4K video under $2K. Meet the Panasonic Lumix GH4.
Panasonic just announced its latest system, the Lumix GH4. We had the honor to field test the GH4 this past weekend, and I shared some of my impressions live on Twitter.
I’ll be posting more details as well as images and sample videos later this week.
Panasonic hasn’t set a specific shipping date, but NOW you can add the GH4 to your wish list on Amazon and Adorama. I am not being paid by Panasonic (or any other company) to write this post. This is an independent review and the comments are entirely mine. If you would like to purchase any of the items mentioned, please support us by clicking our links first. Thank you in advance.
It seems like just last month I was in the Middle East field testing the Lumix DMC-GH3. My highly positive review was so surprising for some people that my friend Caleb Pike from DSLR Video Shooter interviewed me to discuss the camera (that podcast is still available here).
What’s the big deal about the GH4? The camera is the fourth generation of Panasonic’s very successful Micro Fourth Thirds DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless) system. If you have been following the photo and film industries’ news (especially after CES) then you know that the flavor of the year is 4K, from action/sports cameras like Sony’s HDR-AS100V to Canon’s 4K monitors to 120-inch 4K TV sets for less than $1,000. Netflix and YouTube joined the party announcing 4K streaming that requires less bandwidth, and even Asus released a $180 Chromebox that can output 4K!
But I digress—let’s go back to the GH4.
What’s new? These are the specs ON PAPER, so I’m taking everything with a grain of salt until I can test the camera this weekend and confirm all the features.
The Stills Features
• A new 16-megapixel CMOS Micro Four Thirds sensor. The new sensor has a “semi-conductor protection tech to reduce noise and improved dynamic range.”
• Same size as the GH3, it even takes the same DMW-BLF19 Lithium-Ion batteries (BTW this Wasabi battery kit is a great deal!)
• SD card format
• ISO 200–25,600
• 1/8000 shutter
• 12 fps burst mode or 7 fps with AF tracking
• 0.07-second focusing speed
• The shutter is rated for 200,000 actuations.
• Magnesium alloy, splash– and dust-proof body
• Five physical function buttons, and two touch-screen function buttons, all customizable with close to 40 options to choose from.
• Virtually all the key shooting controls are within the right hand’s reach. This frees up the left hand to hold the camera or focus manually.
The Video Features
• 4K video recording (3840x2160 / 4096x2160)
• 100Mbps (IPB) / 200Mbps (ALL-Intra) high-bitrate full-HD video recording
• MOV, MP4, and AVCHD at a variety of frame rates. All these video formats work seamlessly on Adobe Premiere Pro CC.
• Internal Time code (Rec run / Free run) and External input of time code (Shooting in multiple or editing)
• Selectable container format for high-bitrate (MP4 / MOV)
• HDMI monitor through in video recording
• HDM monitor through with 4:2:2 8/10 bit output
• OSD display & control monitor for video
• Zebra pattern
• Center marker
• Color bars & audio reference signal output
• Hue adjustment
• Cinema-like gamma
• Luminance level adjustment (16–255 / 16–235 / 0–255)
• SDI output with 4:2:2 8/10 bit
By far my favorite feature on the GH3 is the ability to capture capture MOV (h.264), MP4, and AVCHD formats. This feature alone is priceless as you can almost seamlessly add the camera to your existing Canon or Nikon workflow. The Gh4 seems to keep this strong competitive feature.
In terms of price, the GH4 seems like a direct competitor to Blackmagic’s Pocket Cinema Camera and Canon’s EOS C100 and EOS C300 (explained for photographers here).
I am leaving Canon’s 1DC out of this equation given its price.
Let’s talk about storage.
If we shoot at the GH4’s maximum bit rate of 200Mbp we would get about 25MB per second, or about 1.5GB of data per MINUTE, which ends up being about 90GB per hour. In other words, we will need extremely fast memory cards and more hard drives. Before you ask (because I know you will) for a 4K workflow I’d strongly recommend a G-RAID 4TB Dual Thunderbolt or at the very least a sixth generation 7200 RPM 4TB G-DRIVE.
Regarding the cards, I’d go with either the same SanDisk Extreme Pro 64 GB SDXC Class 10 UHS-1 that we use on our Blackmagic Pocket or I’d get Panasonic 64 GB microP2 cards. If you have a better suggestion please send me a tweet.
An interesting addition to the GH4 is the optional “Interface Module” which looks like a blended Tascam DR60 and a very oversized battery grip. Apparently the optional device offers 2 XLR ports, SDI outputs with support for 4K (4:2:2/10-bit), and a 13.8-volt terminal for external power among and other features. I seriously doubt I’ll be seeing this toy in the next couple of days, but if I do I’ll make sure I tweet a picture of it.
One of the specs that I like the most from the GH3 and I haven’t seen with the GH4 is the “silent mode.”
We heavily rely on this feature when shooting Behind the Scenes. I’ll let you know this weekend if the GH4 kept this feature or not.
The GH4 comes with a built-in Time Lapse/Stop Motion Animation feature, so you can get super creative can without any time consuming postproduction work. To see an example of the built-in time lapse feature jump to 1:15 on the video below:
A recent Panasonic LUMIX campaign was titled “Staying Still Is No Longer An Option.” I couldn’t agree more. Video content as we ALL know is becoming more and more relevant and I’ve written extensively about why photographers need to start shooting video right now. On a very related note, we just released a new course on Lynda.com called “Lighting for Video Productions” so if you are a photographer or filmmaker looking to learn a few simple tricks that will make a big difference, look no further. Check out a couple of the movies for free here: http://bit.ly/TheLightingCourse
I shared a lot of good and not so great GH4 things over the weekend on Twitter. Go take a look.