Over the years, I've written many times about the best thing about the photographic industry. It's not about imaging but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Well, meet a great relatively new buddy, Daniel Cox. Although we had never met directly, I've shared a number of his posts here in Luminary Corner. Well, Daniel and his wife, Tanya were here a few months ago for Panasonic's Luminary meeting, this year held in Sarasota, and we had a chance to hang out a little.
Daniel isn't just passionate about wildlife and landscape photography, but the changing face of technology. He takes advantage of every new creative tool. In this special guest post, you're about to understand frame rates from a different perspective and without question see firsthand the benefits. He sent me several still frames from a couple of 4K videos, and three of them are included with this post.
Daniel has a pretty amazing blog, Natural Exposures. Regardless of your specialty technology keeps giving you new tools to expand your creative and help you capture incredible memories/moments. Daniel needs to be on your radar along with the members of the Panasonic Luminary team.
Timing is everything in the world of still pictures. Timing is that one moment that differentiates a good photo from an amazing photo. It’s the split second that can earn an image a Pulitzer Prize, or not. And it’s timing that has driven camera manufacturers to continually improve the frames per second a camera can shoot, so that one special image is plucked from the chaos of the continual stream of everyday reality.
For nearly forty years I’ve been searching for those elusive moments that say something special and to capture them is difficult. Not only do you have to know when and where they may happen but once that’s figured out, you have to push the camera's shutter button at just the right time to record them. Since my first days of shooting pictures, frame rates in cameras have been going up. My first camera shot 5 fps, the next model produced 6fps. Eventually my last traditional DSLR was pushing 9fps and 10fps if you shot it without auto focus. Every new professional model has increased their number of frames per second to help photographers capture THE image.
Enter Panasonic’s 4K Photo Mode. With very little fan fare, Panasonic has obliterated the frames per second technology with 4K Photo Mode that now allows us to capture an astonishing 30 frames per second. This last week I started using the 4K Photo Mode on my Lumix GX8 and one particular situation blew my eyes wide open to the benefits of this technology.
I was working in the Pantanal of Brazil photographing jaguars for my ongoing Lumix Diaries. We had found one of the jaguars many people fondly refer to as Mick Jaguar. He’s a very old cat, just like the real Mick and they are both amazing for their age. This cat, the one with spots, was on the hunt, prowling the banks of the river for his favorite prey, Cayman. We followed him for nearly two hours and at one point he crouched in the position of attack I could not see his target anywhere but I instinctively pressed the shutter button that started the 4K Photo Mode on my GX8.
Suddenly he sprang from the reeds that mostly concealed his position and the action was on. As he leapt from his crouch I followed his movement with the camera rolling. Interestingly, since 4K Photo Mode is actually a type of video capture, my brain was also in video capture mode.
When shooting video my movements are much slower, more fluid and when he bolted I instinctively began to slowly pan. That was a mistake. Since 4K Photo Mode allows you to capture still images from the video, I should have followed his action as if I were actually shooting stills without worrying about how it would look in video. Slowing my panning motions down for video capture I actually missed some of the action where his head moves out of the right side of the frame. I eventually catch up, but that split moment was lost and the auto focus misses for a few seconds due to the AF sensor being placed on the back of the cat. This particular situation also confirmed that the auto focus in 4K Photo Mode is exceptional. I’m not sure I can say it’s as good as it is in still photo mode but I’ve had several situations, other than this scene, that the AF locked on to subjects I would have never thought possible.
In the end old Mick missed his target but it wasn’t long before he had another opportunity and this next Cayman wasn’t so lucky. For his second attempt I shot the GX8 in normal 7fps Continues AF. Both series of of old Mick Jaguar hunting provided unique and exciting images. Pictures that help tell the story of one of the world's most elusive animals going about their daily routine in the wilds of the Pantanal of Brazil.