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planetMitch note: a guest post by Erik Naso – printed with permission

I was lucky to have my pre ordered Panasonic GH4 arrive today from Texas Media Systems much sooner than I expected. It wasn’t supposed to be here until the end of April. To my surprise Texas Media Systems emailed me with a tracking number and the next day it arrived. So cool! I love new cameras! I was pretty busy today at the station so getting out and shooting wasn’t going to be possible. Well maybe for a few minutes right? The big deal with the GH4 is internal 4K acquisition. Yes it’s compressed but I’m telling you right now the image looks really good. Panasonic really is giving us the whole enchilada with this camera. Very rare to have so many features normally found in only video cameras on this hybrid mirrorless beast. To take this camera even further Panasonic has the YAGH external thingy. Most won’t need it but if you do you know what it does so I’m not going to get all YAGHed up in this first impression post. I will mention that the micro HDMI output is 10 bit 4:2:2. This is crazy good! Feed that to the YAGH with it’s SDI outputs and XLR inputs that I just said I wont talk about or the new Atomos Shogun recorder and you get amazingly good quality 4K image from a $1600 camera. This just blows my mind still. I’m sure I’ll get over it soon. LOL!

Panasonic GH4 First Impressions

This post is all about the GH4′s video capabilities. I’m a DP and my first interest in the GH4 is for video. I’m also a big stills fan, and I loved the GH3 for it’s portability. I don’t see that changing and the GH4 is going to be my go to camera for stills as well but I do have to admit that the Fujifilm X100s is really a fun camera so why settle for only one!

Panasonic GH4 Highlights

  • 16.05 MP Digital Live MOS Sensor
  • DCI 4K 4096×2160 at 24p
  • UHD 4K 3840×2160 at 30p/24p
  • Full HD up to 60p
  • 96FPS in 1920 x 1080 100Mbps. WOW!
  • 3.0″ 1,036k-Dot OLED Monitor
  • 2,359K-Dot OLED Live View Finder
  • Support for 59.94p, 23.98p, 50p, & 24p
  • 4:2:2 8-Bit or 10-Bit HDMI Output
  • High-Speed 49-Point Autofocus
  • Magnesium Alloy, Weather-Sealed Body

Panasonic GH4 First Impressions Image 1

I did spend some time reading the manual for new features. Yes I do that, but heck! I already know the GH cameras from having the GH3. The menu is pretty much the same except for the “new settings”. Ahh those new settings. They really are great! Panasonic decided to make this a very video friendly camera by adding the option to set the shutter to shutter angle. I love that! I set it to 180 degree. Done. I like to use C1 custom setting for video. I have it setup for cinema 4K at a whooping 100Mbps 4096 x 2160 at 24p. This just blows my mind! Turned on audio VU meters and set base ISO at 400. I need to test the ISO settings but for now 400 will do. I chose 400 for no particular reason just a starting point. Oh and yes it does have a headphone jack. As for audio I haven’t tested it yet. The GH3 did very well with internal audio. Check out my GH3 test video and review I did when it first came out.

The GH3 is a very capable camera and the GH4 really builds on that foundation.

Panasonic GH4 First Impressions Image 2

The GH4 feels just like the GH3 in your hand and thats a good thing. Like the Fujifilm X100s why mess with a good thing. Good call Panasonic! All the buttons are the same but one new feature I like is the Mode Dial Lock. No more accidental setting changes. The control dial is still not my favorite but not a deal breaker.

View From The EVF

View From The EVF

The EVF is so very nice. It’s OLED and really sharp. it doesn’t have the distortion in the corners like the GH3 did. At least I feel it didnt. I took the camera outside in the bright sun and the built up eyecup prevented light leak making it very easy to see the image inside the EVF. Really great to see what you’re shooting without the overlays on top of the image. I like that a lot.

Panasonic GH4 First Impressions Image 4

I already had a couple of Wasabi Power batteries from Amazon so I was ready for the new camera. You know the battery that comes with new cameras are about 25% charged when you get it. Just enough power to get you excited and poof! dead. I know a lot of you don’t like 3rd party batteries but these are highly rated and I have several for other cameras that have been working just fine. YMMV and so that’s a choice you have to make. I’m good saving about 50%.

New Kingston 64 GB U3 SD Cards

New Kingston 64 GB U3 SD Cards

Panasonic recommends U3 SD cards. I found these Kingstons 64GB SDHC UHS-I Speed Class 3 and they work perfectly. You get approximately an hour and a half on a 64GB card. I don’t have other fast SD cards to test so I highly recommend just getting new U3 ones and don’t take any chances with dropped frames or worse. If you do please test them before you shoot something that matters.

There’s much more on Erik’s blog at My Panasonic GH4 Has Arrived. My First Impressions

(cover photo credit: snap from eriknaso.com)