In a recent conversation with Chase Reynolds over at LensRentals, we couldn’t wait to talk about all the new “hot gear”. They see quite a bit of inventory come and go from their warehouse so it’s always interesting to hear about the different products that are being moved on a daily basis.  The two products he chose? The Sigma 50mm 1.4 and the Panasonic GH4.

Listen to the conversation here.  (Starting around 17:15)

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Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art


The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM A1 is a professional-caliber, fast-aperture prime lens. When this was tested next to the Canon 50mm 1.2 and the Zeiss 55mm, it was very competitive in quality.  The beautiful thing about renting is that you can try all of these lenses for a fraction of the cost.  But if you were wanting to buy one of these lenses, the Sigma is a much cheaper option for a fraction of what the Zeiss 55mm would cost.  For this reason alone, my hat goes off to Sigma.

Key features include:

  • Fast f/1.4 Aperture Normal Range. The combination of normal focal range and fast aperture makes it ideal for portraiture where subject-background isolation is needed. This also makes it a perfect choice for shooting in low-light. Being a standard 50mm focal length, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM A1 is useful for just about any type of photography.
  • High Image Quality: As a member of Sigma’s Art lens line, it goes through Sigma’s rigorous A1 testing, ensuring high image quality. It features a molded glass aspherical element to eliminate sagittal coma flare, vignetting, and color blur throughout the aperture range. Three SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass elements correct for axial chromatic aberration while the Super Multi-Layer Coating minimizes ghosting and lens flare. All this is incorporated into a floating optical design that provides high detail rendering and a close focus distance of 1.3’.
  • Hyper Sonic AF Motor. The built-in focus motor provides quick and quiet autofocusing that still offers full-time manual focus control simply by rotating the focus ring.

Read more specs about the Sigma here.

Panasonic GH4


The Panasonic GH4 is a professional grade hybrid photo / video camera that captures video in up to 4K resolution. If you want to get technical, read the specs below.  But in a nutshell, this is the world’s first micro four thirds camera that shoots 4k video.  4K video is four times larger than HD video and this little beast is holding all the capabilities of the 4K resolution.   Many big screen cinema films utilize this 4K quality, so I’m sure you’re asking what the hobbyist or emerging pro would want to do with all of this high quality goodness?  Many videographers have always wanted the ability to crop their videos but is limited with the 1080HD format.  But now, because 4K is like stitching 4 HD TV’s together, you can now crop with the 4K.  Pretty cool if you ask me.

Key features include:

  • 16.05 MP Live MOS Sensor. The 16.05-megapixel Micro 4/3 sensor delivers high-quality images with high sensitivity and quick response times. The increased signal speed readout helps to suppress the effects of rolling shutter, and the quad-core Venus Engine image processor provides improved sensitivity, gradation performance, resolution, and color reproduction.
  • 4K Video. The GH4 offers 4K video recording in both 16:9 (3840×2160) and 17:9 (4096×2160) aspect ratios. 4K video can be recorded as MOV or MP4 files in high bit rate 100 Mbps IPB codec. However, do note shooting 4K at 100 Mbps requires a fast memory card. The camera can switch system frequencies from 59.94 Hz (23.98 Hz) and 50 Hz, as well as 24 Hz frequency for true 24 fps cinematic video.
  • Versatile HD Recording Formats. The GH4 records ultra high bitrate HD video at 200 Mbps (All-Intra) or 100 Mbps (IPB), as MOV / MP4 / AVCHD Progressive / AVCHD at a variety of frame rates. In MP4 / MOV, high quality LPCM(Linear Pulse Code Modulation) sound can be recorded. All internally recorded video codecs use 4:2:0 color sampling and an 8-bit color depth, while real-time 4:2:2 8-bit or 4:2:2 10-bit video can be sent to external monitors or recorders via micro HDMI. Additional notable video features include focus peaking, time code, color bars, 1 KHz test tone, center guide marker, synchro scan, cine-like gamma, master pedestal, and zebra pattern.
  • High-Speed Autofocus. The high-precision Contrast AF integrates DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology to achieve AF speeds of approximately 0.07 sec in AFS mode, enabling the camera to shoot bursts of 12 fps in AFS mode. The 49-point system provides more flexibility when composing shots, with a Custom Multi mode that allows custom selection of what focus points to prioritize.
  • Pro-Grade Build. The magnesium alloy body features a dust- / splash-proof design that complements the many native Micro 4/3 weather-sealed lenses. Dual high-speed OLED displays are used for both the Live View Finder and the rear monitor, providing 100% coverage and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio. It has a shutter that’s rated for approximately 200,000 releases, and programmable custom function buttons allow user customization. The GH4 supports UHS-II Class III SDHC / XC memory cards for recording at its highest bitrates, but is also backwards-compatible with previous generation memory cards for most uses.

Read more specs about the GH4 here.

What do you think, are these hot pieces of gear to you? If you’ve used one of these pieces of equipment, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.  Or join the conversation in our Facebook and Google+ groups.

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About MelissaNiu

Melissa Niu is a storyteller at heart. Niu's work ranges from her Broadcast Journalism experience at NBC in Seattle to her recent work as a co-founder and host of the photography platform, [FRAMED] Network. Her passion for photography, music and journalistic skills harvests into a massive need to tell a good story. As a mother of three daughters and running multiple businesses, Niu is constantly seeking balance, health, laughter and progression.