Panasonic GH4…1st thoughts and disappointments

Categories: Miscellaneous 9 Comments

GH4-flaws

Having had time to read the official specifications of the Panasonic GH4 its certainly packed with a host of video features like syncro scan, not something I was expecting but a pleasant surprise.

One major disappointment was the 4:2:0 8bit internal processing, the same as the GH3, the least I was expecting from a 4K enabled camera was 4:2:2, you do get 4:2:2 10bit out of the SDI socket but I personally do not want to hook up an external recorder ! There is a possibility that the boys at Magic Lantern will reverse engineer this at some point but you do have to ask why Panasonic don’t give us 10bit from day one !

The addition of a 4 pin power XLR on the optional adapter unit should have given me a major clue on powering this beast, I certainly don’t want to go backwards wearing a battery belt so your option is a cage with a “V” lock adapter attached or a “V” lock battery plate with a longish cable !

My main gripe is what was the point producing a GH4 knowing how small it is then deliberately crippling it with external units like 12v batteries and external recorders that will be bigger than the camera itself.

XLR-HD-SDI

The GH4’s HDMI 1.4a connector allows it to output 4K or 1080 streams. The bit-rate and amount of color information varies, depending on how the camera is used. By default, the HDMI outputs 8-bit 4:2:2, either for monitoring or for sending to an external recorder, leaving you with the option of using the 8-bit 4:2:0 files from the camera as more convenient proxies during the editing process. Alternatively, if you take the SD card out of the camera, you can use the GH4 as a camera head – which gives you access to a 10-bit 4:2:2 stream.

SDXC-web

The camera is designed to use SDHC and SDXC cards with a UHS I bus and Panasonic only promises the camera’s full capability when used with cards conforming to the U3 speed class, which guarantees 30MB/s (240Mbps) sustained write speeds.

Looking around the internet this morning (Saturday 8th Feb 2014) I can only see adverts for Kingston SDXC speed 3 cards, £48 for a 64G card seems to be very reasonable considering a 64G XQD card is still £365.

Availability…I was hoping to get my hands on a GH4 before BVE (Last week in February) but Panasonic are not taking any pre orders till the 17th March which means we may be looking at April before the camera appears.

In conclusion…

For practical video work I have no doubt that the GH4 on its own will out perform my GH3, the addition of the XLR adapter is a major bonus but I would have preferred an all in one solution without the need for the 4 pin DC power socket but taking that aside most of the time this camera will be filming interviews so on a tripod the extra 12v battery pack may not be such an issue. Having the SDI out is a major bonus for monitoring purposes though we are just as comfortable with HDMI theses days.

Q. Will I buy a GH4 the answer is yes…will I buy the YAGH XLR adapter…the jury is out.

Photographer

Just watched a video about photographer Daniel Berehulak in Kenya using a prototype GH4 along side Danial is Takehito Miyatake a photographer from Japan.

Pic v3

We forget the GH4 is also a very competent photographic tool and Danial shows how good the dynamic range is in this picture…fantastic.

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9 comments on this post

  1. Chris Gibbs says:

    Hi Philip, Looks like the GH4 still misses the point on the audio front, it’s too complicated. I was expecting (at the very least) a more elegant solution like SONY have with their XLR adaptor and “smart” hot-shoe idea! ~Chris

    HDW : Hi Chris, I agree they have completely missed the point on the adapter, audio controls and the ability to power the camera via a battery slot was all that was needed.

  2. Mike Lynch says:

    Greetings from Australia,

    Completely agree with you Philip. The lack of 4:2:2 internal record makes me pause when it comes to deciding whether or not to purchase the GH4.
    Shame, I was really looking forward to using the GH4 for quick greenscreen shots.

    Quick follow up question, is it just a firmware upgrade that would allow the camera to record in 4:2:2 or is it hardware dependant?

    Mike

    HDW : Its the greenscreen that would have been very useful for me also though it won’t stop me buying a GH4.

  3. josh says:

    Best thing about this announcement is that the gh3 will probably see a big price drop!

    can’t see much point in investing in a 4k dslr so early when no standards have been set, will probably be obsolete in a short period of time, much like how hdv was an interim step between sd and true hd. plus 100 mbs h.264 sounds awfuly low for a 4k codec, pretty much the 4k equivalent of ropey old avchd.

    HDW : Have not seen GH4 footage on a 4K TV but 4K is the next stage in professional video acquisition for both 4K and HD output, there is no doubt that the F55 will produce a better end result but I am not buying the GH4 for 4K filming.

  4. Daniel says:

    Recording good quality video via external recorder is so 80s :-)

    http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18mlp29jsnjiogif/original.gif

  5. Bill says:

    I agree with you, Philip – and wrote a blog post yesterday saying pretty much the same thing. My little Blackmagic records 10 bit ProRes and 12 bit RAW internally – an 8 bit internal codec on the GH4 is a bit of a disappointment. I will upgrade for the focus peaking and rent the big dock on the rare occasions when I need DCI-compliant 10-bit 4K. Otherwise, I will stick with fully gradeable 1080p 12 bit RAW and 10 bit ProRes from the affordable little Blackmagic.

  6. Tim says:

    I read somewhere that the GH4 records 4K 4.2.0 internally and that in post this can be down converted to 1080p 4.2.2
    Any thoughts?
    Also – anyone know if the 1080p image is cropped like a RED?

  7. Daniele says:

    Hi Philip,

    I would like your opinion.

    Why do I have to buy a camcorder, i.e. a JVC HM600 (bought on January 2013) if there are Photo Camera that has technical specs superior?

    HDW : It’s all about what look you want to achieve, until mirror-less cameras like the Sony a99 and the Panasonic GH3 came along life in the DSLR world was a struggle, no swivel VF’s, no mic inputs let alone headphone sockets.
    If you want to cover fast action sport don’t use your DSLR unless you are a wiz with focus, the larger depth of field video camcorders have a place and a “look” that you don’t get with a DSLR. In certain circumstances its still the preferred option.

  8. Chris Gibbs says:

    Another thing I’ve noticed being a “video noob” (stills guy by trade). You get a completely different reaction when wielding a proper video camera over a stills camera. Even the act of popping a mic on your stills rig can raise the odd concern, I’m thinking smaller/more consumer orientated may be beneficial in news gathering especially.

  9. Brian Andrews says:

    Zacuto guys sat down with Panny and the GH4. Panny rep says at the 9:30 mark the the camera does send 4.2.2 10bit 4K out of the camera’s HDMI.

    here is the link: http://www.zacuto.com/panasonic-lumix-gh4

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