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Andrew Reid

Panasonic GH4 Review

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Panasonic GH4 - with Cooke Panchro Cinema lens

The Panasonic GH4 is $1699 and available here at B&H Photo Video
Today only - tune into the B&H Studio GH4 live broadcast here (starting 1PM EDT)

The Panasonic GH4, is it a cinematic monster or a wimpy video camera?

It's a monster. Even compared to the full frame 14bit raw from the 5D Mark III the GH4 holds its own. It represents a big return to form for Panasonic, a consumer camera that pushes way beyond the image provided by the GH3 and AF100. As a 4K camera never has the format been so practical to shoot as it is with the GH4. With file sizes 8x less than on the nearest competitor and a price 5x less expensive than the Canon 1D C, the GH4 is the most exciting camera I have ever shot with at EOSHD.

Read the full article here

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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

[On live webcast...]

 

1. The moment you see the Panny rep you know the camera is going to be free of shortcomings and flawless in every aspect.

2. The best use they can come up with for slo.mo are family videos.

3. They omit the imminent launch of the Shogun and "the brick" is presented as the only option to record 422 4K externally.

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Hey Andrew, 

 

great job on the review! Unfortunately I don't come to a conclusion wether I should sell my 5d Mk3 ML Raw to get the GH4 or not. 

I adore the IQ of the 5d3 but I strive for the most portable and an easy-to-use setup. 

Is in your opinion the GH4 IQ a notable downgrade in comparison to the 5d3 ml raw (grading is not that relevant for me)? What would be your pick?

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@pablogrolian

 

1. I think the rep was actually quite honest in his assessments for being a company man.    

2. slo-mo has obvious uses.  I think showing the baby video was a nice touch.  you have to realize not everyone buys cameras to shoot movies, weddings, or corporate videos.

3. They said "As of now" as far as the brick, and they were right.   I agree with you that they should have mentioned the Shogun. 

 

Overall, I enjoyed the camera getting some B&H love. At least in the USA, they are a major player in cameras and putting something other than a canon or nikon in front of the people for a few hours is nice. 

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I'm sorry but these reviewers suck!

 

1. The moment you see the Panny rep you know the camera is going to be free of shortcomings and flawless in every aspect.

2. The best use they can come up with for slo.mo are family videos.

3. They omit the imminent launch of the Shogun and "the brick" is presented as the only option to record 422 4K externally.

 

i dont even know what youre talking about dude...

 

Anyway Andrew, lovely review, thank you very much.

 

 

  • Codec does not prioritise very dark areas of the image resulting in some macro-blocking in very dimly lit situations

     

     

 concerning this topic: do you think raising the pedestal and pushing it down in post slightly fixes the problem?

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I have no idea what pablogrollan is trying to say...anyway...

 

Great review! As Panasonic have got better with their cameras, so have your reviews. I've not pulled the trigger yet as a GH3 owner but will soon. Seen some ace stuff by shooters on the web. 

 

I noticed you mentioned the RED Epic in your post. I've been doing a few shoots on a rental unit recently and the power from that thing is immense.

 

Editing REDCODE is a breeze, but you know what? All my friends prefer the videos I've shot on my GH3 - they say my style goes missing on the Epic (I jump straight into the action with the GH3) and that while the Epic looks better, the small from factor of the GH3 opens the world up and I end up getting better shots, more creative, dynamic and exciting. I agree - it's sheer proof a higher specced camera does NOT make you a better shooter....in the Epic's case, it made me a little bit worse!

 

The GH4 is exciting because it's a smooth upgrade path - your style isn't limited by higher specced clunky (but awesome) monsters, and the image quality jumps, better tools to do a better job of what you are used to.

 

I'm a bit like you Andrew in that I like to be as light as possible, sure I've got a lot of clunky gear like lights, sliders, jibs etc and I enjoy to be on a big crew when I need to be, but its quite amazing what is available now to free up your hands (and shoulders, and back) and get shooting!

 

I'm planning to use the GH4 with a Silencer Pro (triggered follow focus, Kickstarter funded), with side handles and an Atomos Shogun mounted on the top. :)

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Hi everyone, great review Andrew, thanks.

 

I wanted to ask you people some advice, I have a Canon 60D, and have invested in a few EF lenses, canon 28mm f1.8, canon 50mm f1.4, tokina 11-16mm f2.8 which I don't want to sell, now, I'd really like to get the GH4 once I have the possibility, and wondering if can use my lenses on it with electronic control? Does the Speedbooster give you this possibility? If not, how do you control your settings with speedbooster? sorry for my ignorance and thanks in advance,

 

Davide

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@Olly P and @pietz

 

I was talking about the live broadcast from B&H that was linked in  the first post, not Andrew's review which is in fact much more detailed and useful.

 

 

@pablogrolian

 

1. I think the rep was actually quite honest in his assessments for being a company man.

 

He was, but as a company man he was obviously biased (it's his job!) and the other two didn't address any "issues" that the camera may have.

 

 

Overall, I enjoyed the camera getting some B&H love. At least in the USA, they are a major player in cameras and putting something other than a canon or nikon in front of the people for a few hours is nice. 

 

B&H are the reference camera retailer for the whole world. Perhaps that's why I expected something more "informative" and less branded, that's all.

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Thank you for the in-depth review Andrew. The GH4 is an absolutely amazing and easy to use camera and I'm loving almost every aspect of it. This has replaced both of my Pocket and BMCC cameras and saved me a lot of money from renting out a RED or Sony F camera. The GH4 is a powerhouse that I've used on every kind of production from: nature, corporate, narrative, commercial, fashion, and professional stills. It's an all in one package that is impossible to ignore.

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I felt like Matt (the company guy) was pretty knowledgeable about everything and didn't try to sugar-coat the camera's flaws too much.  He basically conceded to full-frame on low light sensitivity, and wasn't afraid to bring up the issues with shooting on EF-mount glass.

 

The B&H rep definitely threw out some hard balls, which I wasn't expecting.  I seriously did not expect to hear anything about the audio grounding issue. Funny that the workaround is to buy Panasonic's shotgun mic.

 

But even with all of this in mind, I still wasn't happy with the way they skirted around the issue of dynamic range.  Eduardo said "10 stops", and Matt said "I would tell people 11", but nobody really delivered any official numbers.  I mean, this dude can talk about subtle differences in codecs all day long, but won't give us an official line on usable dynamic range?  

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Really enjoyed the review Andrew. I had a basic question about one of your points...

 

"ALL-I encoding instead of IPB (which subtly changes motion cadence)"

 

I was wondering if you could explain (or point me to an example if possible) of how the motion cadence is subtly different with ALL-I encoding? Still learning this stuff so appreciate any info you might share.

 

Thanks a lot!

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There is one workaround to avoid the transcoding process to ProRes - however you will not be able to record the original 4K files this way. Record in UltraHD directly to an external recorder like Atomos Ninja Blade. Set HDMI output to 10bit, you will not be able to record internally, but it will stream a very beautiful 10 bit 1080 24p stream directly to your recorder, far sharper and with less aliasing than the internal 1080p mode. However there is an issue with especially 50Hz (and some 60Hz modes), since Ninja Blade will only record a 1080i stream in AVCHD mode. To take advantage of full progressive you need to go into 24Hz. 

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Without a doubt the GH4 is a nice camera, but to be honest the low light performance and the DR are far from the bmpcc. Not for me.

 

That's a little dramatic!

 

The BMCC and BMPCC sensor is rated for 13 stops according to Blackmagic.

 

However usable dynamic range is what we should really measure.

 

The lows on the Blackmagic cameras are noisy and the lows on the GH4 are compressed (by the encoder allocating more of the available datarate to the mids).

 

So to get optimal range we shoot exposed to the right on the Blackmagic and on the GH4 we use the in-camera settings to move the black level up so that the encoder deals better with the lows.

 

Even now we should not measure dynamic range yet (like in SOOOO many test videos I've seen in LOG or with a flat profile!!) because the curve of the image has reduced colour saturation and contrast, it's too flat.

 

What is magic about film and a very high end camera like the Alexa is that they have a high dynamic range even when graded and not just with the LOG curve.

 

In our grade we're dealing with usable dynamic range. For example we crush the shadows until the noise goes away and we apply an S-curve to get our lovely colour and contrast back.

 

At this point in my tests I concluded the GH4 and BMPCC dynamic range was roughly about the same... Around 10 stops. Still less than the 14 stops of film but still up there with DSLR-stills photos.

 

Furthermore when we oversample 1080p from 4K in post, we get 10bit luma and 444 colour sampling so the GH4 is not deficient there either, with very smooth transitions between shades and no pixilation around high contrast red edges for example.

 

On DXOMark the 5D Mark III's sensor is rated for about 11.5 stops and the GH4's sensor is rated for approximately 11.5 stops also (similar sensor as GX7 and GM1). If you look at the raw stills from both cameras you get a nice 11.5 stops, or roughly close to that figure anyway.

 

The way to think about the GH4's 4K video dynamic range is to compare it to a JPEG still shot on the camera in stills mode or on the 5D Mark III, but bare in mind that the video is more compressed in the shadows, so you do lose some USABLE dynamic range compared to a still.

 

Same situation though with the BMCC due to noise in the lows.

 

So there you go.

 

And as for low light performance again they are evenly matched, especially with Speed Booster but I do find the noise grain and tonality in the blacks slightly better on the BMPCC.... Not by much but there is a small difference.

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[On live webcast...]

1. The moment you see the Panny rep you know the camera is going to be free of shortcomings and flawless in every aspect.
2. The best use they can come up with for slo.mo are family videos.
3. They omit the imminent launch of the Shogun and "the brick" is presented as the only option to record 422 4K externally.

The GH4 goes into the books as the first camera that is actually better and more useful than the sales reps say themselves :)

Great write up review Andrew. You cross all the points why I went with this camera: price, size, ease of use, stealth, no rigging necessary, incredible battery, and it has some pretty decent image quality as a bonus ;)

Btw... That June 3rd thing you put in there... Exciting! Kinda sounds like a speed booster that makes EF glass work fullframe on the GH4... Fingers crossed! What time does your NDA end? I'm gonna set my alarm :p

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

 

I have been testing the X today and all I can say is.... WOW!!

So 0.50X reducing factor making the GH4 near full frame ?? electronic EF mount? well that would be an awesome day!! :D

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