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Mike Kobal

June 5, 2014

Panasonic GH4: the 4K experience: field report

I received my GH4 weeks ago but didn’t get a chance to shoot video until this past weekend. There are plenty of good reviews out there and by now everybody knows the GH4 is every bit as exciting as the 5DmkII was back in 2008.
graded/ungraded version, equipment list after the break

The GH4 is the first no nonsense video oriented hybrid camera.
(As soon as I find some time, I will post my impressions about street shooting with the GH4).
We finally get almost everything we have been asking for.
Großes Kino in a small package. By now you should have memorized all the specs and read through the GH4 advanced user’s guide at least once :)

I won’t further bore you with technical data.

Saturday afternoon, I headed cross town to the High Line.
One of the best places to watch the sunset in NYC.
Equiptment list:

A small, lightweight generic backpack
GH4 body without grip
first generation Lumix14-140mm f4-5.8
Olympus 9-18mm f4-5.6
14mm 2.5 pancake and
the 20mm 1.7
bean back, mono-pod
and a few spare batteries.

Being finally able to shoot cityscapes with full sensor read out was quite a revelation. Prior to this visit, I went there with the A7 and A7r but abandoned the idea right away because of moiré issues. It wasn’t as bad as on the 5Dmk2 but still by no means acceptable at this time and age.

The GH4 on the other hand produced one beautiful clip after another.
We finally have a camera we can use without the usual worries when shooting with full frame sensors and wide angle lenses (salvation might be around the corner with the Sony A7s ?).

Favorite lenses:

No. 1 lens: the Olympus 9-18mm 4-5.6

a tiny ultra wide zoom, super sharp (already wide open) with a 52mm filter thread!
I used a standard ND fader without vignetting at the widest setting in 4k mode.
Although the Lumix 7-14mm is widely considered to be slightly better optically, the bulging front element prevents the use of filters. Unless you absolutely need the extra wide FOV, the Olympus is far more versatile because of the filter thread and 18mm at the long end versus 14mm on the Panasonic. The Panasonic 7-14mm autofocuses a little faster, not an issue in this case since I focused manually.

No. 2 lens: the lumix 20mm 1.7. Tack sharp wide open and most night clips where shot with it at ISO 200 and 400.

and my No. 3 lens, the 14-140mm f4-5.8, not quite as sharp as the Olympus super wide and prime lenses, but a great
10x zoom for general video shooting with image stabilization and pretty descent af behavior.
Unfortunately, the lens exhibits a quick focus pump before it nails it, slightly annoying since
I don’t have that problem when shooting with the A7/r and the kit zoom (doesn’t apply to primes, there is quite a bit of focus pumping going on as well)
and the Sony RX10 doesn’t have it either. Neither does the Sony FS100 and FS700 with the original kit lens, but these cameras are in a different league.

Manual focusing on the GH4 works extremely well, the magnified square allows you to focus precisely BEFORE you press the record button, I really wish one could zoom in during recording.

Battery life is impressive, especially when compared to the Sony A7/r. It easily outlasts two batteries! on the Sony A7/r with the battery grip attached.

I enjoyed shooting with the GH4, esp with these tiny lenses, the fully articulated LCD , quite an improvement over the partially articulated LCD on the Sony’s (A7,A7r, RX10).

Overall, I am very impressed with the footage the camera produced at lower ISO’s,
200 and 400 look spectacular and when down sampled to 1080, even 1600 looked impressive. Internal 4K recording, no need for fiddling with flimsy HDMI connectors and external recorders, a potential nightmare on extended shoots, sets the GH4, currently the undisputed king of the hill (considering its price point), apart from the rest of the gang.

I am already planning to shoot a few upcoming projects with the GH4.
Graded/ungraded version below, beautiful clips right out of the camera, minor curve tweaks only.

Settings for this shoot:

4K/100mbps/30fps
Cinelike D
contrast -5
sharpness -3
saturation -2
NR 0
Hue 0

Custom curve, shadow +3
Master Pedestral Level 0
Luminance Level 16-255

Shutter speed 1/60.
aperture, wide open on all lenses with ND faders

Manual white balance, mostly 5600K.

If you find this article helpful, please consider helping me maintaining this blog by purchasing your gear through my product links to Adorama and B&H and Ebay. It will cost you nothing and allows me to keep adding! Or consider making a direct donation using PayPal, thank you!


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1 Comment »

  1. Mike, very nicely done, impressive dynamic range and sharpness, thanks for sharing the settings! I might have to get one after all.

    Comment by reinhard — June 6, 2014 @ 12:01 pm

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