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Andrew Reid

Which 4K camera for the masses? GH4 vs Blackmagic Production Camera

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2MP is just too low IMHO, why people shoot full resolution photos nowaday even though you can only see them on 2MP display and mostly at even reduced size on web.

 

Is this a crappy looking image to you? Because you're effectively looking at it at a similar resolution as 1080p. Despite the lowly resolution, I'm still picking up a great deal of fine detail. There are also plenty of great photographs taken with early DSLRs with resolutions that we'd consider laughable by today's standards. I think many people tend to mistake resolution with detail, and I suspect we're about to see a great deal of conversations regarding this very point in the near future. I also think that many have grown accustomed to Canon's very crappy h.264 encoding, so when they see an image shot in 4K, which also uses a much better encoding; they attribute the increase in IQ to the resolution. Some of the best looking video I have seen has come out of the Alexa while shooting at 2K (just slightly larger than 1080p). 

 

05-minarets-spires_1600.jpg

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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

 

Seemingly you're coming at this from the perspective of a professional and you want a broadcast ready 4:2:2 camera. 

 

Andrew, let me enter your discussion with Tim

 

 

1. It is really difficult to estimate how much  1080p 4:2:2 10 bit on board would affect the cost of the camera (which price is estimated by 1500€ - not so much for this speed monster), but I bet if it was available on GH4 it would generate a lot of profits from both camps (enthusiasts/indies/small studions/photographers and broadcast volks).   

Thinking in analogy with all our previous experience with the GH line I am pretty sure that the lack of 4:2:2/10 bit is rather the "marketing segmentation" problem ((in)famous for the Japanese manufacturers) than the technical one. Perhaps they reserved it for an upgrade of AF100 (?)  

 

2. The argument: "4:2:2 is not given to support more compact files" is not serious to advocate its lack - if you need to save the space just set lower sampling, resolution, rates etc. - this is already there.

 

3. Overall, despite the camera did not give us everything we dreamed (since the GH2) in one pack, it is the great tool with many features beyond the competition. One of the strongest points of the camera is its capability to assist AF (which is now DFD(!)) via the touch screen what is indispensable for the dynamic shooting/tracking with the CD-based AF. I suppose that the value of the latter is not yet well realized by the filmmakers due to their binging to MF.   

 

4. In view of the pros/cons of both cameras, I would suggest that if one is on a lower budget, then the combination of GH4 alone [1500€] (dynamic scenes/tracking, low light) plus BM Pocket CC (DR, color, "film looking") [1000€ plus accessories]  would be a very practical solution.

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I've taken your argument back in time a bit and resized your image to SD.
 
Same argument, same flaw, but by taking it back in time hopefully you will see the flaws more clearly.
 

Is this a crappy looking image to you? Because you're effectively looking at it at a similar resolution as 480p. Despite the lowly resolution, I'm still picking up a great deal of fine detail. There are also plenty of great photographs taken with early DSLRs with resolutions that we'd consider laughable by today's standards.
 minarets-spires-480p.jpg

 

Technological progress is essential!

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1. It is really difficult to estimate how much  1080p 4:2:2 10 bit on board would affect the cost of the camera (which price is estimated by 1400€ - not so much), but I bet if it was available on GH4 it would generate a lot of profits from both camps.   

Thinking in analogy with our previous experience with the GH line I am pretty sure that the lack of  4:2:2/10 bit is rather the "marketing segmentation" problem (famous for the Japanese manufacturers) than a technical one. Perhaps they reserved it for an upgrade of AF100 (?)  

 

2. The argument: "4:2:2 is not given to support more compact files" is not serious - if you need to save the space just set lower sampling, resolution, rates etc. - this is already there.

 

My advice is add the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera as a B-camera for 4:2:2 when you need it.

 

Indeed Panasonic have a big broadcast presence and they probably want to sell broadcast cameras, by not giving the GH4 4:2:2 internal that's probably one way to sell those more expensive models.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Tim Naylor makes very good points. Also great article by Andrew. It's these kind of two-way discussions that make this site valuable.

I just have one reservation on the article- the notion that the GH4 will have similar Dynamic Range as the 4k raw BMPC. I just don't see or imagine it. But again, maybe I am wrong. I'd love to be!

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Hi there,

 

I'm a first time poster, and it's really nice to read the articles and discussions here. I'm learning a lot :) thanks!

 

From Andrew's conclusion:

"The GH4 has a lower point to entry but to get 10bit 4:2:2 and ProRes from an uncompressed 4K feed you will need the add-on box."

I was hoping the micro HDMI on the camera itself could output 4K 10bit 4:2:2, so you would "only" need an external 4K recorder to get a stronger codec at 4K resolution. I did a search for the official specifications and unfortunately it does sound like there is an automatic down-conversion to 1080p before the signal hits the camera's micro HDMI.

 

From the official specifications:

"4:2:2 8-bit / 4:2:2 10-bit (When 4:2:2 10-bit mode is selected, it is not possible to record motion picture or still picture on the SD memory card in the camera unit.)/information display ON/OFF (selectable)/Automatic down-conversion (4K → 1080p only)"

As I am just a hobbiest it would have been nice to be able to get a better 4K recording, if needed, by "just" investing in a future 4K recorder. The AG-YAGHG is not going to be cheap and it can't be used with other cameras, so it is not easy to justify for someone like me. l already have equipment to record audio seperately, and for my use I don't really see the need for 3G-SDI. Also, 4K at 10bit 4:2:2 appears to be within HDMI 2.0 specifications, as far as I can tell? Am I missing something?

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Some very good points in here Tim.

 

Seemingly you're coming at this from the perspective of a professional and you want a broadcast ready 4:2:2 camera. The article wasn't quite aimed at you, more towards the affordable camera / DSLR crowd. 

 

Nice article Andrew. Thanks!

 

I'm with Tim. My feeling with the GH4 is the same feeling I have with the BMPCC - I would happily pay twice the price for either of them, if they just delivered that little bit extra performance - say, decent screen, external controls, and audio on the BMPCC, and HD 10bit 4:2:2 internal on the GH4 (ok, along with that fabulous Olympus stabilisation). 

 

Panasonic - keep the GH4, and make a GH4 Pro, with 10 bit 4:2:2 internal, for twice the price - it'd still be peanuts for pro users.

 

I'd buy two!

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My advice is add the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera as a B-camera for 4:2:2 when you need it.

  If you mean GH4 is the A one then it's exactly my offer (item 4). 

 

Indeed Panasonic have a big broadcast presence and they probably want to sell broadcast cameras, by not giving the GH4 4:2:2 internal that's probably one way to sell those more expensive models.

  Seems to be their old paranoia :(... 

 

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I've taken your argument back in time a bit and resized your image to SD.
 
Same argument, same flaw, but by taking it back in time hopefully you will see the flaws more clearly.
 

 

Technological progress is essential!

 

If you want more analogy with the past you should add more blacks and highlights :). 

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Nice article Andrew. Thanks!

 

I'm with Tim. My feeling with the GH4 is the same feeling I have with the BMPCC - I would happily pay twice the price for either of them, if they just delivered that little bit extra performance - say, decent screen, external controls, and audio on the BMPCC, and HD 10bit 4:2:2 internal on the GH4 (ok, along with that fabulous Olympus stabilisation). 

 

Panasonic - keep the GH4, and make a GH4 Pro, with 10 bit 4:2:2 internal, for twice the price - it'd still be peanuts for pro users.

 

I'd buy two!

 

I'm sure Panasonic would love to see you an AF200 instead!

Let's see what comes at NAB.

 

(For the record I have no idea if such a thing even exists).

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I'm with Tim as well.

It's absolute non-sense that we can't have an internally recordable 4.2.2 codec with something like a GH4.

Andrew says - "Most shooters don't give a rats ass about whether their camera is BBC accredited or not."

Really? There are shooters that get paid for their work that care as well as independent film makers that read this site that understand the grading advantages of 4.2.2 that care - heck even students in schools and colleges doing green screen understand it and care.

We are your readers - Andrew.

To say "most shooters don't give a rats ass" is plainly wrong. Hence the support for Tim and other's comments.

Andrew also says "Seemingly you're coming at this from the perspective of a professional and you want a broadcast ready 4:2:2 camera. The article wasn't quite aimed at you, more towards the affordable camera / DSLR crowd."

But 4.2.2 is already in affordable cameras but unfortunately not in this particular affordable camera.

Hasn't this actually been your argument all along Andrew? That Canon and Panasonic and Sony etc just don't get it and don't deliver on the needs of the under budgeted DSLR crowd you write your blog for? 

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I've taken your argument back in time a bit and resized your image to SD.
 
Same argument, same flaw, but by taking it back in time hopefully you will see the flaws more clearly.
 

 

Technological progress is essential!

 

 

I think you misunderstood the point I was trying to make. For instance, take Magic Lantern raw on a 5D3 vs. h.264. The difference is pretty startling and I doubt I'd get any argument from you seeing that you wrote several books about it. Yet the resolution in both cases is exactly the same. Resolution is not the only factor to consider when evaluating cameras, yet I feel that we're in the midst of a massive amount of 4K hype coming from all sides in (I'm afraid) an attempt to get pros and consumers to update all of their gear and televisions. 

 

I'm not saying that the GH4 isn't a detailed sensor, from what I've seen I'd say that it's even too sharp. But I would invite the OP as well as the greater community to investigate more than just the resolution when evaluating the camera they want to use. 

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I'm with Tim as well.

It's absolute non-sense that we can't have an internally recordable 4.2.2 codec with something like a GH4.

Andrew says - "Most shooters don't give a rats ass about whether their camera is BBC accredited or not."

Really? There are shooters that get paid for their work that care as well as independent film makers that read this site that understand the grading advantages of 4.2.2 that care - heck even students in schools and colleges doing green screen understand it and care.

 

I also agree with Tim and you. Truth be told, I keep hearing from far too many professionals that Panasonic just doesn't "get it" when it comes to professional needs. At least Canon did make an effort to release a Cinema line which is renting like hot cakes here in Los Angeles. Canon did fail the entry-level semi-pro and indie market that they really have misunderstood since the very beginning of the DSLR revolution.

 

I'm not a Blackmagic fanboy, nor do I actually own any of their gear; but I will say that they seem to be the only camera company out there who is truly trying to innovate into a new m.o.  Are the BM cameras perfect? No, they have their warts no doubt, but they got it where it counts, which is when it comes to delivering the purest and most information-rich data that the sensor is capable of. Nobody else in this arena (let's call it the sub $5k tier) is doing that, opting instead to downgrade the image to suit whatever reasons they might have to do so.

 

I was even thinking about the silly 29:59 video recording limit in order to avoid extra tax in EU. I'd be willing to be that most professionals would rather pay the extra 30 euros or so of tax and get unlimited recording instead of saving a risible amount and get a crippled camera.

 

These might all seem like small detail, but in the minds of professionals who are looking for the right tools, all these minutia do add up.

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I'm with Tim as well.

It's absolute non-sense that we can't have an internally recordable 4.2.2 codec with something like a GH4.

Andrew says - "Most shooters don't give a rats ass about whether their camera is BBC accredited or not."

Really? There are shooters that get paid for their work that care as well as independent film makers that read this site that understand the grading advantages of 4.2.2 that care - heck even students in schools and colleges doing green screen understand it and care.

We are your readers - Andrew.

To say "most shooters don't give a rats ass" is plainly wrong. Hence the support for Tim and other's comments.

Andrew also says "Seemingly you're coming at this from the perspective of a professional and you want a broadcast ready 4:2:2 camera. The article wasn't quite aimed at you, more towards the affordable camera / DSLR crowd."

But 4.2.2 is already in affordable cameras but unfortunately not in this particular affordable camera.

Hasn't this actually been your argument all along Andrew? That Canon and Panasonic and Sony etc just don't get it and don't deliver on the needs of the under budgeted DSLR crowd you write your blog for? 

 

Tiresome. I didn't say people don't give a rats ass about 4:2:2 I said most people don't give a rats ass about having their camera on a short-list drawn up by a man in a cupboard at television centre.

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It's ironic that some on this thread are saying "look at the broader picture, not just resolution" and then constantly repeating that they won't be buying the GH4 because it doesn't do one small feature of the overall image (4:2:2 internally).

 

Actually it does do 4:2:2 internally. The whole image pipeline is 4:2:2 until the compression kicks in and goes to 4:2:0. That counts for something.

 

Furthermore a full pixel readout from the sensor with true 4:2:2 sampling internally is more important than the final compression format. Want proof? See the Nikon D800 internal 4:2:0 vs HDMI 4:2:2... Not much difference, and still lots of aliasing and stair stepping. 4:2:2 is actually a very minor thing in the grand scale of things. Pixel binning, line skipping, all that stuff - there's no point having 4:2:2 if you are doing that. In 4K on the GH4 you have no pixel binning or line skipping, it's a full pixel readout, like a crop of a 16MP JPEG still to 8MP. If you're not satisfied by that at $2k then you really need to reassess your expectations. Feel free to spend $12,000 on the 1D C if you want internal 4:2:2 in 4K.

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Actually it does do 4:2:2 internally. The whole image pipeline is 4:2:2 until the compression kicks in and goes to 4:2:0. That counts for something.

 

I don't know alot about compression, so does the image look (saturation, etc) bake in before it's kicked to 4:2:0?

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It's ironic that some on this thread are saying "look at the broader picture, not just resolution" and then constantly repeating that they won't be buying the GH4 because it doesn't do one small feature of the overall image (4:2:2 internally).

 

Actually it does do 4:2:2 internally. The whole image pipeline is 4:2:2 until the compression kicks in and goes to 4:2:0. That counts for something.

 

Furthermore a full pixel readout from the sensor with true 4:2:2 sampling internally is more important than the final compression format. Want proof? See the Nikon D800 internal 4:2:0 vs HDMI 4:2:2... Not much difference, and still lots of aliasing and stair stepping. 4:2:2 is actually a very minor thing in the grand scale of things. Pixel binning, line skipping, all that stuff - there's no point having 4:2:2 if you are doing that. In 4K on the GH4 you have no pixel binning or line skipping, it's a full pixel readout, like a crop of a 16MP JPEG still to 8MP. If you're not satisfied by that at $2k then you really need to reassess your expectations. Feel free to spend $12,000 on the 1D C if you want internal 4:2:2 in 4K.

 

One should not forget that it is not sampling (4:2:2 vs 4:2:0) alone but also the color representation (10 bit vs 8 bit) is important for the overall quality, isn't it ? Just the same as jpeg vs. raw. 

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Panasonic - keep the GH4, and make a GH4 Pro, with 10 bit 4:2:2 internal, for twice the price - it'd still be peanuts for pro users.

 

I'd buy two!

 

I am not sure it is a hardware rather than the firmware (=marketing, in their understanding) problem...

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 If you're not satisfied by that at $2k then you really need to reassess your expectations. Feel free to spend $12,000 on the 1D C if you want internal 4:2:2 in 4K.

 

I think people are reacting to the fact that in 2014 perhaps it's time to expect higher bit depth even from $2k cameras. Canon for instance lost me at their reluctance to add 1080p 60fps to their 5D3 even though there is little doubt that the hardware could handle it (pretty sure that if GoPro can figure it out, so can Canon). 

 

I guess ultimately it all depends on what your specific needs are. I look at EOSHD as a resource for a wide range of shooters. For my needs I'd still prefer shooting raw and a s35 size sensor over a tighter crop and lower bit depth. 

 

I also think we should all be honest and agree that there is some "brand bias" at work here too. 

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I still for the life of me have no idea what people are on about when they say you must shoot in 4.2.2 to meet some television standard. I have worked in broadcast television for years and have never ever ever heard of something 'rejected' because it isn't 4.2.2. Ever. Matter of fact, when working for television news, I would personally shoot plenty of full news packages in 4.2.0. Nobody cares. They filter it through a switcher. It's not like if you shoot something internally with this camera and then give it to the BBC or another national news outlet they'll go, "WHAT?! YOU AREN'T USING THE PROPER SUBSAMPLING?! WE CAN'T USE THIS!" and throw it out the window. News flash, people: cell phone video makes the news every single day. YouTube clips are pulled. Half the national news packages in the feeds that are used in broadcast aren't even full 1080p. This whole 'BBC Approved Color Space' thing is a load of malarkey and is only thrown around by folks who have absolutely no clue how television broadcast works.

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