Sunday 25 May 2014

Panasonic GH4 first day test

Every few years a camera comes along that makes a lot of noise. 5D and FS700 for example and recently the GH4. All offering the seemingly impossible ahead of the curve.

Promising 4K, decent slow motion frame rates, small form factor among a load of other features that will make most video nerds happy the GH4 certainly made some noise and so far I cant really argue with it either.

I got the camera last week which I was in Slovenia so was keen to give it a testing as soon as I got back, get used to it and see how it performed. With this in mind I gave my mate, Bristol local and Trek world racing rider Laurie Greenland a call and asked if he wanted to go shoot a mini edit. Worked out well in that he had just got his new 27.5 race bike that morning and wanted to test that out as well.

  • All filmed with the GH4, and 14-140 kit lens.
  • All filmed in about 2-3 hours in the rain ( to test the weather proof claims )
  • In either 1080/96 or 4K/24  
  • Using the CinelikeD picture profile, with everything turned down, and Master Pdsl at +10

Here its set up with the video mic pro. The screen is sharp, bright and easy to use.

Settings differ between shots a lot, but for slow motion stuff either 100th or 200th shutter speed, for full speed either 50th or 100th. ISO tried to keep it on either 200/400/800 when outside and the shots indoors at the start are at 1600.

The brilliant WIFI option to use with Iphones and Ipads.
One thing thats worth mentioning as well is the amazing way you can link the camera via its built in WIFI to your phone/Ipad etc

You have full control of the camera, and I mean full. Anything you can do with the camera itself you can now do with no delay, wireless from your phone. When I say no delay I really mean it as well, even violently whipping the camera about the image on the phone shows no noticeable lag, great feature.

Great for when the camera is in a rig, on a jib or even as a small second monitor.

Was raining pretty hard all afternoon and other than rain getting on the lens it didn't flinch once. 
The Weather sealing seemed pretty good as well. Wouldnt want to test it any more to be honest but it dealt with some pretty real persistant drizzle well and without grumble.

Please find the video below. Only short and I tried to include shots that highlight what I want to talk about.

I have taken a few screen grabs of clips to show you some of the things I noticed: 

C4K/24 , The first few shots where inside a dull bike shop. I wanted to see how it acted in low light, and these where shot at ISO 1600 and show some pretty clear noise.
This camera never claimed to be amazing in low light, so it was no surprise that it doesnt quite match the 5D3. That said the image is also a LOT sharper, which really makes any noise there is stand out quite a lot more than the 5D.

200/400/800 are all fine and clean enough to not notice any real noise. Its just as you step up to 1600 you notice some. I managed to underexpose slightly which didn't help, so if your shooting low light on the GH4 make sure you nail exposure and maybe over expose slightly. Not an issue as the image retains lots of detail in the highlights.

C4K/24 off the camera


1080/96 off the camera
1080/96 Graded
1080/96 off the camera
1080/96 Graded

As you can see with my picture profile settings the image right off the camera is really nice and flat and grades well. I will play about and tweak the settings slightly to see if backing off the Master Pdstl helps reduce noise etc but for now I am really happy with the image.

Everyone was saying the 1080/96 image was pretty unuseable for wide shots with lots of detail, but as the final shot in the video shows, I cant see that. Looks great to me.

As for the 96P being soft, when the image is this razor sharp to start with again I didn't notice it at all in real world use. Coming from a 5D3 that in comparison has grease all over the lens all the time it all looks pretty sharp to me.

You get a better image for grading in every way than the 5D3 from what I have seen, and nearly as nice as the FS700 but still not quite. But this camera costs £1500 ish not £6000 ish so...

The C4K looks great, being able to crop in on shots is great, having the room to stabilize in post is again great, its sharp, doesn't band in sky's, is at a sensible data rate so doesn't rape space on cards and drives and the crop factor of the lens isn't much of an issue, its just part of the camera and something you forget pretty fast and just deal with.

Its pretty much the same story for the 1080/96 as well, for 1080 web delivery I cant see any real noticeable difference. Nothing to write home about anyway. Perhaps just steer clear of slow motion check shirts etc and you will be fine.

I think as soon as Metabones pull their fingers out and give us a good EF to M43 speed booster this camera will sing. Till then its still pretty damn impressive.

Any more questions etc comment below.



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