Panasonic’s 4K GH4 – An Indepth Look at this Incredible Camera

by Hugh Brownstone4 Comments

No doubt I've read more words and looked at more images of — and images coming from — the Panasonic GH4 over the past few weeks than any other camera.  I can't get enough of it.

Are you with me?

But I think I'm approaching saturation point, so I'm getting more selective in what I read about it.

If you haven't been following the buzz on the GH4, the accompanying piece by Redshark will bring you up to date nicely.  But if you HAVE been keeping up to date, there's still a nice nugget on the last page under “Editing and ‘magic' down-conversion” which gets into a less discussed piece of the work flow: tools for down-resing to 1080.

Check it out.

Panasonic's 4K GH4. All things considered, is this the best camera ever?

Since the arrival of the Canon 5D mark II, those of us trained on ‘proper’ cameras have always been happy to sneer at the DSLR: ‘nice depth of field, shame about the audio’ or ‘great colours, shame it’s out of focus’ and don’t start me on talking about aliasing and moiré. With the GH4, we’re going to have to come up with a new book of excuses. Frankly, if I had been given a new, purely video, camera with the same feature set I would have been more than impressed. The fact that it also takes up to 12 stills (which look better than my expensive DSLR) every second elevates the GH4 to a new place in my affections

So what makes it so ground breaking? It's not just the headline features of 4K recording and a 200 Mbit/s iFrame only HD recording at both 25 and 50p, it's the combination of this and a host of other tools lurking in the menus and the rather surprising optional extra called the YAGHE which can be firmly mounted to the bottom of the camera. I've decided to call it a ‘Yargie’ by the way. The YAGHE gives the camera not only balanced XLR inputs with phantom power, audio level controls and LED level meters, but also Quad 1.5G SDI Output, or 3G, both at 10 bit 4:2:2. They throw in a full size HDMI too which also outputs 10bit 4:2:2 simultaneously and a timecode input on BNC.

Let's look at the headline features in more detail. The GH4’s 4K recording is onto very fast SD cards (I've been using a SanDisk extreme pro 64 GB card which will cope with the 100 M/bs of the 4k modes as well as the 200 M/bs iFrame HD modes as well).



4K + UHD

The GH4 can record and output 4096 x 2160 at a cinematic (DCI) 24p as well as the more TV flavoured 3840 x 2160 UHD at 24, 25 and 30 fps. It can record in MP4, MP4 with LPCM audio and MOV wrappers, and can even record 50i and 50p in AVCHD format. Without any hacking the GH4 can record 1080 50p and 1080 25p at 200 M/bs iFrame H264 and in 24, 25 and 30 fps 100 Mbit/s mode it can record variable frame rates up to 96 fps for super smooth slow motion that can be played back straight from the camera or on an NLE timeline.

A weather sealed body protects the brand new 16MP sensor from the elements and I’ve yet to run one battery down when using the camera on a normal day.

The GH4 can shoot 4K and then output 8MP jpegs which you select from the video straight onto the SD card. It has a totally silent mode for shooting close ups of sleeping tigers or sneaky shots in a press conference.

YAGHE base unit being attached to the GH4. There is also a side connecter. Attaching it is a bit fiddly, but once it's in place, it's very secure.

YAGHE base unit being attached to the GH4. There is also a side connecter. Attaching it is a bit fiddly, but once it's in place, it's very secure.

GH4 attached to the YAGHE base unit. You can see the Audio XLR sockets and the quad HD SDI output

GH4 attached to the YAGHE base unit. You can see the Audio XLR sockets and the quad HD SDI output

To read more about this, visit RedShark News' article “Panasonic's 4K GH4. All things considered, is this the best camera ever?”

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh is the founder of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions. He and the team write, direct, shoot, score, and edit web-centric films; conduct photo shoots; and write copy, white papers and blog posts. Hugh also writes screenplays (he recently optioned a TV pilot) and just published his first eBook (Apple's iPhone: The Next Video Revolution). If it's about telling stories, it's in their wheelhouse.

And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
Hugh Brownstone

Comments

  1. This is a very impressive camera in terms of features for the price.  However, I’ve heard that in 4K mode that the camera will only record in 24P not 23.98P.  That would be a problem for broadcast, etc.  Anyone heard about this?  Any reports about the dynamic range?  The earlier GH cameras were lacking in that area.

  2. rsellars This is true for DCI 4K 4096×2160 at true 24p, but it does do UHD 4K 3840×2160 at 23.98fps, which pretty standard for broadcast needs. As for DR, the GH4 lacks a log mode, but I’ve been found the approx. 12 stops I’ve observed, and the shadows can be pulled up in post very well when recorded externally in 10bit.

  3. rsellars dxomark.com is a go-to site for camera sensor and lens ratings.  They measure the dynamic range of the GH4 at 12.8 EVs — pretty impressive, especially when the Canon 5D Mk III clocks in at 11.7.  But these are just numbers, and I’d rely on real world experience from people like hapadc.

  4. True that. But, it wouldn’t be a problem for the internet and after listening to Michael Cioni’s, CEO Light Iron, webinare yesterday, It all makes sense that 4K delivery will only expand in delivery to the internet much sooner than it will to Broadcast Television.

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