Lumix News Photo Stories

Makoto Ando Explains Why He Chooses Lumix

Ando Makoto

Video is a new means of expression and is now starting to be used to expand nature photography. With videography there is a lot of other equipment you will need besides your camera gear. You need to keep in mind that to shoot wildlife your equipment will need to be light weight, compact and heavy duty. We are also in an era where high resolution is a must. To satisfy these high demands I took the LUMIX GH5, LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12mm / F1.4ASPH and the LEICA DG VARIO – ELMAR 100-400mm / F4.0 – 6.3 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. with me on a shoot to Alaska in March and to Hokkaido in June.

I mainly shoot aurora in the vicinity of Fairbanks and have been doing so for 16 years. No matter how many times I shoot aurora, I never get tired of it. Auroras are never the same so it can be very difficult to set the exposure settings and compose aurora photos. Also due to the nature of nature photography everything is based on the object you are shooting, which sometimes does not come very frequently.




The exposure setting changes dramatically depending on the size of the aurora and the level of brightness and is set extremely high in the so-called auroral explosion and break. Exposure and intense movement of the aurora changes dramatically in 2 or 3 seconds, and this requires you to change not only the ISO and shutter speed, but also the composition. That is also the real pleasure of aurora shooting. Of course, anyone who would rarely encounter an auroral explosion would want to keep capturing it. Aurora photography is an unusual world in Alaska, endlessly far away, an unusual land. What to do with the shooting gear is a challenge, but it is also a moment of happiness for a photographer like myself, for sure.


The combination of GH 5 and LEICA DG SUMMILUX 12 mm / F 1.4 ASPH can be expressed in one word: fantastic. First of all, I would like to say that the stress and down time that comes with shooting is so minimal. High resolution has a reputation with the release of the 12 mm / F 1.4, but when you compared the aurora shooting between ten years ago and 2018, there is a dramatic improvement in the evolution of high ISO resolution and noise reduction, as well as closing down from F1.4 to F2, as opposed to closing down to F 2.8 for the release of the wide-angle lens, so that I can shoot in 2-3 seconds while closing to F2 by integrating high ISO, as opposed to a normal shutter speed of 10 seconds. This basically means that you can now shoot aurora curtains and flare tips and light gradation more sharply.


Also, as you can see from the selfies with the aurora backing, it makes it easier to shoot composite photos of hard-to-fix subjects such as humans and animals with the starry sky and aurora if you can make the shutter speed faster. Especially if you are involved in the world of cameras, the power of LEICA Lens, designed exclusively for the LUMIXG series that anyone in the world knows, will also give the aurora hunter the utmost satisfaction and confidence in the finished photographs. The compactness of the body, with the ability to move with the tripod, as well as the simplicity of lens and body, also helps to ease stressful night photography. While watching the aurora dancing freely in the night sky in Alaska’s wilderness, I think about the possibilities and dreams of LUMIX.



The stage moves from Alaska to Hokkaido. The season of the explosion of fresh greenery is a new season of Ezo Owl (Ural owl) new life. Usually wild bird photography is thought to be a standard 500 mm or 600 mm super telephoto lens and a large tripod, but nature photographers who pursue the possibilities in expressing the world of nature more precisely than the photograph itself are not picky when it comes to the aforementioned equipment. Agility and mobility in scaffolding with a poor field of vision is more important. This is related to the concept of large-scale shooting and differences in one’s philosophy of photography, but let me introduce it as a story of LUMIX.

I took up shooting in the woods in East Hokkaido with the combination of GH 5 and LEICA DG VARIO – ELMAR 100 – 400 mm / F 4.0 – 6.3 ASPH./POWER O.I.S. I found a perfect condition of two baby owls standing together on a branch. However, fixing the camera in a tripod made the shooting situation very challenging, as chicks sometimes moved around and reversed the direction of their bodies, or the shade of a branch or a leaf got on the way. However, it is troublesome to move the large lens, the camera body, and the large tripod mentioned above every time. With this LUMIX combination, I challenged myself to hand-shoot without a tripod.



With the new AF system, I was able to feel the significance of the AF system installation, which combines high precision and high speed for the Ezo Owl chicks, as well as the correction of 5 steps of BIS (camera shake correction) in BIS effect, which also gave a wonderful result. The power of the image stabilization also had a big effect when photographing a moving picture with the Ezo Owl claw chicks at a fixed angle. I did not feel much discomfort in the fluctuation of images due to not having a tripod or gimbal. Moreover, it is possible to shoot quickly and accurately from the best angle while holding a lens of 400 mm maximum in one’s hand while moving through the forest freely. It could be said that this may become a major turning point in photography form for photographers who focus on mobility, as well as women and older people who have fallen in physical strength.