Panasonic Gh4

George Derugin

An opinionated guy who doesn't know much about filmmaking, blogging about filmmaking.

Nov 232014


The sexy, sleek, 4K capable, mirrorless, amazing, and now cheap! Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4 is available at Amazon and B&H for a great price: $1,397. Maybe it’s feeling a little heat from the Sony A7s? Anyway, I would be surprised if the Black Friday price is lower than this. $1,400 is a great deal on the body considering I have never seen the price go below $1,700 from a authorized seller. Hell, these go used on Ebay for $1400+.

If you are shooting video, nothing will come close to the GH4 for under $2,000. It smokes the 70D and the 6D and the 7DmkII. Only the Sony A7s and BlackMagic cameras compete with the GH4.

Anyway, sorry for the incessant ads, but it is the holiday season…

Nov 232014


tascam_dr_60dThis is a smoking deal, that will not be matched. B&H Photo is selling the Tascam DR-60D for a ridiculous price of $130. The deal will expire in less than 18 ohurs, so I would buy one. You can sell them used on Ebay for $150. So even if you hate this unit, you can sell it and not lose money. This baby was selling for $350 one and a half years ago. I actually bought one just now. Click here to check it out. Or check out the new Tascam DR-60DmkII selling for $200 on Amazon.

Nov 192014

The currently Canon rebates are set to expire on November 22 (which is before Black Friday) which means Canon will likely replace those discounts with new disocunts or similar refurbished deals. Here is what Canon has offered over the years:

Black Friday 2011: Canon offered lens rebates ranging from $20-$200.

Black Friday 2012: Canon refurbished lens sale: 20% off all lenses and up to %30 off DSLRs.

Black Friday 2013: Canon refurbished lens sale: 15% off all lenses and up to 25% off DSLRs.

Basically, you don’t usually see big discounts on new lenses. I predict that the lens prices we are accustom to seeing are the same prices we will see on Black Friday and Christmas. So the 40mm STM will probably go for $150, and the 135mm f/2 will go between $900 and $1,000. If you are looking for Black Friday deals on lenses, I suggest buying refurbished (via Canon’s store)  or used (Ebay).

Usually you can find better deals on DSLR’s than on lenses. Hmm… maybe Canon’s strategy is to get you to buy a DSLR during the holiday season, and then buy lenses throughout the winter spring and summer? Anyway it is safe to assume you will be able to get a 5D mkIII for under $2,500:

2014 Black Friday Canon 5D mkIII

Here is the EBay ad scan from2013. The price on the 5D mkIII was $2,445 shipped from an authorized reseller (not gray market, meaning you get the full Canon warranty). Also the T3i + 18-55mm seems like a very nice deal for $420. Although this year, you will be able to get a Canon T5 + 18-55mm + Canon 75-300 for $497, which is also a fair deal.


If we go back to 2012, the price for the Canon 5D mkIII was $2,500 shipped (gray market, I think). I’d say this was the best deal in the past few years.  You got a great camera, (with no warranty) for less than the 2014 going rate. So what do I expect for 2014? A $2,500 Canon 5D mkIII shipped  from an authorized retailer.

Other Canon Black Friday Deals to Expect

With the Canon 70D and 7D mkII being the top prosumer sellers, we may see some further price cuts to the 60D or 7D. The 60D has seen prices of $600 this year (upper $500’s ), and the 7D is currently at an all time low of $1,000, so I would definitely pounce on any deals bring the prices below those thresholds. The 6D is going strong, but last year saw a $1,600 price from an unauthorized seller on EBay, so I would expect similar this year. Again, the yearly refurbished sale is decent, it will probably be 15% off on lenses which kind of sucks, but who knows, maybe it will be 20%. And don’t forget you get free shipping from Canon’s store all the way until Dec. 31.

Nov 142014

The brand new 24mm STM is now shipping for a reasonable $150. The Canon 40mm STM was a huge success. Despite being priced almost 2x as much as the crowd favorite 50mm 1.8 it is highly recommended over the Nifty Fifty. Sharper, better bokeh, and better build quality. There are no doubts that the Canon 24mm STM will be just as great.  It is supposed to be sharper than the 40mm STM. The price, in my opinion, is remarkable; at $150 it might be the best bang for your buck Canon has to offer. I’ll be getting my hands on the 24mm STM shortly. Adorama, B and H Photo, and Canon are all shipping orders, with Amazon due to ship on November 24th.

Nov 102014

As the deals keep coming in I will post them. Target posted the 2014 Black friday ad, and they will have deals on GoPros, Canon DSLR bundles and Nikon DSLR bundles.  Target will be open and ready for business at 6PM on Thanksgiving. The GoPro Hero3+ Silver Edition and GoPro Hero3 White Edition are doorbuster deals, meaning you have to buy them quick before they go out of stock.

  • GoPro Hero3+ Silver Edition + a $50 gift card for $250
  • GoPro Hero3 White Edition + a $50 gift card for $199

Definitely get the Hero3+, it’s a much better deal. Normally it sells for $300, so you are getting $50 off, plus another $50 worth via the gift card. If you have a REDcard, that’s another 5% off on top bringing your purchase price down to $237.50. The GoPro Hero3 White Edition is not a great deal because it normally retails for $200. So essentially you are only getting the $50 gift card as extra.

Also for sale is the following Nikon bundle:

  • Nikon D3200
  • Nikon DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II Lens
  • Nikon DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED Lens
  • Nikon Bag

Costing you $497. Normally this bundle will run you $550, so you save $50 (~$75 if you use a Target REDcard). Bot really a stellar deal if you ask me. A much better deal is the following Canon bundle:

  • Canon EOS Rebel T5
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens
  • Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III Lens
  • 8GB SD Card + Bag

Costing you $449. This is a much better deal considering this bundle would normally cost you $600. If you don’t like Target’s Black Friday deal, you can jump on some early savings: Canon is running a mail in rebate promotion until November 22.  Click here to view Canon’s mail in rebate deals.

T3i Ad

Although Target’s Canon deal is nice, I would skip the Target offer and buy an imported (does not carry the 1 year warranty) Canon T3i from Abe’s of Maine. The body only costs $420 and it’s a better camera than the Canon T5. I would also skip the Canon EF-S 18-55mm and the Canon EF 75-300mm because neither of those lenses are extraordinarily good. Instead I would get a Canon 24mm STM and a used Canon 55-250 IS. The STM is a brand new lens that retails for $150, and the 50-250 is Canon’s best cheap telephoto zoom lens. It has image stabilization which is extremely important for telephoto lenses.

An imported Canon T5i + 24mm STM + used 55-250IS will cost you about $720. That’s almost $300 dollars more than the Target bundle, but trust me when I say this: you, or whoever will be using this gear will be very happy that you spent the extra money and got a better DSLR, and extremely sharp prime lens, and a much more capable telephoto zoom lens. Oh, and don’t forget the amazingly popular Canon 40mm STM, it only costs $150 after the Canon mail in rebate.


Oct 302014

Last year, the deals were not so hot. Here is my 2013 Black Friday post discussing all the best camera deals I found. Yeah, so… last year was… yuk. And it seems like the deals get worse and worse each year. Here is my advice for  Black Friday 2014: expect the deals to suck.  If you go in with this mindset, you  won’t be disappointed. Anyway, here are some tips:

Know Which Stores May Have Potential Black Friday Deals

Well, any store that sells electronics has the potential to have Black Friday deals on DSLRs. Here are the top vendors (listed by my personal preference) that I would be looking at: B&H, Rakuten, BarrowLenses, Adorama, Ebay, Amazon, Fry’s, Walmart,, Target. If this group of stores does not have the deals you are looking for, then most likely whatever deals you are looking for do not exist. B&H (no tax for CA residents) and Rakuten are nice because they usually have the lowest prices on camera equipment. was once offering a $50 off $100 deal. Basically you could have gotten the Canon 50mm 1.8 for about $60 shipped, or the Canon 40mm 2.8 for $110 shipped. Target offers you 5% off  and free shipping via REDCard, so if they ever offer a good deal it is sweetened with REDcard.

Know What the Market Prices Are

Canon has “sales” year round. Get $10 off, get 10% off, get a $100 mail in rebate etc… On refurbished items they have like a two week cycle. Two weeks of promotions, two weeks of regular pricing, two weeks of promotion, then another two weeks of regular pricing. Here are some recent sales prices Canon had on lenses:

 These prices are considered decent prices for brand new Canon lenses. So if Canon busted out these prices during the 2014 Black Friday, I would feel neutral. I’m really hoping for a deal that would allow me to snag a Canon 35mm f2 IS USM for $500.

Maybe Buy Used or… Don’t Buy Stuff On Black Friday?

Are you desperate to upgrade your T3i to a T5i? Well, in my opinion a T5i doesn’t offer much more for the dollar. Maybe wait till 2015 and see what the rumored T6i brings. I heard it may have a mirrorless design. The Canon 5D and 6D lines are due for upgrades, and we still have not seen the rumored 50mm and 35mm L series primes that are set to be announced/released some time in 2014 or 2015. The biggest deals happen when new gear is released. The old gear gets slashed in price. Or, if you really need to satisfy an itch, buy used.  The last 5 lenses I have purchased were all used.

 Anyway, this is my favorite time of year. I’ll definitely be posting more stuff before Black Friday. Maybe BlackMagic will slash the price of the Pocket Cinema Camera by 50% again. Bummer, I missed that one. Here’s to hoping for a Black Friday $400 BlackMagic Pocket Cinema.

Aug 102014

Yes and no.

Canon DSLRs are like your dad’s old suits. They are… “special”, a bit out of fashion, but still fit and get the job done. Wait. That’s an awful comparison. When I wear my Dad’s suits, I feel like an idiot. They are circa 1970 and about 3 sizes too big. A better example: My brother’s 15 years old Mercedes Benz; dated, but still has the aura of a car that was once considered premier. It’s crazy to think that Canon was the king of DSLR video a few years ago. If you were shooting on a DSLR, you were doing it on a T2i, 5DmkII, 7D, or 60D. Even when the 5DmkIII came out people flocked to it. I personally never upgraded my 60D because the 7D, 6D, 5Dmk2 and 5Dmk3 cost a lot for the incremental gain in performance. It seems like between the Canon T2i, and the 5DmkIII there was not a whole lot of innovation. I don’t know, the 5DmkIII is several years newer, costs 10x as much… shouldn’t the video quality and features be at least twice as good?

Magic Lantern To The Rescue

If you shoot on Canon DSLRs, you get to enjoy Magic Lantern. Magic Lantern has been around for a while; basically you hack your DSLR with software, (void the warranty) and you get tons of cool features, allowing you to customize your settings in ways that were previously impossible. On top of the this, Magic Lantern introduced a new set of hacks known as Magic Lantern RAW. This allows you to shoot high quality video (basically similar quality to RAW stills).

Using ML Raw is very time consuming and cumbersome. You have to set your camera up properly, record the footage, convert your ML RAW files into a useable (editable) format remove erroneous pink frames from the footage, and then edit. After all of this, unless you shoot on a high end DSLR like a 6D or 5D, you are left with a low resolution video file. So then you can upscale it to bring it up to 720p or 1080p.

It’s a lot of work which is why you usually don’t see entire projects done with Magic Lantern RAW.

Canon vs GH4 vs A7s

The Panasonic GH2was a game changer. It was hackable, and provided lots of video oriented functionality for a small price. The GH3 was better in all respects. It was a “serious” camera. Still, people were hesitant to shoot with GH3s: M4/3, (full frame FTW!) resulting in an aggressive crop factor, lacking lens selection, small (feminine?), and uh… well the video quality was not miles ahead of Canon. The video quality was on par/better than Canon, but if you already owned a Canon DSLR, there was not motivation for you to switch to the GH3.

Up until ~April 2014 Canon was well respected. You had HDMI video out, Magic Lantern, full frame capabilities, good low light performance, third party and built in anti aliasing filters, ML RAW, etc… But then the GH4 and A7s showed up, basically taking all your favorite features and rolling them into a nice clean (and cheap!) package. So does this make the 5DmkII crap? No. It’s still the camera that was considered to be great for video a year ago. The only thing that has changed is the bar has been raised. $2,000 gets your professional video. Canon offers high quality video that rivals Sony and Panasonic, you just have to shell out $5,000+ (C100, C300, C500).

$2,000(ish): The Magic Price for Video

For $2,000 you would be a fool to buy a Canon if all you care about is video. There are two reasons:

  1. Sony A7s
  2. Panasonic GH4

When it comes to these two cameras, Canon is really far behind. Even a hacked 5DmkIII shooting RAW will fall short. And the 5DmkIII retails for a lot more than the GH4! The only reason to stay with Canon in this price range is if you love Canon lenses, or you don’t care about sharp video. So if you shoot video, but don’t care about video quality get a Canon.

Canon, I Will Pray for You

I hope Canon catches up in the prosumer range. I’m a Canon guy. They offer a great mix of lenses, photo and video capabilities. I’d like to stay with Canon. Luckily I’m not a professional, so I don’t need to be on the cutting edge. I don’t need 4K. I need to get better at making films. So I hope when the day comes and I am ready to upgrade from my 60D, Canon will have higher bit rate video, uncompressed in camera video, minimal moire and aliasing in a sub $2,000 body. I am not even asking for 4K. Just good quality 1080p (by today’s standard), that works well out of the box.

Jul 172014

Disclaimer: if you know what you are getting into, and you understand the shortcomings of the BMPCC, then it is a great camera. But if you think that using this camera is headache free, read on:

I present to you the BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC): a poor lcd screen, awful battery life, the worst in camera mic I have ever heard, bad moire (rolling shutter), aliasing, poor low light performance, and a clunky menu system. Oh, and great video quality..

The amazing $1,000 camera that might drive you crazy!

The amazing $500 camera that might drive you crazy!

This was supposed to be an amazing camera, but it is not a fun body to work with. I know, “$500 dollars” you say. It certainly is a better deal than it was a week ago.  But please don’t buy it if the BMPCC will be your first camera. I’d only recommend buying it as a backup to your main body. It does produce amazing picture quality in well lit situations. When you take your time and utilize the camera’s strengths, you will get the best video quality than can be had for under $1,500. Not shabby for a $500 camera. But… it takes a lot of work and patience to get a nice looking final results.

You Need a Lot of Patience to Use The BMPCC

  1. You need a tripod, the BMPCC sports a 2.88x crop factor, meaning most of your lenses will appear to be very zoomed in.
  2. Image Stabilization will only work properly with MFT lenses.
  3. To get Image Stabilization with Canon lenses, you need to buy a Metabones Speed Booster.
  4. To get a shorter focal length out of your lenses and faster f/ratios you will nee a Metabones Speed Booster.
  5. You will need spare batteries since the battery life is shit.
  6. You don’t want to pan you shots too fast because of the awful rolling shutter.
  7. There is lots of noise at high ISO, so keep your ISO low and light your scenes well. The BMPCC is not a low light camera (like the Sony a7s)
  8. The audio is maybe the worst in camera audio on the market. If you want audio, you HAVE to use an external mic or recorder.
  9. You will spend lots of time navigating the clunky non intuitive menu.
  10. Once you have your footage, you must spend lots of time editing it (I hope you have a solid computer).

Who Should Buy The BMPCC

After completing these 10 steps you should have some amazing footage. I really mean it, the BMPCC puts up beautiful footage. If you are a camera geek, or want to dip your toes in prosumer/professional filmmaking than buy the BMPCC. Buy it, shoot videos, edit the videos, upload everything to Vimeo and have a blast. If you are not a diehard camera person you will give up on this camera. Maybe wait for all the people who purchase it right now to resell it on eBay for $250 in a few months (they should have read this article).

The Future of BMPCC, Replacement on the Horizon?

BlackMagic always has something up their sleeves. No doubt they feel pressure form the GH4 and a7s. Slashing the price of the BMPCC by 50% is crazy – It tells me they want to move on. I have never seen a 2nd generation camera from BlackMagic, usually its just a whole new body. So do I expect a BlackMagic Pocket replacement? Yes. But it won’t be called the BLack Magic Pocket mkII or second generation. I think it will be called something completely different, and it will be in a different form factor. And it will be bigger. And it will cost $1,000 and be a better competitor to the GH4.  And it will not hit shelves this year. But don’t take my word for it, I’m just speculating.

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