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How to shoot Video like an Amateur with the GH3
  • I shot the video below last year at the SCS Youth National Climbing Championships with the GH2, 25mm F1.4 lens, and 45mm F1.8 lens with the 2.6x 1080p teleconverter. I really couldn’t hold it still no matter what I did because it didn’t have image stabilization. I had the 14-140mm lens with me as well but the climbing gym was way too dark to use a small aperture lens.

    This year I specifically bought the GH3 and 35-100mm F2.8 to shoot the National Championships. I have to remain very mobile at the comp going from climb to climb so a tripod or even a monopod is not really practical. There are usually 5 or 6 rows of people in front of you so it is hard to shoot over them. I usually lift the camera over my head and use the flip-out screen to frame the shot.

    I shot the video below entirely hand held with the GH3 and 35-100mm F2.8. About half of the shots were at 100mm and I never had to use the ETC mode. I have a GoPro 3 Black that I leave running for wide angle shots at 4k and 15 FPS or 720p @ 120 FPS. However, the GoPro really isn’t in the Video Quality league that the GH3 is even at Ultra-HD resolutions.

    I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the results from a stabilization stand point this year. I had to stabilize a few of the 100mm shots in software but it is clearly better than last year’s results without the in-lens stabilization.

    There is also the fact that I had a stake in the game for some of the shots. My son and his teammates made it much further in the competition this year. Therefore, I was shaking like a leaf in those shots.

    My son’s final climb starts at 4:11 into the video. Even with the software stabilization it was obvious that I was shaking uncontrollably. Just check the two clips after that on the same climb. They are almost rock solid without any software IS at all. Those clips were taken almost an hour later after my heart rate had a chance to come back down out of the stratosphere.

    In the end my son jumped from last place to 3rd in the final round and made the US National Team for the first time. His teammate also won his 4th consecutive National title and will compete at Worlds next month.

    Let me know what you think about this video. I didn’t do any color grading at all. This is simply the Scenery color profile essentially straight out of the camera. I used AFF the entire time and I use the touch screen hand held for all of the focus pulls.

    I can’t believe how well some of the iPad focus pulls turned out.

    Anyone who says that m4/3s focus isn’t fast enough or accurate enough is simply just doing it wrong or they are basing that opinion off of the older cameras. It is the easiest thing to just drag the focus from object to object on the LCD screen. I never use the EVF either. I think the LCD screen is much easier to use.

    I also save stills from these videos directly in the cameras playback mode to upload them to facebook for instant sharing. Most people are shocked at how good the quality of the movie stills is. They are also surprised when I have uploaded pictures of their climber before the climber is even done climbing their route.

    I shoot the videos in stills mode. Most people assume that you have to use full manual controls or at least shutter priority mode for video to control the shutter speed. However, I use the flicker control setting to fix the shutter speed to 1/120 of a second for the 1080p @ 60 FPS video I shoot. This is also a good way to get around the fact that the GH3 only does 1/125 of a second shutter speed for stills. The flicker control is a true 1/120 of a second shutter duration.

    Overall I couldn’t be happier than I am with both the GH3 and the 35-100mm F2.8 lens. I use it in full auto mode for video so I can even hand the camera off to someone else if I need them to shoot some video.

    I never intend to sell my videos so I am not a Professional photographer. However, I do want the best quality. With the GH3 + 35-100mm I can get that. However, lately I have been recommending the FZ200 and LX7 to the other climbing parents and they are able to get very similar results for much less money.

    The days of needing $10,000 worth of gear to shoot high quality footage are over. The GH3 is better than anything else I have ever shot with for video and it holds its own for stills against the APS-C cameras.

  • 7 Replies sorted by
  • Nice work! I'm really impressed with your results considering it's all hand held at longer focal lengths. Especially impressive is the fact that you're holding the cam overhead. That kind of stuff usually screams shakefest! And congrats to your kid. Love to see his stoke. Keep 'em coming.

  • Well done to you and your son @mpgxsvcd

  • Nice shooting. Congrats to your son!

  • Thanks for the congrats guys. My son is very proud of his accomplishment but he went right back to training for the next season the day we got back. If anyone is interested in climbing and seeing more of it they will probably be broadcasting the Youth World Championships at the link below from August 15-19.

    Their broadcast is one of the best internet broadcasts I have ever seen from a low budget group. They stream four separate feeds(Each route) into the main feed split into four sections. They also have live commentary and interaction with the announcers via an instant messenger side bar.

    It is really cool to be able to ask the sportscasters questions about the sport live while the broadcast is happening. It is really impressive that they can put together a live HD stream like that on a shoestring budget.

    Here is another parents video shot at the youth nationals. This is a 720p @ 60 FPS sourced video with a Canon 7D and the 70-200mm F2.8 lens. I like the stabilization of her video much better. She used a monopod and it really paid off. However, she was shooting the video for the climbing organization so she had a lot more access than I did.

  • Do you use any kind of rig around the GH3? The shaking tends to come from the small muscles in the hands and forearms. All muscles "vibrate" as they are contracted, but the smaller muscles meant for faster movement do this a lot more than the large muscles meant for lifting things. That's why using a larger rig around the camera and therefor using your larger muscles to hold the weight greatly reduces the minor shaking that even the in-camera stabilization can't take care of. You don't need a shoulder rig, just something with some larger grips that you can hold away from your body a little more.

    BTW, which stone summit were you at? The one on I-85 inside the perimeter in Atlanta? I live like 5 minutes away from there. If I had known you'd be around, I would have dropped by.

  • I am going to experiment with better methods for hand held shooting. I am going to try a monopod first but I like your idea about bigger grips as well.

    Right now there is only one Stone Summit gym. That is the one off of I-85. Unfortunately, climbing is not ever advertised for so pretty much no one in Atlanta except for the competitors new it was there.

    There were rumors of a new Stone Summit climbing gym being opened in Kennesaw. I heard that it was going to be bigger than their current one which is already the biggest and best roped gym in the country.

  • Ah, I'm thinking of Atlanta Rocks. It's been many years since I climbed anywhere.