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DPReview award Panasonic GH4 gold award, with filmmaker's perspective by EOSHD


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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Whether the image is good or bad is 100% subjective, it's something that can't be discussed. I had the GH4 for a couple of months and used it extensively against many cameras, and, I didn't like the image. Do I have to explain myself? No it's my choice and my eyes that make my own work decisions. To me (and to many of my audience) the 5 year old 5D mk II looks better. Yes I'd go that far. The Nikon D5300 looks better. The Canon 60D even looks better in everything but wide detailed shot. It's a personal preference. I can't like the GH4 image no matter how well it resolves a test chart. If you do like it, you're a lucky man, you have a 4K recording camera for 1800 with an image you like, shoot and enjoy. I wish I had liked it because then I wouldn't have lost money selling it.

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Hey guys!

 

Rather than make a new post, figured I'd just ask this question here.

 

So, I'm looking to finally buy my own camera. I've worked as a grip and around video (both commercial and independent projects) for a few years now, and I want to get my own camera so that I can begin developing my own projects and skill sets. I have experience color correcting and know lighting and exposure principles.

 

I don't own a single lens but have leaning to pull the trigger on either the GH-4 and the a7s, nonetheless; the a7s for its low-light capabilities (reducing the necessity to purchase/rent lighting equipment right away) and the gh4 in its compactness (I do a bit of traveling) and for the 4k .

 

I have read some post, from people with similar situations like myself (no repetoire of lenses or extensive experience behind the camera) and have seen people suggest getting something cheaper like the Sony a3000 and developing a lens kit and practice using that.

 

Can I get some opinions from you guys? If I were to get a GH-4 or a3000, would I be doing myself a disservice by buying native lenses in the event that I upgrade to a full-frame camera in the future?  

 

Thanks for the great bits of knowledge!

 

 

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Whether the image is good or bad is 100% subjective, it's something that can't be discussed. I had the GH4 for a couple of months and used it extensively against many cameras, and, I didn't like the image. Do I have to explain myself? No it's my choice and my eyes that make my own work decisions. To me (and to many of my audience) the 5 year old 5D mk II looks better. Yes I'd go that far. The Nikon D5300 looks better. The Canon 60D even looks better in everything but wide detailed shot. It's a personal preference. I can't like the GH4 image no matter how well it resolves a test chart. If you do like it, you're a lucky man, you have a 4K recording camera for 1800 with an image you like, shoot and enjoy. I wish I had liked it because then I wouldn't have lost money selling it.

 

Were you using a pinhole lens on the GH4 or something?

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I don't own a single lens but have leaning to pull the trigger on either the GH-4 and the a7s, nonetheless; the a7s for its low-light capabilities (reducing the necessity to purchase/rent lighting equipment right away) and the gh4 in its compactness (I do a bit of traveling) and for the 4k .

 

I have read some post, from people with similar situations like myself (no repetoire of lenses or extensive experience behind the camera) and have seen people suggest getting something cheaper like the Sony a3000 and developing a lens kit and practice using that.

 

Can I get some opinions from you guys? If I were to get a GH-4 or a3000, would I be doing myself a disservice by buying native lenses in the event that I upgrade to a full-frame camera in the future?  

 

If you have budgetary constraints (don't we all!), and this is your first camera, then certainly don't get the GH4 or A7s. I'd get a cheaper camera, and learn on that (will be a steep learning curve! But that can be a good thing). 

 

But I wouldn't pick the Sony A3000. it is a very cheap and decent camera, there is worse choices a person could make. But I'd recommend you instead go with a Panasonic GH1 or Sony NEX-5N for about the same price. 

Then get perhaps a couple of native mount lenses (such as the kit lens, and a normal FoV prime, as each would be fairly cheap and versatile). Then invest the remainder of your budget in Nikon F mount lenses and a focal reducer. 

Then in 18 months from now (or who knows what time period, more or less, whenever you feel ready), you will be able to pick up the Panasonic GH4 or Sony A7s super cheap, or get whatever the latest hot new thing is (GH5/D7300/A8s/5DmkIV/NX2/EM-2/K-4/etc, or who knows what!) and you'll be able to take along all your Nikon lenses to your next platform! :-)

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What's the advantage of getting a NEX 5N to learn on? You want to become an expert in moire patterns!?

 

Just get the best you can afford. The difference in price between a GH1 and GH2 used isn't very significant. The difference in codec, workflow, grading, image quality and low light performance certainly is.

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Thank you for the input guys. As for the best I can afford, I started teaching, am renting a room from my parents, and am single (obviously) so... I have some expendable cash.

 

But, would I be better off going with a more modest body like GH-2 as opposed to the GH-4 and building up some glass first and investing in things like a good tripod, I guess is my main question. 

 

And my question about "whether or not getting 4/3 native lenses is a bad future investment?" ties in if I should go with a GH model or not.

 

Thanks a lot everybody.

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would I be better off going with a more modest body like GH-2 as opposed to the GH-4 and building up some glass first and investing in things like a good tripod.

 

If you are starting from scratch, yes, absolutely. The ~$1300 difference between a GH4 and a used GH2 will go a long, long ways towards all the peripherals you need to shoot effectively.... tripod, lenses, cards, audio gear, bag/case, lighting, etc. This gear will make a much larger difference in your end product than the GH4 over the GH2.

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Well thank you for the honesty and all that good stuff guys. Sorry to keep peppering more questions onto you all, but I am going to be making this purchase using my Best Buy credit card (pay it off in 12 months=no interest) and looking at their website, the GH-2 is not available there anymore.

 

A GH-3 package @ $890.00 is available, though, and I could get a Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 for about a grand from them, roughly putting me at about the same price as if I were to buy the GH-4. Could that be a good starting point?

 

The one thing that I am conscious of, though, is that if I do decide to go full frame in the future, would the money spent on that lens be a wasted invest?

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Moshimo Garcia, although I praise the GX7 a lot, I think that if you are thinking about buying a GH3 and 12-35mm f2.8 then you may as well instead buy a Nikon d5300 and Sigma 17-50mm f2.8. It's a much cheaper combination and you get better noise performance and subjectively better colours. The two camera bodies weigh the same; just the Sigma lens weighs about double the 12-35mm lens. I'm personally not a big fan of the 12-35 as the focus barrel has a large turning angle and doesn't have a distance marker.

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Guest fe4a3f5e8381673ce80017d29a8375f1

Panasonic G6 (with 14-45 kit lens, or the 14mm f2.5), Metabones Nikon to MFT Speedbooster, Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AI-S (or a 35mm f2) and an SLR Gorrillapod. 

 

You won't outgrow that setup quickly. The G6 is basically an improved version of the GH2 and cheap as chips. It is in my opinion the perfect camera for beginners to learn video on. Get the kit lens too for those times you need a wide lens. The Speedbooster is expensive but it will retain its value for years (unlike any camera you buy). The 50mm 1.8 is beautiful and cheap and perfect for video. The Gorillapod will function as a stabiliser, shoulder brace and tripod.

 

If you do start getting into it, you can spend your money on good Nikon mount lenses that will be an investment.

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Were you using a pinhole lens on the GH4 or something?

Most people that don't like the GH4 I find don't grade or don't know how to grade.

 

The one thing that I am conscious of, though, is that if I do decide to go full frame in the future, would the money spent on that lens be a wasted invest?

Then buy a Speedbooster and use nothing but 35mm format lenses. Why is a different thing; I never understood why filmmakers went ga-ga over a format that's used by still photographers.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

No I didnt use a pinhole lens, and yes perhaps it's my grading ability that's the issue but that's the point, with these limited grading skills I can get very nice images out of the Nikons and Canons that I can't get out of the GH4. Can a professional colourist get it? Perhaps, but it requires more work, that I cant do.

Trying to describe why I didn't like the image out of the GH4 is like trying to describe why I love my wife, it's not easy but I'll try. I think first and foremost is the small sensor size, that's 2.3x crop. Like the BM cinema camera. It's really a significant difference in the image aesthetic from full frame and s35. The subject separation is way less pleasing the images just don't pop as they do on a larger sensor. I heard you can use a speedbooster to get it to be similar to a 1.6x crop, fair enough, but also mirrorless s35 cameras can use a speedbooster and be fullframe. I don't a SB and that perhaps was the main reason why I didn't like the image. It is also expensive, especially when coupled with a 1800$ camera body.

Back to the image, noise performance, it's not good, and I mainly work in lowlight situations, this is a very important issue for me and the Nikon D5300, 5D mk III really have a significant advantage here, the GH4 from my field experience is only usable up to 1600 like the 60D etc, while the D5300 I am comfortable at 3200 and even 6400 with noise reduction. Third is the colours, no matter how hard I try to match the GH4 to the Nikon I fail ( I now believe Nikon has noticeably superior colour science than Canon). When I shoot a face in a dimly lit area, the Nikon comes out very clean of noise, and with perfect colours that makes people look better than they do in real life, and with strong background separation, while the GH4 comes out noisy, with noticeable less pleasing skin and less separation from the background. So these three are I believe why I didn't like the images compared to the Nikons and immediately made me hate it the moment I looked at side by sides. The only one thing I found the GH4 better is resolution and detail in wide shots, but there's more to image quality than just resolution. The aspects of IQ are
-image size (dof),
-noise performance at high ISOs,
-the noise texture and pattern
-dynamic range,
-highlight rolloff,
-colour rendetion,
-and of course resolution.

The GH4 is not superior to the competetion in noise, DR, Highlight roll off, colour rendition, just resolution. The cleanness of the Nikon and colour rendetion of people's faces is just way more important to me than resolution, but everyone has different needs.

I think the reason my regular audience see the GH4 images as being video-like and not filmic is down to sensor size and colour rendetion, and perhaps also to the very true-to-life resolution. For me the 600$ D5300 produced better looking images, it has better noise performance, a larger image size, and better colour rendition, with similar dynamic range (or slightly better in the shadows of the nikon), although it is softer in resolution.

And aside from technicalities, I believe that every camera has a certain feel to it, a distinct look that can't be easily measured by numbers, the reason why the 1080p f35 looks better and more filmic than a 4k f55, or why the alexa look filmic and pleasing compared to all cameras, sony has a look, C300 has a look, 5D has a look, Panasonic has a look, Arri has a look, by far my favourite out of the low budget looks is the Nikon, even exceeding the much-loved Canons.

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No I didnt use a pinhole lens ... [etc]

 

Couldn't have said it better myself.

 

For me, THE major draw of the GH4 is its video features and ergonomics, not its image quality. I think with a speed booster and a Ninja Star, it has the potential to be a hugely versatile and impressive film camera. And personally I think its colour science is OK - it doesn't have the magic of Canon or Nikon, but the recent Panny cameras have improved their colour science hugely. For me Sony are at the bottom of the pile in this regard. 

 

One day Nikon will make a mirrorless video camera - their equivalent of a GH4 or C100 - and I will be first in line. It looks like the D750 is a step in the right direction, but I'm happy with my D5300 and I'm done spending money on 8bit video cameras with mirrors. I have a G6, a D5300 and a BMPCC, and I am content using them in combination until one camera comes along that offers the best of all three in one body:

 

- EVF (with peaking and all the other video bells and whistles)

 

- low noise S35 sensor

 

- 10bit codec

 

- real 13 stop DR

 

- adaptable mount

 

- true FHD detail

 

- small but sturdy ergonomics (a la GH3/4)

 

- BEAUTIFUL COLOUR SCIENCE

 

 

The A7S was a huge disappointment to me. I thought it was going to be this camera, but the colours are horrible, SLOG is a joke (and therefore so is the DR claim), form factor is not great, and it is not 10bit capable. 

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

It seems that we're on the search for the same camera Matt, I also was incredibly excited when the A7s was announced and thought it was the one, it had everything going for it on paper, after seeing the footage, it's dead. I mean, I've never such ugly colours from any camera before, not even mobile phones. I've never had a harder time grading any footage than the S-log2 shots out of the A7s. The GH4 is much better here. The D750 comes very close to my wanted camera, the image is absolutely gorgeous, D5300 but full frame aesthetic and incredible lowlight performance, and same magical colours, it only lacks the EVF and video assist functions like peaking/waveform,

I think a D750 with a zucoto loup can be the closest to what I want. Just need to see more footage and reviews because it is not a light investment.

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I really think its strange how our opinions of the camera differ so much. When I had the d5200, I found it to have ugly, blotchy noise and be quite soft in low light. Barely usable at ISO 1600. I cant imagine that the GH4 would perform worse, especially at 4k. I also found that it didnt retain detail in shadows very well. So if you were to expose evenly for a scene (at low iso's) and then lift shadows up (in camera or post), you would find that blotchy noise quickly. Whereas with my GX7 I shot with medium or sometimes even high iDynamic and got good results.

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The D5300 has addressed the banding issues the D5200 had, so shadows are better and noise is much nicer. Simeon, the guy who made the Flaat profiles, tested the D5300 with Flaat and concluded DR was "best in class". It has visibly a stop or two better DR than the 5DIII in low light (Danyyel on this forum can confirm this as he's seen the side-by-sides too).

 

The D5300 does not resolve detail well with wide, deep DOF shots. Such shots can cause mushy artefacts. If you don't shoot Flaat or Neutral/low contrast and try to lift the shadows, you will get macroblocking too. Noise though is clean and fine - comparable with the 5DIII. 

 

I think as with the GH4, the amount of noise you see is all about how you configure the camera (profiles etc) and then how you CC it in post. The D5300 can definitely deliver clean, sharp images at 3200 if shot and graded properly. The G6 gets muddy at 1600 no matter what I do. I still haven't figured out how to get a decent low light image out of my BMPCC at 1600. I've seen people do it, but I'm not getting close so far. The D5300 on the other hand excels indoors under ambient light. In fact I prefer its low light image to its daylight image!

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Each to their own.

Personally I like the Gh4's colors, but it took me a while to get the settings I like.

Basically it reproduces pretty much exactly what my eyes see, in terms of detail and colors...and I like that, my eyes are the ultimate judge and I cant trade them in on next years model, I have relied on them for years in graphic art and 3d design.

Using iDynamic in reasonable light gives good detail in shadows with practically no noise or blotching that I can see.

I had a Canon 60D, my son uses it these days for surf videos...I cant say the same about that, its a nice enough image, but to my eyes (and many others, its nowhere near the class of the GH4 in practically any area).

 

Many users have sold their 5DMk3's and many others are able to match the color nicely to the Canon C100, there are tons of threads on dvxuser.com about this.

 

But at the end of the day, the whole GH4 Vs Canon Vs Nikon Micro 4/3rd vs Full Frame...is a lot like the argument that has been around for decades in relation to guitars...

is a single coil better than a humbucker? (they are certainly different) or is a Fender (largely single coils) better than a Gibson (largely Humbuckers)? or does and Ibanez lack soul (now theres a word that puts the argument out of reach LOL!!...the camera equivalent is the much maligned term "filmic")

 

At the end of the day, its horses for courses, I personally dont base my decisions on anyones Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic preferences or bias...I use what pleases me...and I'll bet most others do the same.

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Nice article, I am still hesitating a bit between the GH-4 and the G6 with plenty of extras.

Andrew is talking about a 1600$ price for the GH-4 body and I never seen such a low price.

Any clues about a shop to get it this cheap?

thanks

In Siena I had it in May - probably one of the first in Italy - at € 1380, the lowest price in my country.
It is a real shop, Foto Moderna Siena: http://www.fotomodernasiena.com

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Whether the image is good or bad is 100% subjective, it's something that can't be discussed. I had the GH4 for a couple of months and used it extensively against many cameras, and, I didn't like the image. Do I have to explain myself? No it's my choice and my eyes that make my own work decisions. To me (and to many of my audience) the 5 year old 5D mk II looks better. Yes I'd go that far. The Nikon D5300 looks better. The Canon 60D even looks better in everything but wide detailed shot. It's a personal preference. I can't like the GH4 image no matter how well it resolves a test chart. If you do like it, you're a lucky man, you have a 4K recording camera for 1800 with an image you like, shoot and enjoy. I wish I had liked it because then I wouldn't have lost money selling it.

Yes, this is true for every "instruments", like guitars, saxes, trumpets... and cameras! 
I personally was a Canon-boy, then, after the delusion for the 70D (it was good, but in the same way of my old 600-T3i), I tried the G6 and I was blown away... so, when GH4 came out I sold my 70D and all the Canon lenses to buy it.
But you're perfectly right, it's just subjective and the best camera is the one you shot happily with :) 

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...is a Fender (largely single coils) better than a Gibson (largely Humbuckers)? or does and Ibanez lack soul (now theres a word that puts the argument out of reach LOL!!...the camera equivalent is the much maligned term "filmic")

 

At the end of the day, its horses for courses, I personally dont base my decisions on anyones Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic preferences or bias...I use what pleases me...and I'll bet most others do the same.

Hey, we are all guitar player here! ;) m/

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