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.

GH4 with mic eduardoangel

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.

Blackmagic-Pocket-Cinema-CameraCanon EOS C100

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.

SanDisk Extreme Pro 64 GB SDXCPanasonic P2

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.

More stuff
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 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:

I shared a lot of good and not so great GH4 things over the week­end on Twit­ter. Go take a look. 

Want more?
From the Archive: What’s the big deal with ND fil­ters?
From the Archive: The Impor­tance of Light­ing for Video.