In today's episode I talk about the Lumix S9 event controversy, Fujifilm's new 50mm F/5.6 "Wildlife" lens as well as Profit's new L1600D Mono-LED and I finally got my hands on a Fujifilm X100VI.

You can find the show notes here.

Show Notes

Greetings everybody, you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is Episode 405 for Thursday May 30th, 2024. In today’s episode the Lumix S9, Fujifilm’s new GF 500mm F/5.6, I finally got my hands on a new Fujifilm X100VI and Profoto’s new Mono-LED L1600D.

Lumix S9

Panasonic is facing significant criticism concerning its recent Lumix S9 event in Osaka, Japan. The company hosted a live stream today and addressed the controversy, at least in general terms.

The situation kicked off when YouTube tech reviewer Gerald Undone, who has reviewed numerous Panasonic Lumix cameras over the years, published a video alleging that Panasonic did not invite him to Osaka in part because of criticisms he has levied against Panasonic’s cameras.

Gerald Undone claims that in response to his calling the original S5 “strange,” he was not invited to Japan for the S5II event. Within that context of alleged punishment for criticism, he claims that the Lumix team called him ahead of the S9 event in Japan and told him he wouldn’t be invited because Panasonic didn’t think he would like the camera and that he wasn’t the target audience.

It’s a serious allegation because the idea that an established technology reviewer could be excluded from testing a camera because of prior critical reviews or because a company didn’t think they were the right audience is of concern not just to any particular YouTube channel but to all members of the media, be they influencers, reviewers, or journalists. Gerald Undone’s video has struck a nerve with many online, racking up nearly 150,000 views and almost 2,600 comments, many of which are slight variations of the sentiment that many reviewers cannot be trusted.

In its live stream on the Lumix USA YouTube channel this afternoon, Panasonic’s Sean Robinson addressed the ongoing controversy. While Robinson was relatively vague and didn’t specifically say he was referring to Gerald Undone, there’s little doubt who he was talking about when referring to the “recent commentary that’s been on YouTube.”

Robinson says he was “personally tasked with the responsibility to extend invitations to all the creators, the YouTube channels, the reviewers that were part of North America,” which includes Gerald Undone.

“I just want to say apparently my invite wasn’t really clearly received by everyone that I spoke to,” Robinson says in about as strong of a rebuttal as can be expected. “In general, across the board, our brand has always been looking for honest, non-biased feedback on the products.”

“I think that’s kind of what you see here with Lumix Live. This is how we evolve. It’s better to serve the actual community and growing and just make everything better as we move forward. The individuals that all attended the S9 event have worked incredibly hard on their own channels to build trust, to build a reputation among their followers… And that’s the exact reason why we extend invitations out to those people.”

Robinson describes events like the recent S9 launch event in Osaka as “celebrations of the thousands and thousands of hours that go into product development,” and says that Panasonic is “always excited to see that first reaction from photographers, videographers, YouTubers, creators in general, and to get their feedback, whether that’s positive or negative. It’s the biggest thing that we value in working with everybody, in inviting people, in talking to everybody.”

Chris Niccolls and Jordan Drake were at the Panasonic Lumix event in Osaka, so Gerald Undone’s statements concerning the ability for people to be objective while at a company-hosted event are of particular interest to PetaPixel‘s staff. Accordingly, Gerald Undone’s video is the primary topic of discussion in this week’s PetaPixel Podcast, which was recorded earlier today and will be published tomorrow.

Between Gerald Undone’s video, which paints Panasonic in a bad light and calls for a fundamental change to how camera reviews are done in general, and Panasonic using stock photos in its Japanese S9 marketing, the company is certainly having a tough time.

Fujifilm’s GF 500mm F/5.6 Wildlife Lens?

“Medium Format cameras can’t shoot sports, action, and wildlife,” they said. Well, maybe now they can. Fujifilm worked very hard to elevate its GFX line to be the most versatile medium format cameras around. First, it made the larger sensor affordable to most. Second, Fujifilm made them decent at video. Now, It has made them focus and shoot fairly rapidly. Everything is now in line to make them succeed beyond the traditional place for medium format and that is why Fujifilm released the 500mm f/5.6.

Providing a full-frame equivalent focal length of roughly 400mm, the new GF 500mm gives a fair amount of light and the reach needed to capture some wildlife and most sports. With the addition of the TC 1.4X TCON, the 500mm can go even farther with an equivalent 550mm reach.

I should mention that the unit we used for evaluation is technically a pre-production model but Fujifilm assured us we could thoroughly test it out for a final review. About the only thing we couldn’t check was flare because of our cloudy shooting day but we did the rest. I honestly don’t expect flare to be an issue on this lens as long telephotos always have effective hoods and Fujifilm always has good lens coatings.

At only 48.5 ounces (1,375 grams), I was surprised by how easy the 500mm was to carry around. Granted, I coupled it with the new GFX 100S II but the overall design is quite manageable. There are 95mm diameter filter threads on the front of the lens protected by a generous hood. The zoom ring turns tightly and with good resistance as does the manual focus ring.

The usual customizable buttons surround the housing, and there is the standard assortment of switches required to control a telephoto lens. You can set focus, OIS controls, focus limiter, and a preset distance to switch to. The aperture ring also works well, although I would have preferred more resistance in the click stops. On many occasions I found the aperture slipping to a tighter setting when I didn’t expect it to.

Otherwise, the GF 500mm has fast linear motors and they drive the lens quickly enough for capturing animals at different distances. Tracking performance was also quite good and focus accuracy was usually right on the eye of people and animals. The lens is also fully weather-sealed and this was fortuitous because we got hit with some rain on our day out.

A long telephoto like this 500mm will provide shallow depth-of-field pics and ideally should render a smooth and soft-looking background. The Fujinon 500mm has a bit of a cat’s eye effect at f/5.6 and nice round bokeh stopped down. There is no soap bubble or onion ring look to the highlights and this all results in some very smooth-looking bokeh. I loved the transitions as the lens fell out of focus and busy backgrounds became dreamy and non-distracting.

This lens is ridiculously sharp with ideal performance wide open at f/5.6. I saw no real improvement going to f/11 and the corners were equally good. Also, the lens is sharp in the corners when it is focused in the center of an image and overall this is a lens that can shoot at f/5.6 all day with no need to lose more light. An aperture of f/5.6 isn’t exactly super bright, so I’m happy that the lens does its best work at the widest aperture.

I did test close-up shooting on some butterflies fluttering about and dealing with the 2.75 meter minimum focusing distance was a little challenging. Macro capability is pretty average at about 1:5 life-size reproduction. I won’t be filling the frame with a butterfly but I do have tons of megapixels to crop into for the occasional close-up.

I didn’t expect to see any LoCA with this lens and this proved to be true. There is no color cast in the foreground and background areas of the images, so need to worry about correcting for this later. Everything about this lens optically was easy to work with and delivered excellent performance.

Fujifilm has made an excellent lens but even more importantly they have taken the first step into another arena of photography that medium format doesn’t normally compete in. After using the GFX 100S II and 500mm lens, I still feel that a more compact and faster shooting full-frame camera system is a better sports and wildlife package. The GFX system is still hampered by somewhat slower autofocus and slower burst rates than its smaller-sensor contemporaries.

However, what Fujifilm has done is open up the versatility of the GFX system even further. If I was invested in the system and wanted to tackle the occasional wildlife shot or play with a highly compressed super telephoto look to my compositions, I can now do that with a lens that shows off the image quality potential of the GFX system. Perhaps one day soon, GFX will be able to handle anything we can think to throw at it.

There is nothing like this lens for the GFX system that autofocuses and reaches out this far. The GF 250mm was the longest lens before the 500mm and doesn’t come close to its reach.

Yes. If you have the GFX and want to go use it for animals, wildlife, and more with a longer focal length, the 500mm is the obvious choice.

Profoto’s Mono-LED L1600D

A month after promising lights and modifiers designed for video, Profoto has already delivered in the form of the Profoto L1600D Mono-LED.

“Profoto enters the cinema market with uncompromising speed of use and limitless creativity,” Profoto promises. “With its unique state-of-the-art technology, [the L1600D] offers the world’s DOPs and Gaffers speed of use without limiting their craftsmanship and artistry.”

The L1600D is a relatively compact all-in-one lighting unit that doesn’t require a ballast. At the heart of the new light is Profoto’s patent-pending water-cooling system, HydroCTech. In addition to the liquid cooling system, the light includes a pair of silent 140-millimeter fans.

The light doesn’t require a separate floor unit, and Profoto says it doesn’t incorporate heavy equipment for people to schlep. That said, while touted as a lightweight video light, photographers may be stunned by the L1600D’s 11.7 kilograms (25.8 pounds) weight.

The L1600D has an IP54 rating, protecting it against dust and water splashes. If a bit of water gets on the light, it should be fine and protected from ingress, but it should not be exposed to rain without additional protection.

“We have worked hard refining our technology to ensure we introduce not only the best, but something unique that truly delivers customer value. The L1600D is a compact, all-in-one-unit without a ballast. It brings an unparalleled power-to-size ratio. It is a new product category that we call Mono-LED,” says Anders Hedebark, CEO.

Regarding power efficiency, Profoto says that the new L1600D uses 97% of its electric input to create light output, which is “30% more efficient compared to other solutions with ballast and head,” says Profoto’s Product Manager, Anton Falk. It’s a 1,600-watt light, hence its model name.

The light’s color temperature is 5,700K and promises a 97 TLCI/CRI. Profoto also notes that the L1600D offers “the purest of light.” The company says the light is flicker-free at any frame rate.

In terms of output, the L1600D delivers 3,850 lux at five meters (16.4 feet) when using the built-in wide reflector, which has a 60-degree beam. When using the Boost Reflector (12-degree beam), the output maxes out at 49,000 lux at the same distance. Of course, the light is compatible with Profoto light modifiers and the company’s wireless Air standard.

“The L1600D is for the uncompromising pros who appreciate and understand the power of shaping light to achieve their cinematic visions,” Profoto says.

The Profoto L1600D will be unveiled at CineGear in Burbank, California on June 7th. So far, the company has not offered details concerning pricing or availability.

Fujifilm X100VI

This past week I was lucky enough to finally get my hands on the new Fujifilm X100VI thanks to Daniel at Fujifilm North America. I will be doing a few videos on this new camera and how it compares to my Fujifilm X100V and the first video will be out this Sunday so make sure you Subscribe to my Youtube Channel so you don’t miss any of that content.

I am planning to also do a Street Photography video with this new camera as well as shooting the June 8th, 2024 Cars and Coffee car show here in Roxboro. I have only had time to make a few test shots so far, but I am impressed with the quality of the images this new camera makes.

The new Fujifilm X100VI has the same 40.2MP sensor and X-Processor 5 and IBIS as my new Fujifilm X-T5 so they really upped their game with this next generation of the X100 line. I had wondered for a while now how they would improve on the nearly flawless X100V that I already own and love so much for Street and Travel Photography.

I am also really impressed that Fujifilm didn’t need to make a new generation of the fixed 23mm F/2 lens from the X100V as Fujifilm states that the lens was already capable of resolving the full 40.2MP sensor of the X100VI. This of course lets you know that Fujifilm must have had this new sensor in the planning stages for quite some time.

Additionally I really appreciate that Fujifilm put a stop to the scalpers using bots to try and buy up all of the 1,934 Limited Edition X100VIs with the old 1934 Fujifilm logo. People were trying to buy them up so they could resell them on eBay for probably $5-$6,000. Fujifilm decided instead to make a limited number of them available to each country and only via a lottery, where you had to go to a special link and sign up for the lottery and if chosen they only gave you 48 hours to complete the purchase.

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