WORDS TERRY HOPE / IMAGES ADAM PARKER. All images open in a lightbox.  ABOVE: 70-200mm at 97mm, 1/50sec at f/4 Panasonic Lumix S1R

Given the opportunity to work with the Panasonic S1R Adam Parker negotiated access to an historic London location that served as the perfect backdrop to an atmospheric fashion shoot.

Considering that his two most favoured subjects are people and architecture, it was perhaps inevitable that London-based professional photographer Adam Parker should choose to use the time he had with the Panasonic S1R to set up a shoot that combined both.

He approached the trust that owns The Brunel Museum, located in the old engine house next to Brunel’s iconic Thames Tunnel in Rotherhithe and this gave him access to a gloriously atmospheric vintage building, steeped in history. This then became the perfect setting for a fashion and beauty shoot that would benefit from the lofty and inspirational surroundings and a chance to shoot some pure interiors.

The museum is housed in a fascinating space, which was first opened in early Victorian times as an entrance hall from where people could begin  their walk under the Thames

through Brunel’s tunnel. Now open again for the first time in 150 years the space is still not fully restored so there was plenty of bare brickwork and period features for Adam to work with. “The main challenges we faced were the coldness and lack of light,” says Adam “I was worried about overloading the electricity supply so I decided against using continuous lights.”

Instead he opted for flash, working with his elderly but much loved Bowens Esprit 1500W units – 20 years old and still going strong – in tandem with two much newer Bowens XMS 500S’ and a pair of Godox AD 360 battery operated heads. “I arrived at 10.30am to set everything up for a 2pm start,” says Adam. “This gave plenty of time to get a feel for the location and to work out the lighting. We solved the coldness issue by hiring a space in the wonderful Norwegian Church nearby and we used this as our base for hair and make-up.”

ABOVE: 50mm, 1/40sec at f/3.5 The distressed nature of the as-yet unrestored surroundings of the engine house contrasted strikingly with the model, and the S1R was able to handle the contrast levels beautifully.

Mini Bio

Established as a professional photographer in London for 20 years, Adam Parker’s clients are from sectors as diverse as hospitality, architecture, design, advertising, editorial and fashion. Throughout his career he’s had the opportunity to work in 32 countries, including China, Russia, The Gulf States, The Americas and all over Europe, meeting a wealth of inspiring people along the way.

Working with Mirrorless

Outwardly the Panasonic S1R looks very similar to its sibling, the S1, but it comes with a different feature set aimed at an audience, such as architectural, fashion and commercial photographers, who require optimum resolution. Inside there’s a 47.3MP full frame CMOS sensor – compared to the 24MP sensor found in the S1 – that can deliver images that are packed full of quality and capable of huge enlargements and postproduction cropping if required. The model comes with all the advantages you would expect from a mirrorless camera, including the ability to see the instant you’re photographing and instant playback of images in the viewfinder. “Aside from the Hasselblad X1D, I’m fairly new to working with a mirrorless system,” says Adam, “and it felt quite different initially.

There was a bit of a learning curve, although I warmed to the camera straight away – it felt well-made and solid in the hands. I also liked the fact that so many of the controls could be found on the camera body so there was no need to start learning where things were in the menu, which made things more intuitive.

I worked by looking through EVF viewfinder rather than by using the LCD on the back of the camera and the instant review function was switched on so that I could see instantly what I had taken. For me that was different and took a little bit of getting used to, but actually it was a really useful function and it could have been disabled had I wanted.

The EVF itself is clear and gave a view of what was going on, even though it was quite a dark environment. After a while you completely forgot that you were looking at an electronic interpretation. I could definitely see myself getting used to it if I were to shoot mirrorless on a regular basis.”

The S-System loan scheme enables professionals to borrow lenses alongside an S-System body, and Adam had with him the 50mm f/1.4, the 70-200mm f/2.8 and the 24-105mm f/4, working primarily with the 50mm on this shoot since this suited the requirements so well. It was also an optic that he warmed to immediately, given its brightness and the quality of the results it was delivering.

However, there was a twist on this particular shoot since Adam, in common with so many other photographers shooting architecture, is a regular user of tilt and shift lenses, since these bespoke optics can offer so many advantages in terms of composition and creative focus. Crucially they enable verticals to be straightened out in-camera and focus to be controlled within a diagonal frame, and they are valuable and indispensable optics to have on a shoot.

ABOVE: 70-200mm at 111mm. 1/125sec at f/4 The sombre and moody setting of the museum served as an excellent darkened backdrop to Adam’s fashion shots.

Above: Adam worked with two models on the shoot, who were able to change and have hair and M/U done in the warm environment of a nearby Norwegian church.

Team: Stylist: Savannah Barthorpe / Make-up: Jonas Oliver / Hair: Lalah Creative / Assistants: (photo) Kathrin Werner (make-up) Bethany Rodriguez. Special thanks to designers Nico Didonna / Nadia Minkoff and Antidote London Latex. Models: Thais Pagliuso @ First + Miki @ Profile

For Adam it was imperative that he could marry the S1R with his four T&S lenses, and so a Sigma MC21 EF adaptor was included in the loan so that these could be fitted. “For a conventional lens I was confident that there wouldn’t be too many issues using the adaptor,” says Adam, “but I was concerned that with these specialist optics there could be fall-off and sharpness issues since the adaptor does move the lens slightly further away from the camera body. In the event however they worked well and there was entirely acceptable fall off in the corners. For me this was a huge plus point since I couldn’t do my job without them.”

 Handling the conditions

Having to work in an atmospheric but subdued environment presented a few extra challenges, primarily the fact that the sheer size of the location was swallowing up flashlight and making it necessary to work at a higher ISO than Adam was usually comfortable with. “I don’t usually like to go above ISO 200,” he says, “but here I went one stop further to ISO 400 to compensate for the conditions. In fact I needn’t have worried since the results were very impressive and there was no notable loss of quality. I also shot a few extra images at ISO 2000 just to see what I would get and even then the results were pretty good, with very little noise when processed correctly.

With the AF I moved from eye detection to crosshair focus just to make sure that I achieved pin sharp images even in the darkened conditions and that setting worked really well. The zoomed manual focus also worked well with my T/S lenses. I was impressed with the latitude the S1R delivered. You obviously need to light a scene correctly to keep contrast levels to a minimum but even so it was pretty extreme in this situation. The camera handled this situation better than previous DSLRs I’ve used. There was good shadow detail to pull out where needed and a decent level of information retained in the highlights – overall it was an impressive performance.”

Having had the opportunity to try the S1R out in both an architectural and a fashion and beauty scenario, Adam’s verdict on the camera was emphatic. “My first experiences with the camera were very positive,” he says, “The ultimate question, is would I be prepared to go out and buy one? The answer is that, following this experience, I would definitely consider it very carefully. The S1R really stood up admirably to everything I threw at it.” 

More information:

www.adamparker.uk  www.adamparker.co.uk  www.cityportraits.london

Try it Yourself!

Panasonic is offering professional photographers and videographers the opportunity to try out the S-Series cameras and lenses for themselves for up to a two-week period free of charge, so perfect to use on a professional job or a personal project.

The LUMIX S1 and S1R will be available to loan on the scheme, as well as a choice of S Series lenses: 24-105mm standard zoom lens, 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens or 50mm fixed focal length lens. LUMIX S1 samples will contain the new SFU2 firmware programme, unlocking the full video capabilities of the camera for testing. The SIGMA MC21 converter will also be available as part of the scheme.

To sign up for a loan, visit  here. Terms and conditions apply.

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