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Panasonic GH4 user films, tests, reviews and opinions

Andrew Reid

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Can I ask how easy it was to work with the anamorphic adapter? And if you think it was worth it?
Do you feel like it actually added anything to the image? I mean you could have just filmed the same subjects but wider on Cine4k, and added black bars.
Oval shaped bokeh and horizontal light probably doesn't add that much feeling to the image doesn't it?
I want my short films I'm planning on making to look cinematic, but not really seeing the benefit of using an adapter like that? (Trying to keep costs low, but if it truly does help then it's probably worth the money).

It's easy to work with but it definitely limits you. I haven't even tried it on other lenses because you have to change the adapter rings to match the lens size, and that process takes a few minutes. Makes you wish you could have an Anamorphot for each lens and just switch them out quickly. Then focusing is a bit tricky but that's the same on every anamorphic lens, and you'll always need diopters for closeup shots. So yeah, it would definitely be easier to just shoot with normal spherical lenses and use the black bars, but with anamorphic you get a different look. It's more than just the flares and bokeh, it's different framing. For me it adds scale to your backgrounds. Makes it feel like you're subject is surrounded by a huge world around them. It's more cinematic in many ways. But the 1.33x isn't that much of a change. I think the 1.5/2x anamorphics create a stronger effect.
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Welcome to the forums Nicos! Watching your intercut footage, which is beautiful btw, it looks like the Panasonic can hold it's own compared to a camera costing some $12,000. I'm currently in the middle of shooting and getting ready to post my own results soon, but unfortunately, nobody is sending me to Georgia! :( I did find the highlights in both of your clips to be a bit on the bright side, but that's just a matter of taste - I prefer low key shots.

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Watching your intercut footage, which is beautiful btw, it looks like the Panasonic can hold it's own compared to a camera costing some $12,000. 


Yes it does pretty well in daylight but I wouldn't use it for lowlight shots or night scenes. Dynamic range is not as great and noise level is very high even at the lowest iso. In the end let's just say it works great for what I use it for, and that is all that matters.


On the ergonomic side (is that english ?) of course it cannot compete with the C300 or even the C100, but as a B or C camera it's definitely the best and most affordable option in my opinion. The flip screen, decent EVF, splash proofing, time lapse features and time code options are very welcome in a production environment.

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Fourthly, picture is beautifull, crisp and stellar in video, but... crisp is the word, crisp everywhere, on the center, the border, I really have to open to f1.4 to get a real bokeh and softness in the compositions of my shots



At full aperture, nearly all lenses are in their most flaws everywhere (even professionnal expensive primes of every companies), focus, color franging, flairs, distorsion, as an effect it can be good sometimes, but to create soft focus, bokeh etc, I like not to shoot too much in my limited field of full aperture. And this camera makes you shoot too often with all the flaws of your even great lenses to produce images you would get at f2 or f2.8 with a full frame without any flaws to correct in post or even worst flaws you could not take off as soft corners or soft focus lightened with color franging (so beautiful 70's pron italian style, ahahahah! ).


OK.  I'm confused.  First the camera is too crisp, then the camera forces you to shoot wide open resulting in images that show all the flaws of the fast lenses that you are using.  In other words, the image is too flawed/fuzzy.  So which is it?  Too crisp, or too fuzzy?  From where I sit is seems like you have more of an issue with lens selection than anything else.


Theyve been complaining about the 4/3s sensors having less DoF vs. full frame sensors for years now in the stills community.  Bottom line is that 4/3s simply generally has less DoF range (less true now with affordable focal length reducers).  And if you want to maximize DoF and still have sharp images, then you need to spend big money on excellent fast glass.  I assure you that my 50mm f/2.0  Zuiko Digital Macro is plenty sharp wide open at f/2.0 (decent bokeh quality as well).

What I find surprising is the number of posts I see in the film community complaining about the DoF of the GHx series cameras.  Why is this?  I ask because here's another "bottom line."  The 35mm still camera "full frame" film format happens to be pretty near optimal for acheiving the maximum overall range of DoF compared to any other imaging format.  It's right around the sweet spot of compromises.  And thats compared to the smaller Academy Standard frame as well - which has been the mainstay of filmaking for many decades.   That standard is closer in size to 4/3 than is 35mm "full frame." So if anything, the extra large "full frame" sensors should be less "cinematic", not more.


When I look at specs for cinema primes, the standard aperture seems to cluster around f/1.8 or so (t-stop actually).  Zooms seem to range between f/2.0 and f/2.8.  Now I'm no expert, but I'm betting the vast majority of footage shot was probably not shot wide open.


Given the availability of speedboosters, the fact that m4/3s sensors use the best (center) section from 35mm "full frame" lenses, and that lenses designed for m4/3s (good ones cluster around f/2.8 with a few here and there in the f/1.8 - f/2.0 ballpark) generally perform very well wide open, and that the format sizes are fairly similar - I don't see what the fuss is all about. 


When I step back and try to take in the landscape, it seems to me that what we have today is some kind of new cinematic sensibitlity taking hold where shallow DoF has somehow come to reign supreme. And this has caused the real significance in the differences in DoF between a GHx camera and a traditional 35mm cinema camera to become exaggerated.


It is absolutely true that GHx cameras don't provide as much flexibility with DoF as a full frame DSLR.  There is no debating  that.  And if getting the most shallow DoF is a priority for you, then that's a big factor.  But goodness folks, lets not get carried away with the degree to which that matters in general cinematic shooting.  The formats used by the GHx cameras are actually a very nice compromise and fairly similar to traditional cinema formats.  If that weren't the case, then the GHx series probably would not have so successful that Panasonic has continued to evolve it more and more toward professional videography and filmmaking.

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Yeah I shot Cinelike D, Contrast -5, Highlights -5, Shadows +5, Master Pedestal +15.  Way too flat, I had all kinds of weird color casts in the skin tones and shadows.  I tried to fix it by increasing blue in the shadows, but that didn't help too much.  I think it's easier to shoot at 0 settings and lift the shadows in post.  Or not even lift the shadows, as stock settings seem to be just fine.  But I think the color casts, especially skin, have to be shot normally, not a flat profile.  Still learning what works best with the GH4.

I was warned NOT to use the curve in camera, which I feel could be a big source of your issues. I have been using James Miller's settings with great results. CinelikeV con- -3 sharp- -5 sat. -5  and then turning pedestal up to + 15 with 0-255 luma

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I wanted to share a test video I shot with my new GH4 out at night on the streets of NYC. 
It was shot on the 60fps VFR mode with a Sigma 30mm 1.4 for Nikon + Metabones speed booster. 
I've heard lots of people saying this camera is awful for low-light shooting, but so far i'm pretty happy with it.

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I have a question about lenses if I was to get the GH4.


Would I be better off investing in full frame manual lenses (with manual aperture) for filming with this camera? So I'd still be able to use my lenses with any other camera that might come along.


For example, I could get the Samyang/Rokinon cine lens kit for Canon EF (I've got a Canon already that's why), get a simple adapter and get started - ? I'm looking for some old Zeiss glass actually but the idea stays the same as long as the focus and aperture control are manual.


Are there any disadvantages or risks to that approach?


For photography, I would get a native lens with autofocus as that's just much easier, like the 12-35. 

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Peaking and Low Light with GH4


Hi Andrew, first of all, thank you so much for your great reviews which guide me through my filming workflow. Your GH2 ebook was really supportive last year when filming in Iceland. Recently I have read your review about the GH4 (along with that of Bloom). Last week I was filming wildlife (brown bears) with my BMPC but I also had the GH4 with me for testing from Panasonic. I know you have also an ebook already for the GH4 but at this moment I have the camera only for testing the capabilities of filming wildlife in 4K. The footage I have taken with it is not bad (I am reserved in a final statement until I edit the footage) but I have some issues which I would love to discuss with you as an expert: - you mentioned that: "There are some situations when the codec is really being pushed where you can see macro blocking and compression and such a situation includes very low contrast dimly lit shots at high ISOs. Here fine texture has a more scratchy and softer feel to it so you need to be careful in how you handle the footage in post and how you set the picture profiles in-camera to avoid the ‘electronic feel’." I have footage in low light where the darks look like a colored pixel soup - I suppose because of the internal noise reduction (which I left unfortunately to zero). My settings were Cinelike D with saturation and contrast to -5, darks +2 and lights -2. How could I mitigate this blotchy look in post?

The material is already soften due to this internal NR. The Neat Video filter makes it all worse.

What was your feeling about the peaking? For me it was a nightmare to focus a 4K resolution on the tiny display. The magnifying doesn't work while recording plus I cannot touch the screen while filming a moving bear (also with a super tele). I tried this AFC and AFS with tracking focus- works quite well in sunlight conditions and if the subject is slowly moving but...I wouldn't rely on that. So I left with the peaking but I have the feeling it is not so perfect and tends to focus slightly in front of the object (the bear had blue peaking spots but the camera focused more on the grass before him) Thanks for taking your time to help me out with the footage shot at high ISO.


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Question : when shooting with the 200 all-intra feature on the GH4 am I the only that is getting files with extremely low bitrates ? Im getting bitrates as low as 36-42 mbps ! With all intra thats the equivalents of 18-21, meanwhile 1080 at ipb is getting bitrates on average of 85mbs

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