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In depth coverage - Panasonic announce 4K video capable Micro Four Thirds sensor


Andrew Reid
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Panasonic GH4 4K sensor

The recent rumours surfacing of Panasonic releasing an AG-GH4 around the $3000 mark have been given a boost. Panasonic have now officially announced the existence of a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor which is capable of 4K video at up to 30fps, matching the rumoured specs of the GH4.

Tantalisingly this sensor is even available as a customer part on the open market, making it available to Blackmagic Design.

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No the most important spec is 4K.

 

Not losing half the data from the sensor in the pixel binning process to 1080p, has a great affect on the image.

 

Even if you record 4K and downsample in post to 2K you are dealing with a full pixel readout... all the dynamic range, colour and detail that the sensor can see goes into producing that image.

 

Hopefully 4K will be 10bit 4:2:2 on it but if not and the debayer is 8bit 4:2:0, it will still look spectacular but you won't be able to push it as far in terms of grading, and you might notice some pixelation around bright red specular highlights.

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btw - If you use the crop mode of the 5DIII, you are, in effect, getting a full pixel readout (though obviously windowed). The sensor, pixels etc are still soaking up the same light as if it were reading out the full frame 1:1

 

Do you see a huge leap in DR, colour and sensor detail? Nothing significant, that's for sure.

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According to the PDF the sensor can read-out the full sensor 10-bit at 22.5 fps.  So with a slight crop of the 43 sensor for the 16:9 aspect, it looks like it can read-out the full 16:9 image (~15mp) at 24fps.   This could then be down sampled to 4k.

 

I don't think it can read the whole sensor at 30p.

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No the most important spec is 4K.

 

Not losing half the data from the sensor in the pixel binning process to 1080p, has a great affect on the image.

 

Even if you record 4K and downsample in post to 2K you are dealing with a full pixel readout... all the dynamic range, colour and detail that the sensor can see goes into producing that image.

 

Hopefully 4K will be 10bit 4:2:2 on it but if not and the debayer is 8bit 4:2:0, it will still look spectacular but you won't be able to push it as far in terms of grading, and you might notice some pixelation around bright red specular highlights.

Look.
Resolution matters. But over and over I keep sending folks to this chart to learn that 10bit 4:2:2 matters more since perceived resolution can be far more easily adjusted in post, than 8bit 4:2:0 color- graded in challenging situations. Plus over and over we need to rememember that a lot of would be customers that have a lot of ChromaKey work in mind will make this distinction as well. So let's pray for the enhanced color space first. If we get both, 4K at 10bit 4:2:2 then we've hit the jackpot.
Finally
"The sensor size with a Metabones Speed Booster adapter will almost be as large as the Canon 1D C in 4K video mode, at 1.4x crop over full frame (APS-H on the 1D C’s 4K video mode is 1.3x crop). That’s slightly larger than Super 35mm."
That's the other piece of good news I was looking to hear as I am only going to pursue a system that allows me the 'sweet spot' compromise between great DOF and difficult to follow-focus FF sensor.
I'm even willing to let go of my aversion to 'DSLR Body Shapes' if Panasonic indeed gets this right at $3K
Thanks for the great and hopeful report!

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I have used Canon DSLRs for years. I am not very educated in terms of different sensors and I have a few questions.

 

-What will be the crop on this sensor? (verses full frame or a 5D3)

-What kind of Dynamic range will we see?

 

I recently took a trip to rural India and went wild with the Magic Lantern Raw on a 5D3. I'll post a video soon. After this, I can't see myself using any other camera for a long time. Will this hold a flame to that?

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I don't see how a GH4 could do 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 at only 200mb/s. ProRes 1080P 4:2:2 is 220mb/s... and intraframe of course, but it's still only a quarter of 4K's resolution. It seems like 4K would have to have a ridiculously long GOP to fit into 200mb/s at 10bit/4:2:2, which would make motion look weird. Personally I would greatly prefer to have an excellent all-i 1080p with lots of detail and color info and frame rates, than an uber-compressed 4K. Hopefully the cam will at least give us both.

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I don't see how a GH4 could do 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 at only 200mb/s. ProRes 1080P 4:2:2 is 220mb/s... and intraframe of course, but it's still only a quarter of 4K's resolution. It seems like 4K would have to have a ridiculously long GOP to fit into 200mb/s at 10bit/4:2:2, which would make motion look weird. Personally I would greatly prefer to have an excellent all-i 1080p with lots of detail and color info and frame rates, than an uber-compressed 4K. Hopefully the cam will at least give us both.

This is a good point and makes me wonder the details of the AVC Ultra codec they're talking about using. The selling point of H.265 is a sh-t load more quality at a more efficient bitrate, so we're onto the next level looks like.

Edit: Can't rule out an SDI option as well. Even though there aren't many 4k external recorders, 4k 10 bit 4:2:2 is less skeptical at that point. That will set you back a lot more than a Ninja though, lol.
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5 and half months till NAB. I wonder if BM production cam will come out by then?

I'm big GH lover, but it seems like it would be a no brainer, for an extra $700 the bmpc would give you raw, global shutter and super 35mm sensor.

In addition digital bolex will be out by then, Raw, global shutter, 1080p at $3299 (same price point).


Going to be a pretty competitive segment, I'm really over cmos sensors and honestly would pick either of these cams over the gh4 based on the current specs. I'm sure it will be a reliable workhorse though.

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