Panasonic GH4 - So what do we have?


So what do we have with the Panasonic GH4? A camera for film makers not for photographers? Well the GH3 certainly wasn't that and I don't think the GH4 is either.

Andrew at EOSHD came up with some pro's and cons.

Pros

  • 4K from a nearly full pixel readout of the sensor, internal recording
  • Uncompressed 10bit 4:2:2 1080p via HDMI
  • 96fps slow-motion
  • More than double the bitrate of the GH3 in 1080p with 200Mbit ALL-I and 100Mbit IPB
  • 1036k pixel OLED screen and 2360k dot EVF
  • Small form factor, lightweight
  • Small price for the spec and accessible to broad range of artists and filmmakers, from consumers up to pros
  • Choice of broadcast safe luma ranges or full range (0-255)
  • XLR and HD-SDI (via external add-on)
  • PL mount lens compatible (i.e. with Hot Rod Cameras adapter)
  • Uncompressed 10bit 4K and 2K via external add-on
  • Efficient H.264 compression of 4K compared to Canon 1D C MJPEG
  • Reduced rolling shutter (50ms sensor readout compared to 100ms on GH3)
  • Improved dynamic range
  • Improved low light performance
  • PAL / NTSC switchable (“world cam”)
  • Zebras and focus peaking
  • Time Code
  • Synchro Scan
  • Cinema-gamma mode
  • Articulated screen
  • Full manual audio control
  • Convenient Quicktime MOV file format
  • 1080/60p
  • Very fast AF for stills (0.07 sec)
  • Improved AF in low light
  • New mechanical shutter with longer lifespan and 1/8000
  • Very fast 40fps burst mode
  • Silent electronic shutter at full resolution and in raw
  • Timelapse and stop-motion animation modes
  • Gradation curve (for in-camera adjustment of shadow and highlights)
  • Responsive (quad core CPU based)
  • Very good quality stills for a cinema camera (HAHA)
  • Wireless control over WiFI
  • Near Field Comms
  • Weather sealed, even splash proof
  • Extensive lens range
  • Metabones Speed Booster compatible
Cons

  • 4K video mode crops field of view compared to full sensor and 1080p mode
  • Internal codec 8bit 4:2:0 from 4:2:2 source (why not 4:2:2 all the way?)
  • Ergonomic design of external add-on “DMW-YAGHE” could be better
  • External DMW-YAGHE has to attach to base of camera, cannot be more conveniently placed on your rig
  • External DMW-YAGHE has a silly name
  • No full sized HDMI connector on the camera itself
  • No 4:3 mode for anamorphic lenses (BOOOO!)
  • No internal ND filter solution (yet)
  • Pre-production model does not have LOG picture profile
  • Body design too similar to GH3 with existing ergonomic issues not addressed
Make of that what you will. Some of those are obviously of concern for someone who values video features more than those aimed at those who predominantly shoot stills. So a lot for the video user / hybrid photographer. And bearing in mind that photographers who dislike video and don't use it make a hell of a lot more noise than photographers who see it as a useful addition, I think this will be appreciated. It also has a much more professional, less enthusiast target market than Olympus. Panasonic have much more experience with video anyway and Olympus seem unwilling to get involved in that. But with things like battery life, OLED screen and viewfinder, burst rate and electronic shutter, Panasonic are providing features that are useful for working photographers. 40fps is VERY impressive. 




As usual the Panasonic commercial above shows where they are targeting the camera. The quote from their press release I put in a previous post says it all I think.
'Panasonic is proud to offer DMC-GH4 for a reliable first camera to professional field photographers, film creators and hybrid photographers.'
'Professional field photographers' Well yes I'm certainly one of those. 

Even if you ignore the 4K video, which of course causes all sorts of problems for editing and even playing the clips on some computers, it's still an impressive camera. The 'basic' HD is much improved. 200 Mbit 1080 video will look simply stunning on an HD TV or computer monitor. And the grabbed stills from this video footage are just under 9MP which makes shooting on video and taking some stills from that a viable option.

So a camera that I'm interested in. I'm not putting a pre-order in though. I fact I'm never putting another pre-order in for anything. WEX photographic have just cocked up my Fuji X-T1 pre-order and taken the money when they weren't supposed to, because of problems with their website, and with various paypal comings and goings and bank clearing I'm going to be £1300 out of pocket for a week after being refunded. This being the third time I've had problems with pre-ordering I've decided enough is enough. However I'm going to be looking very seriously at the GH4. 

One of the features the GH3 should have had but didn't is focus peaking (now in three colours on the GH4) and that is something that expands what the new update is capable of. And as I think you will have appreciated by now, I'm much more impressed by Panasonic rather than Olympus in that they are much more geared towards pro use. I have to say it and I'm sure I'll get some stick for it, but Olympus make 'show pony' cameras for me. And yes in the past I've been attracted by that and bought a lot of Olympus cameras. But then I've sold a lot of them as well. They seem to make cameras I can't resist but those looks flatter to deceive as far as I'm concerned. The GH3 is a much better handling camera than any Olympus I've ever used and though it's still very early days I think the GX7 will prove to be that as well. 

Like Fuji, Olympus seem to think battery life isn't important and I've really appreciated the GH3's extra power. Even without the grip I've shot video and stills all day with it without exhausting one battery. This is one of the reasons I'm having second thoughts about the X-T1 as well. 

But finally I guess I have to mention something that's becoming more and more important to me. My ongoing and developing love affair with totally silent operation and the electronic shutter. The more I use this the more I like it. I love the lack of a clunk, I love where and how it lets me photograph and I love the fact that it lets me use slower shutter speeds. Combined with AF speed and lens OIS shooting with Panasonic cameras these days is quick, easy and reliable. It really is a case of forget the camera, think about the pictures. And to me that's becoming the most important thing for me in a camera I'll buy and use. The GH4 has a lot I like and I'm not saying anything for sure anymore about what I'm going to buy, but I suspect I'll end up with one at some point. Now how do I edit 4K video on my laptop?


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