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Andrew Reid

Hands-on preview of the powerful 4K shooting Panasonic GH4!

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FN-buttons menu-options:

Wi-Fi / Q.MENU / Preview / One Push AE / Touch AE / Level Gauge / Focus Area Set / Zoom Control / 1 Shot RAW+JPG / 1 Shot Spot Metering / Cursor Button Lock / Photo Style / Aspect Ratio / Picture Size / Quality / AFS/AFF / Metering Mode / Burst Rate / Auto Bracket / Self Timer / Highlight Shadow / i. Dynamic / i. Resolution / HDR / Electronic Shutter / Flash Mode / Flash Adjust. / Ex. Tele Conv. / Digital Zoom / Stabilizer / Motion Pic. Set / Variable Frame Rate / Picture Mode / Synchro Scan / Time Code Display / Mic. Directivity Adjust / Color Bars / Silent Mode / Peaking / Histogram / Guide Line / Zebra Pattern / Rec Area / Video-Priority Display / Step Zoom / Zoom Speed / AF Mode/MF / Restore to Default

 

So there is no improvements from GH3. Same stupid situation.

 

So I can not use following options with those 10! FN-buttons:

 

-audio meters

-audio level control

-Picture control (contrast,SH,NR,etc)

-AFS/AFC for video

-wind cut

-Flickr removal

-play (I do not like play-button on left side)

 

Those are what I want to use when shooting.  I think that they have been also lazy with other usability issues GH3 has.

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I am sure you can see the difference between 8MP and 2MP photos, it is the same for movie, a native 2MP footage is never as detailed as 8MP downsample to 2MP one, hence why everyone one shoot 8MP photos on their phone when 2MP is more than enough for everything, because there is a clear difference in detail.

 

And in the next few years when 4K is the standard like FHD for today, all your work will look what SD footage looks like on FHD screen.

 

The GH4 could be a GH3 replacement for me if they have significantly improved the DR in video. One of the engineers was quoted as saying they squeezed 1/3 stop more for stills but if that's the same in video my next video camera looks like a c100 with an external recorder. The c100 has 12 stops DR which is at least 2 stops more than my GH3. Ok it doesn't have 4k but it's 1080 is clean, detailed and had better low light capability. Let's face it most people shooting in 4k will not be outputting final material in 4k but down sampling to 1080 and it doesn't matter how you get superior 1080 - native 1080 capture or 4k down sampled to 1080. I guess we will have to wait for DR measurements as manufacturers seem especially coy about stating these specs unless like BM they are something to shout about. When you have good DR and better than 8 bit 4.2.0 files the need for RAW capture and all it's post production and storage hassle becomes less important. Please let's hope we get at least 11 stops from the GH4...............

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I'm all for more choices and innovation, having said that I'm left thinking that the Blackmagic Pro is still a better option.

 

Let me explain:

 

GH4 = roughly $2k

4K add-on = roughly another $2k

4K external recorder = probably another $2k

2X crop factor

no raw option

clunky form factor

reduced, but still present rolling shutter

4K add-on needs external power

no release date, hopefully available by the end of the year

 

vs.

 

Blackmagic 4K

4K raw and ProRes

Super35 sensor

global shutter

$4k including full version of Resolve

less clunky (but still somewhat clunky) form factor

needs external power

well behind the promised release date, but should be here any day now.

 

 

What am I missing?

 

External recorder price is far too high... not sure what the 4K 'add on' is, or why you would need it... but in my opinion you're missing out on:

 

- The added cost of workflow for using Blackmagic Production Camera (HDD, Capable Editing System, etc.)

- Quality Control of Blackmagic Products

- Will ship by the time we're all in the grave. (I kid... hopefully.)

- Additionally, I actually find it far more 'clunky' than the GH4, if the BMCC is any indication. The lack of buttons is actually MORE frustrating for me because I found myself having to constantly use that bloody awful touchscreen that I could barely see outdoors. Plus, no articulated screen. Plus, required a rig because handheld was too jittery. Plus, no ability to play back clips, delete clips, see how much time left on memory card, etc. So, yeah, this is a big big factor for me, and I believe should be for anyone who wants to avoid serious headaches on set.

 

Then again, the BMPC or other Blackmagic products may work swimmingly for you. More power to you! I have just experienced nothing but headaches on set with them, and ultimately got rid of them. I could not justify the lack of basic quality assurance. Having to stop every 30 minutes on set because of technical issues was frustrating for everyone involved, and I began valuing getting jobs done on time and headache free over the awesomeness of RAW.

 

The GH4 looks like the best thing an indie filmmaker could ask for at the moment, and the fact that I see people on twitter/forums complaining that it 'only does 96fps' is moronic. Some folks are never satisfied... even with the latest and greatest. 

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Sorry I cannot compare with the GH3 as I have not used any Panasonic mirror-less cameras prior to this project. Also, I mostly plugged in an external EVF to the micro HDMI port to achieve critical focus. 

 

Did you find GH4 EVF eyecup uncomfortable to use. In your making of video you have removed the eyecup rubber. The lens also seems to be very ball-like. Is there corner distortions like in GH3. I have used my GH3 same way. The danger is to scratch ocular which has very soft coating.

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Still un-answered: what's the crop factor when shooting 1080p?

What's the DR?

Unless there is an improvement of at least two stops over the GH3 then I'm not really interested. DR makes your life as a lighting cameraman so much easier. If you have more to work with, it's generally easier to light and more scope for recovery in post. All I want is a 10bit image with 13+ stops DR at 1080p50, peaking and zebra in a DSLR form factor. Can the GH4 deliver?

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I'm all for more choices and innovation, having said that I'm left thinking that the Blackmagic Pro is still a better option.

 

Let me explain:

 

GH4 = roughly $2k

4K add-on = roughly another $2k

4K external recorder = probably another $2k

2X crop factor

no raw option

clunky form factor

reduced, but still present rolling shutter

4K add-on needs external power

no release date, hopefully available by the end of the year

 

vs.

 

Blackmagic 4K

4K raw and ProRes

Super35 sensor

global shutter

$4k including full version of Resolve

less clunky (but still somewhat clunky) form factor

needs external power

well behind the promised release date, but should be here any day now.

 

 

What am I missing?

I'm not qualified to talk about the rest of your post, esp. since I have no experience whatsoever with BM, but I think you have it backwards. I believe it is BM that is always delivering late on their goods, not Panasonic. In my experience, Panny has gotten their cameras into the hands of reviewers and consumers on schedule, and there is no reason to believe the GH4 won't be available this spring. In fact, Hot Rod Cameras has already said they will begin training with the camera in just a few weeks. Anyway, all this comparing of the GH4 with the BM is like comparing apples and oranges, if you ask me. The workflow, the low battery life and so on of the BM don't appeal to me at all as a novice, whereas the GH4 is packed to the gills with features and can be used by anyone, pro or beginner. In spite of all the griping by readers in the forums, this is the most full-featured camera at its price range on the market, bar none. I can just take it out of the box and start shooting without a rig right away.

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Still un-answered: what's the crop factor when shooting 1080p?

What's the DR?

Unless there is an improvement of at least two stops over the GH3 then I'm not really interested. DR makes your life as a lighting cameraman so much easier. If you have more to work with, it's generally easier to light and more scope for recovery in post. All I want is a 10bit image with 13+ stops DR at 1080p50, peaking and zebra in a DSLR form factor. Can the GH4 deliver?

I don't even think the Canon 1DX at $7,000 offers what you're looking for. And you expect all this in a camera costing $1,800?

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@Tone13 Incidentally, I'm given to understand that the GH4 delivers close to 12 stops of dynamic range. At least, that according to Illya Friedman of Hotrod Camera in an interview with Dan Chung on Vimeo.

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The workflow, the low battery life and so on of the BM don't appeal to me at all as a novice, whereas the GH4 is packed to the gills with features and can be used by anyone, pro or beginner. In spite of all the griping by readers in the forums, this is the most full-featured camera at its price range on the market, bar none. I can just take it out of the box and start shooting without a rig right away.

 

 

Panasonic looks like it's done a great job with this camera.  I am sure there are tons of cost and technological restraints you have to deal with when creating a beast like this.  Considering this is only a preview there are tons of unanswered questions.  People on this forum really need to chill.

 

Andrew Reid has done a good job giving us this news and giving us a heads up months before this thing was unveiled.  I don't know why some guy was giving him a hard time about his Sony 4K Handycam FDR-AX100 coverage.  Giving the bitrate limitations of the FDR-AX100.

 

 

I'm curious Andrew, you liked the RX10 seemingly a lot for it's great feature set (for a run and gun shooter), but hated the AVCHD codec. You are also (obviously) very keen on 4K at the minute. So my question is this - It's been weeks since CES and not one peep from you about the AX100? Obviously it is not in direct competition with the GH4, but it does seem to fix the issues with the RX10 and add a similar 4K capability into the bargain... And at $1999 no less! 

 

 

 

The bitrate on Sony 4K Handycam FDR-AX100 is abysmal compared to the GH4.  Why would you want that promoted over this?

 

If you are a follower of this website you will know Andrew told us a long time ago that he expected a better picture out of the GH4.  Just because a camera is "first" doesn't mean it should be hyped.  And I put first in quotes because the AX100 isn't even out yet.

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I'm all for more choices and innovation, having said that I'm left thinking that the Blackmagic Pro is still a better option.

 

Let me explain:

 

GH4 = roughly $2k

4K add-on = roughly another $2k

4K external recorder = probably another $2k

2X crop factor

no raw option

clunky form factor

reduced, but still present rolling shutter

4K add-on needs external power

no release date, hopefully available by the end of the year

 

vs.

 

Blackmagic 4K

4K raw and ProRes

Super35 sensor

global shutter

$4k including full version of Resolve

less clunky (but still somewhat clunky) form factor

needs external power

well behind the promised release date, but should be here any day now.

 

 

What am I missing?

 

The external add-on isn't a "4K add-on" it is a HD-SDI and XLR add-on, you don't need the external add-on or a external recorder for 4K on the GH4 it does it internally. You know that right?! Surely you do. So are you just trying to make things look worse than they actually are with your list? If so I think that's a bit unfair.

 

Hopefully available by the end of the year? Try April at the latest (TBC)!

 

As for form factor, clunky is not a word I'd use to describe the GH4. Incidentally the Blackmagic is a lot heavier, the wrong shape, has no articulated screen, and a very cut down feature set in comparison. Still love Blackmagic but you've gotta state the facts!

 

My view of it is as follows...

 

BMPC 4K

1.5x crop Super 35mm sensor (1.0x crop in cinematography terms)

EF mount (good if you have lots of nice Canon EF lenses, not so good if you have Micro Four Thirds or lenses requiring a mirrorless mount)

Global shutter - nice - but comes at expense of dynamic range and low light

10bit ProRes - very nice

Raw - great for heavy grading and VFX work

 

GH4

2.17x crop in 4096x2160 mode, 1.7x crop with Speed Booster in 4K mode (1.2x crop in cinematography terms)

Mirrorless mount

Better low light performance (goes up to ISO 6400 in 4K mode)

8bit 4:2:0 internal recording may lead to some artefacts and won't grade as well as ProRes, but it will still look stunning

Better audio support and quality, with optional XLR box

Articulated screen

16MP stills

Built in EVF

10bit 4:2:2 available to external recorder

Larger feature set

 

The Blackmagic Production Camera has enough unique features to be considered for certain jobs. The GH4 is the better all rounder.

 

If you need global shutter, EF mount, 10bit ProRes internal and raw, but don't mind the very basic feature set overall, basic ergonomics, heavier weight overall, need for external battery and poor low light performance go Blackmagic.

 

If you need mirrorless mount, better ergonomics, likely better 1080p especially via HDMI, better audio, more features, smaller form factor and internal battery go GH4.

 

Dynamic range probably quite similar on the pair.

 

And on price, the GH4 is a lot cheaper. You don't NEED the external box. You can shoot with it like you can the GH3. The Blackmagic puts more demands on storage space and processing power, and needs an external battery plus SSDs.

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The external add-on isn't a "4K add-on" it is a HD-SDI and XLR add-on, you don't need the external add-on or a external recorder for 4K on the GH4 it does it internally. You know that right?!

 

I think people (myself included) are confused about whether you need the xlr plinth to get 10bit 422 4k output specifically.  I got the impression that was the case.   I assume we can get 10bit 422 1080p output from the gh4 itself via the hdmi output.  If we can get 10bit 422 4k output direct from the camera as well that will simplify things a lot.   

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Was there any mention about SD card requirements? Is it necessary to use the mini P2 or whatever theyre called cards from Panasonic?

 

P2 not necessary. Will take UHS speed SD cards.

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The external add-on isn't a "4K add-on" it is a HD-SDI and XLR add-on, you don't need the external add-on or a external recorder for 4K on the GH4 it does it internally. You know that right?! Surely you do. So are you just trying to make things look worse than they actually are with your list? If so I think that's a bit unfair.

 

Andrew, I like you and I have a great deal of respect for you, but please avoid taking that patronizing tone with me. As someone who routinely shoots and interacts with many of the professionals quoted on these threads, I'm not a complete moron.

 

What I was basing my comparison on was on what was the way to capture the best possible IQ from the camera, and unless I misunderstood all of the literature available from this and other sites, that would indeed involve needing to purchase the 4K add on (or brick, or whatever else you want to call it).

 

Regarding the shipping date, while it will get here when it gets here (in the quantities that hopefully will satisfy demand), my point was that right now, today neither camera is available. There is a very good chance that by the time the GH4 ships, the BMCC 4K will also be shipping (at least according to the very sources that you often refer to). 

 

As I said, I welcome new options and innovative features. I find good slow motion to be sorely lacking in most cameras, and if nothing else this continues to put pressure on other manufacturers to get their shit together.

 

Having said that, discussing with several professionals (as I said, many of whom you routinely quote and source from), there seems to be a decisive divergence happening between DSLR and video camera shooting. While we all know and acknowledge the "happy accident" which led to sites like these to be created and countless independent films to be shot on 5D's and the likes; the signs are on the wall that this relationship is dwindling. Video professionals want great video features, and still photographers want great still IQ, the odd marriage that these two groups have been forced in is starting to show cracks. So when I read that the GH4's sensor has to be further cropped for video usage just so that Panasonic could squeeze a bit more resolution for photographers; as a video professional I call BS. When I read 4:2:0 internal processing I also feel slighted.

 

Anyway, I'm not saying that the GH4 is a POS, I am genuinely curious to see more about it and to test it myself once it's available. What I am saying is that as a video professional, spec for spec and bang for the buck, the BMCC 4K still seems to fit my needs more (assuming that Blackmagic doesn't take another year to release the damn thing).

 

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go read the very article you just published that discusses this very topic.

 

Thanks and keep up the great work.

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Having said that, discussing with several professionals (as I said, many of whom you routinely quote and source from), there seems to be a decisive divergence happening between DSLR and video camera shooting. While we all know and acknowledge the "happy accident" which led to sites like these to be created and countless independent films to be shot on 5D's and the likes; the signs are on the wall that this relationship is dwindling. Video professionals want great video features, and still photographers want great still IQ, the odd marriage that these two groups have been forced in is starting to show cracks. So when I read that the GH4's sensor has to be further cropped for video usage just so that Panasonic could squeeze a bit more resolution for photographers; as a video professional I call BS.


 

 

 

I think that is where this thing is heading.  Eventually we will go back to very video centric cameras that happen to shoot lower resolution stills and continue to have excellent stills cameras that shoot mediocre video.  The costs and challenges of doing both are just too big and the market is too small.

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inre: "the market is too small" - I am not sure I agree with this comment.  I think most all of us professional still photographers are getting more and more requests for video footage for all types of applications.  I spent most of my career shooting architecture with a 4x5 for the library of congress, and later with D200 and D2x for book projects, etc., and have for the past 3-4 years gotten more and more assignments which mix stills with video.  my current project is all-video, and I am trying to play catch up on achieving super high-quality video of architectural subjects. 

 

I am currently using a D5300 which has given me some very nice sharp video, but after watching the sample videos from the new sony AX100 and the GH4, I can see I need to go to 4K for this project.  I highly doubt that I am the only one seeing a near-immediate desire and need to have a machine that can shoot high-res video, while being able to also shoot high-res still images.  the GH4 appears to me to be the only real choice for this combination at the moment, but I think this market will only grow.

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Andrew, I like you and I have a great deal of respect for you, but please avoid taking that patronizing tone with me. As someone who routinely shoots and interacts with many of the professionals quoted on these threads, I'm not a complete moron.

 

Love the 4k add-on box dude. But you don't have to explain it. I understand what people say by reading their minds. Look, you're a bigwig talking to all these high hoi-paloi cinematographers and you're whining about GH4 or BM? This isn't for you cuz. Go for one of those $20-50k cameras that real professionals use. Chur bro.

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I think if you do aerials this is a winner. I think if you have lots of M4/3rd glass this is a winner. I think if you do lots of corporate gigs and your constantly flying to your locations this is a winner.  I think if your a one man company that churns out product for your customers with both stills and video this is a winner. Small jib arm, Movi ( the smaller/cheaper one), vest based stabilizer, hood mount,,etc this is a winner. Panasonic is not a force in the high end feature production world. Trying to strap on Cookes ,HD transmitters and 20K worth of wireless controllers is not what this camera is about. That is not a slam on this camera or anyone in this group, its just my thoughts on who this camera is being targeted to. I think at this price point you - as a person making a living at productions - can pay this thing off and start earning ROI before the next one comes out in 18 months. 

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