Not too long ago I purchased a Panasonic GH5. This camera shoots 4k video with a 4:2:2 color space and it’s capable of shooting 10 bit. I am a Canon user and have been for many years, so I was hesitant to start using the GH5 for video production. I originally bought the camera to use on my gimbal. However, after viewing the footage from several shoots, I noticed how nice the image was. This got me thinking about incorporating it in all my video production.
It is a good thing to test out all your gear before you start making money from it. You really need to know the ins and outs of your gear, especially if you are getting paid. It is important to know how the camera reacts in different situations. By taking it through these test, you can be better aware of how the camera will perform in any given situation. I started shooting video of my kids around the house and outdoors shots but I really needed to take it out in a real-world situation. I needed to shoot a story with nothing but the GH5 to really understand how well it could work.
A few weeks went by after owning the camera and I read about a local business and how they were struggling to make ends meet during Fresno’s downtown Fulton Mall construction. Juan Carlos, owner of Parsley Garden Café has owned the business for seven years, and he was making good money until Fresno decided to reconstruct the Fulton Mall. During this time Juan’s customers had fight fences that closed them off from his restaurant, construction, and all the dust that comes along with it all. To be frank, the business was not doing as well as it had in the past.
After I read this article in the Fresno Bee, I decided to contact the owner. I wanted to do a story about him and his business. Many times, God whispers in my ear to do stories for people who are in need. Did I expect to get paid…no, but what I could do is use this opportunity to test out my new camera and give a local business a video they could use for promotion. I am a strong supporter of local business and fell the need to help them whenever I can.
I contacted Juan Carlos on a Thursday via Facebook. I explained to him that I read about him and his business and wanted to create a short video for him. The video would be for free, and hopefully it could help bring him business. He said he would like the video and appreciated my willingness to help him.
The GH5 is a micro 4/3rd camera, which means that the sensor is not as big as say a Canon 5D Mark lll. Smaller sensors do not perform well or as well as larger sensors in low light. This was going to be a true test. The kitchen of the restaurant has some light but it was not bright. I chose to shoot the project at 23.98 frames which allowed me 1/3 stop more than if I shot it at 29.97 frames. As I started shooting, I realized a flicker on my LCD screen. I had to change the sync of the shutter so that it would not flicker. The GH5 has the ability to change the sync so I was in good hands. The camera was accompanied with a Panasonic 12-35mm 2.8 lens. Because I am shooting on a micro 4/3rd camera that equates to a 24-70mm lens. You double the length of your lens. So, for instance if I was to put on a 24mm lens it would become a 48mm lens.
The small camera did great in such a small space. While I was getting my video footage (broll), I was thinking to myself that I would have had a heck of a time with my Canon C100 in this small space. The GH5 also has built in stabilization. The stabilization helped me out quite a bit. There were times when I held the camera over my head and the stabilization really helped. I was getting shots of the food being prepared, fries frying in the fryer, and customers paying for their food. I was focusing shooting video in two parts of the restaurant. The front of the restaurant where there was more light (natural sunlight) and the kitchen which had florescent lights. Going in between the two areas, I had to change my white balance which was a good test. I was getting all the broll I could since I hadn’t interviewed Juan Carlos yet. Usually I like to interview first and then shoot what I need to tell the story.
Juan Carlos and I decided to shoot the interview on a separate day. So, I arrived after hours to complete the shoot. I choose to bring two 5600k led lights to light the interview. There was some sun coming into the business so to match the color I chose my 5600k lights. One light was for the key and I used the other for a rim/kicker light. I asked Juan to turn off all the overhead lights except for those that lit the menu up on the wall. I set the camera to 800 iso and shot the interview at 3.5 aperture. The interview looked good, but what stood out to me is what Juan Carlos had to say during his interview. He spoke about his dream of owning his own restaurant, after working as a cook simultaneously at two different restaurants. He wanted something to call his own, and he eventually had the opportunity to buy Parsley Garden Café seven years ago. As I was conducting the interview I was thinking how well this story is going to be. Everything from the subject, to how Juan passionately told it. This is a man who receives help from his family at all times. His wife works the front of the house, while he and his two boys work in the kitchen. What makes this story so great is that it is a restaurant that represents dreams, family, and hard work. Juan Carlos is determined to make Parsley Garden Café a success, and I know he will come out on top.
While I edited this story together, I realized how well the camera shot the kitchen scenes. The colors were good, and I could punch in on the interview, which made it look like I shot the interview with two cameras. All in all, I was very glad I had this opportunity. On one hand I got the chance test out a new piece of gear, and on the other I made friends with Juan Carlos. The Fulton Mall is going to reopen in late October of 2017. I have no doubt that Parsley Garden Café will be a success.
I have been working in television/media for over 16 years. My experience includes news photojournalist, editor, and storyteller. It is my belief that you have a chance to better your skills each time you pick up the camera. I strive to be better than I was yesterday.