Rocking in the studio!
What happens if I get the chance to test and review the Panasonic Lumix G5 plus the Leica 25mm F1.4 and the 45mm F2.8 Leica lenses kindly provided by Panasonic Lumix Germany? I go wild!
I don’t like boring portraits, I am always in for fresh, creative new ideas and I wanted to test the Panasonic Lumix G5 on something real and cool! I just love a challenge!
So what happens if you get Jürgern Hergert to come to your studio with some of his darlings? So who is Jürgen I hear you say? Jürgen holds the world record twice for living with highly poisonous snakes in a single room. The last record was for 100 days.
He lived in Africa for about 20 years and most of the time he spent there was with local tribes. He also runs a snake farm where approximately 30% of the world’s snake venom is created to save lives in the form of anti-venom. The snake farm isn’t a place I would want to spend over night as Jürgen has 58 different kinds, 48 of which are highly venomous – and now I have him and his snakes in my studio. What’s that I hear you say, you don’t like snakes? No worries a tarantula and some lizards were also brought along for the photo shoot.
Working with wild animals
Have you ever worked with animals? For most people pets like dogs or even horses are the closest animals to a wildlife experience you can get. But these are domestically trained animals and I can’t really expect the snakes or a big hairy spider to co-operate like a dog! You have to bring along some patience and you really have to get a feeling for the animals before you pick up a camera. You have to learn the animals behaviour before thrusting them into a studio environment. The last thing you want from the animal is a throbbing bite.
That is why you really really need an experienced animal trainer! This is where Jürgen excelled as I didn’t have to worry too much about wild animals running (or crawling) around my studio. With Jürgen around I was able to focus on the shoot!
If you ever want to photograph wild animals in a studio environment its essential to meet beforehand with the trainer. When choosing a trainer to work with ensure he or she takes good care for the animals. Make sure the trainer knows the animals and their individual characters! Plan beforehand and to find out if there is any special preparations you will need. In this case, I needed to heat up the studio to about 24° celsius to keep the animals alive and comfortable as it was snowing outside. One of the things Jürgen did to keep the snakes warm was to include hot water bottles in the transportion units. This ensured everything was ready to go when the animals arrived causing them minimal stress and also time is money!
I said something about shooting portraits, right? Yeah, so how about those snakes, spiders and other scary creatures of the night…I was about to embark on the hardest challenge of the shoot, introducing the animals to the young beautiful models. This was certainly going to be interesting. Combining 10-11 year old girls with spiders, snakes and lizards for a photo shoot was one of those things I had- only heard about never work with children or animals. As I said before I’m up for a challenge!
Combine 10-11 year old models with wild animals and you’re on for an interesting shoot!
So, did I succeed on my challenge? Did the Panasonic Lumix G5 live up to the test? Judge for yourself! (Click images to view large!)
The Lumix G5 in the studio – How did it stack up for quality?
If you do a shoot like this you really have to be able to rely on your camera. The Panasonic Lumix G5 performed flawlessly! I could fully concentrate on directing my models and getting the shots I had in mind. The camera feels like similar to the Panasonic Lumix GX1. The controls, 3.0 LCD touchscreen were familiar and easy to navigate. Once I had used the camera it felt like second second nature.
I actually had shot previously with the Panasonic Lumix GX1 which was similar in features and quality. Have a read of the full review here.
One big difference between the Lumix G5 and the Panasonic Lumix GX1 was the electronic viewfinder. The G5 included a built in viewfinder while the GX1 came without it. The other interesting difference I found was when the external viewfinder was mounted on the GX1 you couldn’t use the camera’s hot shoe. Being a studio based photographer I did find this a little bit frustrating as I couldn’t sync my studio lights with the camera. Based on this fact the full feature set of the Panasonic G5 really stood out.
The Panasonic Lumix G5 electronic viewfinder boosts 1,440,000 dots. I could easily see each pose and facial expression in good high detail. The camera’s auto focus system was also a pleasure to deal with as it was very fast and reliable. Using the camera’s auto focus I was able to capture any small moment the animals made as the focus was fast and reliable! Have another look at the images above and you can see what I’m talking about. What surprised me most about the camera was the incredible face detection. The models loved it! This was a feature I never turned off – it was so much fun! I just wish they had face detection for snakes. At least with a snake face detection feature would let you know if there was one lurking in the bushes!
The Leica lenses are just great for studio work. The equivalent of 50mm and 90mm (full frame) fit my shooting style perfectly. The lenses are tack sharp and I can’t find any chromatic aberrations or other any other flaws! Awesome!
To sum up the images I took had a 100% hit rate. The model’s eyes were always crisp and sharp. I didn’t have any issue with the image quality on this camera as it was exactly like the Lumix GX1, superb!
If you want a powerful camera to travel with, that is really compact, certainly go for the Panasonic Lumix GX1. If you know that you want an electronic viewfinder the Panasonic Lumix G5 is the camera for you.