy loader an overlay animation that displays as your page loads
    (which can be turned off and on by the way).
  • Menu & logo areas now have more options
  • Bug fixes the page builder has been cleaned up and works better
  • WP forms & installs when setting up the theme and flows well with the Pile 2
  • Social Sharing has been added
  • Portfolio grid also received some upgrades

I am quite sure that Pixelgrade isn’t resting easy now that Pile 2 is here in fact the week of the release there was an update which addressed some of minor issues. Overall Pile is my goto theme because it has a proper balance of form + function. What would I change about Pile 2? Well here are few things:

  • I would have mobile options for the hero areas as the desktop layout dictates more of what the mobile can and cannot do.
  • More Options for video professionals (play button colors)
  • Layout templates (where I can save a layout and use it again)

ThemeBeans — Charmed Pro

Theme Beans to me sits as an hidden gem in the WordPress Theme community. While owner Rich Tabor isn’t the best developer out there his attention to detail is something very few in this community demonstrate. Charmed Pro is clean and uncluttered, It displays your work with speed and its overall experience is smooth. Charmed also incorporates video into your portfolio which is a great bonus.

charmed-tablet

Features that Like:

  • Speed and ease of use
  • Mobile version is spot on great responsive work doesn’t take away from the site’s presentation.
  • Floating Hire Me button so clients can book nice touch.
  • Clean and fluid light box
  • Lazy Loading of images as you scroll down 🙂

What I’d like to see:

  • Top menu option not just side
  • Color schemes
  • Customized blog (similar to the portfolio layout)
  • Inline Video where the user clicks on an image with a video icon and the video start to play in a lightbox similar to – Instrument’s video

Charmed isn’t a top menu portfolio theme and I get that, yet it’s so uncluttered you want to take it’s simplicity and speed to a different layout — this is what I was explaining when I said that themes aren’t catered to the individual but to a collective industry.

AVOC

Avoc is a theme that uses some of the similar functions of Pile yet it is totally different. Avoc displays its portfolios with a Wolf Parallax. This unique additions gives you a floating image and text that can move with the visitor as they sweep past your images with their mouse. Though I have Avoc last on my list of portfolio themes it’s far from being the least of these 3. This theme has the most options out of all the themes listed here. For instance Wolf parallaxes can be adjusted by percentage so an image can take up most of the screen while the text takes up a small portion & vice versa. Avoc also has hero options from Full height, to 80%, to 50% of the height of the window which means you have more control over how your hero images are displayed. Your pages are designed using a page builder which works through the use of columns and rows or if you’d like you can use a wolf parallax.

Avoc

Features I liked:

  • Page builder with good flexibility
  • Lots of options to choose from (buttons / spacers / galleries)
  • Lots of header options to choose
  • Wolf Parallax different but useful

What I’d like to see:

  • Ability to save page layouts to be used again
  • The ability to drag and drop elements from different rows on the same page
  • More mobile options where you can turn on/off items when on mobile devices

Choosing a theme, as most things in life boils down to your preference. It is important though, that we aren’t caught up in the sheer options and the aesthetics. A theme must on its own be able to get the job done. Once your can display your work and give users the ability to navigate your site then options and aesthetics should be considered.

What Should I Charge for a Wedding

Wedding pricing factors

Ever so often I’m asked: what should I charge for a wedding? It’s a question many photographers ask — experienced or not — Believe me I get it, I remember when I was asking the same question. knowing what to charge can be a difficult question. As you think about your work and time that will go into a said project. you wonder if what your charging is really what your worth. A few factors need to be considered before pricing your wedding packages.

333_1938-2

Your Time (production and post)

– How many hours of shooting are you doing?
– How many hours of editing?
– Are there are special techniques that you bring to the table?
– Does each project help cover your expenses (monthly or weekly)?
– If you booked only one project for the month would the income last?

Equipment

– Are you renting equipment is that included in your price?
– Just made a major purchase can your pricing cover that expense?
– What quality are you looking & does your pricing match that?

Value

– Is your style easily replicated?
– What makes your work different from others?
– What are you providing the client?
– Does what you provide add value to them?

Finding the right balance

If you charge $250 for a 1 hour photoshoot that includes prints,
what should a wedding cost that takes up a full day and a few weeks of editing cost?

IMG_3703-1

In 2016 Average price is for a wedding is $2500 but this depends on where you live. For example in California the average cost is – $3931 and in Salt lake City Utah it’s – $2215. These are of course average prices and can serve as a guide the real pricing is determined by you and the value you bring to the table.

Comparing Wedding Photography Prices
Courtesy of: SnapKnot

As far as my business pricing goes I use an hourly rate as my base so I know that no project should be below that price. My hourly rate is $80hr and my photo sessions start at $375 this includes editing. My wedding packages start at $2999 and include a Signature Album, prints and an online gallery. Overall I look at what I offer my clients — years of dedication, expertise, quality, story telling, a creative eye — and I price my services accordingly. It’s always good to evaluate your work you can even ask your clients, they’ll give you insights to things you wouldn’t normally see.

Bride-Groom PhotographerAs you evaluate you will begin to see where you can improve, this should also give you an idea of the quality of work you deliver and help you come up with your pricing. If you know you struggle with shot ideas then work on concepts in between projects. The fact that you are improving adds value to your work and drives up your cost. Your ultimately in charge of your pricing, since only you know your process and the story behind how you got to where you are today. So don’t be afraid to charge, because those who don’t know your worth will go away and those who do will stay.