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/

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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.

 

Video on the Canon 5DmkIII and Samyang Cine Lenses

Many of you intrepid videographers may have come across a unique range of VDSLR Cine lenses from Samyang (Rokinon/Walimex) depending on your region. Have you had thoughts to invest in one, or a whole range of them?

Focusing on video, having electronic focusing and aperture is not essential for me, and in fact gives more control over the light entering the lens due to the de-clicked aperture. You can create smooth transitions between light and dark situations with ease by pulling the aperture.

As I’ve only just got the 5DmkIII and cine lenses, I thought it would be a good idea to test the kit out individually; producing a short video of the results.

I began on the Samyang 14mm T/3.1, an ultra-wide lens that does have barrel distortion if subjects or distinct lines move towards the sides of the frame. Operating the camera handheld on the MODA rig, I was not left much choice but to capture the video in 720p 50 frames per second, to eliminate obvious camera shake. This did work in my favor come later in the day when I was hanging out of a car boot filming!

adam plowden video filming canon 5dmkiii samyang 14mm

To exaggerate the ultra-wide effect, getting close to the ground, walls or your subject will show how wide the image actually is, while offering exquisite sharpness throughout the depth of the image. Moving while operating an ultra-wide also gives a unique changing perspective to the viewer; one that is appealing due to it looking unnatural to our eyes – a great effect for establishing locations in film.

What I did notice was a very strong contrast, even when shooting in Neutral picture style (for a flatter image). This is causing issues in post due to burnt in detail in the highlights and shadows.. So I have adjusted the picture style to my needs by reducing all of the parameters to the lowest level.

Overall, I am ecstatic to finally get my hands on an ultra-wide as I had no way of achieving that perspective with my old kit.

My tips would be to keep the camera stable – use a tripod, shoulder rig or steadicam to operate the camera. This gives you better control and steady visuals that won’t distract the viewer from the awesome visuals.

Judge your highlights and shadows correctly – this is a manual lens, so remember it is easy to stop down to F/6.5 or F/8.3 (uncommon electronic F stops) to expose the image perfectly. With this, always check your focus (use digital zoom!!). The worst thing ever would be to find an awesome flowing shot but it being slightly out of focus.

Experiment using the manual aperture, it will take some time to get used to!

Here is a draft edit that I chucked together from the test day –

On to the Samyang 35mm T/1.5

london filming canon dslr video camsmart moda camera rig

This is a beautiful lens. I’ve only worked with a 35mm F/1.8 for my little Nikon D5000, so as far as experience with 35mm that goes out the window.

What can I say… The 35mm focal distance works so well with the 5D’s full frame sensor, and even at T/5.6 the image was sharp and had a beautiful bokeh. To the other end of the spectrum; I also shot at T/22 to achieve a silhouette effect of Glen and the Houses of Parliament in the background. At this small aperture you would expect loss of detail and softness, but the Samyang 35mm excelled.

Another fantastic benefit of this lens is its minimum focus distance (the minimum distance from the lens to the subject for it to be in focus). It is very small at only 30cm allowing you to get very close to the subject and still achieve pinpoint sharpness and shallow depth of field.

I was filming up in London with my friend Glen, the light was hard when we arrived with strong sunlight beaming through the rain clouds, so to retain good exposure throughout the frame I found myself shooting between T/4 and T/8, varying the ISO depending on the location. For demo purpoes, I also filmed Glen constructing and using the new CamSmart MODA Rig, in innovative new video and photography product aimed at all level of users to achieve exceptional visuals in a cost effective solution.

For this close up, intricate video the 35mm lens was perfect for both wide and close up shots, I get more and more impressed as time passes!

My tips for using the Samyang 35mm T/1.5 cine lens – get yourself some ND filters, or even better variable ND filters as this will reduce the light entering the lens without changing the aperture, shutter or ISO. If you have a lens that is very fast, like this model at T/1.5, to retain a shallow depth of field in a multitude of locations and light levels ND filters are crucial and should be in your kit bag.

Here is the rough edit of the 35mm film! –

Big shout out to Manfrotto for the 055CF tripod, video head and pro backpack, makes a world of difference to my old 055 aluminium model!

Good luck with your shooting, drop us a comment if you have any questions about using the lenses or kit, and be sure to like, follow and share!!