I took my new GX7 along to a blues gig in south London just for the fun of using it. The camera is such an effective tool, small enough to take everywhere and customizable to the extent that I can just put it to my eye and know what it will do.
I’ve never been happy with shooting video and sighting through a rear camera monitor. My hand are too shaky and the stance required is too uncomfortable for holding for long.
Here’s a video I shot of a brilliant young blues player from New Mexico, Ryan McGarvey. The lighting at the Boom Boom Club is awful for photographic purposes. Multi-coloured and low level so that you need 3200 ISO for stills.
The noise levels on the GX7 are low enough that at 3200 I don’t feel the need for using noise reduction at all. I never minded a bit of grain on my film shots of The Who, Bob Dylan, AC/DC et all and I prefer a bit of digital noise to compromised detail.
Here is a still of Ryan playing. The first version is a straight jpg from the RAW file, the second with mild tweaks to the contrast and colour temperature in Lightroom. There’s no way for auto-colour temperature to deal with lighting like this because the lighting is meant to be red and ‘correcting’ the red would give a bizarre result. The camera just does its best. That’s the beauty of the RAW file, whatever was on the sensor is in your image file so the colour temperature is a matter for your taste, there being no objective ‘correct’.
For me the out of the camera appearance is unpleasant, too flatly red even though it is a reasonable reproduction of what my eye saw. So I try to make the colours a little more acceptable without losing the flavour of them or the atmosphere of the gig.
But what really knocked me out was the stabilization of the 14-140mm zoom in movie mode. The image through the GX7 was rock steady even though I was hand holding the camera. Incidentally, the GX7/ 14-140 is a good size and weight for movies. The older 14-140 f4.-f5.8 was quite a weight to be held up and steady for three or more minutes. This new, lighter one, is perfect, not too light, not too heavy. And the little bit of extra speed all helps under lighting circumstances like this.
This is shot at my customary 1280xx720 25p at 10mbps quality with shutter priority at 1/ 50th second. It seems to work well for YouTube and doesn’t look too dusty on my TV, either. A rather silly omission on the camera is an external mic input. This is recorded through the built in mic – it’s very good but can never match a ‘proper’ mic.
So, ladies and gentlemen, give it up for RYYYYaan McGarvey playing Texas Special with Justin McLaughlin on bass and Logan Miles Nix on drums.
And I thought I could play guitar 🙁