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Andrew Reid

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

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One more boo - no all-intra frame mode for 4K. Only IPB. Boo.

And more - 100Mbps for 1920x1080 IPB and for 4K nothing more. Boooo! :)

 

Good reason for that! The ALL-I codec spreads the bitrate more thinly as every frame is separately compressed and stored. To get equivalent quality to IPB you need a much higher bitrate with an ALL-I codec, which is why the MJPEG codec on the 1D C is 500Mbit and a real card gobbler.

 

If you need intra-frame uncompressed 4K you can have it with the GH4's external box. Can't wait to see the image from that!

 

Yeah it adds bulk and size but it's not that heavy and as a whole, the GH4 + external box is still smaller and lighter than a C500 with external recorder, likely lighter than the Blackmagic Cinema Camera too, with much better ergonomics than the latter.

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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

8 bit 4:2:0 seems a bit of a bummer on paper, but realistically as a complete noob it probably isn't such a big deal for me. It is the what-seems-to-be-intentional crippling, just like Canon et al, that really turns me off. Downsampled 4k should be able to give 4:4:4 right?

 

I think the GH4 kills the 'intentionally crippled' argument stone dead. I've never seen a consumer camera with so much pro video stuff in it. Peaking, zebra, pedestal, 10bit, and the pro external box jacks too, and that's just a few.

 

4:4:4 sampling requires more processing power at the compression stage to maintain it right through into the IPB codec. If you want 4:4:4 shoot raw and use your $3000 Mac Pro to debayer the footage :)

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Panasonic didn't miss on anything. They heavily improved the GH3, it's a no brainer for journalist, high quality video and stills. What this release tells me is that a AF101 successor is right around the corner. Panasonic is smart IMHO, I bet we'll see a GH4, AF200 and the anticipated Vari Cam in 2014. I suspect what you're looking for you'll be happy once NAB rolls around. Coming out with a new AF series, 4K, 10 bit, higher frame rates along with the new Vari Cam could make Panasonic the new Blackmagic. Sonys not gonna beat down the F5, Canon has the c500, nothing from Nikon, Blackmagic needs to deliver before anything else, and sadly I haven't seen any normal decent footage from the DB yet, so the markets ripe. It's a great transition into 4k, terrific offering but the Gap is too wide between the GH4 and Vari cam, I think we'll all be happy this spring. I'll end with saying this review was one the best I've read in a while. Thanks

 

AF100 successor, now that's an interesting thought. It's no secret the AF was not a huge success and was trampled on by Sony and Canon. Maybe they see the GH4 as the successor and there won't even be an AF200?

 

On the other hand, I still think one makes sense. Built in NDs, XLRs, HD-SDI. Maybe the AG-pro division GH4 add-on is the AF200's image processing hardware in a box :)

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And "the brick" (i opt to keep that name). Who the hell designed it? That is the most unhandy brick i have ever seen.

 

Sure the image quality is great. But a bigger cropfactor as "normal" m43 is really a no go imo. It sets the m43 filmer back. All lenses feel different and look off, if the cropfactor is different. That's at least how I felt shooting with a BMPCC. If I want that I would buy that. 

 

I love the systemcameras and m43 format of Panasonic. But they need to move on to a filmcamera on this system. Get out of the photocamera formfactor because it is just in the way and holds the development of a new standard back!

 

THR

 

Don't forget the Speed Booster. Will give you almost Super 35mm field of view with no loss of optical quality (an increase in sharpness and exposure actually) with Nikon lenses on the 2.3x GH4 4K mode.

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Andrew, are you sure internal recording is 4:2:0? Panasonic Europe told me 4:2:2 8 bit and 4:2:2 10-bit over hdmi (no need for the YHAGEHAYGEH). But the tech product manager wasn't very knowledgeable about video, so could be wrong...

 

It's hard to find any exact specs on this.

 

Btw, the sensor is based on the GH3 sensor... so probably a Sony.

 

Uematsu-san said 4:2:2 sampling on the sensor, debayer, right through the imaging pipeline until the actual encoder, then it goes to 4:2:0.

 

Yes 10bit 4:2:2 over HDMI to your Ninja, which is how I intend to record 1080p on this beauty.

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I mean, the BMPCC can record 10bit 4:2:2 internally on sub $100 64GB SD cards, why not this camera?

 

For me it isn't a huge issue as we now have it via HDMI, with the advantage of SSD media capacities, prices, much better focussing and monitoring if you choose a recorder like the Atomos Ninja!

 

ProRes 10bit 4:2:2 is very processor intensive, maybe Panasonic didn't want to give us 40 minute battery run times like Blackmagic ;)

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Good reason for that! The ALL-I codec spreads the bitrate more thinly as every frame is separately compressed and stored. To get equivalent quality to IPB you need a much higher bitrate with an ALL-I codec, which is why the MJPEG codec on the 1D C is 500Mbit and a real card gobbler.

 

Yes, this is a good reason, albeit the motion from video-like Inter-frame-prediction is little different then from all-I cedec so it would be nice if GH4 has the all-I option for 4K or UHD. Of course then we would need at least 400Mbps for this (and a bunch of 64GB memory cards too).

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I think the camera is a possible disaster hurriedly rushed through to compete with the BM4K giving them time to make a Panasonic af100 4k or a DSLR along the lines of the 1DC.
I didn't like the skin tones in the demo films and I thought the image looked oversaturated with high contrast and crushed blacks.Will be interesting to see what the DR is on this.

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I think the camera is a possible disaster hurriedly rushed through to compete with the BM4K giving them time to make a Panasonic af100 4k or a DSLR along the lines of the 1DC.
I didn't like the skin tones in the demo films and I thought the image looked oversaturated with high contrast and crushed blacks.Will be interesting to see what the DR is on this.

 

I braced myself for The Mark Response. Truth is I've been treading this moment. I'll try not to be too harsh on you, and try to keep it short.

 

You're wrong.

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I hope the price for the camera is 1500 euros and I may get it new. The price for the box would be reasonable at 1000€

 

Ah come on now. Canon charges $25,000 for their uncompressed 10bit 4K and $12,000 for their 4K DSLR and you won't pay 2000 euros for the Panasonic, which has more features by far than the 1D C?

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Yes, this is a good reason, albeit the motion from video-like Inter-frame-prediction is little different then from all-I cedec so it would be nice if GH4 has the all-I option for 4K or UHD. Of course then we would need at least 400Mbps for this (and a bunch of 64GB memory cards too).

 

Let's wait and see what 4K over HDMI does. If it is uncompressed 10bit like the 1080p, then I will have my eyes peeled at NAB for an affordable 4K external recorder for sure. Atomos are you listening? Hint hint!

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The GH4 will make a great A or B cam but there will definitely be an AF successor at NAB, this system looks made to compliment an A Cam with timecode output for multicam audio sync.  A huge advantage of the GH4 is having a high-quality, modular run 'n gun DSLR tool on set, whenever needed, but also providing the burgeoning filmaker a full-featured tool that they can grow with as their funding and demands increase.  I can see GH4's really kicking butt on action projects like 'Crank' or '24'.  This is the kind of tool we've been asking for for a long time, it is only soured by the high-value of Blackmagic's image quality.  If the dynamic range of the GH4 is approaching the same league as BM's 10 bit, I can surely live with it.

 

Also hoping Blackmagic stuns with a 4K 4:2:2 HyperDeck release at NAB, perhaps something in the $499 range.  Ironically, BM would then become enablers for more low-cost competition with their own 4K camera but something tells me they're not too worried about cannabalizing sales - the 4K cam still hasn't hit the street.

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I was about to buy the 2K BMCC, I'm going to wait and see what happen in the near future.

 

Why EOSHD always glosses over the difference between 8-bit per channel and 12-14-bit per channel sensor data is beyond me.  Fantastic review, as always!  However, the Blackmagic and Magic Lantern RAW technologies are completely different.  The GH4 compresses sensor data into an 8-bit/channel video stream--more resolution DOES NOT equal color depth.  

 

For example, he points out you can get a 4096 x 2160 still.  He's absolutely right that will come in very handy.   However, that still will be a JPEG, with 8-bits per channel.  If you use a 1920x1080 dng still from a Blackmagic you are getting 12-bits per channel.  The latitude of what you can do in post is leaps and bounds beyond 8-bit.

 

Both cameras have strengths for different types of film-makers.  In no way does the GH4 compete with Blackmagic raw video cameras, and visa-versa.

 

They are both great cameras and EOSHD has written great reviews on both.

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Andrew, any info about low light?

I think one of the major advantages of this camera is that it pushed Canon to unleash the full 4k power of their C100. 

If they do C100 will have the advantage of ND filters and supposedly more sensitivity in low light.

Supposedly.

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Am I the only one concerned about the horrible viewfinder in the GH3? Of all the hands-on reviews I've seen, not one mentions the viewfinder... Still, I'm going to buy this camera and I'm tired of reading all the naysayers here and elsewhere. It doesn't do this, it doesn't do that... It's the most fully featured camera at its price point now and I don't see that changing in April either... And in spite of all the comments to the contrary, I don't think Panny considers Black Magic a threat to their business, that's not who they're competing against. Black Magic sells a tiny fraction of the number of cameras that Canon, Nikon, Olympus do. I've only seen maybe two people with a Black Magic camera in their hands in the past year, thousands of Canons. Not knocking BM, just stating a fact. Then again, I've only seen ONE person who owns a GH3 since it was released... but then again, I live in Vietnam!

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