Panasonic Gh4

Feb 092014

img_gh4u_cameraWith the Panasonic Lumix GH4 being announced officially by Panasonic (LUMIX G DMC-GH4EB) I can finally stop dreaming about the GH4 and address some realities concerning it. Below I provide a round up of information mostly from Panasonic’s official data as well as from some of my favorite DSLR blogs so that you can know what I know about the new, awesome, 4K Panasonic GH4. Basically, this is a Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera (BMPCC) killer.  If I owned a BMPCC, I would literally try to sell it as soon as possible. This is just personal opinion, but the GH4 is more powerful, more versatile, better conceived, and in my opinion cheaper (setting up a functional BMPCC is expensive). The BMPCC is an amazing camera. It truly is. And at $1,000 it is a great value. But as Phillip Bloom mentioned, it is not a primary nor a backup camera because it is too damn finicky. Read my completely outdated post on the BMPCC here.

The GH4 Can Shoot 4K Video

It can shoot Cinema 4k (4096 x 2160 at 24p) and QFHD 4K (3840 x 2160 at up to 30p):

  • 3840 x 2160: 29.97p, 100Mbps
  • 3840 x 2160: 23.98p, 100Mbps
  • 1920 x 1080: 59.94p, 200Mbps, 100Mbps, 50Mbps
  • 1920 x 1080: 29.97p, 200Mbps, 100Mbps, 50Mbps
  • 1920 x 1080: 23.98p, 200Mbps, 100Mbps, 50Mbps
  • 1920 x 1080: 96p

Too many additional video recording formats to list (shoots at different frequencies for regional broadcast standards).  Moral of the story: you can shoot at 4K, you can shoot at 1080p, and you can shoot high speed at 96p for your slow motion needs. Shooting 96fps at 1080p is very nice because 60fps slow motion does not look too awesome when slowed down to 24p. I would have like a 120fps 720p feature for truely awesome slow motion (200+fps is asking too much!). It will record video in MOV, MP4, AVCHD.

Panasonic GH4 RAW Monitoring Output

1080p 4:2:2 8-bit and 4:2:2 10-bit monitoring. What this means is that you can output this RAW feed to an external recorder and capture 1080p 4:2:2 10-bit RAW video. Okay, lets get this strait: The GH4 can shoot 4K video, and it outputs RAW (“uncompressed” is a more proper term) video. All you need is a device to capture the RAW output.

Build Quality

Magnesium alloy that is weather sealed to prevent dust and slight water contact. It sounds like it will be comparable to the build quality of the GH3 and 7D (in other words it is solid). While the GH4 is not water proof, it will handle rain and snow without problems. The GH3 weighed 470g, the GH4 weighs approximately480g. The Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras will never feel as solid as mid level Canons because  they are just inherently smaller. And small things feel less “solid”.


Key Panasonic GH4 Specs

  • 16.05 Megapixel Sensor
  • 2360k dot OLED view finder
  • 3 Inch rear OLED touch screen: 1036K dots 3:2 ratio (about 1526 x 1018)
  • Focus peaking and zebras
  • Improved rolling shutter
  • 3.5mm Headphone jack
  • 3.5mm Mic jack
  • Compatible with GH4 YAGH vertical grip (AG-YAGHG)
  • Price: Estimated at under $2,000 for the U.S

As if 4K and RAW wasn’t enough now you have in camera focus peaking and zebras. Wow, the GH4 is a winner. It has a rugged build, will likely has excellent control over rolling shutter and is easily the most accomplished video camera for under $2000.  A higher resolution rear display would have been nice (I mean you need more pixels for the 4K), and as with all M4/3 cameras, the crop factor sucks. What is very intriguing is the optional grip that you can get for the GH4 called the YAGH vertical grip (AG-YAGHG). This thing is massive and has many features aimed at prosumers and professionals. Obviously Panasonic sees the GH4 as a professional body. My how far the GH series has come…

Panasonic LUMIX YAGH Interface Unit (DMW-YAGH) Features

  • Connects to the bottom of the Panasonic LUMIX GH4
  • 2 XLR input terminals
  • Line / Mic / condenser mic input (48V supply)
  • Independent volume controls and an audio level display monitor
  • 3G – SDI terminal which is responsible for:
    • 4K2K (YUV = 4:2:2/10bit) video outputPanasonicGrip
    • FHD (YUV = 4:2:2/10bit) video output
    • Monitoring through with time code
  • Powered via 12VDC 4-pin XLR
  • Weight: 750g
  • Price: unknown

I have to give credit to Black Magic. They got the ball rolling with the Cinema Camera and the Pocket Cinema Camera. Also, I can’t help but thing that the Canon firmware hacks by Magic Lantern helped create a more competitive environment. The GH4 is the most powerful consumer video camera under $2000. It may be the most power consumer camera under $3500. If all I cared about was video, I am pretty sure I would take a GH4 over the Canon 5D mkIII. But don’t be fooled. For the time being 4K video is not very important. If you have a DSLR that shoots good video don’t be jaded. Save up some money, allow for the GH4 prices to come down, let the 4K craze develop, and then in a year or a year and a half when you have plenty of nice lenses and a computer than can edit 4K and RAW video, buy a GH4. If you don’t have a 4K TV, or a computer system that can handle editing 4K video, you are kind of spending money wastefully.


Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera vs GH4

Panasonic GH4 - Best Camera for 2014

It’s not really close. The GH4 should have the same image quality as the BMPCC (aside from being 4K). The only difference is that the GH4 will do everything better than the BMPCC. The BMPCC is not versatile and requires additional investment to make it practical. The GH4 is as versatile as any DSLR. The GH4 BMPCC debate is fair. To have a proper set up BMPCC, you will spend $1k on the body, and then an additional $1k+. So the price point is the same, and the main focus of the cameras (good picture quality) is the same.

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