Olympus Does 4K

These are two pieces I shot earlier in the year while working in Dallas shooting a USA series Queen of the South.

I wanted to try out the new Olympus EM1 Mark II video capabilities and by coincidence, I’d also just gotten a full set of the brand new APO primes by SLR Magic.

With the introduction of the Olympus EM 1 Mark II Olympus upped their video game greatly with their new top-of-the-line pro micro four thirds camera body.  As well as being a wonderful top flight stills camera Olympus have been working hard to up their video shooting credentials, introducing for the first time, 4K and UHD shooting options, as well higher data rates for their video shooting.

With that in mind and the new APO Primes from SLR Magic, I wanted to shoot something handheld and minimal in order to try out the improved IBIS or In Body Image Stabilizing.

One of the main reasons I like shooting Olympus so much in this platform is that their stabiliser is really world class.  And the best thing is that because it’s built into the body itself, any lens you mount on their can be turned into a stabilised lens.  Any vintage lens, and cinema lens I happen to adapt.  Or the wonderful new APO primes from SLR Magic.

Currently available as a 25mm, 50mm and 85mm T2 prime set, these lenses are easily adapted to MFT by SLR Magic’s own MFT adaptor.  They can also be adapted readily to EF or PL.  They’re actually really well made, very precise and optically are top notch from what I’ve seen so far.

Shot in a great carpark location in downtown Dallas with Hula expert Roxanna and master parkour fire-breather Jenin Gonzalez.  Most of this is shot at ISO 200 for daylight and ISO 800 for dusk and evening using the flat video profile.  Many of the wider day scenes are shot with the Olympus 7-14 Pro Zoom, but some selected daylight close ups and dusk and evening shots are mostly SLR Magic APO primes.

Anything realtime is shot 4K, anything slow motion is 1920.

Fire is one of the most difficult things to shoot.  The brightness of the flame itself is always an incredibly difficult test of dynamic range for any camera.  I think considering the EM1 Mark II is only recording 8 bit video internally, it does a great job in this very brutal dynamic range test.

I tried very hard to split the exposure and tried to protect the highlights when shooting Jenin,  hoping I could lift the shadows later.  A few times Jenin’s fireballs did catch me by surprise, but I think I found the best exposure compromise I could.

Roxanna’s LED hoop was also a challenge as super saturated LED colour is always problematic for almost any camera.

I do wish that Olympus would make the leap to 10 bit video, it would help a lot with dealing with high contrast and high dynamic range images like this. But considering this is an incredibly difficult subject to shoot, I’m really impressed with the pictures I was able to grade in available light.

I have mastered these as a UHD / 4K files.  You can download your own un-graded versions here if you’re up to the 32Gb ProRes files, or you can watch the 4K version on vimeo here or here. 

Huge extra special thanks to Jessica Clarke-Nash and Kyle Novak for their help in the shooting and editing of this piece.




About johnbrawley

Director Of Photography striving to create compelling images
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8 Responses to Olympus Does 4K

  1. Ron Coker. says:

    Hula Life had my undivided attention!

  2. Eric says:

    Yep, that fireball at 1:35 seems blown-out, along with Jenin’s face.
    Looking forward for the next Olympus camera (with 10 bit video).

  3. Vlad Box says:

    I am a big fan of Olympus and as usual Looks great, I am glad you tested it. What is your assessment of the (video camera) performance?

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  7. Dan says:

    Great article as always, John!
    I would like your permission to edit the hula dance and fire breathing footage together into a new clip and post on my youtube.

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