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Can't decide between G85 and GH4. Any insight?
  • So I've been a GH2 (hacked) user for about 5 years now, and want to make an upgrade while staying in the M43 ecosystem. (And keep the GH2 as a B-cam). My goal with the new camera will be to do Wedding Videography as well as low-budget short film narrative work (for the sake of this thread, let's say I put equal weight on weddings and short films).

    Originally, my plan was to get a used GH4 (now that the GH5 is announced), but I'm reading up on the G85 and thinking it might be better in some regards. Let's say for simplicity that I can get a used GH4 for $800, or I can get a new G85 for $800 - so cost would be the same. Also, let's also assume that I likely wouldn't get the VLog upgrade or buy an external recorder if I went the GH4 route. If I had the extra funds for those (which I don't), I would probably just try and stretch a little further and get a GH5 sometime over the summer.

    Knowing that I want to be doing wedding work, I've been considering getting a Metabones SpeedBooster Ultra 0.71x (Canon EF) and Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 (Canon EF) lens. I know M43's cameras are not great in low light, and not great at getting that shallow depth of field (both of which will be important for wedding videography), but my understanding is that that adapter+lens combo can help bring back at least some of that capability into any M43's camera I go with. (As an aside, I'm wanting to go with the Canon EF system because I have friends with Canon EF lenses that I can borrow, and I'm going with the Ultra because I want it to be the preferred adapter if/when I'm able to hopefully get a used GH5 in 1.5-2 years).

    My main recording formats when filming would be 4K 24fps, or a high fps 1080p recording when I need slowed down footage. I plan to have the majority of my released films (both weddings and shorts) be in 1080p24fps, but I will be filming in 4K when I can so that I can scale down the footage to 1080p for the best results. I also expect there to be a some need for slowing down footage (especially when it comes to the wedding films), so I plan to occasionally use the 1080p high frame rate options with whichever camera I go with.

    In terms of recording formats between the two, the GH4 obviously beats the G85, but I'm wondering if the G85 might still be good enough. It still has 1080p60fps (although at what looks to be a god-awful 28Mbps bit rate), and it has UHD 4K at 24fps at 100Mbps. The GH4 can do 1080p60fps at 100Mbps (can also do 200Mbps with All-I). Or the GH4 can push to 96fps at 100Mbps. And the GH4 has Cinema 4k at 24fps at 100Mbps.

    Additionally, the GH4 has ports for both mic and headphone, whereas the G85 only has a mic jack. However, there seems to be a $50 workaround to get a headphone to work with the G85's HDMI-out. The GH4 is all metal, whereas the G85 still uses some plastic (although both are weatherproofed).

    However, the IBIS and better low light on the G85 are very welcome benefits over the GH4. I've heard the EVF might be slightly better on the G85. And both have no recording limits (I'd be buying the US NTSC version). I believe both can display zebras and histograms, as well.

    Are there any other major downsides with video on the G85 when compared with the GH4 that I'm not considering for my use case? I'm used to the GH2, so I'm sure there will be some "pro video" features that I might miss that I'm currently not thinking about. Any other reasons why I shouldn't go with the G85 that I'm not capturing above?


  • 14 Replies sorted by
  • I'm in the process of going GH4-->G85 myself. For the IBIS and improved low-light, mostly. And hopefully over the summer, after the first firmware update, I'll get a GH5, and the G85 will become my B-cam.

    28mbps is pretty low, but it seems like it would be enough for most normal shooting so long as you get most of the way to your look in-cam and thus don't have to push it a ton with grading. I'll be running a 5" Video Assist though, to fix the 1080p bitrate, because I shoot a lot of action, and although all the G85 1080p clips I've seen online look decent enough, none of them have a lot of motion. And the VA now has pretty decent monitoring tools, which helps justify the cost/bulk/batteries. Also the VA gives me a headphone jack so that fixes that issue.

    Going for a speedbooster setup seems like a no-brainer for weddings. You gain a stop of light, which helps with the ISO performance, and your sensor is now effectively APS-C size, so shallow DOF is 100% not a problem. The 18-35mm seems like a great pairing, useful range, super bright, and the lack of OIS isn't a problem since the G85 has IBIS (although you should be using a monopod or shoulder rig anyways). Get a fast 50mm and 85mm for the booster and you're mostly set. A Tokina 11-16mm for wide if you need it.

    I used the GH4 96fps a few times, at first I thought it was tolerable but even when finishing at 1080p it just looked too soft when cutting from 4K clips, for my tastes at least. For wedding beauty shots with super sDOF it may be fine for you. 60fps is much better quality and is almost always slow enough for me (although I look forward to the 180fps on the GH5 as it looks to be pretty decent). Also remember that if you're finishing at 24p, even shooting at 30p gives a nice subtle slomo, which can be useful if you don't want something to scream SLOOOMOOOOO.

  • If you'll be using a small right / handheld a lot, IBIS on the G85 would make it more desirable for most applications.

    I have and use a GH4 and have no complaints. For what it's worth, I use the Anamorphic shooting mode (allowing for 4:3 readout) and Cinema 4k frequently, and use the camera on a tripod over 90% of the time - therefore IBIS is of low interest to me compared to the additional video options available on the GH4.

  • @aldolega I appreciate the response and info! Glad to hear that my leaning towards the G85 and my current lens plan seem to be on the right track.

    Also, I wasn't even considering something like the 5" Video Assist. Does the G85 definitely send out a clean image via HDMI out while simultaneously recording to the internal SD card in the camera to make something like that work? I see that the 5" VA can do up to 1080p60fps, 10bit 4:2:2 and looks to have a max bit rate of 220Mbps, right? And you're sure that there isn't compression still happening in the camera, and the VA isn't just wrapping compressed footage with an uncompressed recording format?

    Assuming the 5" VA takes the 8bit 4:2:0 28Mbps footage to 10bit 4:2:2 220Mbps for 1080p recording, what happens when I'm recording in 4k24fps? Would I simply just not use the 5" VA for external recording in that case? (Although, it would still be nice to use the monitoring tools for it, if it could stay connected.)

    Edit: It looks like the G85 is locked to 8 bit output (even through the HDMI). So I guess using the 5" VA with the 10bit 4:2:2 220Mbps setting would really only net you 8bit 4:2:2 220Mbps footage? That's still much much better than the 8bit 4:2:2 28Mbps the camera records.

    Also, thanks for the further lens recommendations. Any particular 50mm or 85mm worth me digging into? (I'd like to stick to the Canon EF mount system). I do have my eye on the Tokina 11-16mm, if I find that I'm often wanting to go wider than the Sigma 18-35 will allow.

    @jeanspillane Yea, so my wedding work will be mostly on a monopod. Whereas my short film work will have a mix of shoulder rig, and tripod. So I'll probably have a healthy mix. Definitely makes it tough to select a single camera for multiple use cases.

  • I shoot today some mtb bikers with G85 + glidecam HD2000 and it's amazing combo. No need those modern gimbals for sure. We left the gh4 for tripod and slowmo and 80% of takes were with G85.

  • @Grimor I've actually had my eye on the Glidecam HD2000 as well. Do you think it would work ok with the G85/Speed Booster/Sigma 18-35 setup? My worry is that the lens will be extremely front heavy when compared to a mostly plastic camera. Have you tried any other stabilizers in the rough price range of the HD2000? Just curious what made you go with that one specifically. And is there anything you don't like about it?

  • Don't know exactly the weight of the sigma+booster, probably works ok, or try best Hd4000 for heavier setup. It's the only one i've used with Gh4 and G85. From GH4, i miss the anamorphic modes and the V-log. I don't like little things like only 4:3 & 3:2 aspect ratio in 4k Photo and theres no Cine D option in this mode. Battery life is another complain, because Ibis is a batt killer. Overall its a great (best) camera for the price. I'll post a video as soon as possible.

  • A front-heavy lens won't matter on the HD2000, you just mount the camera further back. And use a QR adapter, otherwise setup is very slow, and that isn't what you want for weddings.

    As far as I have been able to tell from online research, the G85 does indeed output through the HDMI while also recording internally, and I believe the screen/EVF work as well. So basically I will always be dual recording, on the VA and the camera's card.

    The HDMI output is after image processing (debayering, NR, color matrix etc), but before compression. The G85 is entirely 8-bit so yes, although the VA will give you a 10-bit wrapper, it will only have 8 bits of data in it. But that's fine for me, I would rather have the G85's IBIS and better ISO performance, and the VA's high bitrate, than the 10-bit output from a GH4 (which would also not record internally in 10-bit mode). With the GH5 I will obviously do 10-bit whenever possible.

    For 1080p the VA's files will be better motion- and detail-wise, compared to the in-camera files, which I will just keep as backups and then toss once I confirm the VA files are intact. The VA files (ProRes or DNxHD, not sure which to use) should also be easier for my aging computer to edit.

    For 4K, you can set the G85 to scale 4K to 1080p on the HDMI, so I will have the choice of a less-compressed 1080p VA file with 4:2:2 color, or the stock 4K 100mbps 4:2:0 camera file to choose from. In some situations I expect the VA files will be better, in others the outright res of the 4K will be preferable.

    I considered going for a PIX-E5 so I could record 4K as 4K, and I may have done so if it could record 4K60, as then it would still be useful for the GH5. But it doesn't, and an Odyssey or Inferno are waaay too big for me, and frankly all three are way too pricey for me at the moment- I'd rather spend that money on the GH5. So the VA is a good option to tide me over until the GH5, and will most likely get sold off at that point, as the G85 becomes my B cam, which I suspect the internal recording will be perfectly sufficient for.

    Lenses, personally I'm going Nikon mount. I have a Nikon 50mm f1.4 ais already, and I'm researching the Nikon 85mms, will probably go for an f1.8 or f2 ais there as well. You could adapt these to your EF booster, just takes a simple ring adapter that you could mount semi-permanently to each lens. Or you could of course go for native Canon lenses, or third-party EF lenses. I really loved my Sigma 50mm f1.4 (Pre-ART) on my 60D back in the day. They make a nice 85mm too, or the Canon 85mm f1.8 is decent too.

  • @Grimor Thanks for the further differences. With regards to color profiles (like the CineD) - what profile do you find is the recommended one for G85 video footage?

    @aldolega I appreciate the additional info. With the G85's 8 bit output, you sure it's not always 4:2:0? (I recognize that the 8 bit is simply in a 10 bit wrapper, but wasn't sure if the 4:2:0 can become a true 4:2:2 when sent to the 5" VA). I suppose worst case, you're still dealing with true 8 bit 4:2:0 footage, but get a serious boost to the bitrate.

    (Speaking of which, would it be possible for the G85 to be hacked similar to the GH2 at some point? It seems to me like the bitrate limits are simply software locks to keep separation between product lines. It would be awesome if higher bitrate footage was ever unlocked internal to the G85 via firmware hacks. Has anyone proposed or discussed such a thing?)

    With the lenses, you bring up another question. Is there some significance between Pre-ART and ART versions of the Sigma 18-35mm lens? My research so far hasn't found anything, so I wasn't sure if I should focus on getting one over the other. (I plan to get the Sigma 18-35mm used).

  • Cine-D is available in regular video modes, just not in 4K Photo. I recommend the Leeming LUT One workflow, which uses Cine-D.

    Bit depth and color sampling are independent; AFAIK the HDMI output is 4:2:2, stated by Panasonic reps when the cam came out.

    Yes the low bitrate is 99% likely to be an artificial restriction; no a hack is never going to happen. Panasonic made the GH3 forward harder to crack (and less needed anyways), AFAIK Vitaliy hasn't cracked any Panasonic since the GH2. Don't hold your breath.

    I wasn't aware there was a pre-ART 18-35, I thought it was an ART-series from the beginning. For the 50, 85 etc the ART versions are entirely new, and very nice, but pricey. If you don't want to drop that kind of money, I can recommend the pre-ART 50mm f1.4, and the 30mm f1.4, although that's not needed if you have the 18-35.

  • @aldolega Again, thanks for all the great info. And you might be right about the 18-35 always being ART (it would explain my lack of results in a pre-ART search).

    Good luck with the G85 when you get it all set up!

  • 85 for sure. Leeming lut is very good, but there are superwhites to figure in as well.

  • If dynamic range is important GH4 is better.

    1064 x 932 - 112K
  • @Vesku Those are interesting results. This page seems to show they're pretty close (and actually gives a higher rating to the G80/G85 in ISO levels above 200): (Click 'Measurements' > 'Dynamic Range')

    Thoughts on the discrepancy?

  • DXO measures sensor RAW photos. Video is not using full sensor ability. GH4 video digs more dyn range in video. The same DXO gives GH4 better low light score (high iso) but G85 is cleaner in high iso video.