Philip Bloom – Shooting a Documentary with a FUJIFILM GFX100 Medium Format Camera

December 26th, 2019 Jump to Comment Section 113

Philip Bloom talks about working with the FUJIFILM GFX100 medium format camera. With this camera, he shot his documentary movie called Charmolipi on a greek island Skiathos.

Filming with FUJIFILM GFX100. Source: Philip Bloom

During this year’s Photo & Adventure trade show in Vienna, Austria, cinema5D team was in charge of the “Cine & Video stage” program at this show. We invited many interesting guests to talk about various topics. You can see the innitial post here. We decided to publish the most interesting topics again in a separate articles. You can await these to be published in the next weeks. This article is covering Philip Bloom’s presentation about shooting a documentary movie with a medium format camera – the FUJIFILM GFX100.

This content was originally streamed live from the Photo+Adventure – Film+Video Stage –  in November. We are re-publishing and highlighting some of the best content from the stage.

The Look of Medium Format

Philip first explained how he was always amazed by large sensor video shooting. He loves medium format and owns numerous analog medium format cameras. According to Philip, it is not only about the shallow depth of field. Medium format has a special look, a different aesthetics.

Charmolipi documentary movie. Image credit: Philip Bloom

In 2014, he bought his first digital medium format camera – Pentax 645Z. Later, the FUJIFILM GFX50S as it was a bit smaller. He traveled everywhere with these cameras and took many photos with them. He also, however, always had to take a second camera body for filming as the medium format cameras didn’t have good enough video features. The FUJIFILM GFX100 changed this.

According to Philip, from a documentary filmmaker point of view, a camera needs to have:

  • good lowlight performance
  • large sensor to get shallow DoF
  • dust- and rainproof body
  • slow motion capability
  • good dynamic range
  • good quality of internal video recording
  • good audio

FUJIFILM GFX100 has 4K video with uncropped sensor readout. It records internally 10-bit in H.265, which is vital for color grading. It has very good IBIS and decent lowlight image. GFX100 has a very fast sensor readout, so despite having a very large sensor, the rolling shutter effect of wobbly vertical lines is minimised. It can shoot a flat F-log image, but Eterna color profile is also very good, according to Philip. Autofocus of the GFX100 is pretty good, but there can be some issues every now and then.

FUJIFILM GFX100 camera body

Philip shot the whole documentary with two lenses only – the 45mm f/2.8 (full-frame equivalent: 35mm) and 110mm f/2 (full-frame equivalent: 85mm). He brought more lenses with him to the island, but he ended up not using them. When it comes to other equipment, he only worked with a tripod, but most of the clips are actually handheld.

Vital accessory for getting low shots was the viewfinder tilt adapter. According to Philip, that is one of the most essentiall accessories for the GFX100. Another great advantage of picking this camera was, that Philip could easily switch between photo and video mode and take very good photos. Good news is that he didn’t have any issues with the camera during the whole shoot. Only minor autofocus issues in some clips.

FUJIFILM GFX100 viewfinder tilt adapter.

Charmolipi – Documentary Shot with FUJIFILM GFX100 Medium Format Camera

The title of the almost 30 minutes long documentary is Charmolipi. It is a greek word and it means “feeling of joy and happiness at the same time”. Philip’s documentary is taking place on a very small greek island in Aegean sea called Skiathos.

Philip visited the island multiple times already. The special thing about the place, is that there is a charity who takes care of stray cats. When the charity got into financial trouble, Philip helped them and filmed couple of short documentaries in the past to raise awareness and money for the charity.

The original idea for this project was to shoot a short video (only at around 3 minutes). Only while shooting it, a story formed and this forced Philip to shoot more and make the final movie so much longer. He even stayed longer than planned to get the shots he needed.

Charmolipi documentary movie. Image credit: Philip Bloom

Philip decided to go for a video (exceptionally) without a narration. He just included captions and let the images themselves tell the story. The documentary can be watched on Philip’s Youtube and Vimeo channels. You can even download the original ProRes version (13.345 GB) of the video on Philip’s Vimeo account.

What do you think of Philip’s documentary? Have you shot video with the FUJIFILM GFX100? Let us know in the comments underneath the article.

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