This post is intended to be kind of silly. I ain’t trying to start no wars. Hell, I have a GH4 ad plastered at the top of my page! Anyway, in case you are afraid that you are getting caught up in the hype, this post is for you. My reasons for not buying a Panasonic GH4 are listed from best (mots logical) to worst (most worstest!).
You Don’t Have Peripheral Equipment to Justify a GH4
There is no point in buying a bomb ass camera if you don’t have the equipment to make it look good. I guess if you intend to film your cat, or personal porn videos a GH4 by itself might be enough. But let’s pretend you want to shoot a short film or a documentary. In fact, maybe you want to shoot something more profound that generic test footage or Vimeo montages. If you are shelling out $1,700 on camera, you better produce some awesome stuff with it. Otherwise I am pretty sure you are going to hell. So if you don’t have a good microphone, a good tripod, a good fluid pan head, some sharp-ass lenses and a good editing platform ask yourself “Why the #$%^* am I buying a GH4”. Oh, don’t forget about an external capture device so that you can record the 4K 10bit 4:2:2 feed…
You Want Pristine In Camera Audio
The GH4 suffers from internal audio noise. There is a very subtle noise heard on the GH4 recordings when 3rd party microphones are used. I guess the Panasonic crew did not bother to test the Rode Video Mic or other popular mics with the GH4. The noise is very subtle and is attributed to poor internal shielding.
You Want a Good Low Light Camera
Canon 5D MKIII or Canon 6D. MFT sensors are outperformed by Canon’s full frame. Shame Nikon doesn’t take video seriously, their sensors are even better. If you want low light and 4K get a Sony a7S. The a7S has amazing low light performance. If you want better low light performance on the GH4, you will want to get a Metabones Speed Booster and use Neat Video to clean up noise.
You Want to Shoot Stills
A better camera that combines video power with amazing stills capabilities is the Canon 6D. Yes, the GH4 has way better video capabilities, but the 6D has better low light and can be hacked to shoot RAW video with Magic Lantern. AND the 6D will take better stills. So if you need a combo camera, maybe get the 6D and wait for the GH5?
All You Want is the Best Quality 1080p HD Video
If you shoot in 4K and then downscale the footage to 1080p, you will get better 1080p. Plain and simple. The image is sharper, the pixels are an average of 4 (so the luminance is more accurate) and you get a pseudo 10 bit footage (the chroma blue and red are still 8 bit). How beneficial is this 10 bit footage? Well, the math behind how software downscales stuff is debated and so you may or may not see any benefits. So is GH4 4K footage 10 bit at 1080? No. Will it look nice? Yes, because of the sharpness, not the bit depth.
Do you want better looking HD video? You can get 4K 10 bit 4:2:2 out of a GH4 and downscale it, but it requires an external recorder. Buy a BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera instead (you’ll save $1,000+ in the process).
You Have A Crappy Computer
How do you expect to edit high quality videos with a crappy computer? High quality video = large file sizes. A 4K 10 bit 4:2:2 file will run you 5 to 6 GB a minute. If you want color grading latitude, you need to shoot in 10 bit 4:2:2. Otherwise you won’t get that jaw dropping look that sold you on the GH4 in the first place.
You Want to Use Canon Lenses
Many people pick Canon DSLR bodies because of the lenses. The Pansonic GH4 can take Canon lenses via an adapter (in fact it can take tons of lenses in various mounts, Nikon included). And you can pimp out your GH4 with a Metabones Speed Booster (a focal reducer designed to alleviate the crop factor and increase low light performance). But none of this beats the ease of grabbing your favorite L series lens, with IS and USM, strapping it on to your Canon body adapter-free, and shooting wide open at F2.8, or F1.2 (if your rich).
You Want the Best Bang For Your Buck
Value is relative. As Griffin Hammond eloquently said “Most of the things that make the GH4 a great camera are also found in the GH3”. Well.. he said something along those lines. Basically if you don’t truly need 4K or 10 bit video, get a GH3. The GH3 is an amazing value at under 1,000. Personally, I think the best values in the industry are used cameras: Canon T2i and Panasonic GH2. These babies sell for pennies on the dollar and provide amazing features/quality for the price.
You Are a Beginner
The GH4 is designed for video enthusiasts and professionals. Luckily for beginners, the camera is really easy to operate. But if you are a beginner, you don’t need to get caught up in high specced cameras and elaborate editing systems. Rather than blowing your budget on a camera body, blow it on lenses. Lenses are the joys of life. Maybe get an entry level DSLR and learn how to shoot cinematic stuff with expensive lenses instead.
You Don’t Have the Time to Edit 4K Video
The workflow for the GH4 will be demanding if you shoot 4K 10bit 4:2:2. If you are just shooting normal 4K or 1080p it’s not so bad. Either way, the file sizes are big and to get the most out of this camera you will have to adopt a workflow that is time consuming. It won’t be as bad as editing BlackMagic uncompressed files or Magic Lantern RAW files. Still, if you need stuff edited quick and easy, its hard to go wrong with entry level canon DSLRs. They are heavily compressed, resulting in a smaller file size. You drag the film into Adobe, color correct for a few seconds, and export.
So there it is, my list of lame reasons not to buy a GH4. If anything, I hope I have made you reflect on your own needs. Sometimes we don’t know what we need. Maybe you need a GH4? Maybe you don’t? Maybe you don’t need one but want one (that’s the mindset with which I buy most of my gear, “I don’t need it, but I want it”).