GH2 hack footage – 42Mbit AVCHD 1080/24p

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The GH2 is already a lot of bang for the buck. This hack has made it a bonafide plastic explosive!

In the latest hack released today Vitaliy has enabled high bitrate AVCHD in 1080/24p cinema mode for the first time. These represent the first image quality improvements for the hacked GH2. What does it look like? Watch the video above to find out.

I shot this mostly at ISO 1600 and 3200 with the Samyang 35mm F1.4. I ran out of the door within about an hour of Vitaliy releasing the new hack, so excited was I to find out what the image is like and I shot through the night. Well the good news is that 42Mbit on the GH2 is lovely. It also seems very stable, much more so than the GH1 was in 44Mbit AVCHD mode.

First impressions of 42Mbit 1080p on the GH2 are:

  • Noise now has a lovely film like fine grain, much more organic and less electronic looking
  • Noise smears far less detail
  • Low light performance is just better all round
  • Less compression appears to have helped with banding on gradated tones, looks closer to 10bit than 8bit!
  • Significantly better than the high bitrate MJPEG mode especially in low light
  • Colour seems improved, I am getting some beautifully rich tones out of it
  • Detail has increased and is much more solid looking, even with heavy camera movement

Currently the only real bug is that the first half a second of each clip is corrupt but this will of course be fixed soon.

You might remember just over a year ago, the GH1 hack began to achieve results. Vitaliy gave the GH1 a huge boost in image quality and fixed the dodgy encoder.

The encoder on the GH2 is far more advanced. In the new PTools there’s a ton of new options to experiment with and test, mostly to do with AVCHD. It may be that in this release a tester also finds the secret to 1080/60p so stay tuned.

If you haven’t done so already please donate to Vitaliy’s mission to bring us a Sony F35 rivalling sub $1000 plastic explosive.

How to apply the hack

  1. The hack software PTools, is a Windows app. If you are a Mac not a PC, you will need virtualisation software to run the app (download PTools from http://www.gh1-hack.info/wiki/PToolSoftware). I use VMWare and a ISO image of Windows XP. It’s probably easier to use WineBottler.
  2. Open ‘PTools.exe’ and load the GH2 firmware file GH2__V10.bin (get it from http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/330/new-gh2-firmware-leak)
  3. Select version increment in PTools, set it to 10 and make sure the box is ticked
  4. Under AVCHD Movie Mode select Video Bitrate 24H and set it to the suggested value 42000000. Set Video Bitrate 24L to 35000000.
  5. Select other patches with your own free will, but ignore the Tester Patches with the pirate icon unless you want to help with testing and experimenting.
  6. Now save the firmware, call it GH2__V10 or GH2__V11, copy that file to your SD card and insert it into the GH2.
  7. You will need a battery with at least 2 marks left on the on-screen indicator, do not use a power source AC adapter.
  8. Turn on the GH2, enter playback mode and an option to update the camera should appear.
  9. Wait for the camera to update and you’re done.

About Author

British filmmaker and editor of EOSHD, Andrew works in Berlin on his own self funded filmmaking and video projects.

78 Comments

  1. love my Gh1 just ordered a Gh2 cant wait! you’re right about the grain pretty nice and the colors look vibrant cant wait to get my GH2 and try the new hacks

  2. This looks absolutely beautiful. It really manages to have an organic look and feel!!! Were you using an adapter with this lens?? is there this lens created for micro-4/3rds?

  3. Fuckin’ A!!! I’m not surprised if you ran out the door in your PJ’s. Can we still log and transfer normally via FCP or need that Stream Parser thing?

  4. @
    andrew, I really liked the video. I was still debating whether to hold out for a different camera until I read that bit you wrote about the Gradation of colors being smoother and not banded!!! That’s one of the few things I was worried about. The only other wish is for 1080/60p. That would pretty much be my perfect camera if we could get that going.

    By the way I LOVE you layouts on this website. This is my favorite place to come along with Cheesycam. The look of your site is so well laid out and easy on the eyes. Also your writing is excellent as well. The entire presentation comes across very professional.

  5. Andrew I have been following your blog for a while and think your work is great and thanks for all the info that you provide. Question regarding the hack – Does it affect the photo stills side of the camera in any way?

  6. Would be curious to see if bit rate increase removes the random horizontal blue banding that shows up in shadows on occasion. I haven’t been able to replicate a specific setting, but every now and then a shot will be ruined by this strange occurrence. Have read a bunch about it all over the www, but nothing definitive. Have you experienced it?

  7. This looks nice Andrew. Great choice of music too. Btw, I’ve been trying to contact you here thru PM, did you get the message?

  8. Any word on whether Vitaliy will be able to get proper 24p cadence via HDMI for external recorders like the Atomos Ninja or 10-bit HDMI output to make their use really worthwhile?

  9. For all of us MAC users. Can’t someone post a .ZIP file that we could download and copy to a card?
    Why does everyone have to jump through hoops if a good hack is achieved?

  10. wow i love film grain-like ! Tomorrow i will download the original file if vimeo allows me

  11. Vincent Pereira on

    I followed the instructions but when I try and access playback mode with the card with the modified firmware on it, my GH2 says “NO VALID PICTURE TO PLAY”. Am I doing something wrong here?

  12. OK, I did it – here is a quick test.
    Look at the end on the lounge chair.
    Incredible detail.
    http://vimeo.com/26642758

    Hack went without a hitch.
    I can playback the footage in camera.
    On a 16 gig card it shows 49 min recording.

  13. I’ve followed these steps here exactly and can’t seem to get the hack to work. It still shoots at 24Mbit. Is there any other steps you need to take besides the ones posted above?

  14. I was wondering the same. It only appear with high ISO and in dark areas in my case, not a big issue.

  15. Do you know of any possibility to buy a GH2 body only? I am hesitant to buy the body plus lens because I really do not need the lens. Thanks! Roelf-Jan

  16. I joined the panasonic twiiter and found a deal on the Gh2. join panasonic facebook page (like) and you will get to sign up for panasonic direct deals which is located on the left sider bar of their facebook page. a GH2 body only is like $769 USD with tax and shipping im paying $831 for a new Gh2 theyre saying 2-4 weeks delivery

  17. Don’t drag the folder into the card, just the GH2_v11 file you created directly onto the card. Also the battery has to be FULLY CHARGED

  18. That’s right, and make sure to use the battery not the A/C adapter. The A/C adapter can easily loosen during the update and the resulting power failure destroys the camera completely.

  19. Thanks man.
    I wonder if I’m doing anything else wrong because it still has the same time remaining indicator as before (i.e. 16gig card = 1hour 30 mins). Or is this normal?

  20. Andrew, I ‘m traying to follow your instruction above but it won’t let me do the following
    6. Now save the firmware, call it GH2__V10 or GH2__V11, copy that file to your SD card and insert it into the GH2.

    It says “Wrong file name, camera won’t be able to read such file”. Any clue?

  21. I think the time indicator works on pretext of the default bitrate, and then recalculates as it goes along. The bitrate varies depending on the amount of detail in the scene. You won’t fit as much footage on the card with the higher bitrate setting, but the counter won’t realise this until later. That’s my guess anyway.

  22. Ok, what is the side effect from this hack?
    I heard the first few frames are corrupt. What about playback of stills on preview? I heard there was a problem.
    Somebody said by lowering it to 32mb/s the different in quality are miniscule but without any side effect, ie first fe frames won’t be corrupt, still previews all fine.

  23. Boom! There it is. Just watched the downloaded file. Blew the windows out of my studio. Exciting images, Andrew. Love to see how the anamorphic performance is now.

  24. Just got it all working and this is unbelievable. Recorded around my desk and EGADS my keyboard is dusty. I think my camera now has better image quality than my own eye. I saw texture in my lens cap and leather card holder that I barely knew existed.

  25. Tried the Ex-tele conversion video with the 20mm pancake. Corrupts the video every few seconds.

  26. I ended up lowering the 24H setting to 32mbps, which still looks great and seems much more stable. No troubles with the Ex-tele feature on the 20mm as Alexm faced.

    On the other hand, the 24L setting seems to be a complete crapshoot. I tried that at 35, 32, and finally 22mbps. Roughly half of the files ended up recording at 3mbps. Anyone else having troubles with 24L?

  27. Try formatting the card in-camera, then reload the firmware onto the card (in the root directory)

  28. My setting is the same as yours as I wanted EX-Tele uncorrupted but 24L is bad so I left at 16mbs

  29. I have a problem in fcp7, log and transfer didnt accept the AVCHD, and i get an error about the unsupported file structure (i save the hole card), didnt have that problem before the hack,
    i filmed in 24H, did someone use log and transfer after the hack?

  30. so you tried using log and transfer after the hack and it works fine?, because it doesn’t work for me, and before the hack it worked fine..
    Thanks anyway
    Tal

  31. reimaginecinema on

    fantastic work. Do you think 1080 60p will come? Do you prefer 1080i or 720p.
    Would you please recommend an adapter or two (maybe a higher priced or lower priced), I would like to get one but it would need to take my canon lenses as well. What did you use for the video to adapt the 35mm 1.4
    Thanks Andrew! Response would be greatly appreciated!
    -Jacob

  32. I’m a Canon guy, shoot stills with the 5dmkII, 60d and recently I picked up my fist GH1 and hacked it with Vitaly’s software of course. I shot some night footage with a Canon FD 50mm 1.4 lens, wide open at ISO 1600 which looked remarkably clean to me, especially the blacks. How do you feel the hacked GH1 stacks against the GH2 at ISO 1600?

  33. 1080i or 720p? Neither, I prefer 1080p!!

    I think 1080/60p will come but purely speculative at this stage. And not sure when it will come either.

    An adapter – just go for the cheap generic Chinese ones. These adapters are very simple, it’s not really worth getting a Novoflex or something. I use a generic Canon EOS to Micro Four Thirds adapter and it’s worked well for nearly 2 years now without a hitch. They’re so cheap that if it does get lost or damaged you just get a new one for $30.

  34. I don’t recommend FCP7 for AVCHD. You would be much better off downloading the trial of Premiere Pro CS5 / CS5.5 and going from there.

  35. The GH1 is slightly brighter at ISO 1600, so probably best to ask how the GH1 at 800 compares to the GH2 at 1600… strange I know! GH2 is better, far less banding and a sharper but the difference is not massive actually.

    For stills not video, the Canons are FAR superior,

  36. Is anybody else having this problem? My favorite lens requires that I use the Ex-Tele mode because it has extreme vignetting. So, if this a general problem with the hack, I won’t be able to use it.

  37. Hacked last night and stayed up till 4 playing with it. Absolutely incredible. I work in post and see a lot of well shot 5d footage, and this now stacks up in terms of colour, noise, even (dare I say it) low light performance.

    Biggest points for me (at 42mbps 24h are):
    – Colour: so much more rich without losing the colour correct latitude
    – Grain: Where’d it go? This was my biggest complaint when I first got the camera — spots in the bottom 2 zones just seemed to swim with a fine grain that some found pleasing but I found distracting. That is gone.
    – Bokeh: is it me, or is it significantly more pleasing now? ALso, blown out highlights now glow instead of looking like video-noise errors
    – Sharpness: The look is less video, more photograph now. Still sharp, but not distractingly so.

    Very happy.

    PS: CAN ANYONE ANSWER WHETHER NEWLY PRODUCED GH1S WERE CRIPPLED BY PANASONIC AFTER THE GH1 HACK CAME OUT? IF THAT WAS THE CASE, I’M GOING TO PICK A UP A SECOND GH2 TODAY.

  38. Just did a quick test at 1600 and was fairly stunned at the improvement over the unhacked version. There is definitely noise, but not so much of if that it wouldn’t clean up. At 800 even better. These are just quick tests indoors with blinds drawn, etc. Will try to get out tonight at test at night when it matters — if results stand though, it has me very excited for the new panny 25mm f1.4 when it comes out. Need a fast AF lens, and was worried this wasn’t fast enough for some rare night situations — but if I can bump up the iso now and get away with it, well….

  39. I haven’t installed the hack but I know quite a bit about the Red camera so I can tell you the two main things that the Red offers that the GH2 (or any DSLR) is not capable of, no matter the hack, is extremely high resolution (up to 5K in the Epic) and a Raw workflow. Personally, I don’t care so much about the resolution, that’s only important if you plan on zooming way into your footage or plan to project it in a theater. The Raw workflow is a major difference, though. If you’ve shot stills in Raw mode, you know how big a difference it is between Raw and JPEG and that is what the Red is recording. But, for $1500, this GH2 hack looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it out.

  40. Eventually settled on 42mps. I’m not one who get taken in by hype. The GH2 is already punching above its weight for its price range but the hack video looks cleaner. One thing I immediately noticed is the absent of noise or grain at low ISO also less artifact or “video” like effect very similar to the quality I got when using the unhacked in Ex Tele mode.

  41. All the GH1’s are hackable now. Vitaliy found a way around the encryption. Check out his Lenin GH1 hack or search GH17 on Google.

  42. hi everybody
    i’m new on the gh2, i’m on mac using wine and when i load the firmware “the file GH2__V10.bin is corrupted”
    any idea? i try why an other firmware and it works.

  43. another question?
    i just start with the GH2 with a25mm voigtlander and a century optics anamorphoser. i just have the impression that the iso is still auto or it’s just pumping. did i make a mistake in the set up. i know that in some mode iso is auto, but not in 24p manuel?
    any advice?

  44. Does the hack prevent previously recorded unhacked video on another card not to be viewed?

  45. as of this morning GH2 is on sale on the panasonic facebook page under fans only deal. around $761 USD for a GH2 body only

  46. jameslgleason on

    Great work! Okay, dumb question: On step 3 you say to make sure the box is ticked, however, it doesn’t say to tick the boxes for 24H and 24L. I’ve set the Bitrates, but must I tick the boxes for this to work? I’ve loaded the firmware but don’t yet see the difference in rates.

  47. I just reupdated the firmware hack which matches Andrews but the first few frame corruption that occur previously is no longer happening. Has that been fixed?

  48. Did see if you had messed with the long top settings I set mine to 3 as suggested and got as hi as 75Mbits in EX tel as well no issues with FCPX worked great actually added a aged film fiber and played back in real time starting to like FCPX more and more, but that was with a class 10 card I don’t want to max out Mbits so I changed to the standard GOP and got 42 Mbits to 46Mbits no issues on my class 4 card other than to 10 frame blocking that we all seem to see. I don’t like the frame blockage so I lowered my settings on 24L to 32 and kept GOP at 3 got 38Mbits with no frame blocking at the start of each clip.

  49. Let me reply to my last post because there are so many misspellings that I sound like I’m on crack. Let me spell check that post and repost it.
    “Didn’t see if you had messed with the long GOP settings. I set mine to 3 as suggested and got as Hi as 75Mbits any my EX tel worked with no issues. FCPX worked great actually, added a aged film filter and played back in real time. Starting to like FCPX more and more. That was with a class 10 card I don’t want to max out Mbits so I changed to the standard GOP and got 42 Mbits to 46Mbits no issues on my class 4 card other than to 10 frame blocking that we all seem to see. I don’t like the blocking so I lowered my settings on 24L to 32 and kept GOP at 3 got 38Mbits with no frame blocking at the start of each clip, plus just shot 30mins of static at a HI detailed image on my Class 4 card no issues no blocking and averaged 32Mbits.

  50. Can someone Please help!!!!! I did everything right, but it wont let me save the hack, it says ” wrong file . name, camera cant read such file”. What do I do? i saved as GH2_V10 and tried GH2_V11 is there something else i should be putting?

  51. Has the corruption at the beginning of the file been fixed yet? If it hasn’t, do you know if the corruption also occurs at the breaks in long recordings (i.e. when you shoot for an hour and the video is split into two files, does the corruption occur at the beginning of each file?)?

  52. Andrew, Great info as usual. What do you think the resolution of a hacked GH2 is at 42Mbit? Reason I ask is I’m trying to figure out how compare it to a 4K (rumoured Scarlet) or 5K Epic Red. Your 42Mbit low light footage is so impressive I’m getting inclined to hack my GH2. Cheers. TV.

  53. I just did it but I don’t think it worked, I have the same amount of recording time available on my 16gb card as I did before and when I put the files on the computer they are no larger then before the hack. How do I know if it worked or not?

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