GH3 Genesis in Travel Town

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Still from Genesis, shot on pre-production GH3, courtesy Panasonic.

(Click image to see the whole film on Vimeo.)

Today at the Photokina Exhibition in Berlin, Panasonic is launching a new camera, the GH3. Now BTWT is about trains not cameras, but hold on. We will get to trains in the end.

The GH3 is the successor to Panasonic’s GH2. The GH2 is a very special camera. It is a ‘micro 4/3’ camera with a smaller sensor than the more bulky  ‘full frame’ mid-range Canon SLRs. While not quite in the same league, it still takes great photographs. Its low light capabilities are pretty amazing. Those of us taking blurred murky photos in the last days of BR steam would have given our right eye for a camera that takes such sharp pictures inside a shed without having to lug a tripod around. (For an example of the GH2’s prowess at shed photography try the expanding the B&W photographs taken inside Leszno roundhouse.)

However, its not the GH2’s ability to take photographs that make it so special. Thanks to Vitaliy Kiselev, a Russian software engineer who has reverse engineered parts of the GH2’s operating system and a team of on-line helpers who have developed ‘patches’ to modify the way the camera codes video, the camera – in the hands of someone who really knows what he’s doing – can shoot video to a quality that matches professional video cameras costing 10 or even 20 times as much, and here no other stills camera – not even the top shelf DSLRs – can match it!

Now the GH3 is supposed to have consolidated into an official product many of the upgraded features that Vitaly and his team of hackers have given the GH2. “Supposed to” because as well as adding many impressive improvements to the GH2 spec, Panasonic appear to have taken a major step backwards by giving the GH3 a slightly smaller sensor than that used in the GH2.

To showcase the abilities of the GH3, Panasonic employed a team of professional film makers to make the demo short Genesis which is being premièred at Photokina. And Genesis brings us back neatly to trains.

While Genesis has lots of images of the sort that appeal to Alpha males: fast cars, smart phone, attractive heroine… it also has its heart-stopping feminine moments. And all of the latter have trains in the background! There’s a particularly dramatic piece of ‘guerilla video’ (shot without permission and with minimum gear) on a subway station and the final dénouement is shot at Travel Town, an amazing transport museum in Los Angles.

Sadly, while the emotional impact of trains and railways is understood in Western Europe, it is greatly underrated in Poland. Why else would local authorities be so keen to tear up their narrow gauge railways and lay cycle paths, or tear down their old roundhouses and build shopping malls? Told you we would get back to trains in the end!

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