Filming a wedding on the Panasonic GH4

It was an early morning, up ahead of myself and Glen was a wedding at Wasing Park, Berkshire. A venue that I have never shot at before, I had no idea what to expect, but armed with the GH4, Metabones Speedbooster and fast lenses I was sure to capture the couples day in style.

The style lacked in my ride.. Quentin, my 15 year old Corsa is having major clutch trouble so amongst the effing, blinding and aggressive gear changes we rocked up at St Pauls, Wokingham. In the pouring rain.

It was an exceptional service, the mister was wonderful, one of the best I have had the pleasure of worked with, as were the the stunning couple.

In the church I had a strategic position up ahead of the couple shooting down, so on the 35-100mm F/2.8 & GH4 I framed a great shot of both the bride and groom with a stunning bokeh in the background.

One benefit of shooting on MFT is that the depth of field is greater than full frame, as in you can position more subjects in the depths of the composition (Z-space, slightly further back or forward) without them being blurred or distorted by bokeh in the background if you’re shooting very shallow.

So, in this scenario I was able to get closer to the couple by using the GH4 because of it’s 2x focal length multiplication with the MFT sensor, as well as framing a gorgeous close op of the bride with the groom still in focus.

 

After the ceremony, and a damp confetti shot we headed to the reception venue Wasing Park. That was not before having to open up my bonnet 3 times to try and adjust my clutch to actually be able to put in into first gear….

A long drive up a winding country entrance road lead to what I am thinking to be an old manor house and farm, which is now a wedding and event venue in between Reading and Newbury. Thank you sunshine for making your appearance as we arrived at the venue! As it is now October now, mother nature gave the cue for a cold wind, so in essence there was a chill in the air at this wedding despite a warm golden hour.

The GH4 dealt brilliantly with mixed white balances from indoor tungsten light in a pavilion and autumnal daylight through wall-size french windows, and the sweet spots around 4300K, a medium DoF and increased focal distance provided a comfortable filming style, while staying intimate but unobtrusive.

Coming to the speeches, I shot on a 12-35mm F/2.8 for a wide and 35-100 F/2.8 for an MCU of the speaker. This is probably the only place the GH4 has a downfall, it is definitely not a low light camera like the A7s, and with a heavily back-lit and mixed white balanced setting the camera struggled. In a situation of changing exposure and white balance it is always better to carry on recording rather than continually cut, adjust the settings, and resume filming as in the edit it will be easier to achieve continuity across the shots in one scene.

For the first dance, my magic arm broke.. So I was down to one camera, while Glen was shooting a reverse angle on the 12-35mm and Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8 ART and Metabones Speedbooster. We struggled with light, so I used an LED light panel to push some fill in there, for both myself and the photographer.

Overall a great day, the GH4 is definitely geared towards videography and filming with its variety of video-orientated features such as levelling, zebras, peaking and 4k of course, but it struggled in the low light and creating that big bokek look that so many of us have been accustomed to.

The highlights should be up in a couple of weeks and I’ll share it then!

Kit list:

Panasonic GH4 x 5

12-35mm F/2.8 x 2

25mm F/1.8

70-200mm F/2.8

Sigma 18-35m F/1.8

Tamron 70-200mm F/2.8

Metabones Speedbooster

Zoom H2N x 3

Sennheiser ENG100-GH3

Manfrotto CX-3, MVH-700, Magic Arm, Super Clamp

 

Shout out to Paul Rogers, the photographer we were working with today. It was great working with Paul, and his documentary style of photography I believe will result on some nice photos.

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Thinking of making the jump to 4K?

You are in the same boat as me.. Having bought my 5D mkIII last December, there was no accessible 4K option until the Panasonic GH4 made its appearance in the Spring.

I was devastated. Having invested heavily in Canon gear, any future move I make will need to fit with my current EF mount lenses, not to mention everything else such as batteries, memory cards and my overall production workflow.

http://www.eoshd.com/2014/04/panasonic-gh4-vs-sony-a7s-compared-wins-4k-battle-paper/

(EOS HD comparison between the cameras).

At the moment, there are two options on the table. Said to be like comparing apples and oranges, the Sony A7s and GH4 are the current competing professional cameras that offer 4K functionality, however for people that own the cameras and have been comparing the two have found it difficult. This is for a few reasons:

Sensor size: The A7s is full frame, the GH4 is MFT.

4K in camera: The GH4 can record 4K internally, the A7s requires an external recorder such as an Odyssey or Shogun.

 

Philip Bloom using the Q7, from: http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/19/magician/
Philip Bloom using the Q7, from: http://philipbloom.net/2014/07/19/magician/

Jeromy, CEO of Atomos talking to me and Sam from The IABM about new products and the IBC Show.

Now, many people will be arguing that what does the increased resolution allow you to do, that HD doesn’t? The image produced from the 5D is great; good in low light, versatile, fits my style of filming… But it also has big downfalls for being a DSLR, and not a video camera.

Something that is unique about these two cameras is that their ‘out of the box’ functionality has been fine tuned for video applications, as well as high end photography. This is what Canon has left behind in their non Cinema line cameras, and Magic Lantern has struck gold on with their firmware hack enabling awesome video functions.

I have only recently installed ML on my 5D mkIII due to the current firmware on the camera. It was shipped with version 1.2.3, I was hesitant to downgrade the firmware and was patient in waiting for ML to develop a tested and working version for 1.2.3. Now having access to on screen aid such as waveform monitors and audio levels make such a difference, and restart movie for the longer filming durations is great. It turns your ‘photography’ camera into basically a video camera.

From: About DSLR (Youtube).

For my type of videography, the benefits of having not only 4K, but a wider range of options for recording will allow me to crop and downscale any 4K acquisition to HD and hold incredible picture detail, dynamic range and depth of field.

The recording bit rates are higher, meaning more data is stored for post production editing, compositing or grading.

Lastly, it should increase the production value of what I produce. Now, I am not stating that better equipment makes better videos. It does give you the opportunity to step up with what you can do in your work, and especially as it keeps you up to date in a world of ever changing and improving technology.

So, what is my investment cost?

This is dependent on your current shooting kit, and whether you can merge your current system with a new one. Perhaps you already shoot Sony or Panny, so you’re in luck.

For me, all my lenses are Canon EF mount, some are electronic, others are manual, so an adapter would be needed in my case. The price of this is dependent on the glass you use, or are going to use.

Let’s look at the Panasonic GH4 to start with.

Panasonic GH4 (body only) – £1296.00

Metabones Speedbooster EF to MFT (smart with electronics) – £468.00

GH4 batteries x 2 -£130

Transcend 600x ultimate SD card x 2 (Amazon price) – £36

Now, as the GH4 is MFT, I might purchase a wide angle lens because my current ultra wide angle 14mm T/3.1 would be almost 28mm T/6 due to the sensor equivalence. So, my options would be either:

Panasonic 12 – 35mm F/2.8 – £829.00

I did have the Samyang 12mm T/2, realizing it does not come in MFT mount.. So the above would be my option. I have used it before, it has great OIS and has a decent depth of field for an F/5.6 equivalent lens.

Total GH4 investment inc extra lens – £2759.00 (excluding extra lens – £1930.00)

That £1930 was pretty much the same price I paid for the 5D mkIII body only.

Panasonic GH4 basket

Now the Sony A7s.

Sony A7s (body and battery/PWR kit) – £2034.00

Metabones Speedbooster EF to E (smart with electronics) – £316.46

Transcend 600x ultimate SD card x 2 (Amazon price) – £36

The A7s does not record 4K internally, so I would need to purchase the Atomos Shogun recorder at – £1464.00

Also, as the A7s is compact in size, a cage is required to make it more accessible with the recorder and mics etc.

Movcam A7s cage – £148.02

Total A7s investment – £3998.48

(All prices are including VAT from CVP).

Sony A7s basket

Adam using the Panasonic GH4
Adam using the Panasonic GH4

Now.. I’ve shot on the Panasonic GH4 and I like it. When I’ve talked to Panasonic reps about the product they all had the same comment that Panasonic listened to videographers, and you can tell. The available recording formats and codecs allow a range of uses for the camera, and the features it packs into its tiny form are perfect for those that already utilize DSLR for video.

(Look back to earlier this year to the Park Camera’s Panasonic open day – https://ajp1991.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/meet-the-panasonic-gh4/)

Personally, and this is very subjective to the way I was filming when using the camera, the captured video looked like video. Some will understand what I mean, others won’t, but for those that have been shooting on a full frame camera, the ‘look’ is there. Obviously the sensor plays a large part in that, but if I purchased a GH4 kit outright (disregarding my current EF mount lenses).. I would purchase the Voightlander 25mm and the trusted Samyang cine lenses which might just combat the ‘look’ issue I feel like I have. As well as high quality ND filters so my shutter can remain at 1/50th.

Really quick GH4 test:

Trying out the 4K, and again a basic test:

(Please if you have experience, tips, footage or photos that you would like to share, please do!)

What am I going to do then?

My dad taught me something really great; good things come to those who wait. In other words, have patience.

As others test out, review and produce videos using the GH4 and A7s (and other cameras that pop up here and there), I will be closer to making my decision. For now, I know to hold off. A good thing for me to do would be to road test both cameras, work it with all of it’s video functions and produce a couple of vids that I can look back on. The folks at Park Camera’s are great at in store demos, but I can also wait for BVE in Feb 2015.

So, I can frustratingly wait a little longer for my jump to the next innovation of video production and delivery.

In the mean time I can always look at Blackmagic Design’s options that shoot 4K, as well as the Apertus AXIOM modular camera, and keep the new Arri Alexa 65 and RED Dragon for my dreams.

axiom-modules-06[1]

From – https://www.apertus.org/

Working with the new Panasonic GH4

We had another toying test day yesterday, with new glass too; the Panasonic/Leica 25mm F/1.4 (equivalent to 50mm F/1.4) and the Panasonic 100-300mm F/2.8 (equivalent to 200-600mm F/2.8). We keep finding great features and little things that make this camera wow us!

 

We were out filming and testing out the capabilities of the camera at Epsom’s Thai festival taster, we used the 14-140mm F/3.5-5.6 OIS lens recording in 4K. The video will be uploaded and shared soon!

Testing out the new Panasonic GH4

There have been three new arrivals at JHWF HQ this morning, three beautiful Panasonic Lumix GH4’s!

panasonic gh4

I’ve had the opportunity to check out the GH4 at Park Cameras a few months ago, so today was a great opportunity to get proper hands on with the new camera system!

We didn’t have time to do a proper test, so I took a few shots to demo the 4K at 100Mbps AND the 1080p 50fps features that are currently exporting in Premiere now.

Out of the box, holding the camera using the viewfinder seems so natural for video, as well as the OLED live screen which produces a clear as day image with overlays.

Using the stock lens 14-140mm F/3.5-5.6 (equivalent to 28-280) the image was sharp, with very minor chromatic aberration at 140mm. I am used to a ‘full frame’ look, but remembering that the Arri Alexa has a similar sensor size the the GH4, what lacks in the stock lens can be gained using the wide range of primes available for M4/3 mount.

The OIS stabilization was actually incredible. This being hand-held, the shots were very shaky at the long end, but the OIS did a brilliant job of stabilizing the image.

Another fab feature is the variance in recording formats, whether you are shooting on a green screen, or footage that is live streamed, the data rates are manageable and not small enough for heavy compression meaning grading the footage should be a breeze. (In my test video coming very soon I have NOT graded any footage).

Things to make note of: If you are going to purchase a GH4 but currently shoot with Canon EF lenses, do not worry. Lensadaptors have developed a M4/3 to EF adapter, there is also one from Blackmagic to Nikon G mount, and rumors are circulating that Metabones are working on a direct M4/3 to EF lens as we speak!

Well, there will be LOTS and LOTS more to come as I continue to play and test out the GH4 so watch this space!

panasonic lumix gh4 4k footage export

BASIC TEST VIDEO –

Meet the Panasonic GH4

We’ve been waiting a few months for more info on the Panasonic GH4. It briefly appeared at BVE, and only 8 were shown at The Photography Show. Due to Panasonic UK announcing the launch of the GH4 early from the trade show and professional demand, more people are asking the whats and hows of the GH4’s video capabilities; in regards to 4K.

It is the first consumer DSLR to offer 4K, which is a fantastic leap forward into the future of video production that will inevitably get bigger (Moore’s law). We have seen recent demonstrations of Super Hi-Vision (8K) at the London Olympic games from collaboration between NHK and The BBC, but for the first time have we seen 4K possibilities coming home with us. It is now in reach.

Today, John from JHWF, his son Sam and myself headed down to Park Cameras in Burgess Hill for the Panasonic GH4 demo. Eager to try out the camera, and by that I mean actually get your hands on it and play with it, checking out the range of functions and lenses that can be used (something not so easy at trade shows), it was the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse into the reachable future for us as producers. Even more so for John, as he as already invested!

panasonic gh4 demo day dslr 4k camera dslm video

Adam from Panasonic was on hand to answer our many questions, and to demonstrate the innovative features the camera has to offer, which include continuous auto-focus in video mode, as well as how the 4K is achieved from an MFT sensor, and many more..

First of all, the body is tiny. If you compare the body to that of my Canon 5DmkIII it could easily be half the size; which for run and gun videographers, and to keep discreet is a perfect solution. Not only that, but like the Sony A7, you have a large pixel count/density sensor so regardless of the body size the image result will be incredible.

panasonic gh4 demo day dslr 4k camera dslm video recording format screen

The sensor offers the two 4K resolution standards; cinema 4K at 4096 x 2160 and UHD 4K at 3840 x 2160 up to 30fps at either 200Mbps (All-intra compression) or at 100Mbps (IPB compression), which is much better in terms of .mov image quality in comparison to the 5D mkIII max 90Mbits at All-Intra compression. Essentially this means that your image is being recorded in a better quality format, giving richer colours, wider dynamic range and more latitude for grading in post. The HD video format is top notch, offering up to 200Mbps in MP4 format, much better than nearly all DSLR’s on the market today.

Due to the MFT sensor, the focal length of the lenses you mount are doubled for the equivalent. For example a 12-35mm F/2.8 is equivalent to  24-70MM f/2.8 ON A Micro Four Thirds sensor. This means that suddenly the size of the lenses you use get greatly reduced, meaning a smaller kit bag and less back ache at the end of the day.

panasonic gh4 demo day dslr 4k camera dslm video recording format screen mft lens 100 300mm

A run and gun kit using the GH4 could include the 12-35mm as mentioned above, and the 14-140mm F/3.5-5.6 is enough to cover your indoor and outdoor shots, and can fit in a small shoulder bag. What more could you ask for?

The dual OLED screens replicate the live sensor beautifully, with such clarity too. Now a live view finder has been implemented into the view finder, you get an incredible 10,000:1 contrast ratio which is extremely high speed, unlike LCD which refresh rate is much slower. No need for a Z-finder anymore! Oh by the way it is touch screen too, and you can focus and take a photo by tapping the area of the screen you would like to focus on!

IMpanasonic gh4 demo day dslr 4k camera dslm video recording format screen mft lens OLED dual live view finder touch screen

Another incredible feature was the built in Wi-Fi which can be used to control most of the cameras functions INCLUDING touch sensitive focusing and recording (in 4K) via your Apple of Android device! So, leave your camera set up with the Wi-Fi connected to your device and set up your shot from elsewhere! In the right situation, this feature could be killer, much like the GoPro’s wi-fi function for those awkward and obscure shots!

panasonic gh4 demo day dslr 4k camera wi fi

More professional video features include; zebra bars for setting exposure, center marker for image composition, colour bars and 1KHz tone, synchro scan which is useful for suppressing TV and fluorescent light flicker and a Cinelike gamma curves which can be applied. This would come in handy for productions where heavy grading and LUT’s can be applied.

There is also the YAGH interface, which was not at the demo, but its functionality is to provide a DC-12V power input to the camera and interface, which allows 4:2:2/10 bit recording with XLR inputs, timecode, VU meters, which turns the camera from a pro-videography/cine camera to a full system camera for broadcasting. Adam showed us some setups on his phone from recent Hollywood productions using the GH3.

As you may know, I purchased my 5D mkIII in December, for videography/cinematography. To me, I don’t know if I should feel pissed off that I should have waited for the GH4 to be released so I can future-proof my productions, or whether I should jump in and get another A camera right there and then. But then I thought, I have an incredible camera system right here already, and just because this (yes rather amazing) new resolution has become available, doesn’t mean my potential clients will want it. At the moment the current structure and system for broadcasting 4K in the mainstream media of television is non-existent, until the big change happens which means either updating current HD systems to cope with the greater requirements of 4K, or a completely new 4K network is created, the only channel for viewing will be the internet, or cinema. So, if your deliverables are all for YouTube, then go for it, you have a way to get your work out there in its native resolution already. Otherwise, be prepared to down-scale to 1080 HD for normal playback. This may have fantastic results for you, and keeps the incredible clarity, colour richness and the ‘wow’ factor that 4K is now being renown for.

If you are a current Canon/Nikon or other brand shooter, then the answer to your question is not “You will need to buy new lenses for this camera”. A few manufacturers haave designed and produced many workarounds to lens to mount converters; famously Metabones, but also LensAdaptor are worth checking out if you currently shoot with non-MFT lenses. These adapters fit onto the body and lens and effectively allow the lens to be used with a different lens mount.

To conclude, if I had the money I would happily invest in the Panasonic GH4 and not only for the 4K. The high data rates even for 1080p HD are high enough to be broadcasted which opens up what I can deliver for my clients, the kit is smaller so I get less back ache, the Depth From Defocus system allows continuous auto-focus during video, up to 96fps slow motion recording in 1080p HD, Wi-Fi control. I’d be really interested in testing this camera out in a ‘Great Camera Shootout’ review, so clear up the rest of the questions I have about not only capturing video in 4K, but also to see how the MFT 16Mp sensor holds up against the Canon 5D mk III which with Magic Lantern can record RAW.. We shall see, only the future will tell!

panasonic gh4 4k dslr camera demo test day park cameras 1

Please bear in mind that I have never captured footage in 4K, or worked with a 4K camera, footage or system. So what knowledge I am basing this on is my university dissertation in implementing 4K programming into the current UK broadcasting industry, copious research into 4K cameras, technology and productions, attending IBC and many other trade shows to understand the up-to-date technology available.

 

Panasonic announces the GH4 – 4K DSLM movies!

Check out the specs of the new model here – http://www.panasonic.com/uk/consumer/cameras-camcorders/lumix-g-compact-system-cameras-dslm/dmc-gh4heb.html

DMC-GH4HEG-Product_ImageGlobal_Europe-1_de_de[1] Photo from Panasonic website.

Looks very impressive, but as usual a highly compressed Youtube product demo doesn’t do it justice.. For all those interested in having the extra resolution to work with, as well as a newly developed MOS sensor then this camera may be your first port of call instead of the previously available Canon 1D-C.

It will be interesting to see how the industry responds to this new release,  as many more productions working in a higher res to downscale later.

What interests me about it, is not only being able to capture footage in 4K/2K, but also 1080p HD slow motion at 50 and 60fps. My main drawback at the moment is using the 5D mark III setting of 720p for 50fps, which is fixed at that resolution. The higher bit-rate is very appealing too, despite recording in MOV file formats 100Mbps is a great advantage over the highly compressed Canon DSLR movie output files.

Lots of points to consider, and no mention of a price yet.. Hopefully Panasonic will be at BVE so I can get my hands on this bad boy!