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Andrew Reid

Panasonic GH4 Review

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Thanks for the review Andrew, great read!

 

Really excited to see what June 3rd is all about! An EF Speedbooster with electronic connection would be amazing. I've had my GH4 for about a week now using a focal reducer that does the job, but aperture control and IS would be nice.

 

Here's my first test, shot the day after I got the camera and could put a lens on it with the focal reducer I got off of Ebay. Tried out the VFR mode and I must say I'm really impressed. My expectations were a lot lower after reading people's opinions and watching their tests. So excited to see what this camera is capable off

 

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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

ah...just so beautiful.  

Color grading, in camera and post? Care to share?

 

 

image looks nice but i see a lot of noise, what was your aperture and what model of speedbooster like model was it ? did you do noise reduction in post ? thank you

 

Since this was my first test, I did (like most others I think) just switch to Cinelike D, and turned down contrast, sharpness, saturation and NR all the way, raised shadows and lowered highlights. This ended up giving me some noise in the shadows, yes. I've done some tests now and I think the image out of Cinelike V with similar configurations is a bit more appealing and less noisy.

 

But personally I think the noise is not that bad, but rather adds to the feeling. It's not like the ugly noise you usually get out of a DSLR. But what you see, and reacts to is probably the FilmConvert grain, which I added when grading. I really like the feeling it brings to the footage. In addition it's graded with levels and some custom build Looks I always add to adjustment layers in After Effects. I use the blending mode and opacity, usually setting one layer to Screen, one to Soft Light and one to normal with opacities between 20-50%. It really brings out the exact look you're going for.

 

The aperture was set to wide open on an EF 70-200 f/4.0L, using this focal reducer for EF to M4/3, http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Canon-EF-EOS-speed-booster-turbo-adapter-to-m4-3-mft-GF5-GF6-GX1-EM5-EM1-BM-/201055599564.

 

I got to borrow the lens from a friend, since I had all my gear but the camera in London. Now I've tested the setup with my EF 24-70 f/2.8L II and I must say the results look amazing. Fingers crossed that what ever Andrew's hinting at turns out to be an EF-M4/3 GH4 specific speed booster with electronic connection.. Can it really be that good?!

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I am sorry to say that it seems to me that this review is somehow biased. Subjective qualities shouldn't be confused with objective ones.

There is a strong emphasis on the pros, which are undoubtably many and a trivialisation of the cons. Mainly noise and DR.

From the various videos posted, it is objectively evident that the GH4 performs very bad above ISO 1600. Many users say the wouldn't use it above 800. Also since most shoot 4k fot a better HD, i am focusing on HD. As another poster noted, and this is also not subjective, there is a huge DR difference between BMPCC (and obviously the A7s) and the GH4.

Personally i'd go further an add that the image from the BMPCC is miles better and it costs 4x -that is four times! less. Is it as crisp - no, is it 4K - no, but the quality is not just crispness as many have noted and to which I totally agree.

And also I don't understand why compression and small size is a good thing when comparing the GH4 to higher end cameras with higher bit rates and it is a bad thing when the A7s does it, compared to the 200mbps HD of the GH4.(which almost no one uses anyway as they shoot 4k which is HALF the data rate of the A7s. A 50mbps rate which is constantly under attack).

Again, I believe that the GH4 is a great overall camera from the many different reviews I have read/watched but a rounded review, if it wants to be unbiased, should point out- not hide, the cons. And to my opinion, and I believe to many others, these two points Dynamic Range and Noise are quite vital.

I might have misread the review, bu this is how it comes out to me.

It sounds to me as though you are the one who is extremely biased. As long as subjectivity shouldn't be confused with objectivity, as you say, then let's stick to facts. First of all, the BMPCC is NOT four times less expensive - what kind of math are you using? In fact, with all the gear you'll need, some people would argue that the BMPCC is far more expensive than the GH4. And according to the tests and videos I've watched from the two cameras, the difference in dynamic range is not HUGE. Then, there is no such thing as one camera being MILES better than another - for one thing, no camera is ideal for every situation. Actually, I'm tired of BM users attacking the Panasonic cameras - it gets old very quickly. I've even read one BM user who had the audacity to claim that all the buttons and menu choices get in the way of shooting! haha

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Do GH4 full pixel readout when shooting video full hd?

 

In this preview:

http://www.eoshd.com/content/11934/panasonic-gh4-preview

 

4K from a nearly full pixel readout of the sensor, internal recording

 

My feedback to Panasonic was to give us the full sensor 4.6K readout and let us scale it to 4K in post as the reduced sensor size is perhaps a little disappointing. I’m told Panasonic had much internal discussion over whether to take a 1:1 pixel readout of the sensor for 4K video, or to take the full sensor and scale (zoom) it down. The latter technique entails a drop of image quality because we’re back to pixel binning again. In the end they used the same technique as Canon on the 1D C – optimal image quality, reduced recording area – and it seems to pay off looking at the output.

 

In this review:

http://www.eoshd.com/content/12771/panasonic-gh4-review

...excellent sensor with full pixel readout...

 

What is correct?

 

For example about Sony RX100 Mk3:

http://www.sony.net/Products/di/en-gb/products/c3jk/feature.html?contentsTop=1

"Full-pixel readout reduces artefacts

By using the power and speed of the BIONZ X processing engine to read the data from all of the image sensor's pixels at high speed, artefacts are effectively suppressed so that a smooth, high-resolution image is reproduced."

 

 

But Panasonic do not say about GH4 so on his site.

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There seems to be various pissing matches concerning specs of this camera and that. At the end of the day, does it produce an image you like and how useable it is? I'm in prep for a movie I start in a few weeks. Intended for theatrical release we need IQ that'll hold up to the big screen. So we tested F55 vs Dragon vs Alexa. The tests were precise and extensive: ISO, over / under exposure, all with people and Macbeth Color Charts. Because of the tight schedule, I wanted the smaller cameras (f55 and Dragon) to be as good or better than the Arri. So we graded and projected the results at a full on commercial grade suite with a 15' screen.

 

The producer and director immediately felt the Arri was a hands down the better image. They couldn't quantify it. Being a tech, for me and the colorist, it all came down to flesh tones and color grade across the entire exposure range. When we wrestled with the F55 to get a rich honest flesh tone, the color chart was completely off (read: extra time in post keying and windowing that no one wants to pay for). The Epic came close, having quietest noise at all ISO's, but it too had some flesh tone issues as well as color aberrations in clipped areas. Worth noting, we shot the Alexa at 444 Pro Rez, not Arri Raw. How does it retain its amazing colors? Trading pixels for color space, instead of spreading your butter too thin.

 

Why do I bring this up? Because much of the conversations here obsess about pixel count, DR and other specs but few mention how well it grades the human face and how the grade effects your back ground colors. When I compare cameras, it's the first thing I look at (and what audience's pay the most attention to). The F55 despite it's stellar specs is dead to me as a feature film camera. We don't make movies for techs.

 

So I'm holding my judgement on the GH4 until I see some footage, not of rocks, bridges and buildings at night, cars, aggressive music video LUT's but just attempts to shoot faces, graded as naturally as can be. This is what attracted me to the BMC line up. I felt the colors were honest, requiring little work out of the box. I believe this is much of the success of the C300/500 line (see Hurlbut tests) despite being 8 bit and clippy on the high end. The F55 held highlights 6 stops over key. Insane DR. But specs do not a great image make. We also tested Scheider Xenars vs Cooke S4's vs Super Speeds. The sharpest of the bunch, the Schneiders were the F55 of lenses. Soulless paperweights.

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But personally I think the noise is not that bad, but rather adds to the feeling. It's not like the ugly noise you usually get out of a DSLR. But what you see, and reacts to is probably the FilmConvert grain, which I added when grading. I really like the feeling it brings to the footage. In addition it's graded with levels and some custom build Looks I always add to adjustment layers in After Effects. I use the blending mode and opacity, usually setting one layer to Screen, one to Soft Light and one to normal with opacities between 20-50%. It really brings out the exact look you're going for.


I completely agree. I honestly didn't notice the noise until I read the comment - not that I couldn't see it, it's just that the image overall was so lovely that I didn't really take notice of it. Quite pleasing, and if it every frustrates in the future it could probably be completely removed with NeatVideo.

Side note: excellent review, Andrew! Well written, beautiful footage.

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Since this was my first test, I did (like most others I think) just switch to Cinelike D, and turned down contrast, sharpness, saturation and NR all the way, raised shadows and lowered highlights. This ended up giving me some noise in the shadows, yes. I've done some tests now and I think the image out of Cinelike V with similar configurations is a bit more appealing and less noisy.

 

But personally I think the noise is not that bad, but rather adds to the feeling. It's not like the ugly noise you usually get out of a DSLR. But what you see, and reacts to is probably the FilmConvert grain, which I added when grading. I really like the feeling it brings to the footage. In addition it's graded with levels and some custom build Looks I always add to adjustment layers in After Effects. I use the blending mode and opacity, usually setting one layer to Screen, one to Soft Light and one to normal with opacities between 20-50%. It really brings out the exact look you're going for.

 

The aperture was set to wide open on an EF 70-200 f/4.0L, using this focal reducer for EF to M4/3, http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Canon-EF-EOS-speed-booster-turbo-adapter-to-m4-3-mft-GF5-GF6-GX1-EM5-EM1-BM-/201055599564.

 

I got to borrow the lens from a friend, since I had all my gear but the camera in London. Now I've tested the setup with my EF 24-70 f/2.8L II and I must say the results look amazing. Fingers crossed that what ever Andrew's hinting at turns out to be an EF-M4/3 GH4 specific speed booster with electronic connection.. Can it really be that good?!

It strikes me as curious that those who complain the most about noise are the very ones who take great pains to introduce grain into their videos with Gorilla Grain or Film Convert, which to my eyes, is virtually indistinguishable from noise. I almost added, 'when viewed on Vimeo', but since this is the platform most of us are using to distribute our videos (well, ok, I'm guilty of using YouTube!), whether the original files looked better or not is almost irrelevant. If that is the case, it might be better to make two versions: one for yourself, and one (without added grain) for distribution. By no means do I outright object to grain, but it shouldn't be used indiscriminately - it ought to serve some expressive purpose. Another thought that occurred to me is that some may be editing on laptops, not realizing how the grain actually appears on a larger monitor (that is, distracting). 

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I completely agree. I honestly didn't notice the noise until I read the comment - not that I couldn't see it, it's just that the image overall was so lovely that I didn't really take notice of it. Quite pleasing, and if it every frustrates in the future it could probably be completely removed with NeatVideo.

Side note: excellent review, Andrew! Well written, beautiful footage.

I  thought the noise was from a mis set ISO. I viewed it on a large monitor and found it somewhat degrading. Most of the GH4 footage I've seen is much cleaner.

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I  thought the noise was from a mis set ISO. I viewed it on a large monitor and found it somewhat degrading. Most of the GH4 footage I've seen is much cleaner.

It's added in post. Just his personal taste/ aesthetic. Perhaps a bit much on a larger display, but I think it suits the tone of the video nicely.

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There seems to be various pissing matches concerning specs of this camera and that. At the end of the day, does it produce an image you like and how useable it is? I'm in prep for a movie I start in a few weeks. Intended for theatrical release we need IQ that'll hold up to the big screen. So we tested F55 vs Dragon vs Alexa. The tests were precise and extensive: ISO, over / under exposure, all with people and Macbeth Color Charts. Because of the tight schedule, I wanted the smaller cameras (f55 and Dragon) to be as good or better than the Arri. So we graded and projected the results at a full on commercial grade suite with a 15' screen.

 

The producer and director immediately felt the Arri was a hands down the better image. They couldn't quantify it. Being a tech, for me and the colorist, it all came down to flesh tones and color grade across the entire exposure range. When we wrestled with the F55 to get a rich honest flesh tone, the color chart was completely off (read: extra time in post keying and windowing that no one wants to pay for). The Epic came close, having quietest noise at all ISO's, but it too had some flesh tone issues as well as color aberrations in clipped areas. Worth noting, we shot the Alexa at 444 Pro Rez, not Arri Raw. How does it retain its amazing colors? Trading pixels for color space, instead of spreading your butter too thin.

 

Why do I bring this up? Because much of the conversations here obsess about pixel count, DR and other specs but few mention how well it grades the human face and how the grade effects your back ground colors. When I compare cameras, it's the first thing I look at (and what audience's pay the most attention to). The F55 despite it's stellar specs is dead to me as a feature film camera. We don't make movies for techs.

 

So I'm holding my judgement on the GH4 until I see some footage, not of rocks, bridges and buildings at night, cars, aggressive music video LUT's but just attempts to shoot faces, graded as naturally as can be. This is what attracted me to the BMC line up. I felt the colors were honest, requiring little work out of the box. I believe this is much of the success of the C300/500 line (see Hurlbut tests) despite being 8 bit and clippy on the high end. The F55 held highlights 6 stops over key. Insane DR. But specs do not a great image make. We also tested Scheider Xenars vs Cooke S4's vs Super Speeds. The sharpest of the bunch, the Schneiders were the F55 of lenses. Soulless paperweights.

 

 

I completely agree with this. Obviously it depends what the camera will be used for, but for the cinematic - it's absolutely essential that the human face is taken notice of before anything else. There are a lot of testers filming trees, buildings, beaches, ducks.... but nothing much on actual faces. 

 

From what I've seen, the Digital Bolex is stunning for skintones. The lens is just as important though - modern stills lenses are not too flattering with skin, which is why I mostly use vintage primes for a creamier, softer look.

 

Had no experience with the F55, but I've used the FS700 a lot. Most challenging camera to use ever for decent skintones, the highlights are awful and the thin image is biased towards red.  

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The FS700 has been challenging for skintones, however after tweaking profiles it's not so bad if carefully lit, white balanced, and exposed for skintones. The GH4 is also a bit thin in the skintone domain. The reason 5D3 RAW is called the baby Alexa is that skintones are handled extremely well, without having to go to extreme lengths to make skin look good. I'm going to the trouble to experiment with the GH4 to find out how to best get good skintones as it is a much more efficient camera to use in post vs. 5D3 RAW. It's also more stealthy when shooting in public- doesn't draw any attention. For wide, outdoor/landscape shots, the GH4 4K is excellent and even the FS700 can't match it for 1080p (GH4 4K => 1080p). Different tools at different price points with different amounts of work and storage: no one tool for all purposes (yet!).

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This skin tone conversation is complete nonsense. There has been lots of footage of people shot with the GH4, and skin tones are beautiful. But it's great to hear the GH4 being mentioned in the same breath as cameras costing $30,000 and up!

@Tim Naylor Did it come as a huge surprise that the Arri had better colors than the Red and the F55?

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The GH4 is also a bit thin in the skintone domain. The reason 5D3 RAW is called the baby Alexa is that skintones are handled extremely well, without having to go to extreme lengths to make skin look good.

 

The reason why we'd like Canon to make something to compete with GH4 and A7s. OK, if it's a crop, and maybe even not 4k, but with all that jazz color stuff.

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I find Sony boost the red channel in all their cameras at the expense of blue, possibly accuracy in greens can be lacking too.

 

My Sony RX1 stills camera for instance is extremely harsh for portrait shots, it really does make people look ill, with red bags under their eyes, magnifies any imperfection, gives blotchy redness and spottiness to faces... You have to desaturate the red channel massively afterwards. Not good.

 

This is where Canon are much stronger. Panasonic takes a bit more work but it gets there.

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This skin tone conversation is complete nonsense. 

 

It isn't nonsense. While I have personally seen a few decent examples on the net of the GH4 (although not many), this doesn't negate the discussion of skin tones being very important. With careful lighting, the right lens choices, the in-camera settings, the grade... a lot of cameras can be pushed to give a pleasing image for the skin. 

 

It's obvious cameras like the Digital Bolex make this easier to achieve, whereas Sony cameras are far more challenging due to the issues Andrew pointed out. The GH4 falls between, it's a very capable camera in the right hands. I'm buying one soon to replace my GH3. 

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okay, it's not nonsense then. whatever makes you happy. Then Daniel Peters has done an excellent job at hiding all the flaws of the camera (except the lack of IBIS!).

 

BTW, WHICH camera are you buying, Olly? The Bolex, with its flawless tonality?

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Great review of GH4!  This camera is on its way to becoming "Camera of the Year".

 

From the footage I have seen so far, there will be some challenge to getting the "filmic" look.  Just shooting straight out of the box doesn't appear to get the look many filmmakers are looking for.  Some people have succeeded, and since, the camera just came out, it will take experimentation with settings and lighting to get the look people are trying to achieve.  It's good news that it grades fairly well, too.

 

No doubt, that the GH4 is a powerhouse in a small package.

 

Michael

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okay, it's not nonsense then. whatever makes you happy. Then Daniel Peters has done an excellent job at hiding all the flaws of the camera (except the lack of IBIS!).

 

BTW, WHICH camera are you buying, Olly? The Bolex, with its flawless tonality?

 

Daniel Peters has done a great job, and I'm sure he would using any camera. I think the lack of IBIS adds something, depends on your personal taste. 

 

I'd love a Digital Bolex, just because I find its features unique and I love the image it is capable of for the price. The "flawless tonality" doesn't come with the camera, it's the user! If you know what you are doing, some cameras just make a life a bit easier. I'll stop saying obvious stuff now :)

 

I'll be buying the GH4 as I've had a lot of success with the GH3, and it suits my style and needs perfectly. When I need more power behind the wheel, I just hire another camera. 

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